Monday, 29 December 2008

The realization...

Notes From The Frugal Trenches

This month I had a much anticipated, longed for holiday in Asia. I booked the holiday with friends more than 18 months ago. At the time of booking I was as excited as a child on Christmas Eve, only a lot has happened in 18 months and by the time the holiday rolled around I was pretty sure I didn't want to go. I did, of course, go on the holiday and made the best of it, but the holiday represented a great change in me. When I booked the holiday, I wanted to explore more of the world, travel to more exotic places like my friends have done, learn a new culture, and have more countries on my world map that I can tick off as having been to, only through the course of this simple, green, frugal living my motivations have shifted. Suddenly I care less about how much "better" I'd be and look by traveling and instead am far more concerned about the impact my choices have on the environment, the good the money could have done for others, the family and the de-stressing time I missed before the holidays.

The reality is I did bring many of my new values to my trip, while my friends were purchasing souvenir after souvenir, I can hand on heart say I only purchased two things and they were to go to a poor family we met. I continued to eat local food where possible, didn't eat meat and always opted to travel by foot, train and bus instead of taxi. Only the whole time I was there, I had a feeling that these days of travel were coming to a close.

Traveling is a good thing, it helps to open our minds, expose us to new cultures, help us practice new languages we are learning....but it isn't the be all and end all that many of us professional, career driven Brits think it is. I remember when I was at a dinner party in the summer with many media execs, I mentioned the trip and said I hadn't actually had a holiday abroad in more than 2 years and these people had looks of horror on their faces. There were incessant questions as to why, and it became somewhat of a question time about where had I been and certainly an opportunity for them to brag about where they had been. I learned a very valuable lesson that night, these people may be far more well traveled than I, but they had closed minds and traveling was far more about a conversation starter then I life changing experience.

One day I'd like to do extended volunteer work abroad, but before then I have one more trip abroad (happening in the next week) and then I for one will be very happy to spend the next few years having simple, green and frugal holidays. Time away from telephones and the tv, time walking in nature, eating British scones, swimming in the sea, learning new skills like farming techniques, spending evenings curled up by a log fire and enjoying a week or so of the simple life. You see, once you start on this journey you too may realize it effects every area of your life, it becomes your motivation behind the decisions you make, it become the choices you make even about where and how you holiday. In fact, speaking of holidays, I think I'd like to give camping in a yurt a go, I don't think you can get much more simple, green or frugal. I for one can't wait.