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Why you need an adventure list, STAT

Why you need an adventure list

Yesterday I went to Brazil and was home by lunch, all thanks to my adventure list.

Before you get too excited: Brazil, Indiana, not the country. Somehow I’d gotten it into my mind that Brazil was a place I needed to see; I mean, if someone named a city in the middle of nowhere it had to be interesting.

(False. Road work destroyed sleepy downtown Brazil and I didn’t see much except for construction vehicles and a pretty great mural.)

Honestly, I don’t even know when I discovered there was a Brazil in Indiana. The only way I even remembered it as a point of interest was because I’d added it to my ever-growing Adventure List. Yes, I’ve got a big ol’ list of exciting things I want to do and places I want to see because if my head weren’t attached to my shoulders… well, all my ideas would be in one ear and out the other.

Mixing idioms aside, let’s talk about this marvelous adventure list, shall we?

What is an adventure list?

An adventure list, very simply, is a running list of places you want to visit. To be a little more specific, my conception of an adventure list is a love letter to all the exciting places around you. It’s a compilation of all the amazing stuff you can see or do within a long weekend trip or less.

This is no wildly over-the-top bucket list; rather, it’s a set of manageable adventures meant to satiate wanderlust close to home. The concept can be as detailed or as vague as you like it, so long as you:

A) always keep it handy to refer/add to as needed
B) make time to actually experience what you’ve added to your list

I get ideas all the time so I make sure to have a copy on-hand at all times (even if it’s just a list on my phone to add to my master list later). I can’t tell you how many brilliant ideas I’ve lost on disappearing Post-It notes.

The always-awesome Alastair Humphreys has some info about his own adventure to do list if you’d like to have a gander at something a bit more practical re: adventure lists!

Adventure List Inspiration

Why do I need an adventure list?

Think of how many times you’ve had a weekend at home where you simply had no idea what to do. Maybe a few listless “I don’t know, what do YOU want to do?” texts sent back and forth. Maybe you mindless scrolled Facebook for ideas.

Did you end up doing anything? (I mean, more than throwing on Netflix and defrosting a frozen pizza?) Probably not.

That was so me before I had the no-duh moment of realizing I needed to harness the power of my travel creativity for those times when I fell into the trap of “not having anything to do”.

In short? The Adventure List is a critical part of feeling excited about exploring local and just living life more fully. It banishes your ability to say “I don’t know what to do today” or “there’s never anything to do here”. It’s literally the perfect resource guide for endless inspiration.

In short? The Adventure List is a critical part of feeling excited about exploring local and just living life more fully. It banishes your ability to say “I don’t know what to do today” or “there’s never anything to do here” – it’s literally the perfect resource guide for endless inspiration.

How do I make an adventure list?

There are many ways to lay out your list, depending on where you land on the planning spectrum. At first I laid mine out as one huge running list since I’m on the lazy end of that spectrum, FYI. Whenever I came across a new place, I just jotted it down. Eventually I figured out that it was just too overwhelming and it became a chore to sort through everything to find an idea.

Now I’ve created a printable which I’ve divided into distinct sections that have helped me further refine my ideas. Thanks to this forward thinking (thanks, past self!), I can easily pick and choose the activity for the day based on what I want to do, where it is, and how much it costs.

Your list can obviously be anything you want it to be – it is, after all, your love list to your local. Whatever you decide, it must be something that truly invigorates you. Think back to your last big trip… what were you most excited about seeing/doing? That’s the kind of stuff you want, just tailored to where you are now.

Now I’m going to show you how I lay mine out. Feel free to copy and/or change as needed.

Adventure List Example

How I lay out my Adventure List

Like I said, I used to have one long running list of ideas but eventually that much information becomes meaningless. I decided to streamline. Now I have five sections (AKA five printed pages or five separate lists on my phone): food/drink, culture, the offbeat, events, and day trips.

  • Food/drink: new restaurants, hole-in-the-wall places you pass on the way to work, a bar recommendation from a friend, a new food truck, etc.
  • Culture: everyone’s culture section will look different based on their interests, but culture includes art, history, music, literature, and so on.
  • Events: pretty self-explanatory – mine is mostly internationally-geared festivals. The only thing that’s different is how your list pages are set up so that you can easily see your dates and never miss a thing!
  • The offbeat: the offbeat is a bit harder to explain, but it’s anything unique or different to your city. Basically something that makes you simultaneously go “oh that’s cool” and “oh that’s weird!”.
  • Day trips: these are trips that can be undertaken in a few hours and may last a day or a weekend. I’ll talk plenty more about how you can find cool places to visit and how to find unique experiences once you’re there.

I them divide each page into columns, usually idea, location, and price. Again, this format depend on which type I’m talking about and what specific information I’d find useful for each.

A few final thoughts

And that looong explanation is pretty much it! Are you intrigued? Do I have you convinced you need a list to stave off those downtime slumps? I hope so!

For now, you can download a free printable to get you started. Jot down any cool ideas you find or have kept in your mind before. (No need to print out five pages if it’s not necessary, I acknowledge I’m weirdly prolific in how I research!) Next week I’ll be back to show you a bunch of the specific ways to find content for my ever-expanding Adventure List. I hope you’re ready!

Do you have a similar system or am I the only one who loses things from her mind almost as soon as they enter? Are you interested in trying this system out for yourself? Questions about it? Let me know in the comments below!

  • I loooove the idea of an adventure list. For big things it’s SO much better than a bucket list! And for small stuff, it definitely solves the rut/indecision problem.

    • For sure. I love the concept of a bucket list, but I’ve always found it so dispiriting to look at such an intangible, lofty list. I’ve found that something like this – with plenty of down-to-earth options – makes ticking things off a whole lot easier!

  • I did a list like this before I moved to Russia. I called it my “Cleveland Bucket List,” and I wrote down all the things I wanted to see and do before I left. I even included things I had done before but wanted to experience again to write about on my blog.

    I like the idea of different sections. I’m definitely doing this because I’m indecisive and it takes my boyfriend and I forever to decide what we want to do.
    Jasilyn recently posted…SabantuyMy Profile

    • Ray

      Cleveland is only a five hour drive from Toronto, so I would love to explore more it from time to time. It’s a city with a lot of untapped tourist potential. Only been there twice in my life – both times were to catch a Cleveland Indians game during two separate Bachelor party trips. Would love to read your list of suggestions on your blog whenever you post it!
      Ray recently posted…The Day I Met Toronto Mayor Rob FordMy Profile

    • It’s DEFINITELY helped with our indecisive selves (as well as providing a steady stream of blog content which is just a bonus!)

  • Ray

    This is actually a GREAT idea to implement! I’m from Toronto, and there are a ton of places that I can see within my city on the weekend when I just don’t have enough money and/or time to do a larger trip elsewhere. Going to have to start using your technique, which will help me come up with more material for my blog!
    Ray recently posted…The Day I Met Toronto Mayor Rob FordMy Profile

    • So glad to hear that, Ray! Whenever I get too excited about the idea of heading back to Russia/the former USSR, I try to distract myself with something exciting from the list. (And remind myself that my bank account will thank me!)

      Plus, extra blog content is never a bad thing!

  • This is perfect for me, seeing that I’m in my home state Utah for the next months saving up to cross Europe off my bucket list. There are so many great national parks within 30 minutes from me that I’ve never seen. Thanks!
    Zach recently posted…15 Bucket List Places to See in CanadaMy Profile

    • So glad this could inspire you, Zach! I know how hard it can be when you’re stuck in the waiting game before a big trip. Good luck saving money and exploring close to home at the same time!

  • What an awesome idea!! I love making lists like these but never thought to do one for adventures. And you structured it in a way that I reckon will be really helpful and fun to go over. Thanks for creating and sharing this! I’m definitely going to download this 🙂
    Ella recently posted…An Itinerary For 4 Days In ParisMy Profile