Three years ago my husband and I got married, moved into our 1996 Ford Econoline Van, and hit the open road. We lived in a new state every week, camped in National Parks, made dinner over a fire, and talked late into the night about simplicity and how thankful we were for vanlife. It was those fond memories that gave us the idea to skip out on traditional Thanksgiving festivities and go camping instead, just the two of us (and our dog of course)!
Wild Cow Springs, Arizona
Thanksgiving is a time for real, honest thankfulness. It is a time for family, sleepy afternoons, and, of course, meditating on all the things we have to be thankful for. Camping in the great outdoors gives us the opportunity to separate ourselves from everyday distractions like deadlines, drama, and material goods. There is something about swaying in a hammock by the campfire that reminds you, everything you need is right there in that moment.
Opting for quality time outdoors is not only a way to create lasting memories, it is also a way to remove yourself from the temptation of “needing” to accumulate more. As we all know, Black Friday arrives only one day after Thanksgiving. One day, we celebrate all that we have, and the next we wait for hours in the cold to buy more – it just doesn’t add up. If vanlife has taught me anything, it is that when I accumulate more, I start believing that “having more” is what my happiness depends on. When I own less, I understand that I actually need very little in order to be fulfilled. The is so much joy in simplicity!
Wild Cow Springs, Arizona
So this year, why don’t we all make a pact to skip Black Friday. Grab the turkey leftovers, pack up the family, and hit that beautiful open road. Greet the outdoors with a smile and meditate on the things in life that truly make you happy. Watch the sunrise over the ocean, do yoga, sleep under the stars, turn your cell phone off, read a book that challenges your beliefs; just don’t miss out on lasting memories to wait in line for a discounted TV. I promise you it isn’t worth it.
Kelly Sparks is a portrait and travel photographer based in Denton, Texas. She lives in a van with her husband and desert mutt. You can see more of her work online at www.kellysparks.co, see her adventures on Hipcamp or on Instagram @breafkast.
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