I began travelling with the intention to see beautiful places. Up until a few years ago, never more than 3 weeks, as that was the longest I could afford to be away from a job. The more I travelled, the more I felt like 3 weeks is not enough time. I’m a slow traveller who likes to make a connection to whatever environment I’m in. Also, I would soon realize that the destination doesn’t matter.
I quit my job, gave up my apartment and headed for South America on a long term journey. At first, I had hundreds of destinations I wanted to see. I even used to put pressure on myself because I added some beautiful destination to a list of things I thought I needed to see.Truth is, there are so many beautiful places on this planet, each of them as unique as the other. Even if you tried to see all of them, your brain is most likely not capable of processing all the information and will eventually end up overwriting existing memories.
So, when you read about people who proudly claim they’ve seen 60+ countries, and your first thought is “I want this, too”. Ask yourself, how much does this number really tell you about the kind of travel?
By rushing through regions just for numbers, there are some major key factors missing: A respect for the region itself and an awareness of the unsustainability of fast travel, which can be a type of (excessive) consumerism. I’ve met quite a few people that wrote off countries or even entire continents as boring, “not cool”, just because they didn’t take time to actually discover. People that thought Machu Picchu, Salar de Uyuni, Torres del Paine and maybe a little bit of Amazon rainforest experience are all there are to South America. Just like all there is to Europe are Paris and old churches.
Following are the key factors that play important roles for me, not only when it comes to travel but for life in general. While you’re reading, just a kind reminder that this content is based on my own thoughts and experiences.
A simple Life
I’ve learned that the more you put into your life, the “heavier” it gets. The more desires arise that eventually need to be met. I was raised in a standard western, money-is-important kind of environment. It was important to learn something that can secure a job that in return will earn enough money, to never have to worry about anything. To buy a car, a nice apartment or house, get married, have a family. Long term travelling is for when one is retired. Sadly, I unconsciously grew the impression that self worth is deeply connected with the amount of money one makes annually.
Frankly, I never really cared too much about any of the above. I still made sure to have a job that earned me enough money to eventually purchase more stuff. Only to realize that I was happier in a tent in the middle of nowhere than in an apartment with a big TV.
Some of the most beautiful people I’ve met possessed very little. As well as some of the most beautiful experiences I’ve made involved lack of money. Involved sharing instead. If we aren’t careful and get caught up to heavily in a money dependent world, human beings become less important than an abstract thing, such as money. That’s when economy and possessions are given higher priorities than personal and community health.
In 2019, with giving up job and apartment I also let go of a bunch of possessions that I thought to be important to me. Can’t tell you how good that felt in the end. The more one possesses, the more one worries about loosing these possessions.
I guess, that’s where a simple life starts. Slowly letting go of all the “stuff” in your life, letting go of consumerism. There’s so many things that supposedly make life easier or “save time”. While instead these things just take the current moment away from us.
Learning / Education
Learning and education are some of the most important processes in life, no matter how old we are or what backgrounds we have. They include questioning our lifestyles, mindsets, habits regularly. Learning never stops. Being aware in the way we as human beings are is not only a challenge. It also enables us to actively change and learn from our own and others’ actions.
That said, my goal is not only to educate myself and learn. I also aim for giving you the possibility to learn or challenge your way of thinking through my stories. The same way I do this by learning from other resources. Whenever possible I will provide you with resources and data on topics, so you’ll be able to read more on those.
At the same time, if you ever find a wrongly stated fact or an incorrect resource on this website, please pop me a message. I’m always eager to learn.
There’s a difference between a fact and personal opinion. Every now and then I will challenge general point of views, my own included, with articles. Whatever the topic, please don’t take it as finger pointing and go into defence. Sometimes, unlearning habits that we grew up with is part of learning new things.
Slow & Mindful Travel
Travelling slowly and mindfully is not only a thing for long term travellers. It is totally manageable in any span of time. All you have to do is focus on a smaller area. It has become a trend to see as much of an area, a country, even entire parts of continents in very limited amounts of time. Truth is: You don’t have to see everything. You don’t have to travel the complete North and South Island of New Zealand just because you’re there now and you don’t know when will be the next time. Or maybe even because a social platform gave you the idea you need to. Because it simply doesn’t matter. What matters is the experience.
If you keep an open mind, you will get the experience of a life time even if you didn’t visit Machu Picchu on your Peru visit.
I’m just giving examples here. Replace the destinations with just anything similar.
Everybody seems to talk about sustainability nowadays. And it’s for a reason. Some economies teach us to focus on “more growth, more, more, more”. But deep down in our hearts we all know, that this planet cannot provide with endless growth regardless how much and how quickly we consume. Not without serious consequences. Desires for constant supply and economic growth have left and will leave their mark. Becoming aware of this and trying to reduce this mark by adjusting our ways of living as individuals and as communities are mirrored in more sustainable lifestyles. You’ve probably noticed that focusing on sustainability is deeply connected to the previous principles. And so is to the next one…
Before we take a quick look at this principle in general, let’s answer this question: What exactly is a community?
While on paper there are defined communities in countries, cities, etc. the general term may include much more, or less, depending on what angle you look at it.
A community can be the village you live in, your family and friends circles, a part of the city you currently reside in, maybe the whole city, the whole country, continent. The whole world. As cheesy as it might sound, but the world as a whole is a big community. Everything is interconnected. We (humans, animals, plants, fungi, …) are just one big ball of energy.
As far away as some regions might seem to you, their well- or ill-being will have an influence on the planet as a whole and eventually on you as part of it.
I like to compare communities to ecosystems. There are small ecosystems that make up bigger ones which again make up even bigger ones, and so on. If part of an ecosystem is and remains sick, other parts of and as a result the whole ecosystem will soon suffer as well. Again, this gets transported all the way up to higher ecosystems.
As well as ecosystems communities aren’t only made up of human beings. As hinted above, they also include animals, plants, fungi, soil, water, fire, air, you name it.
Compassion and empathy are fundamentals to a striving community, needless to say without being limited to only particular parts of a community.
And yes, even as a traveller you can and should become pat of the communities you travel through. This is hard to manage if you hop from one destination to the next. Only another reason why I recommend to travel slowly but more intensively.
To sum up
As you see, all the principles mentioned on this page are interconnected. They are codependent and build upon each other.
But there’s yet another fundamental asset: Health.
Sticking with the example of an ecosystem: An ecosystem can only be as healthy as its members. For this not only community but also our individual health plays an important role. And starting from scratch, who better can take care of your health than you yourself?
Read more on this on the following pages.