Most of us think that you need to spend a lot of money to have an adventure…well I’m here to dispel that myth.

I suppose it depends on your definition of adventure, but for me I think of adventure as something that you can embark upon at anytime, and you don’t need a fancy overseas destination to do it.  Nope, a vast majority of my adventures are local.

More often than not I’m inspired by a blue sky and it doesn’t even need to be warm out, as long as the sky is blue I’ll either subway or ride my bike to some corner of the city and explore.  Nothing better than sunshine and a curious mind…oh, plus my camera!  🙂

Some of the best adventures have been via this means, after all a city like Toronto is chock full of incredibly interesting things to see and do, none of which actually have to cost you anything.  How about a stroll along the waterfront, or a bike ride in the Don Valley?  A walk along graffiti alley, exploring Kensington Market and Chinatown or one of the many colorful neighborhoods that festoon this fine city – all there for the asking.

Now of course, if you want to really live it up – find a sidewalk cafe, order a coffee or glass of wine and people watch!  Here’s the trick – find a place to perch yourself for a bit, put your phone away or better yet turn it off and enjoy the freedom on being untethered, even for just an hour or two.  My people watching consists of observing the comings and goings of everyone around me, it’s so nice to bask in the moment and enjoy the sights and sounds of everyday life zipping around me.

Actually truth be told this is my modus operandi in every city I explore on my travels, whether locally or around the world.  I find that to get the true vibe, other than putting foot to pavement around the various neighborhoods it’s sitting in a cafe and watching the locals go about their daily lives that you really get a sense of the culture and overall vibe of the place you’re in.

Don’t take my word for it…give it a shot!

I think the big differences between traveling to a new place or being a tourist in your own city is that you already have a perspective on your own city.  A preconceived notion if you will, sometime rooting you to the familiar and thus limiting your ability to see your city through a fresh set of eyes.

One of the wonders of being a new dad (all those years ago) is that as my toddlers were discovering their surroundings for the first time, I got a totally new perspective what adventures actually were, this new point of view simplified my outlook and taught me that even the most simple things, framed in the right light could give you a great sense of pleasure and contentment.

Zach and Sami taught me a great deal about what an adventure could be…literally anything!

As adults, our expectations around what constitutes an adventure often impairs our ability to enjoy the moment, often we’re caught up in having to do something grand or go somewhere exotic to have a real adventure.  I would argue that an adventure depends on your state of mind as to what fun, happiness and contentment really are.

Arguably most people would choose another place or city where they’ve never been for an adventure…I suppose that’s only natural, but there is no getting away from the fact that irrespective of where you are – you my friend, are the only constant in this equation.  In my mind, it’s your preconceived perceptions that dictate what does, and what does not constitutes a real adventure. 😉

I believe the essence of what makes a great adventure or memorable experience is being in the moment and letting yourself feel your emotions, not just from an outsider looking in, but being present and engaged with everything around you.  Whether it’s with your kids, friends, spouse or by yourself it’s about letting go of any preconceived ideas and letting yourself just be and endeavouring to see your moment through a ‘fresh set of eyes”.

Crazy as it sounds we tend to be more social when we’re somewhere else, where everything is new and unfamiliar you’re more likely to strike up a conversation with a complete stranger, yet when you’re a tourist in your own city we continue to be the local and have no real need to converse with anyone – can you say missed opportunity?

According to my Fitbit last year I walked just over 2,200 kilometers (which is around 6 km per day on average), more than half of these were in and around the city itself with the remaining 50% or so in other countries during my travels.  It’s incredible how much of the city you can actually see on any given day if you just wander.  Now, just think of all the rich conversations that you could enjoy if you were open to them…

I don’t have an agenda when I explore, but merely define which neighborhood I’d like to start in and see where it takes me from there.  This is called the “art of slow travel” which I learned from my friends in Italy where they have this down to a science.  They prefer to eat gelato while they wander and people watch, then later in the afternoon enjoy a glass of local red wine before eating at a hidden gem of a restaurant that they discovered earlier in the day.  How very civilized!

Now do you understand why I LOVE Italy?  🙂

Remember an adventure has no start or end…it’s completely up to you, with no agenda necessarily, plus being untethered so you can engage with everything around you.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you discover, the fun conversations you’ll have and most of all the fun you’ll invariably have just by being a tourist in your own city.