There’s a fluidness between choosing to live simply and choosing to explore the world.
Simple living allows us to focus more on things that matter to us– faith, family, advocacy, community– as we shed off the frivolous things that ensnare us. But sometimes, simple living is seen as limiting: tighter budgets, unfilled schedules, and a general sense of boundaries that discourages adventure. In all the rhetoric about trimming off excess, it’s no wonder that simple has been equated to boring.
But, despite this convincing perspective, the opposite couldn’t be more true. Living simply can give way to all kinds of adventures near and far. In fact, travel is an excellent way to enjoy the simple life. Sure, there are those who desire to live simply and to enjoy the comforts and adventures of home. Meanwhile, there are others (like me) who will take every chance possible to journey somewhere new.
Why Travel Is An Excellent Component of Simple Living: 5 Reasons
1) Travel invites us to unplug.
The world is becoming more and more connected by technology, but there’s still the moment on the plane when all electronics need to be shut off and stowed. I appreciate that moment when I’m forced to sit still as we roar into the sky.
In those hours spent in transit, we become more aware of our thoughts and of our surroundings. Perhaps we’re forced to have conversations we have been putting off, or we retrieve old memories that have been buried deep. While many of us try to unplug on a regular basis, there’s nothing like travel that makes it a must.
2) Travel is about the experiences.
Many people who pursue simple living talk about collecting experiences rather than things. This is an excellent mindset with which to travel; after all, it’s more about the new things we see, do, hear, taste, and feel than about any item we might purchase. Those who travel often eventually realize that no souvenir can capture the challenges and rewards of a good trip. Collecting memories is a great way to keep clutter out, while gaining invaluable richness.
3) Travel opens our eyes to simpler ways of life.
Whether it’s a slower pace, a dirt floor, seasonal dining or minimalistic decoration, travel exposes us to extraordinary ways of living. Many people return from adventures abroad with a newfound desire to relinquish some of their material pursuits in favor of a philosophy they would prefer to integrate into their lives.
For those of us seeking to live simply, travel can remind us that there is always another way: to own less, to rush less, to worry less, and to strive for less. Something about seeing others thrive without the hustle and bustle of our own culture helps us realize that we don’t have to hustle and bustle either.
4) Travel gives us the chance to retreat and reflect.
I’ve never been good at the “staycation.” I think it takes huge amounts of discipline, and quite frankly I don’t have it.
Traveling, on the other hand– whether to a distant country or simply up the coast of California– helps me gain perspective. The worries that inevitably settle in when I’m in my home environment (or in my car) become smaller as I gain some physical distance. I think it’s healthy to invest in that opportunity simply to move ourselves away from our homes and communities for a little while. The freshness and the challenges of a new environment can help us reconsider each component of daily life.
5) Travel shows us we can live out of a suitcase.
In the summer of 2014, my husband and I unexpectedly traveled abroad for over a month. We had planned to be gone only for 10 days, but family matters kept us overseas.
The result? We made our wardrobes, supplies, and books work for us. It was difficult, but we survived. And what I realize every time I travel is that I can live with less. Even if it means wearing the same pants everyday, it doesn’t really matter that much.
The bottom line: travel is the minimalist’s luxury.
Some people have asked me, “How can life be interesting when you choose to live simply? And in your twenties??” My response to them is, how could it not? We’re freed from the rat race, the pursuit of more and fancier and better, and we can choose adventure instead. Opening our home makes life interesting. Choosing courage makes life very interesting. And being able to spend our time and resources on travel is certainly interesting.
Travel has always reminded me of the reasons why I celebrate simplicity and seek it in all aspects of my life. Perhaps the pairing of travel and simple living is hardly original, but I hope more people are able to see the connection and enjoy it.