As much as I hate to admit it, I am currently more interested in my kanelbullar and latte than the Palestine-Israel conflict. I put the textbook away that I’ve been trying to read in vain for the past fifteen minutes and reflect on the weekend, watching groups of people departing and arriving at Lunds Centralstation from the coffee shop window.
A while back I wrote about living in the ether. I’ve been trying to implement this in my life for a while now, despite how busy I may be. One thing in particular that I attempt every now and then is spontaneous mini travel-sodes without goals or expectations.
This past weekend was a perfect example of putting this idea into practice. The stress of studies and design work have been getting to me, so I decided to go on a cycling/hiking/carrying bikes up cliffs-ing for a couple of days.
Normally I plan trips like mad, making sure I hit certain spots, follow a timeline, and have back-up plans. This time the planning would be left up to the fates. My Polish friend Karolina decided to accompany me, and deserves a lot of credit for keeping the free-spirited mood of the trip going.
Why should anyone travel without planning and abandon their expectations on the wayside? Well, the thing about expectations is:
1) they become inflated and unrealistic,
2) they don’t account for life’s little accidents,
3) they eliminate surprises,
4) they create inflexible agendas,
5) they are not always met and lead to disappointment.
These are all negative things that can be avoided if we just let ourselves go with the flow for a bit. Your mind will be so relaxed and your attitude so positive that you won’t care about about how much distance you’ve covered. It’s nice to just be in the moment, perceiving and processing everything in real time without having goals and expectations as a frame of reference.
At some point we were pushing our gear-laden bikes along the very overgrown Skåneleden (Skåne Trail) footpath. We had no idea how long we would not be able to cycle because the terrain was impassable for the poor things. There was no turning back, having literally just carried the bikes up a cliff to get there.
I’m sure everyone thought we were crazy. Actually, one guy did say we were crazy after giving directions to us. But you know what? We were just happy to be there. Such is the joy of traveling without expectations.
If you also want to be more spontaneous and travel with wild abandon, I suggest you bring a few things (especially if you’re traveling in a wilderness area) in case you wind up in too much of a spontaneous situation for your liking.
- A tent
- Sleeping bag and pad
- 2L of water
- Some food high in protein
- Emergency poncho
- Warm change of clothes
- A map
It’s also a smart idea to let others know about the general area you’ll be traveling in, to be on the safe side. Just watch 127 Hours if you disagree. Enjoy!
I have been living in Lund, Sweden for about two weeks now, and have utilized about every type of transportation available to man, apart from boats and rocket ships. I used a plane to get here obviously, the bus occasionally, I’ve had a couple of car rides, walked several miles, have taken trains to other towns, and my new bike has already seen some wear.
My focus in this post is on the marriage of minimalism and practicality when it comes to getting around. I look for a method that is low-impact, cost-efficient and does not abuse my time.
All of these methods have their merits and their downfalls, and they are each dependent on one’s location and personal situation. Different countries (and different cities, for that matter) have different levels of infrastructure, so it’s difficult to write a post that is all-inclusive to anywhere in the world. Expect a huge USA/Sweden bias.
Millions of people worldwide journey to the bus stop everyday. It is, if carried out correctly by the city, an efficient and dependable way to travel. Sweden’s public transportation is among the best in the world. The buses are ALWAYS on time, and you can purchase a ticket simply by walking on with your electronic bus pass. Most of them use either biodiesel or ethanol for fuel. In fact, Sweden has the largest ethanol fleet in the world.
Of course, you have to pay for all these goodies. It’s generally between $3 - $6 to various places in Lund if you don’t have a pass. This is opposed to the free bus system at my home university, however unreliable that it was. It could be worth at least having a pass handy for those mornings you wake up to a torrential downpour.
As bad for the environment as they are, cars are probably the most comfortable way to get around town. You can decide on your own schedule, have your personal space, avoid the sometimes true stigma of public transportation…but at what cost? Gas prices have been consistently getting worse throughout my short life, to the point where going to the pump can sometimes ruin a morning that was going well.
Carpooling is a great way to have the convenience, split the fuel costs, and alleviate some of the environmental impact. If you want to look at extremely cheap and efficient carpooling on a massive scale, check out Zip Car.
The bike: exercise, transportation, and adventure, all in one. It is a great way to see the city and I guarantee you’ll know how to get anywhere in town after spending a day lost and aimless on a bike (especially if it’s raining). Commuting by cycle is very sustainable because the only environmental impact is from the materials that went into its production. Oddly enough, you also might be able to get where you need to go more quickly than if you commute by bus or car. You can easily maneuver where other vehicles cannot.
The amount of pleasure one can get from biking around town really depends on the bike-friendliness of the town. Honestly, I think almost any other country in the world is more bike-friendly than the US. In many parts of South America, India, and Southeast Asia it is the primary form of personal transportation. In Europe, it is accepted for it’s convenience and sustainability. Haters aside, I think bicycles are the perfect combination of mobility and sustainability, while also quickly paying for themselves by avoiding bus fares and painful gas prices.
We can’t forget good old-fashioned walking. The only costs involved go toward being fully-clothed in accordance to the law.