Vacations are supposed to be lavish, splendid, luxurious, entertaining. They are meant to give us a break from our daily routines. How about subtraction tourism (I just made this up)?

We get so used to our daily amenities, gadgetry, entertainment options, comfort that it becomes sort of ‘blah’ over time, prompting us for ‘more’. More gadgets, more entertainment, more comfort and amenities. Until ‘more’ puts us in peril. We either can’t attain more or afford more. We accept a cost that has no relation to the benefit. In a way this principle promotes behaviors that border on the insane, and are fueled by people, companies and organizations peddling ‘stuff’, including immaterial things for the ones who are saturated by material ownership – ‘enlightenment’, ‘growth’, etc. – the culture industry is huge and growing.

There are the ones who understand that a vacation could be a ‘minus’ version of our daily lives – a multi-day hike – the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, the Camino, etc.  (In German, there are not one, but two words for trails like those: Fernwanderweg, Weitwanderweg. They don’t have a corresponding word in English.)

Hiking hundreds of miles with just the bare minimum of stuff on you can give you time to reflect, to focus, to take in new views, literal and figurative.

Camping is another version of subtraction tourism, depending on what camping style you prefer. Obviously, the one I am thinking about is neither ‘glamping‘, nor ‘luxury caravaning‘ (a mini-version of your complete, sophisticated household), but rather backpacking with a mini tent. (The mere experience of forgoing practically all artificial light resets the circadian clock, a practice recommended to certain people with sleep disorders.)

Traveling light necessitates inventiveness, multi-purposing, deciding what is important. TOC applied, sort of. Which might be a great practice for our everyday lives. It doesn’t need to be camping, though.

The Grand Tour: No, not the classical one. I’m thinking EuRail, Tibet, Nepal, India, South-East Asia, hostels, huts, and modest places. This concept doesn’t necessarily have to be restricted to a ‘Grand Tour’ of Less (comfort) and More (experience). Go to a B place, a C place. Discover what is there, observe, reflect on what resources you have at your disposal every day, how your life is OK and doesn’t need ‘more’, with maybe one exception: grate- and mindfulness.

(One example.)

Try a subtraction vacation: The next vacation, instead of  going to a luxury resort with all the amenities, try going to a place that does not have grand vistas or fancy accommodation. Opt for a modest B&B (rated 2 stars or below – although I was shocked to see the high quality of those on booking.com). See what you can get out of the experience. Maybe try one of these travel experiments.