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Food for thought

minimalism

Are You A Minimalist Traveler Or A Proud Owner Of Things?

By | Community, Food for thought, Interview | No Comments

How much stuff did you pack for your last trip? Did you use it all? The truth is, no matter how big (or small) your suitcase is when you travel, at some point you’ll meet someone who’s been on the road for much longer than you, whose suitcase is much smaller than yours!

Minimalism is becoming more and more popular in the travel world, prompting travellers and remote workers alike to cut down their belongings to what is absolutely necessary, and nothing more. People that embrace the minimalist lifestyle often make the argument that “less is more”, as they value experiences over things. But is this really the general consensus among the travel community?

We asked this question to our colivers and were surprised to hear that, while minimalism is certainly on the rise, owning physical things is still important to some frequent travellers. Whether you are a minimalist like Tobi, or a proud owner of things like Diane and Jiana, keep reading to find out the reasons behind each lifestyle choice.

Team Minimalist

Tobi: For the past 7+ years, I’ve owned less than 30kg of ‘stuff’. My studying program required me to move every six months, so I had a natural transition phase that stretched over 4 years. Simply put, I gradually got rid of stuff because it wasn’t practical to carry it with me to every new location. Here are a few advantages from my experience!

  • More energy – Every item consumes energy, hence the more stuff you own, the more stuff you need to take care of (think dust cleaning, keeping your space tidy, moving places, searching for items, etc).
  • Increased focus – The more things I have around me, the more distracted my mind gets. Simply because I SEE it, it gives me a sense of chaos. I’m more productive in de-cluttered environments. Steve Jobs said: “It’s not just the absence of clutter. It involves digging through the depth of complexity. To be truly simple, you have to go really deep. […] You have to deeply understand the essence of a product in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential.” In other words, minimalism forces you to focus on the things that are important, instead of distracting us with things that are unnecessary.
  • Physical Freedom & Piece of Mind – When everything you own fits into a backpack and a single suitcase, nothing  feels superfluous or unnecessary. If I wake up one day wanting or needing a change of scenery, I can literally move countries in less than 24 hours! With less physical baggage comes less mental baggage too: the less stuff I own, the less I worry about items getting lost, stolen, accidentally damaged, etc.

Team Proud Owners Of Things

Diane: I’m the opposite and I get weirded out in super minimal environments! I love my clutter… stacks of books here, an action figure there, a blanket (or three) on the sofa… for me, it’s not dirty or overwhelming. On the contrary, it gives colour and texture to my home and makes me feel cozy.

Jiana: I am like Diane in that, I like surrounding myself with things that bring me joy, or comfort, or beauty, or all the above! Being minimal is difficult, but I do believe there is beauty in minimalism. For example when you travel and you choose to minimise the amount of stuff you carry, you can still create beauty and comfort everywhere you go with the few items you own, if these are chosen well.

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong. Whether you choose to embrace the minimalist travel and lifestyle, or feel you can’t let go of your things, it all comes down to what it is that brings you joy and makes you feel free and happy to be yourself.

Are you a minimalist or a proud owner of things? Let us know in the comments!

Social Responsibility In The Age Of The Location-Independent Traveller

By | Food for thought, Guest Blog, Travel | No Comments

Written by Duane Storey

I live a fortunate life. I have a profession that effectively lets me work from anywhere in the world, all while making an income generally in North American dollars. Popularized by such ‘visionaries’ as Tim Ferris, my lifestyle, and the lifestyle of potentially a billion people by the year 2035, is likely a new world norm. No longer are people like me stuck in offices – we can get on airplanes and work from anywhere in the world – from the remote jungles of Vietnam, to the beautiful mountains of Spain’s Canary Islands, to the wineries within a few stone’s throw from Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa. All it takes is an airplane ride and we are off visiting somewhere new.

Over the last ten years, I’ve visited over 44 countries. It’s been a life-changing experience, and I’m truly humbled by all I’ve learned and encountered by traveling the world. But it’s also not lost on me that I’m changing and damaging the very aspects of this world I cherish. Tourism in many ways is the anti-thesis to travel – we tend to explore a place in a non-sustainable way, tarnishing the very culture we are there to observe.

This is why many areas of the world are starting to clamp down on tourism – Machu Picchu in Peru is restricting travelers, Maya Bay in Thailand is effectively closed, Amsterdam is pulling back on advertisements, and Venice is soon going to restrict accommodation and overnighters in the city centre.

All of this points to one glaring fact – travel is not sustainable, and by continuing to partake in it, we are damaging the very things we hold dear.

Of course this ties into a much larger and more immediate problem – we are destroying our planet, and are on the edge of a potentially once-in-a-lifetime non-recoverable climate event. The science behind this is absolutely clear and incontrovertible. And the truth is the time for action is long overdue, and it’s up to all of us to try and stop this runaway train. Last estimates show we only have 12 years before the changes become irreversible.

So what can we do? The truth is, we can do a lot, especially because location-independent travelers are some of the most privileged people on this planet. But we need to start now.

Reduce Meat Consumption

This doesn’t mean going vegetarian or vegan, but it’s pretty clear most ominvores and carnivores eat too much meat. Even on a keto or low-carb diet a person should only be getting upwards of 25% of their calories from meat. So take a look at your consumption and see if you can reduce it.

Minimize Your Water And Electricity Usage

Go through all your lights and replace them with LEDs. Try and wash with only cold water. Run your dishwasher only once or twice a week (and dishwashers are actually way more efficient than washing by hand). Keep showers to a minimum. Unplug electronics at night or put them all on a power bar and flip the master switch so they don’t draw phantom power.

Drive Less

This isn’t that much a problem for my digital nomad friends – most of them don’t have cars. But whenever possible try to walk or take a bike instead of a taxi.

Minimize Your Air Travel When Possible

There’s been this recent trend with shaming people for airline travel. Some of my peers have pushed back against it, but I actually think it’s justified. Air travel is one of the most harmful activities in terms of carbon dioxide output on the planet. And most of my peers are comparatively well-off in terms of finances, or at least the ability to generate income. So all of us, myself included, should be doing better in this respect. And while carbon offsets aren’t the long term solution we need, they are a temporary solution, and at the bare minimum all of us location-independent workers and digital nomads should be offsetting 100% of our travel.

Duane at Cultus Lake, BC

 

One counter argument I hear routinely against the idea of carbon offsets is “how do I know that money will actually go towards offsetting my carbon footprint?” It’s a good question, but to me, mostly meaningless. Doing something is better than doing nothing, and it’s clear we can no-longer do nothing.

We need to stop looking at the cost of our travel, the price displayed to us on internet travel sites, as the actual cost – the actual cost includes our environmental impact as well, and we need to start offsetting it – immediately. I personally would never travel to a foreign country anymore without travel insurance, and neither would most of my friends. We need to look at environmental costs the same way – that $1,000 flight to that co-living place in Columbia *must* include $50 of health insurance and $50 of carbon offsets. To travel without either is irresponsible. Sure, we can hit GoFundMe when we have a travel accident and move our health burdens onto our friends irresponsibly – but there’s no equivalent safety-net for the planet, and we need to take the responsibility of doing our part seriously.

Duane has pledged to be 100% carbon neutral going forward, making adjustments at home, offsetting 100% of his flights, and posting all receipts for his carbon offsets online, encouraging others to do the same. If you want to follow his journey and join him in the effort of making the world a better place, join the Facebook Group he created – Neutral Nomads. You can also read more about Duane on his blog: www.duanestorey.com.

How To Stay Productive During The Summer

By | Food for thought, Productivity, Remote Worker | No Comments

Whether you are working from an office, or somewhere remotely, chances are you sometimes find yourself daydreaming about vacation instead of staying productive at work this summer.

Sounds familiar? You’re not alone! In fact, there’s even a name for this well-known phenomenon: the summer slump. The summer slump encompasses everything from feeling guilty when the weather is glorious, but you can’t go outdoors; to experiencing envy when envisioning all your coworkers having time off. It’s a mixture of lethargy, boredom, and restlessness, brought about by melting temperatures outside, freezing temperatures in the office, plenty of summertime distractions and a burning desire to drop all tasks at hand.

We hear you! So we came up with a list of tips to survive the hottest months of the year and still get work done, which we hope you find useful. Happy reading, and happy summer!

Work at an Optimal Temperature

The summer weather is a primary reason you find it so hard to focus in this season. When it’s so hot outside, air conditioning becomes your best friend. But go easy on it! Studies show that above 76°F/24°C productivity starts to decline, while below 68°F/20°C discomfort and the error rate become increasingly acute. Not to mention the risk of AC to send you straight to sick leave, if it gets too cold. Setting the right temperature at work can induce greater productivity, but it is a narrow margin to navigate.

Tidy up

If your working space (or your life) is a mess, take advantage of the quiet time when your coworkers are on holiday to do some tidying up. This can come in the form of unlearning bad habits, eliminating distractions, or even physically organising your life to prepare for a more productive fall. If you’re looking for a summer reading, plenty of books have been written on the topic of physical organisation (our recommendation: Marie Kondo’s bestseller ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing’). 

Exercise

Maybe it’s not the best idea to go running outdoors in the boiling summer heat, but summer is a great time to sign up for a gym membership, participate in a group exercise class or hit the pool. It’s proven that exercising can improve your mental capacity, including better concentration, sharper memory and faster learning. 

Do you still have trouble getting started, because your work schedule is too busy – or at least that’s your excuse? A Harvard Business Review article goes so far as to recommending that you reframe exercise as part of your job!

Set your goals for the future

Perhaps you have been planning to ask your boss to let you work remotely for some time? Or you would like to take a workation in the fall? Or why not trying coliving for the first time, if you are looking for new inspiration and fresh ideas? 

Now that you are mentally organised, physically ready and working at a comfortable temperature, take advantage of the summer quiet time to figure out your goals for the upcoming months, reevaluate your path and plan for meaningful changes. 

Take time for yourself

You do not have to be on a faraway island to make time for yourself. If you can’t take time to go travelling just yet, an evening stroll through the park or a weekend hike can be just as rejuvenating, if you consciously choose to unwind. Try meditation, catch up with family and friends, and when your work schedule is not as hectic, pursue the activities that you have been meaning to try for a while. 

And if you’re looking for your next destination to recharge and disconnect, remember Javea is at its best during September, October and November 🙂 Check out our booking page to see our availability in the fall: https://sun-and-co.com/book/.

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