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How to Spend More Time Outdoors (Geocaching & More!)

March 6, 2024

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If you want to spend more time outdoors, but you’re not sure how to work it into your busy schedule, this guide is for you! Whether you’re new to the outdoor world or you’ve found that time in nature helps your mental health, it’s easy to see that time outdoors has endless benefits.

Keep reading to learn how to get into nature more, different ways to enjoy the outdoors, and more.

This blog is sponsored by Geocaching. As always, opinions are my own. Download the Geocaching app on iOS or Google Play to get started!

Why is spending time outside good for you?

If you’re wondering why you should spend more time outdoors, let me share some benefits! Fresh air is good for your lungs, increases your happiness levels and can help to provide higher brain clarity. There are even studies that say more time outside can improve digestion and prevent illnesses.

Spending more time in nature also tends to encourage more exercise and less screen time. I don’t know about you, but I always feel happier when I make a point to get outside every day, even if it just means going on a quick walk around the neighborhood.

Pro Tip: If you’re wondering how many hours you should spend outside a day, I really think it depends on your schedule and season of life. Even 5 or 10 minutes is better than nothing. However, I think it’s great to aim for an hour of outdoor time each day!

A path surrounded by fallen leaves. Sun peaks through the trees in the distance
A Trail near Cincinnati, OH

11 Ways to Spend More Time Outdoors

1. Go Geocaching

Have you tried geocaching? It’s one of my favorite ways to incorporate more time outside into my daily life and travels. Geocaching is essentially the world’s largest treasure hunt! There are millions of ‘caches’ hidden all over the world, and you can find them using the app and following the coordinates.

Holding up a small canisterLydia holding a large bucket labeled as an 'official geocache'
Different Geocaches

Not only can you find real-life objects hidden by other players, but there are special types of caches that encourage learning or exploring the area. For example, EarthCaches focus on answering questions about a geological feature. Or the Adventure Lab will take you on a local tour that could focus on murals, historic sights, breweries and more. The possibilities are endless!

Making a point to go on a geocaching adventure every week is sure to improve your mood and lead you to new places in your backyard. It’s easy to get started and so much fun!

And if you’re already into geocaching, perhaps you can get more involved by hiding your own cache or building out an Adventure Lab route!

Pro Tip: Geocaching is fun for all ages, but it’s an especially fun way for kids to spend more time outdoors!

Download the Geocaching app on iOS

Download the Geocaching app on Google Play

2. Get Started Hiking

Hiking is an incredible way to spend more time outside! And it doesn’t have to be far away, difficult or expensive. I recommend getting started by learning the leave no trace principles and looking for local trails on All Trails. Using All Trails, you’ll also be able to read recent reviews of the trail, giving you an idea of what to expect.

Lydia hiking on a paved path in Minnesota
Hiking in Minnesota
Lydia hiking between two towering rock walls in Portugal
Hiking in Portugal

Make sure that you bring along water and snacks, and check the weather forecast beforehand. It’s also a good idea to wear hiking shoes and socks. Hiking boots or trail runners will provide much more traction than your regular tennis shoes. However, the importance of this varies depending on the type of terrain.

It’s also smart to carry a first aid kit and other safety essentials such as a headlamp, multi-tool, emergency blanket and fire starter.

Don’t be surprised if you quickly become addicted to hiking! It’s an amazing way to discover the beauty of nature, take in the fresh air and spend quality time with a friend or family member.

Pro Tip: If you’re wondering how to become more outdoorsy, all you have to do is go outside more!

3. Go on an Outdoor Date

This could be a date with your significant other, a date with friends or a date with yourself! Instead of opting for dinner and drinks, head to a park, go on a bike ride, do some geocaching, or enjoy another outdoor activity!

Lydia and her husband ziplining on their wedding day
Ziplining at our wedding (Photo by Sixteen Fourteen Photography)

Here are a few of my favorite outdoor date ideas:

  • Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy at a local park! Bonus points if it’s a park you haven’t visited before. After lunch, take a walk around and search for geocaches, admire the foliage, look for wildlife and more. Go on a local hike! Use All Trails to find a trail near you, pack up the essentials and head out on a trail. Bonus points if it’s at sunrise or sunset! Follow up your hike with a delicious meal at a local restaurant.
  • Try something new together! Maybe this means renting bikes and exploring a bike trail, trying out a new sport like pickleball or tennis, or going stargazing or birdwatching.
  • Look for an upcoming event or program that takes place outside! Perhaps there is a festival coming up near you, or maybe your local nature center is hosting an educational session.
  • Research unique outdoor experiences near you. Outdoor experiences will vary widely depending on where you live, but some ones that come to mind include Rail Bikes (in several states including Iowa, Rhode Island, California, New York and more), a snorkeling excursion, a skiing lesson, a surfing lesson or a local Geotour (available in certain cities such as Hattiesburg, MS and Happy Valley, PA).

Pro Tip: Google searches such as “best waterfalls near x,” “best hiking trails near x,” or “best day trips from x” can yield some great results! It’s also worth looking for nearby ideas using apps such as Geocaching, All Trails and Google Maps.

4. Make it a Habit

Forming a habit can take a long time, but it’s the most effective way to consistently fit outdoor time into your daily life. One way to build a habit is by trying to pair it with something else you do. I have built a habit of taking a walk every day after eating lunch. Other examples could be taking a walk whenever you water your plants, visiting a park before going out to a restaurant or looking for geocaches whenever you get a haircut.

5. Start a New Hobby

Is there anything you’ve been wanting to try? Perhaps it’s a team sport, like pickleball, or an individual sport such as frisbee golf, hiking, skiing or rock climbing. For the team sports, there is likely a league nearby that you can join, which also means you’ll have some accountability for showing up. This is also a great way to meet other people!

An anhinga bird with it's wings spread in Everglades National Park
A bird in the Everglades

For solo sports, look for a beginner lesson or a local Facebook group to find out how you can get started or get more involved in the community.

Or maybe there’s a less active outdoor hobby you’re interested in, such as bird watching, fishing, geocaching or gardening. Pick up a book, watch some YouTube videos, or look for local Facebook groups to find out how you can get started.

6. Plan your trips around Outdoor Adventure

Instead of focusing on city escapes, plan your next vacation around an outdoor destination. This is a great way to ensure you will spend more time outdoors! This might mean a trip to a US National Park, a camping trip or visiting a destination that is known for its natural beauty, such as a mountain town or a coastal area.

Lydia watching the sunset from Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park
Acadia National Park
An overlook of the New River in West Virginia
New River National Park

If you need outdoor trip ideas, I have many suggestions!

US cities that are great bases for outdoor adventure:

  • Bentonville, Arkansas: This Arkansas city is known for its mountain biking trails!
  • Ouray, Colorado: Known as the Switzerland of America, this town is surrounded by incredible trails and scenic drives.
  • Asheville, North Carolina: You can drive the Blue Ridge Parkway in either direction from Asheville, and you’re sure to find incredible views and many hiking trails
  • Duluth, Minnesota: This city is close to waterfalls and great views of Lake Superior. It also marks the beginning of the Minnesota North Shore, which is known for its scenic trails.
  • Chattanooga, Tennessee: This city is close to some amazing hiking trails, and it’s home to unique outdoor attractions such as Ruby Falls and Rock City.

A few of my favorite US national parks:

Ideas for an Outdoor Focused US Road Trip:

7. Embrace all Seasons and Weather

This will vary depending on where you live. But personally, I find it a lot harder to get outside in the cold, winter months. But I’ve found that getting outside when it’s cold and wet still provides a huge mood boost whenever I can make it happen.

Lydia and her husband sitting on an hammock admiring a view. There is snow on the ground
Winter in Colorado
A snow-covered trail near Cincinnati, Ohio
Winter in Ohio

When it comes to how to get outside more in the winter, I’ve learned that the right clothing makes such a huge difference. If you live somewhere rainy, invest in a great raincoat. If you live somewhere that gets a lot of snow, make sure that you have good layers and warm accessories.

In the end, it all comes down to mindset. Will you let a little rain or snow stop you from getting outside, or will you choose to find the beauty in all seasons, and embrace each time of year for what it is?

8. Walk or Bike Instead of Driving

Whenever you have the opportunity, opt to walk or bike instead of drive! If you don’t have a bike, look for a bike share in your city. Or, make a point to walk between destinations on a day of city exploring insead of driving between each spot.

Lydia standing with a bike near Banff. There is a large mountain in the distance
Biking in Canada
Lydia biking in Everglades National Park
Biking in Florida

This won’t be possible all of the time, but you’d be surprised by how many walking opportunities you can find when you make a conscious effort to notice them.

9. Volunteer in your Community

If environmental stewardship is important to you, making an effort to volunteer is a great way to get outside! Look for local groups that do River Clean Ups or that pick up litter. If you can’t find a group, organize one yourself, or just make an effort to pick up trash on your next hike or walk.

10. Research your own Backyard

You might be surprised by all of the local parks and trails that you can visit nearby! Do some research and make a bucket list of local places you want to visit. Start with the places that are close by, such as urban parks in your city. Expand from there and see what kinds of trails and parks are within one hour, two hours and three hours of driving. It helps to have a running list of adventures to pull from, so that you’ll be ready with some ideas when you realize you have a free day or a free afternoon.

11. Make it a Priority

I believe that if spending more time outside is one of your goals, it all comes to mindset and your priorities. No one really has time to “do it all,” so you’ll have to decide what is most important to you. Making a lifestyle change to spend more time outside might mean that you spend less time doing other things. In the end, we make time for the things that are most important to us, even if it’s hard. And I promise you that time outdoors is something worth prioritizing!

Final Thoughts

I hope this guide gave you some ideas on how to get outside more! Whether you want to be more outdoorsy, or are looking for ways to improve your mental health, getting outside has a lot of benefits. And it’s beneficial whether you want to spend time outside alone, or spend quality time with loved ones.

If you haven’t tried geocaching yet, I encourage you to download the app! It’s a fantastic way to spend more time outdoors and have fun along the way. It opens up a whole new world of possibilities!

For More Hiking and Outdoor Tips, check out these blogs:

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