Recently my life ambitions, desires and priorities have all steered me in a new direction. For the first time in my life I feel like I really know what I want to do and have the focus and drive to work towards that goal. As part of trying to spend more time doing the things I love, I am also trying to spend less time on things I don’t really care for; TV, technology, that sort of thing. This is a contributing factor to having started to write a blog and explore Saddle Life as a personal voyage, and yes, I do see the contradiction but it helps focus my efforts and to record my progress.
Living life on the road and travelling the world is ever increasingly in my thoughts, but just packing-up and leaving without a solid plan is not something I am willing to do despite how much I tempted to. Which leaves me working my day job and continuing to live the “typical” life. So I asked myself, what can I do now that will allow me more of the things I want while still maintaining the day-to-day routine?
Here is what I thought of..
1. Travel more!
I have spoken about shifting my priorities. After cycling through Central America with my buddy Robert Bobert I got the bug for bikepacking. This year I am already planning four bikepack adventures (one down already). However large or small these may be it’s still an improvement and means I will explore as many countries by bike just this year as I have ever done in total.
2. Life edit
Digital detoxing is high up on my agenda. After having my phone stolen in Kenya I was without a smartphone for about two weeks when I got home. And I honestly didn’t miss it at all. When I have one I am addicted to it but when its gone I don’t even miss it. The only two things of real value that I missed was my music and WhatsApp. But as soon as my new phone arrived, despite consciously trying to install fewer apps, pretty much within a couple of hours I had half of my old apps installed. There is a great app called Quality Time which records how much time you spend on your phone and individual apps. After the first week of having my new phone I had spent 20 hours on it. That’s almost a whole day wasted. There are many other features to this app which I won’t go into but a the very least it helps you see what consumes most of your time and hopefully help change your habits.
3. Spend more time outdoors
There is no surprise to hear that I camping with my friends is something I enjoy doing, but the occasions this happens are few and far between. A while back one of my friends told me about an idea they had with friends that I liked which was to go camping at least once each calendar month. This way in the colder months they would have a trigger to help remind them to pick up their camping things and go camping when they otherwise might not and in the end, of course, still had a great time. With a campfire and the right cold weather gear (and sometimes wine) you can be very warm and comfortable, but more importantly, be happy outdoors.
All this has lead me to an idea. An idea I have been playing with for a while but trying to work out the logistics of, by which I mean, mostly thinking of reasons it can’t be done, which is simply, to spend as much time outside as possible. And I feel that writing a post about it will hold me accountable meaning I will have to do it.
The initial idea was to live outside and still function in the real world for six months. I quickly came to realise that this wouldn’t be possible without the support of private landowners because in order to do this while still working full-time, I would need to be able to pitch up my hammock in a permanent spot for a week at at time, or at least for the five working days. I’ve never done a cycle tour longer than ten days so I’m no expert but it seems pretty obvious to me that being able to buy, store and cook food is an ongoing and persistent day-to-day task on the road and to do that every evening after a full days work would be challenging enough without also having to constantly set-up and pack-away my hammock. So after speaking with just a few farmers it became apparent that getting this sort of permission would be a much larger task and maybe one to park for the future. I haven’t given up on the idea but I now realise it will take more planning and preparation than I had provisioned for.
With that in mind I decided to settle for the middle ground. Try to sleep outside as much as possible. This would mean I could still go home to shop and cook and would only mean venturing out in the evenings to find a spot for the night and settle down for nights sleep in my hammock. So this is my plan for this Summer of 2017.
I’m looking forward to see how I cope with this, what I might learn and if I start to feel any different about my travels or hammock camping. Only time will tell.