How to Become an Adventurer Like Indiana Jones

Emily Woodhouse Adventure Careers

How to become an adventurer like Indiana Jones? Have you gone crazy Emily? Now on first glance you might think this is slightly off topic. I mean, I don’t usually talk about adventure in the sense of “becoming an adventurer like Indiana Jones” or any other movie character for that matter. Hear me out.

I’ve been thinking recently about what it means to be an “adventurer”. A lot of my interest in adventure, I think, started in the world of books and films and adventure stories. In fact, I’d never actually read a non-fiction book about “real life” adventure until a couple of years ago… My role models, or at least my inspiration to go out there and take exciting risks or challenges, have had pretty large influence from swashbuckling archaeologists (Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, The Mummy cast… etc).

Of course, all those fictional adventurers have their backstories, but you’ll see why I’ve chosen Indiana Jones in a minute. I think it’s fair to say that he’s synonymous with adventure. If we were playing the word association game and you said his name, I’d probably say “Adventure” or “Adventurer” or “Holy Grail”…

Let’s take a look at some of the traits Indiana Jones has as an adventurer.

1. He Doesn’t Adventure Full Time

On first glance, you might think that Indiana Jones is the stereotype of a professional adventurer. But hang on a minute… He does have a job. He works as a lecturer and he’s often having to make excuses to leave the classroom.

There seems to be an assumption growing on the internet that to be a “proper” adventurer you have to do it full time. Or you have to be sponsored by a famous brand. Or you have to quit your job as a rite of passage to start.

Now, as someone who’s quit her job for adventures before (and also because it really didn’t suit her…) I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it. BUT it is not a requirement. Check out all the modern day adventurers out there and see how they describe themselves – I find Twitter bios a great way to do this. I bet most of them won’t just talk about adventures, but writing or speaking or some other expertise.

Take-away:¬†You don’t need to be a full time adventurer to have an adventure or two!


2. He Has a “Proper” 9-5 Job

Indiana Jones isn’t a freelancer. He doesn’t make money taking people on archaeological expeditions or by selling treasure. He works at a university as a professor. When he’s not off on a quest to save the world, he teaches students and marks homework. There is nothing glamorous about that.

I guess what he does get is long academic holidays without the students, when he doesn’t have any (or as many) fixed commitments. He also seems to have a pretty relaxed employer when it comes to leaves of absences – something that exists outside of Hollywood too!

That said, his career is kind of related to his adventures. He’s not getting paid to find the Holy Grail, but his academic knowledge definitely helps him out.

Take-away: Sympathetic employers do exist (not just in Hollywood) and many get just as excited about your adventures as you do!

3. He Travels Rough, Not Luxury

Remember those tiny little planes he gets on, that look like they’re falling apart? Indiana Jones isn’t the type of adventurer to travel business class. He’s also completely ok with sleeping in a tent, stopping over with friends and getting about by any means he can – including on foot and hitch hiking.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think you even see him take a spare set of clothes… All he has is a small rucksack and that, quite honestly, can be all that you need to go on an adventure.

This is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to travel. Going light means going flexible. You don’t have the stress of booking expensive hotels that fix you into set dates – you can just go with the flow. That said, I’ve been in a 4+ start hotel once and felt completely out of place… I don’t really go in for pampering or three course dinners. Particularly not when it’s mixed with adventure.

You also learn a lot more about yourself and the culture you’re in when you travel rough, human-powered and out of a backpack/pannier. You’re not in an isolated tourism bubble. This isn’t always fun and giggles, but somehow it all ends up ok in the end.

Take-away: Adventure can be inexpensive if you’re prepared to do it on your own two feet. It’s not always a bundle of laughs (hands up for type 2 fun!) but it makes a great story.



How to Become an Adventurer Like Indiana Jones

Actually, it’s not very difficult to learn from Indiana Jones and have epic adventures without needing to pack in your job and rob a bank.

Things you can do right now:

  • Talk to your employer about whether they ever consider long absences of unpaid leave. Okay, paid might be better, but it’s easier to ask for months of freedom without pay and save up.
  • Talk to your employer about flexible working hours. This might allow you to have more mini adventures over long weekends.
  • Think about how you can save money on that adventure you have in the back of your head. You can do some amazing things if you break away from the “package” and organise things yourself. Of course, you’re swapping cheaper holidays for more effort on your part.


I hope this has inspired you to rethink what traits a “professional adventurer” has and how that relates to your life! Back to normal, Hollywood-free service next week.