Nothing illustrates the joy of living a simple life as beautifully and as succinctly as travel.
In the travel industry, there goes a saying: ‘There are only two types of traveller in the world; those who travel light, and those who wish they had.’
We’ve all seen them at airports and railway stations – miserable looking people risking injury to themselves and others, slaves to the huge amount of luggage they’ve brought. Dependent on third parties, they have no autonomy as they search for non-existent trolleys, queue an age for an overpriced taxi, or become irate when hapless airport security staff and cabin crew refuse to injure themselves by lifting these heavy bags.
If you’ve not yet sussed how to travel light, take a walking holiday. The only condition of this holiday is that you have to carry everything you need in your backpack. Yes, everything.
As your shoulders become sore and your back starts to crumble, you start to hate, and I mean REALLY hate, your stuff. Sooner or later you’ll be abandoning low value items like old T-shirts and ‘just in case’ bottles of water, and making your load, and your life, a jolly sight lighter and easier.
A similar principle can apply to other kinds of trip. Although I’ve been as guilty as the next kleptomaniac of packing too much on occasion, I have managed to fly for a week away with hand luggage only. Nowadays, if I cannot fit everything into my hand luggage, I’ll allow myself one wheely bag. The main rule is that that bag has to be ‘cabin’ sized to allow easy storage on trains and buses.
Travelling light has the knock-on benefit that you end up saving a stash of cash. You can use public transport freely and easily. I’ve just saved nearly £30 on a trip from Central London to Heathrow by being able to use the Tube all the way (£24 saving over Tube and Heathrow Express) and the free-of-charge local bus to my hotel rather than the £4 Hotel Hoppa. Granted, my journey probably took half an hour longer than the more expensive route, but I was entertained the entire way by reading my book and by watching the Theatre of Real Life. My simple, clean, comfortable hotel (a five minute bus ride from the terminal) cost £190 less than the hotel with direct access to the terminal. Without the pre-travel panic of my former busy life, I had the time to think about bringing an orange and a muesli bar for my breakfast. Simplicity breeds simplicity; the more you do it, the easier and more natural it becomes.
The similarities between travelling and the journey through life are obvious. Yes, there are those who are well-off enough not to have to worry about paying for a car to the airport, hiring the services of a porter, paying for excess luggage, and then having the constant worry of making sure that everything is remembered. You may have seen these people in real life, looking harassed and taking out their stress and anxiety on the people around them. On the other side of the coin you have the simple travellers, skipping through the airport with an excited smile, thoroughly enjoying their journey and their life rather than worrying about someone damaging the Louis Vuitton.