Celebrating Birthdays whilst travelling
Celebrating Birthdays whilst travelling or living on the road can be a tricky affair. Buying the right gift that you can keep a surprise, no room for parties, not being close to friends and family. It’s a big conundrum that has vexed me since we left UK in March 2016.
Yet choosing a nomad life or even just spending a lot of time on the road means that life becomes a whole lot simpler. You find yourself thrust into an existence where your needs are few and your desires for material things dwindle with the speed of a gazelle.
A streamlined life with a back-pack, camper or boat may take on the look of a minimalist hermit, although the truth is that we really don’t need much to be happy. We are conditioned by the commercial marketeers that we need the latest leather sofa or car with go-faster stripes to define ourselves, yet we know in our hearts that it isn’t true.
Our stuff may well be decluttered, recycled or stored whilst our wanderlust takes over the reigns of our chariot, although our habits take a little longer to be reshaped. We are programmed to celebrate Birthdays, Anniversaries, Christmas, New Year with the gusto and flamboyance of a Royal Wedding. We go to town decorating our homes, buying gifts that no one in their right minds would purchase any other time of the year, bake cakes, write cards and generally set out to spoil the people around us in order to make them feel special.
Yet is love buying the latest gadget, the trendiest outfit or the most adrenalin filled experience? No with a capital N. This is what we have come to learn, although it is not the truth. And it is what life on the road is teaching me. Life and gifts are so much more than purchases we make to bring happiness. Although I’ll not lie, breaking that materialistic bubble is tough when it comes to Birthdays. Even four years on, for me celebrating birthdays whilst travelling is a hard one to overcome.
Deep within me I love to make those I love feel happy – it’s an engrained pattern deep in my DNA; a people pleasing trait. In turn, I feel more worthy when others acknowledge my Birthday. I’m not proud of this flaw and it is something that I am constantly working on – although there we go, this is my truth.
And it is these legacies that have me recoiling when it comes to celebrating my loved one’s anniversaries. Strangely I have overcome the whole Christmas thing as we’ve not sent cards or bought presents for over 12 years. So my habit has changed over time. And I hope the same will happen soon when it comes to Birthdays.
So as I sit here pondering on this non-Birthday Birthday phenomina for Myles 53 celebration, I thought it might be helpful to work this one through for those Life on the Roaders who, like me struggle to know how to approach it. I’ll be honest though, this is still work in progress, so I am no means cured from the society norms that have carved their patterns into my psyche.
10 Ways to celebrate without consumerism
1. Celebrate with a home-cooked meal
As they say, ‘The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.’ Lots of people enjoy showing their love through the food they cook. It’s so lovely to be able to design a menu of food that would make their hearts sing. Ask if you had to design a ‘last meal’ what would it be.
2. Spoil them with breakfast in bed
I always enjoy the whole breakfast in bed gesture and whilst wholly impractical, it’s the thought that counts. Going to extra effort on a special day is so much more meaningful than pile of presents that satisfy only our own desire to please.
3. Wake up to an appropriate song
“If music be the food of love, play on.” Shakespeare
For our Birthday’s we always have a song playing – often it’s Stevie Wonder’s ‘Happy Birthday’. What a fabulous way to start the day. Music has such a great vibe to it.
4. Create a personalised collage or gif and post to Social Media
I love putting collages together with my favourite pictures of times spent together. Using an app like canva.com you can come up with some great designs that share so much more than a present can ever do. The thought that goes into creating, building and designing something is worth its weight in gold.
5. Make a video from friends sending Birthday greetings
For Myles’ 50th Birthday, I asked friends and family (many of whom he hadn’t spoken to for a long while) to put together a 2 minute video sending him their Birthday greetings. I then put all those together into a video with music and made this his main ‘present’. It stunned him into silence and he still plays it three years on!
6. Celebrate with a meal out
It’s always fun to be with people you love and being able to share the celebration with special people makes the day more meaningful. So if you’re in a place where you can share with loved ones, find a way to celebrate together. We are often stationery in a campsite on Myles’ Birthday, so we have the chance to be with friends or visiting family who are with us for the Christmas period. Otherwise we might delay a celebration so we can be with fellow travellers who we want to rendezvous with.
7. Buy a local tipple or tasty bite
If buying a gift still feels important, then look for a special tipple or traditional food from the country you are travelling in. It might make a nice change to try something cultural that they wouldn’t normally have throughout the year, that feels like a treat.
8. Send an ecard
If like us, whilst on your travels, having cards that cover every eventuality is impractical, then you always make one or send an e-Card. Increasingly saving resources is important so an e-card is a lovely way of celebrating that special day.
9. Kiss, hug and squeeze just a little bit more than normal
Special days come each morning we wake up, although when it’s a Birthday or Anniversary, then the most priceless gift is your time and affection. When we recondition our beliefs to realise that buying a present isn’t the only way we can show our love, then the options are endless. Take more time to spoil your loved one with even more hugs and kisses.
10. Do what they want to do and not what you think they would like
I remember last year’s Birthday for Myles; I asked him what he wanted to do with his day. His needs were simple – just a walk along the beach. Whilst it didn’t feel ‘enough’ for me to acknowledge his special day, it was a perfect for him. And that’s what really mattered. Sometimes the most simple pleasures have the most meaningful impact.
Celebrating Birthdays whilst travelling is just one of the many things that require a shift in thinking and a change of habits. Finding a different and more simple way of showing someone you love them is so important. After all, moving away from the traditions of the Matrix was what motivated us to live an alternative life in the first place. So as we evolve our behaviours, we continue to find more simple ways to give gifts, show love and acknowledge important dates without the commercialism that we have grown up with. For inspiration on creative gifts whilst on the road, read my post by clicking here.
How do you celebrate whilst travelling? Would love to hear how you approach this tricky conundrum.
And I’ll leave you with one final thought thanks to Henry T. Ford….
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
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