How to Make the Most of your Summer

With Memorial Day finally here, summer officially kicks in. And I don’t know about you, but I always find that the summers go by way too fast – especially here in the Pacific Northwest. Each year I have grand intentions of going camping every weekend, trying new sports, getting out of town, and just relaxing in the sunshine. Last summer, I must admit was pretty epic and by September I was actually ready for things to slow down again (maybe not) but it didn’t happen just by chance. I knew I wanted to get outside as much as possible and I happened to meet an amazing guy who shared the same viewpoint, so we just went for it. But even last year, I can up short on a few of my summer plans.

So this year, I’m going to build on that energy from last year’s warm months and make the most of the summer of 2015 and I hope you do the same with these 10 tips to a RADiculous summer!

1. Make a List

I’ve been doing this for few years now and for those of you who have been following my blog from the beginning probably remember my first summer with this game plan. Back in 2011, my friend, Sarah, and I created a Eugene Bucket List for the summer. It had everything from hiking to Brice Creek Falls to attending the Whitaker Block Party. We jotted each item down on a piece of scrap paper and posted it to the refrigerator. Since then, eat year I’ve created a new list or added onto the previous years.

Having a list of the activities really comes in handy when you find that its Thursday night and you still don’t have plans for the weekend and can’t think of what to do. Check your list and check something off. It keeps you focused on the activities that drive you and helps when the ideas aren’t flowing. Plus then you can also find fun activities for weeknights.

2. Plan & pencil it in

Now that you have your list, pick two or three of the big weekend items and pencil them into your calendar and mark the days off from work. I have a hectic job that often makes me work long hours and the weekend, but I always make sure to make time for a backpacking trip here or a day on the beach there. Prioritize having a summer this year, and it will happen.

3. Camp during the week

Take a cue from Outside Magazine, dare to ditch the couch and computer during the week and head outside for the night. Who says you can’t take off after work, set up your camp at the nearest forest/lake/beach and sleep under the stars on a Tuesday night? No one. I even find that I sleep better outside and wake up more refreshed and rejuvenated for the day. Just make sure you get up in time to get back to town, clean up and hit work running.Rocky Mountain Camping

4. Bike and/or run to work

The sun is up for long hours between May and September. Take advantage of that free vitamin D by biking or running into work. You’ll get your blood pumping in the morning, feel the warm summer air on your skin and it will make the day go by faster. If you don’t have time before or after, try going during your lunch break. We shouldn’t sit as much as we do anyway!

5. Be proactive

Don’t wait around for others to make plans and invite you. I know being the decision maker is not always fun nor easy (I’m pretty horrible at it myself sometimes), but when I do go with my gut, set something up, and go for it I find that 95% of the time I don’t regret it and the other 5% of the time is just a crazy adventure! Decide what you want to do, when you want to do it, and invite friends and family along. If they snooze, they lose!

6. Go it alone!

You don’t need friends around everyday to enjoy the summer months. Often times its hard to find folks who a free, but don’t let that stop you. Spend some quality time with yourself out in the wildness. You might be surprised and how independent you can be. One of my favorite hikes, I hiked solo.Tunnel Falls Hike

7. Volunteer you time

Make time for others this year by picking a weekly or monthly volunteering opportunity in your community. If you want to get outside in the sun more this summer, volunteer at your local parks and recreation office. If you want to make new friends and expand your circle, volunteer at a summer kids program or a food pantry. Often times, these experiences are the ones you remember the most come fall.

8. Try a new sport

Last summer, I tried rock climbing for the first time and it was tons of fun. I was frightened and may have she a few tears while strapped into my harness gripping the rock for dear life my first day at Smith Rock State Park, but by the end of the summer I was wishing there was one more Saturday to get out and climb. This year, I definitely intend to continue climbing, but I’m also giving mountain biking a whirl. You may have seen last month my first ride on the Wilson River Trail in the Tillamook Forest.Rock Climbing

9. Go on many micro-adventures

Not every weekend has to be a grand adventure with tons of gear, hours in the outdoors, and days of planning. Make sure to throw in a healthy mix of micro-adventures, such as planning a picnic to a new park in your city, trying a few new restaurants every month (and walking to them), going to a community concert or movie in the park. Each of these micro-adventures may not sound like much, but they add up in the end and fill that happy jar.

10. Don’t forget to relax

Summer is too short to not relax. Pick a weekend (or at least one day) that you’ll just lay by the beach or lake, read a book with an iced coffee, or just plain sleep in. It’s all part of the festive season!

Published by Kelsey Ivey

An avid traveler and hiker, Kelsey is a freelance writer and professional explorer.

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