Need versus Want

In Hawaii our horseback guide and I talked extensively about sustainability, self-sufficiency, and living off the land. She brought up the difference between want and need in perhaps a more serious way than most of us think about the two. She lives in a rainforest valley in a very wet environment, and she told me, “I WANT rubber boots because my feet get cold and wet, but I do not NEED rubber boots.”

I bought a new pair of rubber rain boots this past spring simply because it rains here sometimes and I want to look stylish protecting my feet from water when I leave the house. Her statement gave me some weighty perspective on need versus want. I do not NEED the new rain boots I got. I thought I did. I told myself I needed them because my older boots had cracked and my feet had gotten cold and wet whilst packing my car in a rain storm last winter. But in the true sense of the word, I WANTED those boots. I didn’t NEED them.

What do we truly need to survive? Not to look presentable at a job, not to be even more comfortable, not to relieve boredom, but to survive? Not much: food, water, shelter. In contemporary American society, many of usĀ are so far removed from basic necessity that we begin to confuse the extraneous with the essential. It’s been a journey this year reducing our possessions and I’m still working on it. I’m also going to consider future purchases even more carefully. Do I truly need something new, or do I just think I want it? Is this extremely important to me, or simply adding convenience?

Food memories

Another mini mobile post, this time about food.

Every time I travel I try to find a new food to enjoy…or at least sample. This way, months or years and thousands of miles later, I can bring myself right back to a travel memory.

I haven’t made arepas for a while, but arepas with eggs, tomatoes, and onions served with a cup of hot chocolate remind me of Colombia.

Shakshuka brings me back to the shores of the Dead Sea, cooking over a camping stove with my friends.

Most recently, fresh tropical fruit is totally Hawaiian but difficult to find on the east coast. Instead, my gastronomic reminder is a bowl of Bakery on Main maple cranberry nut granola. The host at our Air B&B had a bag waiting for us in the hut and we devoured it like we hadn’t eaten in days. This morning – a humid, misty, gray morning of around 60* – I had a bowl and remembered the misty gray mornings in the open-air hut.

What reminds you of your adventures?

Suggestion to airlines

We’ve returned from Hawaii! Or, as we dubbed it, Hawa-whee! There was so much to do and experience on the Big Island.


Since I’m typing this on my phone (to knock out some of those remaining posts), this won’t get too detailed. But I’ll start with the travel. Sometimes a trip isn’t just about the destination, but the journey. Cliche, I know, but I’ve had some adventurous journeys (flat tires in Arizona? Grabbing beers in London en route home from Israel? Meeting Travis in the woods?) that led to good stories.

Unfortunately, this isn’t one of them. We had two layovers each way, for a total of about 19hrs travel time. Eek. We flew Delta and I have to give them a huge nod for delivering us on time to every stop – even though our first flight took off 40mins late. Impressive!!

That said, I have one suggestion for airlines in general. Is it possible to have child-friendly and child-free sections on planes? I know first-class already exists, but I’m talking maybe a few rows in economy where you could guarantee you won’t be kicked in the back for 5 hours, or sneezed on, or poked in the arm, or being tripped over by a too-eager kid.

We both experienced some fairly challenging parents on this trip too – the parents were generally worse than the kids. The child who tripped over my backpack was not told by his parents to wait their turn to exit the plane (they were a few rows behind me and as soon as the seatbelt sign went off, he dashed up the aisle). Travis spent hours being kicked by a screaming toddler whose parents completely ignored the child’s behavior. Most infuriating for me was a couple with a sleeping infant. The child was great, but as the parents moved him between one another’s arms, they arranged him with his head lolling over in my direction. I’d been reading the entire flight with the help of my reading light as it was dark. They did not say a word to me, but saw the baby’s face in the light, reached up, and redirected my reading light…into the aisle. Not cool, guys. Seriously, just ask politely first. I would have had no issue accommodating a polite request, but that was totally disrespectful.

So, for the sake of the many types of travelers everywhere, can airlines consider child-friendly and child-free zones? I don’t need the leg room and service in first class, but I would like to be able to read in peace.