Life and our society can move so fast that they can quickly sweep us up. This is why it’s important to take the time to just play. I’ve found it’s so easy to get caught up in the notion that one must work hard in order to play… later. Something I’ve been coming to terms with recently is that trips don’t need to be well thought out. They don’t even need to be far to be grand. I am an avid proponent of fun hogging close to home.
When the realization hit me that working 9-5 only comes with two weeks of vacation, my life flashed before my eyes. Gone were the days of University when I had courses three days a week and more free time than I knew how to spend. How young and oh so dumb was I back then wishing to break out of my curriculum. Now, having to carefully allocate my free time meant I needed to be more creative in the great pursuit of adventure. It meant hustling throughout the week so I could disappear on weekends.
They can be spontaneous and flexible as you need them to be. Pick a direction, pack up a positive attitude and go out there and see if you can find that sense of “play” close to home.
Minimum Driving. Maximum Fun.
Not sold yet? Hear me out. Traveling close to home allows you more time to explore places you can easily return back to. It won’t take a massive hit out of your paycheck. And overall, it comes at a far smaller cost to the environment than traveling worldwide. There is no way to travel fully green. What matters is understanding what choices you’re making are affecting the environment, and trying your best to pick & choose those battles. Pack that reusable water bottle, opt for a bus or train instead of a plane, buy locally from the places you go, and try not to stay at a hotel too often.
We set out south this past weekend with our only mission being to find waves. Bunkering down in tents on the beach off the coast of Washington, we claimed this spot as the one we’d make work for the next two days. The winds from the water provided the perfect chorus to fall asleep during the night. But it also meant if you turned around during set-up, your tent would be blown halfway down the beach in the time it takes you to even unroll your sleeping mat.
Home is Where You Pitch It
Tenting it out is a great way to cut costs, as well as a way to grow closer to your friends. When it’s 4 am and the sweet sounds of snoring are echoing all around you, it’s only your true compadres that’ll still speak to you in the morning after you chuck camping pillows at them all night.
Camp can be the real key to getting the most out of your trip. Be sure to pack your comfiest Therm-a-Rest sleeping pad and sleeping bag (or quilt) for a serene night under the stars. The next morning you’ll wake up with a smile on your face.
Don’t believe me? Check out this other post about the Emotional Benefits of Sleeping Outside
Make Your Own Fun
Waves? Maybe knee-high. Attitudes? Completely satiated by a trip to the elusive Trader Joe’s that has yet to exist in Canada. The packed short boards were traded in for long soft tops. The only surf store in the vicinity fittingly named, “Surf Shop” introduced us to Al, a character who’s worked there for 40+ years and told us not to stress if the closed sign was up tomorrow. “I’ll just be sleeping in the back, it’s been a big week”. I’m still convinced we were his only customers this month.
Instead of getting barreled (a faraway dream of ours given the lack of combined skill) we opted for playing bumper boards. Tackling each other off of waves in an attempt to be reigning champion of the water. It’s funny how you don’t notice the whole day pass when you’re too busy laughing and swallowing water. It’s also funny how bringing or renting a few toys provides you the tools to use the natural environment as your endless playground. This is quintessential fun hogging.
The Adventure is Never Over
Upon taking Highway 5 back home the jankiest waterpark emerged in the horizon like a beacon of ultimate fun and possible danger. The beauty of staying close to home is that you have that flexibility in timing to turn around and, in fact, risk possible sepsis in the name of a good time. Did we try it? Of course. Did our shoes get stolen? Also true. But it’s that genuine experience of not having a plan and being able to say you’ve now ridden a slide shaped like a toilet that you can forever remember and treasure.
Getting After It
Does a trip like this change you? Does it provide you with perfectly Instagrammable shots of petting elephants in Thailand or posing beneath the Eiffel Tower? Of course not. But it invites you to be flexible and better at improvising. It allows you to go back to that disappearing art of just taking the time to play with your friends.
Updated. Originally published August 27, 2019.