We were parked by the beach waiting for the rain to pass before enjoying a final swim to end our holiday. Next to us was a bike loaded with four satchels and a bedroll. It painted a picture of someone more adventurous than us, and who had packed less for their trip than what we had crammed into our car for our one week break. The picture became a reality when the owner turned up. Stef, a tourist from Germany, had been riding around Australia for a year and was now at the beginning of her two month tour of New Zealand.

When I expressed my admiration for both her courage and her ability to travel with so little, she proudly explained that her bike is her flat; her vehicle and her accommodation. She rides in the daylight and pitches her tent in the evening. She loves travelling this way as it enables her to see more of the country; to see what could easily be missed in a car, including the sights and sounds of nature. The physical exertion involved didn’t seem to be an issue, although she said she is still adapting to the hills and bends of the New Zealand roads after the straight and flat roads of Australia.

Returning to the reality that everything she needed for the trip is on her bike, including power generation for her social media devices, she said, “You actually don’t need much.”

Stef inspired me on a number of levels but this idea that we “don’t need much” remained with me long after we said our goodbyes. If we can travel lightly, why is it that we tend to accumulate stuff? Life gets complicated with careers and family, and rent or mortgages to pay. The media beats the drum to consume more and more and it’s so easy for us to swallow the bait for the sake of greater comfort. But Stef’s example challenges me to harden up a bit, to travel with less and simply enjoy the wonders around me that I probably miss by having too much.

Photo: Dudarev Mikhail/Bigstock.com