Welcome to my hybrid column where I will be talking about my two loves – travel and the outdoors.
Who Are You?
My name is Laura and I am 31 years old.
I work as a writer and editor for an educational publishing company.
In my spare time, I like to hike, camp, climb, travel, take photos, plus anything else that takes my fancy that week.
Rewind a few years, my friends used to say, ‘You should get a hobby!’.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends, but this comment used to confuse me. Why do I NEED a hobby?
OK, Maybe I Need a Hobby
I have always been the sort of person that flits between activities – probably because I like meeting new people and I like to try new things. However, if you tell people that you like to travel, they usually respond with ‘that’s not a hobby’. So, off I went in pursuit of a ‘real hobby’.
I grew up in Lincolnshire, which, apart from the famous Lincolnshire sausages, is mostly known for being VERY FLAT. We do have the beach (which mostly attracts the youths with bottles of cider on a Friday night), but certainly no mountains (or even hills for that matter). Though, back then, it probably wouldn’t have interested me much anyway.
When I first started my current job, I was living and working in Sheffield in the north of England. Working alongside lots of illustrators and designers who were all incredibly talented and creative, I remember feeling jealous that I didn’t have anything that I was really good at. I went through a bit of a moment trying to find a hobby… I tried running (hated that), reading (my concentration levels are not great), I even tried a paint by numbers (this was fun while it lasted but could not have done another one).
Funnily enough, I actually got into hiking years ago but for some reason, I never really thought of it as a ‘real hobby’. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I actually started to appreciate the outdoors and living so close to the Peak District.
Now, I live IN the Peak District and I am SPOILED for hobbies, which mostly consist of outdoor pursuits such as hiking, paddleboarding, climbing, wild camping…
Don’t get me wrong, I still flit between these activities but now at least, if someone asks me what I like to do, I can say ‘I’m outdoorsy’.
So, I thought I should probably share my expertise.
How to be Outdoorsy
Make an Outdoor Instagram Page
OK, first things first… nothing is ever official until it is on social media, right? Exactly. So, of course, if you are really ‘outdoorsy’, you will have an ‘outdoorsy’ Instagram page. Something lame like @lauzexplores. Yes, this is me.
I did actually set my Instagram page up as somewhere to share pictures but in fact, it is actually a really great tool if you want to start something new (I found a great community for travel and outdoors). You can follow others, see what they are doing, get advice and tips and maybe even make some friends along the way.
All the Gear but No Idea
So, following on from above, if you are on social media, you probably see everyone wearing their fancy hiking clothes and think that you need to spend a fortune on outdoor gear.
This has actually pretty much been my motto for life:
- Start up a new activity.
- Go buy loads of stuff that only the professionals actually need.
- Give up said activity.
- Have a house full of failed hopes and dreams.
Because I’m better at giving advice than following it, I would say it’s always better to try something before you invest fully. I remember hiking Kinder Scout for the first time wearing jeans and a pair of converse… in the snow! Safe to say they ended up in the bin.
With most outdoor activities, it is best to be prepared and have the right gear. You don’t want to catch yourself stuck on the top of a mountain with no water and a pair of converse like me… but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune. Ask around to see what is good value and only invest more when you think that you will get your money’s worth.
I would say that you also do probably need to have SOME idea. The trip where I naively walked up Kinder Scout in my converse nearly became a ‘call mountain rescue’ kind of adventure after we left far too late and came sliding back down on our bums on the ice because it was dark, we couldn’t see the path and we didn’t have the right gear.
My advice for if you are new to the outdoors would be:
- Don’t do anything that you are not comfortable with.
- Make sure that you do the research first.
- Always tell someone where you are going in case you get lost or get into bother.
- If you can, go along with an experienced friend.
- Always give yourself more time than you think you need (coming from the person who will literally be late for her own funeral).
Do It for the Gram
I kid, I kid. Although, I know that people on social media DO get a lot of stick for ‘doing it for the gram’. The truth is, who cares? It doesn’t really matter what your motivation is for doing something if it is good for you and you enjoy it. My main motivation for travel/adventure is the views. I have always been a ‘Woooow!’ kind of person. I am a sucker for a nice view – the beach, a mountain top, even just a pretty sky… and I love to take photos of it.
Although, what isn’t healthy is seeing what others are doing and feeling guilty for not doing the same.
I love being on social media – but it’s not real life. And it’s orchestrated. If you have a normal life, with a pretty average job, it’s simply not possible to be off galavanting every day and you don’t have to.
‘Don’t you Everest?’ I hear you say. For me, life is about balance. I love being outdoors and I love travelling, but I also love coming home to my warm bed, going out for dinner with my friends and binge-watching Netflix shows – but I don’t show pictures of me draped over the sofa with a packet of pringles. Don’t burn yourself out trying to keep up with an unrealistic goal. Set your own goals. Maybe you want to try to get out for a hike once a week or go on a long weekend once a month?
Freeze Your Nips Off Outside in the Cold
I know I am generalising but I would say most people like to be warm, right? You wouldn’t go and sit outside in the snow and watch TV… but you MIGHT go dig a hole in the ice and jump in the river… at least, if you were outdoorsy you would.
If you live somewhere warm, I hate you. Not really, but maybe a little. As previously mentioned, I live in the UK. Don’t get me wrong, I know that I’m very lucky to live in the UK but it can be very cold (comparatively speaking – please don’t judge me if you are reading from Greenland).
For some reason, hikers get a bad rep for being a ‘fair weather hiker’ because if you were ‘truly outdoorsy’ you would be out in the snow.
The snow is beautiful but I personally like to look at it through the pub window while I’m sipping a beer in front of the fire.
Jokes aside, up until this year, I didn’t like to go out if it was cold. Mostly, because I was underprepared and quite frankly, underdressed (flashbacks to me wearing ballet pumps outside in the winter when I was a teenager).
Going out in the cold can actually be invigorating – it’s nice to feel the fresh air on your face and you may even be one of those madheads that loves to walk in the rain. When I was a primary school teacher, we were taught to take the children outside to experience all weathers. That’s one thing that I love about the UK. Although I complain about the weather, A LOT, we get a bit of everything! I spent a year living and working in South Korea. There, a coworker asked me what it was like in the UK because she was thinking about coming here for her honeymoon because she loved… wait for it… that it is cloudy.
So as long as it’s safe to do so, I would say try to get out in all weathers and enjoy it. Just make sure you have appropriate clothing so you can stay warm!
Become Amateur Van Converters
So, you’re nearly there… but the last step is ‘vanlife’. Obviously vanlife has become a bit of a trend over the past few years and you can see why. Why wouldn’t you want to go sleep in a van on the side of a road when you have a lovely house that you pay for every month?
Actually, I have bought into it. I am currently converting a van with my partner and we are very excited for van trips. It is in the final stages of being built and then I can finally call myself a true ‘adventure gal’.
To Summit All Up…
So I guess what I’m trying to say is, I finally found a hobby. If you’re already a hiker, hopefully you can relate. If not, I hope I have inspired some of you to get outdoors and give it a go!
In my future blogs, I will be sharing some more of my experiences, travel stories, tips, etc! If this Peaked your interest, come check out my next article!