My love affair with travel - an experiment
“You can do it with a car. You can do it near or far.”
Over the past four years I have been on a journey, but until recently I didn’t know where I was going, exactly. All I knew is that life couldn’t go on the way it had been going.
I was not looking after myself physically or mentally and I spent an unhealthy amount of time worrying about what other people thought of me. Rarely did I feel comfortable in my own skin.
Then I experienced a couple of mini “aha!” moments (you can read about them here and here) and stumbled upon minimalism somewhere around that time as well. I knew minimalism could help me to pull myself out the the big hole I had dug, but actually understanding why I needed to change didn’t come until just recently.
Back in April 2017 I decided to join Joshua Becker’s “Uncluttered” course. At first I was a little hesitant to join as I had minimised a lot of my belongings already and felt the last thing I needed was another online course I wouldn’t complete—but I knew something was still missing. It wasn’t until I read this article by Zoe Kim that I reconsidered. Zoe mentioned the course gave her a “renewed focus” and that was exactly what I was after, so I signed up with her discount code.
Before diving into the decluttering process, Joshua encouraged us to think about our “why.” I had never really thought about this before. I knew I didn’t like clutter and I knew that I wanted to have less stuff. But why?
I procrastinated a bit, as we do when something is difficult, but when I finally sat down and put pen to paper, the answer to my “why” became quite clear. The reason for all my minimising, the reason for all my life changes, the reason even for this blog, is that life was flying by at a speed I was uncomfortable with. Instead of really experiencing life, I’d been ticking off a list of things I felt I should be doing instead of intentionally living my life. What had suffered the most was quality time with my family and friends.
As a stay at home mum I do spend a lot of time with my kids, but more often than not I am asking them to do their homework, tidy their rooms, help set the table, empty the dishwasher, and stop fighting (and that’s in between doing all of the stuff I need to do each day). Having less stuff means having less stuff to do, so I can actually stop and eat an ice cream with them, or even better, spend entire weekends with them without the guilt of having something else to do. Thats what I want! Quality time.
Getting back to basics so we can get more out of life.
Without even knowing why, somewhere in the last 4 years I stumbled upon stories of many different families taking time out from the stresses of everyday life and reconnecting through long-term travel. I envied every single one of them and wondered if it would be possible for our family to do it, too. Unfortunately, I quickly realised that it wan’t feasible for us to travel long term at this stage of our lives, but it made me start to think of ways I could get this feeling without having to make the big commitment of long term travel.
Where there is a problem, search for the solution.
Despite over the years having turned our home into a sanctuary for relaxation and recharging, it isn’t always easy for us to come home and just relax. There are emails to answer, TV and iPads competing for our attention and the never ending list of jobs to do (even around a more minimalist home) that prevent me from truly being able to relax.
So how could we prioritise this intentional family connection I so craved?
The VW camper idea was born.
I have thought about the VW California Beach for the past 2 years - non stop- as the answer to my nagging need to “get away.” The idea that a family car could be used to escape to the mountains on a Friday afternoon as soon as school and work was over was my idea of heaven. I researched (of course I did!), I read magazines, chatted to friends who had one and visited camping shows. But what I soon realised is that the camper is just one tool that could be used to help us along towards answering our “why”.
The rain clouds parted and a solution presented itself.
When I really sit down and think about it, the VW camper itself isn’t actually what I so desperately want. It is the feeling of freedom. The feeling that I can escape to the mountains at a moments notice. The freedom that comes with having our accommodation sorted easily, and inexpensively. And there is just something about being close to nature that makes all the stresses melt away. Just one weekend away is enough to recharge my batteries and make me ready to come back to reality.
Being away also helps to feed that family connection. Sitting around the table swapping stories with the kids undistracted by other things we should be doing, and taking time out from the stresses of every day life. Time to connect. It can be done in a campervan, in a tent, in a cabin, a caravan, in our current car, in a hotel or in an Airbnb. It can be done anywhere.
As Dr. Suess once said, you can do it with a car, you can do it near or far. Actually, Dr. Suess didn’t really say that. But we’re going with it.
And so the solution presented itself: Intentionally reserve one weekend a month for quality family time. Making time to forget about what we should be doing and losing ourselves in the moment. Lapping up those moments with our kids, before they don’t want to go away on holidays with us anymore. Or even better, putting a familiar tradition in place that will continue long past their teenage years where they value family and realize that taking time out from school or work and social commitments is not only possible but something they want to do.
We can experiment with sleeping in tents, in caravans, renting cabins and Airbnbs. We’ll give ourselves a weekend budget and stick to it and see how creative we can get with that budget. We’ll get the kids involved with finding accommodation and doing the packing. Staying home is also ok, but learning to let go of those “to dos” and treating the weekend as if we were on holiday will be key. I’m excited to start experimenting.
Will we always stick to it? I hope so, but I don’t expect it to work out perfectly. Life is life and I am willing to be flexible to an extent. But just knowing it is a priority for us and showing our kids that time together as a family matters, I hope I can help make memories my kids will cherish for a lifetime. I don’t want my kids to only remember me as the mum who was always yelling after them to tidy their rooms. Instead, I want them to have cherished memories of putting up tents, sitting together playing card games until it’s too dark to see and parents who, despite living busy lives, take time out to just to be together.