Life and Business Lessons Learned From A Hike Across Spain, Step by Step
I feel like a bit of a hypocrite as I am typing this blog from a very luxurious hotel in Dubai. I have just spent the last week with my family in a five-star hotel where the pool attendants issue cold towels in the fear of their guest becoming too hot and every corner oozes luxury. It is our last day today and as I reflect on the week, the most memorable day was when we hired inexpensive electric scooters and spent a couple of hours whizzing around the Marina, squealing in delight as we raced each other. It reminded me of when Rachel was young and had more enjoyment from the box that the Christmas present came in, rather than the present itself. Sometimes, the simple things in life are the best.
It has only been two weeks since I returned from my last Camino trip and I found myself in a very peculiar situation as I started packing a suitcase for the forthcoming Dubai holiday. We were going for seven days, and usually, I would be packing too many clothes that I probably wouldn't wear. I would not dream of rinsing my underwear out in the shower or sink and putting them out to dry on the balcony, but now that is where my thoughts are going. Do I really need eight pairs of knickers?
I am a self-confessed Amazon addict
To give you some perspective, I am a self-confessed Amazon addict. I've never really been into the flash cars, expensive clothes or big houses but I am no different to everyone else and I do enjoy to splash the cash every now and then. I am the sort of person who likes technology, and therefore I tend to spend my hard earned money on things such as the latest iPhone, gimbals, MacBooks, mini-projectors or printers etc. I have spent a small fortune on Amazon over the years on the latest gadget or hiking equipment and much of it is still in a box in a cupboard under the stairs! What a waste!
Do you need lots of stuff to be happy?
I have just finished reading "I'm off then" by Hape Kerkling, a German Comedian who walked the Camino in 2001. His view was that if you are not a "peasant" then why should you pretend to be one on the Camino? If you can afford a luxurious hotel room then surely it is hypocritical to pretend to be a true pilgrim and stay at Albergues that hold 100 people to one room on rickety bunk beds? Isn't that an insult to those that really do need the beds? He has a point. I remember one fellow pilgrim who was also staying "upmarket" on the Camino claiming that if a pilgrim back in the day was to come across someone who offered him a donkey or some type of luxury to help his pilgrimage journey become more comfortable, they would have been unlikely to refuse. It is a debate that happens daily on the trail.
I remember on my first Camino there were quite a few items that remained in my pack and I never used once! I had luxury items such as a Kindle for reading at night and a blue-tooth keyboard that married up to my iPhone as I imagined myself writing full blogs whilst on the trail. In reality, I found myself enjoying the company of other pilgrims in the evening and I was quite happy writing on the go just using the notes app as and when inspiration arose. These all extra items added to the weight on my back, but I refused to send them on as "I needed them!". Or so I thought!
There is something about living out of a backpack that makes you appreciate your homelife. Simple things like nice underwear or your favourite pair of jeans are welcomed with open arms when you return home. I remember the feeling of pure heaven when I showered with my Imperial Leather Shower Gel and used my hairdryer. We take these small things for granted and it was quite a revelation for me to realise how much we can do without!
Time to clear those wardrobes!
You don't realise how much stuff you have at home until you have spent numerous weeks on the trail. So many people that I have interviewed have returned home and then had a bit of a clear out. I too spent time emptying my wardrobe, clearing out my bedside cabinet and having a good sort out of the boxes in the spare room. I was ruthless and cleared out clothes that still had the label on them but I had never worn, there were magazines that were still in their wrapper that I had collected and never read that were now in the bin. The most drastic was the "gadget" boxes in the spare room. OMG! I had all sorts of crap in there. From boot warmers that I have never used to kettles that didn't even have a UK plug socket on the end. It was ludicrous and embarrassing how much money I had spent on total rubbish!
Buy buying stuff is an addiction and it is something that I am really trying to cut down on. I now ask myself a few times "do I really need this?" before clicking the "buy now" button - even if it is screaming at me saying "buy me NOW" - I try to sleep on it before returning and clicking go!
Walking for weeks on end and carrying the only things that you need on your back certainly puts life into perspective. When you start to clear the clutter from your life you start to see clearly. I am still at the beginning of this journey, but long may it continue.
I am curious to hear from other pilgrims - did you have a clear out when you got home?
Thank you for reading this blog.