Exploration Essentials: What You Should Always Have When Adventuring & Exploring

updated Jun 5, 2019
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(Image credit: Adrienne Breaux)

You know those fleeting moments in life when you’re completely in the present and feel alive? Exploring your surroundings (however near or far) — is a secret passage to moments that reinvigorate your creative spirit. You don’t have to have a lot of money, time or even go very far. Just step out your front door with these essential elements for adventure (which is everywhere if you look hard enough).

Over the next ten weeks, we’ll be bringing you ideas to help you get out and explore your neighborhood, your city, your state and more! Our hope is that you’ll be inspired to incorporate exploration into your everyday life even after summer is over. Come back to this list of essentials when you go on adventures or do light traveling this summer (or anytime).

1. Good Attitude
Boy things go wrong when you’re exploring sometimes. You wake up ready and raring to go only to hear thunder. Or you get a flat traveling the back roads to a small town destination. Like life, keeping a good attitude — and being able to laugh even when things go terribly wrong — is the perfect companion to adventures (and a good summer).

2. A small journal or camera
It can just be the camera on your phone, but having something to grab shots of things that capture your attention isn’t just about keeping memories; it’s about encouraging yourself to find the beauty in the ordinary. You can go technology-free if you’d like, but be sure and bring a small journal instead to jot down any ideas, thoughts (or even poems) that your exploring might inspire.

3. Map or GPS
Though getting lost is sometimes an amazing ingredient to adventure, it’s good to have the ability to find your way back again when you need it.

4. Healthy snacks, lots of water
You’re encouraged to try the local food whenever you explore, but depending on your dietary needs and your destinations, there might not be something you can eat, so bring something healthy to nibble on just in case. And staying hydrated is important, especially if your exploring involves a lot of walking.

5. Small first aid kit
You don’t need to bring a rattlesnake bite kit or anything, but don’t let a small cut or allergy attack make you have to turn back.

6. Hat or sunblock (preferably both)
Not only will a hat look stylish, it’ll protect your body from sun exposure if you plan on doing some afternoon exploring. And sunblock is your friend.

7. A good bag
I like a medium-sized, cross-body shoulder bag that fits a bottle of water, my camera and the few other essentials on this list comfortably, but without being so big that it feels bulky. You might consider a water-resistant material depending on your exploring needs.

8. Comfortable, versatile shoes
A good pair of shoes or boots is vital. You want them broken in enough that they won’t give you blisters, but you want them to fit whatever exploring you’ll be doing the most. City walking in your plans? Get some comfortable tennis shoes you can walk miles in. Want to tromp through some woods or fields? Get a comfortable pair of lightweight boots that will protect you in long grass and other rougher terrains.

9. Curiosity and mindfulness
The point of exploring in my opinion — especially in a place like your neighborhood that you’ve probably walked or driven through on auto pilot a million times before — is to see things in a new light. To see things you’ve never spotted before. To be mindful in experiencing your surroundings to firmly ground yourself in the present. No place is ever boring if you bring your sense of curiosity and adventure with you.

Bonus items (not necessary but nice):

  • A bug, bird, animal or plant guide book (if you’ll be somewhere you might spot such wildlife).
  • Binoculars for getting up -close looks at birds and animals

What would be on your list of exploring essentials? Parents especially chime in — exploring with kids and little ones probably has its own list of essentials!

(Image credit: Janel Laban)

Visit the Guide to the Perfect Summer main page for links to all of the posts published so far or sign up to have them delivered directly to you each weekend.