How many times have you picked up your phone today, and what could you be doing with that time instead?
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Here are some uncomfortable statistics: The average American spends nearly 4.5 hours on their phone every day, which adds up to over 1,600 hours per year. That’s about 67 full days. To put that into perspective, that’s about 50% more time than it would take to hike the whole Appalachian Trail.
Go ahead, check our math. The AT is about 2,220 miles long, so at a comfortable average walking pace of 2 miles per hour, it would take you 1,100 hours of walking to finish the trail. Assuming you’d like to sleep while on your journey, it would take you 137 days of hiking 8 hours or 16 miles per day.
Don’t feel too guilty, though, we all do it. We need our phones for maps, staying in touch via texting, public transportation, and googling important questions like whether swallows in the Northeast U.S. migrate to Africa every year to settle a bet with a friend (they don’t). With that said, many of us could probably do without some of that social media scrolling.
So, if you’re looking for something else to do with your time this summer, here are 47 ideas to help you get out of the house, out of your head, and away from screens.
- Go for a weird walk around your neighborhood
- Go for a hike somewhere you love or somewhere new
- Research an adventure the old-fashioned way—in the travel section of a public library or at your favorite bookstore
- Go to a climbing gym
- Take a yoga class (you can often get free trials if you’re new to a gym, which can help bring down the cost)
- See how many birds you can identify in your yard or at a nearby park
- Watch a nature documentary
- Read an adventure book
- Find a tourist attraction in your region that you’ve never been to and play tourist for a day
- Go for a bike ride (if you don’t have your own bike, you may be able to rent one in your city)
- Enter a lottery for backcountry permits, such as The Wave or rafting the Grand Canyon
- Take an outdoor leadership course
- Sign up for a beginner’s class in climbing, mountain biking, or backpacking (some gear shops, including REI, host taster events or in-store presentations for free!)
- Try the Bear Grylls workout
- Visit a National Park and do a junior ranger booklet. You’ll get a badge for completing it, it’s free, and there’s no age limit!
- Make your own backpacking meals
- Plot out your dream thru-hike
- Go for a swim in your neighborhood pool, a nearby lake or pond, the ocean, or a friend’s swimming pool
- Try fly fishing
- Join a local adventure or outdoors club
- Try kayaking, standup paddle boarding, or canoeing
- Book an adult summer camp-like experience
- Try a viral work out challenge
- Lie down in a park and stare at the clouds
- Sit outside with a journal and try nature writing
- Paint or draw landscapes, wildlife, or flowers in a place you love
- Walk to a place you usually drive to get to
- Do yoga at home or outside
- Have a picnic
- Go to a science or natural history museum in your area
- If you have a yard or garden, do some weeding and plant native plants
- Join a community garden and plant some summer veggies or fruits
- Start composting
- Find (or start!) a seed library near you to affordably plant more fruits, veggies, and herbs
- Climb a tree (safely!)
- Make your own granola or trail bars for hiking
- Make your own fire starters (all you really need is lint from the drier and some melted wax, but take care not to cause a fire while making them)
- Volunteer to build trails in your community
- Pick up litter in your neighborhood or on your favorite trail
- Find a pick-your-own berry farm and make a fruit salad with the fruit you pick
- Forage for wild berries and herbs
- Learn how to identify local plants
- Try analog walking
- Build a birdhouse
- Learn how to roll a kayak
- Go birdwatching
- Research upcoming meteor showers and other celestial events and go stargazing
Which of these are you going to try this summer? Tell us in the comments.