We live in a world where everyone wants everything to be bigger, faster, stronger, and brighter. We spend our lives seeking more and are programmed to spend too much time and energy trying to achieve this unattainable ‘more’.
We want bigger TVs, faster cars, bigger homes, better jobs, bigger bank balances, more clothes, more toys, shinier hair, fuller lips, toned bodies, And they want an unstoppable flow of perfect selfies plastered on social media to show everyone how happy they are. And we are successful.
I know it sounds like I’m criticizing these goals, and I think I am, but I’m not going to pretend that I don’t want all of these things too.
While backpacking through Australia and Asia, I lived a very simple life. I had very little possessions, just a few items of clothing and no high-tech equipment for entertainment. All we had was a few books to exchange with other backpackers. But I loved it. I love this simple way of life, and it really made me realize that “stuff” doesn’t make you happy. “Things” can actually consume your attention for weeks and keep you so busy that you can’t focus on other areas of your life. Then we get bored with our stuff and move on to the next fad.
It’s been almost a decade since Sam and I set out on that backpacking adventure, and it’s hard to get back to normal life and not get sucked back into consumerism.
I spent years trying to avoid it when I got home. For years I told myself I didn’t need this ‘stuff’.
I used to have a small, completely impractical car that I liked and insisted on upgrading until the wheels fell off and it got old. I didn’t want to fall into the trap of “keeping up with the Joneses” and started buying bigger and better cars just because other people had cars. I was happy in my little car, and although it felt cramped at times, I could manage. And it was cheap! Fill the tank with 40 pounds and it will last you two weeks!
Then I went to the baby group with George and squeezed the car in between about 20 shiny 4x4s. The other moms were jumping out of giant cars and looking so glamorous, stylish and, well, successful. I felt like an idiot as I jumped out of the tiny car and struggled to get the stroller out of the tiny trunk, with baby poop spilling out of every space in the car.
Sam eventually convinced me to buy a new car. It’s not much, but at least there’s enough trunk space for a stroller. And guess what, I love it.
I love having shiny, flashy new things. I love buying new clothes and new gadgets. I also love spending all my nights researching new gadgets and looking for the next fad to get into.
I’m not totally against consumerism, because I myself am a huge victim of consumerism, and I actually like being a victim of consumerism.
But I also like to take a break…
(Yes, after 500 words, I finally got to the point!)
This is why I love camping and more recently caravanning.
Sam and I went to Anglesey a few weeks ago (to take photos for this post). I met a man who runs a campground on the island.
“There are people from the Concrete Jungle,” he said, waving his hand in the direction of the mainland, as if “Concrete Jungle” was a mythical place that he had never actually been to. “They have big houses, fancy cars, fancy jobs, but all they really want to do is be here,” he says as waves crash in the distance and dog walkers stroll along the golden sands. He pointed to the beach where he was standing, then nodded back toward a small, simple hut. We had just watched a family of about eight people file into a small cabin. Their laughter and chatter could still be heard over the sound of the seagulls and the light breeze. It seemed cozy and bright, so I wanted to peek inside and have a drink with them.
The family had three cars outside the cabin. Even though three cars are probably worth my entire house combined, we chose to come here, join forces, and go back to basics with this little cabin.
“They came here and just…” The campsite owner took a deep breath, then exhaled slowly and quietly, as if letting out all the thoughts and all the worries in his mind. Ta. “…They’re just relaxing.’
That’s why camping and caravanning are so great. Just relax.
It’s really wonderful to wake up to the sunlight shining through the forest
There are few places where you can see the mountain stream train from your living room window! (Probably only suitable if you have a 2-year-old in your girlfriend who is obsessed with trains!)
Check out bug hotel
There are no distractions while camping. You don’t have to deal with mundane worries or chores that take much longer than expected.
When I’m alone at home with my boys, I feel like I’m running around after them all day. I always cook their next meal, clean up after the meal, clean up the house, and do other chores before I start cooking the next meal. Nights are spent cleaning, tidying up, organizing, and managing life. However, there is no life manager while camping!
Even when you’re in a caravan, it takes 10 minutes to clean from top to bottom. After that, you should do all the fun and important things you really want to do in life.
It’s really ironic that we spend so much money to make everything bigger and better, and in order to get away from the bigger and better things, we spend even more money on small and shitty things. I think that’s true.
That’s stupid. I know it’s stupid, but I also don’t understand it. But I still love it.
I love being in a caravan.
The boys only have room for a small toy box, but for some reason they play just as well with five or six toys as they do with a house full of toys. The kitchen is small, but the food is better than at home. We’re all crammed into the same space because the bed is small, the dog snores, Joseph wiggles around, and George has to get up a little every three hours, but we all still do very well sleeping I’m busy from morning till night even though I have nothing to do. There’s no place to relax, but I feel more relaxed in a caravan than anywhere else in the world.
It’s our little home and we love it.
And after a few days, it starts to get irritated when it’s too close. We want our own space so we can shower without having our two kids and dog in the same room. So we hopped in the car and drove home to our big TVs, game consoles, fancy state-of-the-art gadgets, wardrobes overflowing with clothes, and cupboards filled with enough food to feed a small army. Masu. We go back to more, more, more lifestyles, back to the rat race, back to the concrete jungle, back to normal life.
And for a few weeks, we love the normal. We love to drink too much, eat too much, overspend, and overthink. But we love knowing that when everything gets bogged down, we can hop in the car and escape to a simpler way of life.
Read more: Welcome to a new chapter + a lifestyle career and a 4-day weekend
As you may have read from yesterday’s post (above), we are planning a fun 4-day weekend as a family this summer. This is the first step to breaking the cycle of working more and buying more, working more and buying more. We spend most weekends camping, caravanning and glamping around Wales. We might even include some luxury villas!