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 shareso 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.”
How to replace your fly chord on your Remis Blind. Ours went on one of the rear blinds in our Pilote P740 so we had to attempt to replace it. With trepidation I took it off the wall and took it apart. You’ll need gimp, yes GIMP ( that’s what it’s called) or alternatively 1mm waxed ( non-elasticated) black chord which you can buy from amazon https://amzn.to/2YKsYap before you start and it’s a bit fiddly but it’s definitely achievable. Here’s our video from our Youtube channel The Motoroamers
When you were our holidays, we loved the precious time you gave us, where we had the space to retreat, rejuvenate and reconnect.Into the mix you would offer us a brief glimpse into the culture of our temporary home. Whether that was food from the local hostelry, a street market that would tempt our culinary delights, or perhaps even a regional celebration that honoured a local custom. You encouraged us to dip our toes into a way of life that seemed far removed from our own stressful existence.Returning home we would often recall our experiences and studiously review our photo album, sighing with a longing that accompanies that inevitable back to reality.
Sometimes because of the way our lifestyle panned out, you were simply days out or short breaks away; we loved the escape you opened up for us, which quite simply used to get us away from life’s grind. A day-trip in the car or a city break gave us a destination to blow away our corporate created cobwebs. A rare treat to remove ourselves from the daily routines of professional and domestic chores which, in that moment, made us feel alive.Whilst these may have been all too short, sometimes they were all we could squeeze in amongst the stress ball of life.
And then three years ago, you showed up in all your glory – Travel, the full frontal experience. You gave us a chance to fill our lives with adventure, freedom and choice – riches beyond our imagination. And whilst we look back at our vacations and short breaks with fondness, they neither fulfilled us nor changed our lives. Their healing necessary although their longevity impermanent.
Yet the opportunity to enjoy every inch of your personality has been profound. You are the greatest teacher, the most flamboyant of moments and you provide the most deep-rooted memories that exceed every expectation. We feel privileged to have connected with you at such a deep level. To have shaken hands with your hospitality and ridden the rollercoaster of adventures that have taken us to the peak of joy and the depths of stress. Each one proving that we are alive and free.
You are not, it must be said Travel, always joyful. You are at times like a teenager throwing tantrums that capture us in your trail of destruction like a shoal of fish. Testing, pushing, stretching – although it is in these tempestuous moments that our characters are defined, refined and honed. Our coping mechanisms are so much more resilient because of your challenges.
Travel, you have taken us on a journey that with each step makes our heart beat as fast as a pair of star-crossed lovers on their first date. Around every corner you gift us with fresh vistas that take our breath away. You present us with stunning sunrises that herald a new day and powerful sunsets that gather the joys of that day underneath their rose-coloured veil.
For the last three years you have invited us on your journey of discovery revealing far more than just the cultural uniqueness of the countries we have visited. You have subtly mentored us to look within and understand more about our nomadic selves, uncovering the simplicity of life that exists beneath the stars. With your help, each day we remove ourselves from the corporate and commercial hub that imprisoned us and start to relish the truth that is entwined around life.How little we need to thrive; how little our materialistic possessions define us and how much more freedom we have when we grab the reigns from life’s galloping horse.
With these gifts that sit underneath our eternal Christmas Tree, how enriched our life has become. Each morning we awake with gratitude as the sun dawns and with eager anticipation we await the day’s lesson. It’s not always an easy class, as sometimes you throw a curve ball or two to stretch us. Although thanks to your solid foundation we cope so much more easily with those tests.Our stress from the old days are a dim and distant memory as deep wounds heal themselves and a fresh perspective graces our minds.
Home for us now can be found wherever our tyres stop for the night. That temporary abode is as homely as any brick wall and front door. We have embraced the open road and the wide open spaces that span the globe. And so when our wheels stop from their incessant roll, we breathe in the peace from the sanctuary that you have carved for us; beside the beach, in the bosom of the mountains or nestled beside a babbling brook.
Is this why when we return to the source of our birth ‘home’ that we feel so unsettled?
The girl who was a home-bird, who found the security of her house comforting and stabilising – now craves the open road. The itchy feet syndrome never feels so real as when we are drawn back to UK. Sometimes for three weeks, sometimes for three months, we have pitstops that are always purposeful and necessary although feel so strange. What a dichotomy. Returning to the nest yet not feeling at home.
Travel, this is your greatest puzzle. You have captured our hearts so gently and gracefully that we feel almost lost in the familiarity of our home country. And this is nothing to do with those we hold dear. They remain the same gorgeous and kind-hearted souls that we love unconditionally. No this is more about us and how we have been affected by your infectious path.We have learnt to be mindful in every moment, although I must confess that our minds often wander to the day when we return to the road.
We never really appreciated what it meant to have itchy feet as we lunged from one stressful situation to another in the corporate web of yesteryear – driven only by the next pay check or weekend retreat. Now blessed by a self-generated freedom, the generosity you have shown us makes us crave more. An addiction that feeds the soul, nourishes the mind and nurtures our human instincts for discovery, adventure and evolution.
With every passing day we find ourselves longing to return to your route-map and are thankful for the love and support we have to follow our dreams. Travel, you have enriched our lives and we look forward to our homecoming as our tyres hit the tarmac for yet another new adventure.
Travel, we thank you for the lessons, the discoveries and the personal realisations that have made us grow as human beings and, and with hope as our companion, may it be for many years to come. Draw us further into your web of intrigue and massage our life with experiences that create a page-turning book of intrigue, passion and discovery.
Earlier this year we were asked by a new motorhomie what were the most essential items that she needed to pack in her new home. It prompted a blog on this very topic, which had a very purposeful female slant – The Top 20 Motorhome Essentials for Ladies.
We promised to draw up a male influenced Essentials List, which I delegated over to Mr Smilisie. Now clearly, I recognise that there are plenty of solo ladies out there, although we hope you will forgive the masculinity of the topic and get some benefit from our list.
* Affiliate disclosure – some of these items have a link to Amazon, with whom we have an affiliate partnership. If you click on these links and decide to purchase, you will not be charged any more – we just get a small commission from any purchases you make.
1. Duck tape
There will always be little incidents and accidents whilst you’re away and sometimes things may need holding together until you can get it repaired. One of our essentials is Duck Tape that is either translucent or the same colour as your van. It deals with a multitude of sins and allows you to hanging things together whilst you’re away and before you can get to a garage to get it fixed.
2. Velcro ( heavy duty and standard) rolls
This has been a god-send to us, as we constantly look to evolve the organisation in the garage. Having the Velcro allows us to keep everything in place especially in the garage and more importantly easily accessible. It has so many uses, we could go on and on and on!
Keep some on board, you’ll not regret it.
3. Zip ties
Who would have thought that ZipTies could come in handing whilst living life on the road? Buy a variety pack, you never quite know when they will come in handy. And yet they do. We’ve used them in so many different weird and wonderful ways. Now then; gripping a tyre when we were stuck on soggy ground, holding things together……. Not always with successful outcomes, although none-the-less, a great garage accessory to have.
4. Toolkit Essentials
For any garage, motorhome, cyclist or camper, there’s always a mini tool kit lurking somewhere in a tiny space somewhere. Whilst you may not be able to bring all your beloved tools away with you, well not if you want to keep within your payload, there are some essentials that you just can’t do without. Here are our vitals:
Small adjustable spanner
Good quality torch
5. Assortment of fuses
This has been one of most recent purchases, as there’s something about our 12v charger point in the kitchen that keeps tripping out the fuse. So we’ve got a neat little box of fuses to replace the duffers.
6. Araldite glue
You always gotta have glue, it’s amazing the number of things that come unstuck that need putting back together again. If it works for Humpty Dumpty, then surely it must work for us motorhomies too.
7. Baby wipes
Now who would have thought that Baby Wipes would have got a mention on a blog like this! Yet these little babies are fantastic for cleaning off the bugs and grime on the outside of the van, as well as helping sterilise stuff on the inside. Marvellous.
8. Solar panel with pure sine wave inverter
This is one of our best ever purchases and whilst not a specific tool as such it is a great resource, especially as we do a lot of wild camping. It’s a 120W Solar Panel that together with an extra Leisure Battery gives us all the power we need to run some household appliances, like the Nutribullet and Juicer for the Mrs and keep our devices powered up.
9. Power Packs
Whether you are travelling as a family, solo or as a couple, you will undoubtedly have devices that will need constant charging. If you’re like us and do work on the road, these little bundles of power pack a right old punch and keep us connected both with the work we do and our family and friends back in UK.
They’re not expensive or difficult to store although essential pieces of kit. Just make sure you get enough of them – we have three and sometimes even that’s not enough.
10. Ratchet Straps
These straps are great multi-taskers and are just one of these pieces of kit that you need to keep in your garage somewhere.
We use ours for a bit of safety when we’re wild camping, strapping the two main doors together – it might not stop them getting in although they’ll certainly wake us up trying!
As always, not an exhaustive list, although these are the items we believe have been essential to us. There are other items we carry, although perhaps more nice to haves – which is a whole different post altogether. So for now, we hope sharing our experiences is helpful. Kx
As I’m sat in the mountains just north of Brasov, Romania, with the early morning cloud tickling the tree tops in a mischievous manner, feral dogs barking seemingly at fresh air and a lone runner pounding the ground – I’m left pondering! Pondering on the life of a nomad and a travelling introvert.
Early morning creativity
Romanian Monastery – early morning sunrise
There’s no more perfect a time for me than the early morning rise. That moment where night surrenders to the light signalling the awakening of a dawn. With my solitude I can watch the world unfurl into a new day. This tiny window of calm is a time for me to reflect, write and just be, without the noise that inevitably comes with the emerging sun. The stillness paradoxically beats in tune with my heart and, for that moment, we are as one.
A time when my creativity is at its highest, with no distractions to distort its flow – just the sounds of wildlife as it makes the most of this precious tranquility.
So what is it that makes travelling so special? Is it the bewilderment from undiscovered lands that ooze legacy and natural beauty? Or perhaps it is the buzzing throng of a city with its crowds of people going somewhere or going nowhere, it matters not. Travelling for some might be the journey to reach a destination, whilst for others it is the pure stillness of sitting in a new land that feels strange and yet somehow vaguely familiar and breathing it in as if it were part of you.
Travel is a unique experience
Thriving on the nourishing coastliner
How we experience travel is unique to us all. Yet for the growing swell of wanderlust seekers we share the pure joy at having the freedom to leave behind our constricted lives, for a moment or forever and feel it penetrate deep into our soul, enriching us beyond recognition. Yet beyond this commonality, our adventures will take on a completely different feel dependent upon our personalities and needs. Being in a city full of noise and movement is my idea of hell, although others thrive on it. Leave me by the coast with the gently lapping waves or in the mountains where the air is crisp and clear or sat by a field of lavender listening to the orchestra of bees – this is where I will find my Nivarna.
Wearing a mask
The masks we wear
As an introvert who has come from a very public corporate job, burnt-out and overwhelmed from a business where I had to give so much of myself away, I had all too little time to replenish my energy. I found the need to retreat from the world and heal from the effects of a life wearing a mask. And now having committed to a life as nomads, travelling the world with curiosity in our pockets and adventure in our hearts, it occurs to me to question – Does this soothes my introverted nature or does it challenge it?
And strangely I think it does both. There are times when we meet new people or friends we’ve made along the way and we share a precious moment together with laughter and discussion filling the air. And for a short while this is beautiful and its lovely to connect with like-minded souls who are striving for the same sense of freedom.
My travel Utopia
And yet there comes a time when this exchange starts to drain my battery reserves and a retreat to my own space beckons like the pull of a magnet. It’s primal, instinctive and I must heed its call, otherwise my strain becomes palpable.
You see, it is in the space of solitude where peace massages my soul and I am enveloped in its protection that I can fully experience the world. Feeling a place from within, through my senses rather than through a shared experience. Don’t get me wrong, I love to share and be with others to talk about our adventures, although so much of my travelling joys are based on being able to internalise the sensations and absorb them into my heart through my skin.
City cafe Scene
There is nothing more I love than exploring a city from the relative safety of a pavement cafe where I can observe the passing world and wonder at people’s stories almost as if in a slow-motion movie. Within the heart of the mountains or by the coast you will find me at my best, absorbing nature’s essence and wondering at its magnificence. The seemingly motionless lake, where life beneath the surface vibrates with an almost invisible existence, I will sit in contemplation and flourish in its tranquility. Amongst a crowd of strangers, I love to sit back and listen to the buzz and dynamics whilst I curiously explore the paths people have travelled. And as the day gives way to night and the sun sinks into the horizon’s embrace, I cherish the time to reflect on my day and its joys. This is how I love to travel.
Apart from travelling with my soulmate, who is also an introvert, thankfully, my greatest companion on my journey is my camera. To capture a place through the lens and convert it to a story with words that adds texture and emotion is joyful. This is why I love what we do and why I can honest say that this is the happiest time of my life, ever!
So if you meet me on the road, I will aways show you my warmth and love, because that is an innate part of me too. Although never feel sad or rejected if you see me retreat as this is the natural call of my heart. Never feel concerned if you see me sat on a rock staring into space. Never wonder whether this lonely traveller needs some company or a conversation. All is well with this travelling introvert as this is how she harmonises with her adventures and converts them into memories.
We all have a different take on travelling and the joy that exploring new lands and cultures hold. So whether we meet as fellow introverts or extroverts, always know that we are connected through that delicate strand of silk that has us discovering ourselves on the journey that our feet were born to experience. Have happy and safe travels. Karen x
Hi, Karen & Myles, The Motoroamers here. We are a fun-loving couple travelling full-time around Europe in Scoobie our trusty camper. We're driven to deliver seriously entertaining travel through our blogs, photography and humorous videos. We hope to inspire you too to travel.