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The Barriers to Living Adventurously

A selected list of barriers, taken from readers of my Instagram account (@al_humphreys)

I began by asking this question:

Which led onto this question:

View this post on Instagram

A couple of days ago I posted a pic with a caption asking “what is stopping you living as adventurously as wish to do? (Apart from Time and Money)” I have been amazed by people’s candid, thoughtful comments and how the same issues rear their heads over and over. I’d like your help with two things if you find this topic interesting and important. 1. Have a look at the comments in the original post (it’s the same pic as this one, just down a tiny bit in my feed). I had hoped to answer everyone but 160+ comments is a bit much. So if you have anything useful or helpful to reply to anyone’s issues, that would be valuable. It’s very useful to get a range of perspectives, and getting them from a stranger can give a clean insight. 2. Help me figure out what I should do with all this information! The two main issues that stop people having adventures are Time and Money (hence why I specifically excluded them here, yet you’ll notice they still crop up so often). I tried to tackle the time issue with my Microadventures book and the money issue with my Grand Adventures book. But many of the recurring themes in this thread feel more complex. Thank you, as always, for taking the time to make social media such a positive, useful community for adventurous souls!

A post shared by Alastair Humphreys (@al_humphreys) on

Which led onto this one, specifically about fears:


•I unfortunately have acute peripheral neuropathy, caused by treatment for cancer… it creates constant pain…. I’m able to walk, but it is limited… when I see pictures like this, I am extremely jealous… though in a nice way… not detrimental… I want others to enjoy adventure… then they can post it on here… and I can see it…

•Brain Tumour

•mental illness – I have to be very careful about what I can and can’t do. Also expensive kit, which seems to mean getting a better paid job – although then it comes back to mental illness…!


•Accessibility for wheelchair users – lots of places I can’t take my wife.


•It’s because of feeling inadequate as compared to other people’s adventures.

•Fear, fear because adventuring isn’t the social norm. The social norm is having a 9-5, 5 days a week and 2 days to sleep and keep your sanity that you lose sight of within walls. Fear that you won’t be accepted because you don’t do what everybody else does. For most, fear of the unknown. For me, I take Francois Rabelais’ words to push me to adventure, “I go to seek a great perhaps”. There’s a great perhaps beyond what we already see and do and I wanna go past where I’m at. I want to climb the tallest peaks and see the coolest things that other people don’t get to. Whether it’s waking up one morning and thinking that a 3,000+ mile roadtrip sounds cool, so you go without a plan and see what comes your way, or whether it’s driving through the night to see city lights from a peak on the other side of the state. Adventuring doesn’t need money. Adventuring could be walking down your street. You, Alastair, say it best, “adventure is an attitude. . .adventure involves unpredictability and uncertainty”.

•Fear of taking that first step, and that it might not be in the right direction. It’s stupid really but fear that by taking on one adventure I’m precluding myself from another. The paradox of choice!!

•Fear. ‘Adventurers’ have done big things. Climbed Everest. Walked length of amazon… where do I fit in that? What is adventure to me?  I know I want to do it. But what does it mean for me?

•Getting started. Taking that first step solo is scary. Do I have the right gear, where do I go, what should I do?

•Adventure envy stops me. The things I might do seem so tame compared to what others are doing, that I persuade myself it’s not worth doing them because I should be doing something bigger, better, braver. Bonkers really.

•Pressure to pick the right option/trip amongst a wide selection of ideas. The potential feeling of regret or “it wasn’t worth the time or effort”

•Self limiting beliefs

•fear of assault

•Confidence to go out alone. I’ve done lots with friends but never by myself

•Being female and the unfortunate safety measures that come with that.

•Fear of ax-wielding serial killers. And bears and spiders.

•Adventuring alone appeals to me, but it scares me as well.

•The what if’s… . What if I get attacked by a person somewhere remote, what if there are cows in the way, what if seagulls dive bomb me, what if I cannt get my bike on the train.

Kids / Family

•Guilt at being away

•how will I afford a family in future, I feel pressure to work and save.

•children (or more accurately, being a parent) definitely limits the ability to take on the most challenging adventures. There are definitley ways to take on adventures with children but there is usually an element to which those adventures are a reduced version of those pursued in a pre-child sphere.

•How about significant others? (who are less adventurous)

•Connection to community and home. I love adventures. I love ring home and involved in my community.

•Isn’t it always time or money? Although there is always a good argument for family responsibilities, fear or worrying what your family / parents / friends will think?

•guilt and being told I’m selfish

•I would say kids! I am sure my kids would love a bit of adventure but where do I start? where is safe? and money 🙁

•Raising a traditional family

•Guilt. Being told that by going on adventures I’m putting myself before my kids and that I should hold off until they have left home. Been told my going on adventures has caused them mental health issues. It hasn’t.

•Externally, I am the sole breadwinner with a wife and 2 young kids depending on me for almost everything. Internally if I’m really honest with myself, fear that I might not be good enough or tough enough to complete the challenge.

•Some friends just announced they are taking their primary school kids on gap year to Thailand. Very jealous but too cautious to do this myself. I prefer a walk at the weekend and convention in the week. Middle-aged!

•Needing to be “within range” of older parents. Being “reachable” to all the other people with whom we are interconnected: grown children, someday grandchildren.

•single parenthood.

•Guilt and a sense of selfishness. Not sure if this particularly applies to women, but you have to fight the guilt of using the time doing what you want to do away from your home, domestic and work responsibilities,your family and friends. i.e if you’re in the hills by yourself for 2 days having the best of times, you’re not doing any of the million other things that pull on your time and that can seem really selfish. My reasoning of course is that if I don’t get out on a hill to get my mind and body sorted I’ll end up punching somebody, so it’s better for everyone if I do. No guilt!!

•I want to be a mother someday. Would not want to pursue a career that put me at extreme physical risk and endangered the happiness and stability of my future family.

•My boyfriend wants to settle down and secure a home. I want to be on the road and be a nomad.


•safety–if it’s just me with my hands full with little ones, there are definitely less risks I’d take than when I was on my own and single! And the US has gotten less safe lately…


•Being pressured to follow a career straight from uni (we’ve now decided to ignore that pressure)!

•Family pressure to settle down and get a desk job will ultimately stop me from adventuring as much as I would like to

•feel I have plenty of the skills, physical and mental aptitudes but struggle to get my foot in the door. Ultimately, my impression is it’s the same old adage, it’s who you know, not what you know.

•Social pressure. I genuinely believe I’d like to live in a place where I couldn’t hear road noise but could hear the sea, but my family, friends, relationships etc would suffer. It feels like a selfish want because I’d be leaving something in order to do it.


•Lack of connections & confidence. Most adventurers tend to be privately educated, and therefore get the confidence and access to like-minded individuals through this network. Places like the Royal Geographic Society are not accessible to most people (I went there, and the only two universities speaking were Oxford and Cambridge).

•many adventures tend to seem exclusive in terms of how they are portrayed. Exclusive in terms of difficulty, equipment, location and skills required. This seems to create a belief that all adventures have to be this way, amplifying the perceive gap between what people believe they can do and what an adventure is.

•I think that big adventures (a la skiing across Greenland) are seen as high risk and high ambition and unexpected of women, so I’m constantly having to explain my decisions and risk management strategy. A lot of people default to the familiar and adventure takes a long time to make familiar and can be scary in the process.

•I often get the impression that my prioritising ‘adventure’ as it were is seen not only as a selfish act but also as an immature one. “Oh he’s off camping again” as if it’s something inferior to, say shopping or going to the cinema.



•No car

•The prices of public transport and accommodation and ban of wild camping

•Because when I do I like it too much, and begin to question my life choices, becoming increasingly restless as a consequence?

•Too much choice, where to go what to do. We only have a limited time and money so you want to use it wisely.

•I procastinate everything

•Public transport can be a real difficulty. Accessing places without a vehicle can be problematic for some.

•For me it’s a) choosing where to go – heading into the wild countryside in the uk seems unlimited, and therefore a bit daunting. b) thinking I need a car to do it (though I know not true)

•To reliant on my salary to make the leap to go self employed

•Something between confidence and having people to do it with, who you don’t feel are too “advanced” for your level.

•Social Network to do stuff with

•Time to plan. The week gets so busy that I haven’t had time to think ahead about where to go or what to do so tend to stay closer to home. That and routine.

•Lack of people to go way with, and having neither the confidence nor money to undertake courses to learn new outdoor skills and meet similar people

•I’ll echo guilt on travel. I don’t know how anyone can justify X number of flights each year if they love the planet.

•Fear of the unknown

•Having no idea where to start

•Lack of early access to wild spaces and peers who adventure i think would be the biggest. Which is why I’m America it is usually just white people outdoors or in Asia it is people from middle to upper classes that have the ability, experience, mobility, and time to go outdoors.

•lack of knowledge and skills.

•Lack of good planning skills holds me back. I love the outdoors and desire to get out more each month. I need to learn to plan better, faster and cover the things that would make backpacking trips more do-able.

•The boundaries, routine and discipline to get a reasonable amount of what seems like never-ending work done in a reasonable amount of time and then walk away from it for the rest of the day or weekend without guilt.

•A lack of friends that share the same passion for the outdoors. We share other interests though😊 I have tried some solo hiking trips but I feel lonely after a few days.

•Confidence. Public land (Australia has strict public camping laws). Time. Responsibilities.

•Lack of imagination – I forget how good those adventures I had were. Other more immediate things (screens for instance) compete.

•Connections with the same ambitions to do things with!

•Lack of skills, or fear of it. Lack of tools, or knowledge to know what is required (and easily becoming overwhelmed when looking around or online)

•Add fear of ridicule to that list….😢

•Maybe on the list might be also – money (not only for travel but for gears etc. as well) – what after? – lack of skills – loneliness

•Analysis paralysis and too many choices!

•Money and a sense of responsibility

•Not having anyone to share the moment with.

•Not knowing yourself well enough to understand what motivates you, what you actually enjoy doing (as opposed to dreaming about doing), what unconscious fears exist to trip you up, etc.

•Lack of self confidence or motivation. Low self esteem

•Perfectionism might be another one – overplanning, perfect being the enemy of good enough, etc.

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