The New York Times’ “microadventurer” may be British, but he’s no Sherlock Holmes

For some reason, the New York Times recently saw fit to profile British “microadventurer” Alastair Humphreys. To be clear: I am, generally speaking, supportive of Sir Humphreys’s message, which basically amounts to “Go outside even when you’re not on vacation.”

That said, he doesn’t seem to have a strong grasp of how America works. Here’s how the Times’ brief interview wrapped up:

Do you see any differences between British and American would-be microadventurers?

One challenge is that Americans tend to worry more about the legality of things like sleeping on a hill, or the presence of rattlesnakes and people with guns.

But Americans aren’t crazy to worry about those things.

Take the legality of sleeping on a hill. Unlike in England, which passed the The Countryside and Rights of Way Act in 2000, there is no so-called “Freedom to Roam” in the United States. That means there is no general permission for wanderers and adventurers to enter private lands of any kind for recreational purposes.

Which segues nicely into Humphreys’s third peculiarly American concern: people with guns. The United States has the highest rate of gun ownership in the world — nearly twice the rate of second-place Yemen. So even were an American not at all concerned that exercising a (nonexistent) right to roam might break the law, s/he might reasonably fear for his or her bodily integrity.

And finally, rattlesnakes: We have them, even up here in the Northeast. Meanwhile, Great Britain is home to three species of native snake, none of them particularly dangerous.

Again, I certainly agree Americans should get outside more. But Humphreys might do well to conduct a more thorough investigation of why otherwise-similar people tend to make the choices they do under different circumstances, rather than simply dismissing their concerns like a clueless British person patronizing asshole.


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