Wednesday, April 4

Nomads, Indians, Saints

I have been thinking a lot about people who inspire me in this project. I think Nomads - travelers, pioneers, and settlers; Indians - indigenous peoples adapting to and settling into their lands; and Saints - people who walk their talk in radical ways; is a pretty good way to group them.

The Nomad that's been on my mind lately is Rick Steves.

My dad was an Eagle Scout. His version of "be prepared" meant "take everything you think you might need." And while my brother interpreted that to mean packing just a pair of shorts and 10 changes of underwear for a 10-day camping trip, I have interpreted that to mean taking way too much stuff to way too many places and I have had a whole lot of misery just from schlepping my luggage around.

Rick is my antidote to Rich (my dad).

Rick's guideline is to "Pack Light and Right". This means one carry-on sized bag for all trips of any length to any destination. Why?

  • So you can have more fun while traveling and spend less energy moving and keeping track of stuff.
  • So that you are not insulated from the cultures you encounter while traveling.
Rick's Back Door philosophy is about encountering the places you travel to. In short, you haven't really been to a place unless you've been to the market, had a picnic, started a conversation with a stranger, shared family photos, had a surprising meal, slept in a house, and given something away.

Doing all these things while traveling in one bag takes some pretty intentional reducing, re-using, and recycling. There is nothing in the packing list that will only be used once. If it's not going to be used every three days or so, it shouldn't go in your bag. But also, if you have the basics, it opens up possibilities. For example, if you have a fork, spoon, and pocket knife, you can visit a grocer and eat pretty much anywhere. But if you don't happen to have those with you, you're usually stuck going to a restaurant to eat.

Doing all these things also pretty much argues that people are the best form of entertainment wherever you go.

I think it's because of reading Rick Steves that my shoulder bag now contains silverware for instant picnics, one book which can be used for notes, journaling, sketching, calendar dates, and paper. Rick is also one of those people who motivates me to try having conversations with strangers instead of going through my life afraid of them.

For more information on Rick Steves, check out his website.
Travel Tips page:


By the way, it would just be wrong to use this title for a post and not give a hat-tip to the Indigo Girls. I'm gonna do that by linking to the Honor the Earth campaign.


Mrs. Pivec said...

Hmm. Those are good ideas. I'm going to see if they have Steves' book at the library.

Oh, and BTW, you can often find many handkerchiefs at antique stores. They're usually between 1 and 3 dollars and then you don't have to buy them new.

I think I'm going to get some too. I already use rags for bathroom use and that has turned out to be completely painless and gross-free, considering I still use tp for any (rare) upset stomach days. I know, perhaps more than you wanted to know about me, but in a house with 3 girls, it cuts down quite a bit on the necessity for disposable tp.

Anne said...

Yeah. I can see using rags. I spent some time in Mexico and Guatemala and they use a lot less TP than we do.

I was also thinking about the ubiquitous t-shirt for handkerchiefs... I think you'd have to make em a bit smaller than your standard handkerchief because they're thicker, but you could also have a lot of fun decorating them with fabric pens, etc. ;-)

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NotSoBigLiving is the story of a woman inspired by Sarah Susanka, Bill McKibben, Airstreams, Tumbleweed houses, Mennonites, Jimmy Carter, hippies, survivalists, Anasazi, Pema Chodron and Joko Beck, Scott Peck, Buckminster Fuller, and Al Gore to see what she can do to reduce her carbon footprint in her mid-80's suburban townhome. Strategies include roommates, alternative travel, organic eating, planting a victory garden, mindfulness, and a belly full of laughter.