How to Get Outside... When You Don’t Have Time to Get Outside

Posted by Emma Walker & Bix Firer on August 2, 2018

Most years, between work in the field and personal trips, Bix and I spend about 60 nights sleeping in a tent. This year, it’s been a little different. There’s not one particular reason—we’ve both taken on a lot of new work responsibilities; I prioritized training for my first 50k race over backpacking this spring; we used our fairly limited time off and travel budget to do an international trip to Finland last winter instead of a weeks-long backcountry trip.

In short, life’s been getting in the way.

Fortunately, this isn’t the first time we’ve had a tougher-than-usual time getting outside. When you’ve just gotten home from a long day at work, it’s starting to get dark earlier, and all you want is a chance to turn off your brain, it can be almost impossible to motivate to get outside—but it’s also impossible to overstate the importance of getting out anyway.

Here are some of our favorite ways of getting outside even when we’re short on time and energy.


Slickrock Overnight. It doesn't always have to be a gnarly adventure––sometimes getting outside means reading a good book from the comfort of your sleeping bag. Slickrock Overnight. It doesn't always have to be a gnarly adventure––sometimes getting outside means reading a good book from the comfort of your sleeping bag. Photo: Bix Firer


// Eat dinner outside. Whether it’s on your back porch or at the nearest park, fresh air makes everything taste better. Better yet, try out a new recipe on your camp stove so it’s perfect by the time you take your next trip. For bonus points, stick around to watch the sunset.

// Sneak out for a weeknight overnight. With a little preparation ahead of time, you can take off straight from work—then hike, bike, or drive to a nearby campsite. Bring something easy for dinner and leave a fresh set of clothes in your car. You can be back at work bright and early.

// Go for a walk. Seriously. It doesn’t always have to be a super gnarly adventure. Sometimes when we’re too tired or cranky to consider a run or a trip to the gym, walking the dog around the block is all we can muster the energy to take on. And (spoiler alert) things feel so much better afterward.


Medicine-Bow-Overnight Medicine Bow Overnight: Bikepacking is a great way to see more miles with limited time. Photo: Bix Firer


// Commute creatively. I’ve always had some trouble waking up before my first several cups of coffee in the morning, but sweating before work seems to do the trick. Whenever possible, we make arrangements to bike or run to work—and on days when that isn’t feasible, we try to head to the climbing gym or, in the summer, the local crag for a few pre-work pitches.

// When all else fails, keep dreaming. We keep a robust collection of guidebooks and notebooks with plans for our next big trips. On nights when we get home late or the weather’s too crummy to consider even a dog walk, we cozy up with our notes and start planning a not-so-microadventure.

Still looking for ways to get out? We’ve been inspired by Alastair Humphreys’ Microadventures: Local Discoveries for Great Escapes.

Header photo info: Sometimes a quick overnight—or running outside to watch the sunset—is all you have time for. (Medicine Bow National Forest, Wyoming.)

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