Titled, 8 Not-So-Obvious Reasons To Go On A Round The World Trip, the writer talks about breaking routines; reinforcing your world view or re-examining your own culture and habits; making new friends and maybe even discovering a new home; the chance to reinvent yourself; and learning to appreciate your home (it may not be quite as dull – or dangerous – as you thought it was).
However, the writer’s second reason, Lose your desire for materialism really caught my attention. The concept of travelling light has been touched on before on this blog (Jim's Guide to Travelling Light). But the chance to declutter your life has not, and this is as good a place to mention it. But first, let me quote the full passage from the above article.
2 – Lose your desire for materialism
Especially if you’ve gotten rid of most of your stuff before you left, you’ll think twice about nearly every new purchase when you get home, and this will likely save you quite a bit of money, though you’ll probably just use the extra dosh toward more travel anyway, so it’s not like you’ll get rich as a result.
When you live out of a backpack for a long time you realise that you need amazingly few things on a daily basis, and each new thing that you might add to this begins to just feel like extra cargo that you’ll have to sell, give away, throw away, or store again one day.
That last paragraph really struck a chord with me. On my seven month 2008 trip, I sent several boxes of ‘stuff’ (memorabilia, books, CDs and DVDs, clothes, etc) at considerable expense back to Australia. Eighteen months later apart from the books, CDs and DVDs, and a couple of items of clothing, almost everything else has been thrown away! And even those books and multimedia items I’ve kept have not been read or re-read, and neither have the CDs and DVDs received much replay since my return.
So why did I buy them in the first place? Mostly because I wanted to remember some of the more significant events of the trip. I think I was afraid I would forget the most interesting and exciting parts of the journey, and thought if I kept permanent reminders, then I could keep those memories alive. All of this makes perfectly good sense of course, but then it has occurred to me since that in fact, as travellers the things we do ultimately remember are precisely the most interesting, and exciting events we experience during our travels.
Maybe those details we eventually forget, are not quite the life changing events we thought they were.
Mind you, as technological innovations continue to change and miniaturise, keeping those memories alive is becoming easier and easier. Small digital cameras, and cameras on virtually every mobile phone now allow us to record everything from skyscrapers to hotel receipts; the meals we eat and the rooms we stay in; our methods of transport and much more besides.
Hopefully, the next time I travel, I will not feel the need to accumulate more baggage and ‘stuff’ than I absolutely need to help me enjoy the travel experience to the full.