Taking our interests on the road

When we started traveling we were determined to spend every minute we could experiencing our destination.  Imagine yourself in the rice paddies of China, or visiting the great art museums in Italy.  It seems absurd to think of taking time away from sightseeing, and, yet, as our travel time stretched out from months to years on the road, we realized the joy of spending time each day on a personal project or two.

Some interests turned out to be the perfect complement for a traveling life, like finding wildflowers  and…

writing (Beth in ‎Guangxi, China)…

reading (Joe on a train in Vietnam)…

photography (in Marrakech, Morocco)…

and watching birds (a lilac-breasted roller in Tanzania).

Bringing along books on a trip is ever so much easier now.  We remember a long ago trip of 3-months when we packed more volumes than (we thought) we could possibly read.  How did we run out of books after 2 months? We found ourselves in the smallest of villages in the Italian Alps. Our desperate search for books in English ended in a little tobacco store with a choice of about 12 books.  We were thrilled to have found them!  We carefully chose 3 books, also suitable for our teenagers, who were also running short.  We devised a system of monitored, timed reading sessions.  When time was up, the book had to be handed on to the next reader. It was painful to have to pass the book on as the suspense built.  How much easier it is now to download books on to our devices and no matter where we are, we have books – and magazines – to read online. It seems like a miracle if you travel and love to read.

Cliff and Ruth, our New Zealand traveling companions in Laos and Cambodia last year, told us they loved playing Scrabble on their devices while on the road.   We downloaded the Scrabble app and before long, it was a passion.  It may be one of the best ways ever to pass time in an airport!

We read about the wellness benefits of meditation for years, but how DO you get started while traveling?  The simple act of meditation seemed a mystery until a free app, Insight Timer, made it easy to get started.

Long before our seven-month trip in South America, we started studying Spanish online with Duolingo.

When we arrived in Ecuador, we took classes during our stay in Cuenca with the ever-interesting Sol, whose stories motivated us to learn Spanish to follow along.

We learned to speak so we could ask her questions and learn more (about her life and what was happening around us).  Since we left South America, Joe has continued to study Spanish every day.

Beth finds hand-sewing a relaxing and creative pursuit. On our road trip we had space in the car for a shoebox converted into a sewing box.  Beth discovered small scraps of fabric dating back to 1875-1900 at an antique shop in Maine.  She designed a small quilted throw of squares.

A piece of the scrap fabric is in the upper right corner of each square.  The background was light grey-blue cotton, purchased as we passed through New Jersey.

When the quilt was finished, Beth used some of the remaining small scraps to sew some little songbirds. We’ll carve wood that we found on the beach in Florida to make little beaks for the songbirds and fashion wire legs for them, too.

Pursuing our interests while we travelled added a new and rewarding dimension to our life on the road.


March 2019

About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
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9 Responses to Taking our interests on the road

  1. Ah yes but Ruth needs to let me win every now and then otherwise I lose interest. Good post – life goes on even when you are travelling.

  2. What a wonderful focus for your post. We also travel with kindles but we put our content on them in a different way than most. We don’t connect the kindles to the internet but download books to the computer and then upload to the kindle. That way our downloaded library books never “expire” but always stay on the device. It obviously takes some extra time but it’s so nice to have a huge permanent collection.

    • We’ve downloaded straight to the Kindle and not lost any books. No matter how we do it – it’s lovely to have continuing access. In the beginning we tried to only download books we both wanted to read to save money – but that proved not to work well so we just download what we want to read when we’re ready to read.

  3. Beth and Joe – Sounds like you are making those fabric-and-wood birds to put down on your own patio. Simple travel, as you say in your blog, and simple living certainly brings some peaceful days 🙂 – Susan

    • There’s a plan for those little birds but I want to sew 11 or so to carry it out and I’m only on #5. The plan is to perch them on a few fallen small tree branches and hang inside a house. Don’t know if – or how well – it will work so I may need to flip to another plan. More on it all as work progresses.

  4. I loved your quilt Beth and look forward to seeing your birds when they’re finished. Your new home is going to be a memorable delight with all the souvenirs you’ve carefully picked and toted during your travels as well as your photos and other things you’ve made. I remember buying each of us a Kindle Fire and laptops as we prepared to live out of a suitcase full-time back in 2012 and my husband being so resistant to the idea that an electronic device could replace books, magazines and newspapers. How quickly that changed when he learned that buying a book was simple and fast and that he could keep up with the news or indulge his passion for travel and history wherever we were. My hobbies of sewing, beading and gardening were replaced by a camera, reading and writing – all digital and portable. And now, I’m off to download a scrabble app on my phone as I prepare for a month-long trip back to the States! Anita

  5. Yes, I love my kindle. It makes travelling with books so much easier. I have the Scrabble app on my phone but never thought of it as a travel game. I remember you telling the story of that fabric purchase and am thrilled to see what Beth did with it all. The quilt is lovely.

  6. Merrill says:

    I love how you incorporate life into travel. Our lives shouldn’t be put on hold while traveling. Travel begs questions that need answering so I love digging into a place’s history by reading. (I love my reading apps not having to carry the books!) I find that is difficult to do If we’’re moving too fast and trying to see too much.

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