It’s 1:30 in the morning. I’m driving down a windy two-lane Indiana highway with my friends John and Blake. We’re having an intense discussion about how the next seven days of our life will look. To provide a little more context, we’re headed west to go do some outdoorsy things. We have known this trip was coming for about two weeks but still haven’t decided on where we want to go. So yes, we’re literally driving in a car packed full of backpacking and camping gear with the only aspect of a plan being to drive west. Just a little spontaneous right?
When was the last time you went on a last-second road trip or made a split decision to try something new? Was it worth it? Did you enjoy the experience? Being spontaneous is almost like chicken soup for our wild side. In a world that is so ritualistic and monotonous sometimes, spontaneity can feed a part of our brain that gets ignored quite a bit nowadays. Doing spontaneous activities is good for both mental and physical health. It relieves stress, boosts creativity, and gets you active and moving.
John and Blake are scouring through weather reports and reviews of hiking trails from different places in the American West. Big Bend, The Grand Canyon, and Utah are all potential landing spots for our granola crew with no planned destination. This is where creativity comes into play. We’re sitting there in the car, in a heated discussion, laying out many different trip scenarios and itineraries. The weather is forcing us to sculpt our trip around windows of nice weather and take into consideration how much intense hiking and potentially skiing our bodies can take in a week.
After about an hour and a half of brainstorming, we make it to a fork in the road and must decide which direction our indecisive clan is headed. John is pushing for doing an awesome backpacking trip in the cold mountains of Utah. He’s been dreaming about this hike for a while now so he’s dead set on it. Blake and I both oblige and we work out an itinerary that takes us out to Utah, and then down into the warmer weather of Arizona. To make this plan work there’s one big obstacle in the way. We must drive 28 hours straight out to the backpacking trailhead in Utah.
A drive like this is an intense mental workout. You must be focused and prepared for the hours of driving and lackluster passenger-seat naps ahead of you. While it may seem unbearably boring, a road trip of this magnitude really can transport you into another world. Everything stressful in your everyday life suddenly disappears and the only things that matter are getting to the destination and enjoying time with your friends. The long time in the car gets you hyped up for the activities that you are about to embark upon. For us, that was going to be backpacking in one of the most remote parts of the country to de-stress from the challenges of being in college during a pandemic. The physical challenge of backpacking would be a perfect way to really focus on something we enjoyed after being cooped up in less-than-ideal learning and social environments for three and a half months.
Another wonderful perk of spontaneous activities like this is that they keep you physically active. In our case, we went backpacking and hiking on a weeklong road trip, which is definitely more on the intense side. Even something like a hike at your local state park can ignite a passion for a more fit lifestyle that you have been wanting to pursue. If you’re struggling to take that first step in pursuing an active lifestyle, find something that helps you make it a routine. For example, when I take Red Leaf Pre-Workout before a hike, it helps me mentally and physically prepare for the activity I’m about to do. The best advice I can give, since we’re talking about spontaneity here, is to just find a trail and go for it. Believe me, you’ll thank yourself for it.
Spontaneity is not all about the present and near future though. For Blake, John, and me, we have to be in pretty good physical condition in order to be prepared for whatever adventure is next. Having this freedom to choose the activity we want to do, instead of being constrained by physical limits, always makes it a better experience. Having a consistent workout routine, good interpersonal chemistry, and experience between the three of us makes our spontaneous decisions become successful ventures. One might say that we ended up being lucky with the amazing outcome of our most recent trip, but that reminds me of a quote I once heard from an old friend, “luck is where preparation meets opportunity.”
I’ll leave you with this. Go work hard to give yourself the opportunity. Spontaneous paths are usually undiscovered ones. Take one of those paths and if you’ve worked hard to prepare yourself for any situation, that path will lead you to successfully discover new qualities about yourself and ultimately, you’ll grow from it. Now, who doesn’t want that?