I hate the word “busy”. That’s a different lesson in simplicity for another time… but I knew this year was going to be a bit hectic when in January I wrote down my top priorities for the year and the list was a bit long. Sprinkle in some health issues as an added bonus and by the start of April I needed to press pause. Time to book a holiday.
I’d been on a few girly package holidays in my early 20s but a shared love of adventure meant that for the last 9 years my partner and I have been more likely to find ourselves in a campervan in Ireland or a 4×4 in Kruger National Park than on a coach heading to an all-inclusive, adults-only resort in Italy with Tui. The first lesson in simplicity from a package holiday is of course that one website books you flights, accomodation, and food and drink for the week – no further decisions necessary apart from whether you fancy prosecco or a cocktail, and whether you want a swim or a nap.
Three lessons in simplicity
1. The benefits of some monotony
When you see the same views every day, perhaps some would get bored. Not me. I stared and stared at the sea, the ever-changing clouds, and the splendid mountain rock formations. I couldn’t get enough of looking at the changing colours of the mountains as the sun dodged in and out of the clouds, the mountains disappearing and reappearing as the mountain fog whooshed past, and spotting a new flower on a trellis. When you’re in the same place for a while, you know that if you drift off into a daydream (or an afternoon nap), the same thing will be there to enjoy tomorrow. My first lesson in simplicity is that monotony allows you to completely relax (and nap. Did I mention naps?).
2. The ease that a capsule wardrobe creates
On holiday, a capsule wardrobe is forced upon you somewhat, especially if you drip tomato sauce down yourself two nights running. Having a very small selection of clothes to choose from was a surprising relief. This year I’ve already decluttered even more of my wardrobe, despite vowing not to spend any money on clothes this year (more on that here), but I’m now questioning whether I still have far too many clothes given the small pool of items I actually wear regularly. Imagine having a daily uniform a la Steve Jobs; Obama too stated that he didn’t want to make decisions about food or clothes, because he had too many other decisions to make. A much more pared down wardrobe is something I’ll definitely consider for a separate lesson in simplicity.
3. Everyone is right about the power of a digital detox
It’s a cliche but turning off your notifications is a game changer! I had already turned off social media notifications and those for my personal emails, but what surprised me was the number of daily reminders (interruptions!) that I had set – taking vitamins, signing out of instagram in the evening, physio exercises, meditation… my phone didn’t stop, even on flight mode. I’ve turned them all off now and I’m still (mostly) getting enough done. Missing my daily vitamins is worth a bit of peace and quiet from my phone!
Having discovered these lessons in simplicity, I’m a total convert to a package holiday, although next year I won’t wait until I’m completely spent before booking one. This has definitely been a lesson in being open to what you need rather than doing what you’ve always done. I know the diving holiday I had hoped for wasn’t what I needed at that point, and culturing a mindset of abundance, rather than lack, means I know that many more diving holidays will be just around the corner.