Off the Grid
I propped on the edge of the slow boat with a bag of watermelon and the Khmer sun beating on my back. I shared the ripe red cubes by toothpick with Lukas, a fedora-wearing guy from Bristol as we settled in for the two hour trip to Koh Rong. We talked about Christmas, just week ahead, imagining showing up at our families doorstep on Christmas eve.
Home seemed like a distant memory then. I smiled, imagining my Mom swinging open the door to me on the front porch. Lukas mused about showing up for a Sunday roast—a weekly tradition that still exists in the UK—to slow-cooked platters of meat and veggies and a family around the table.
It was fun to think about, looking down at my reality so different. My hair, three shades lighter, fell onto skin two shades darker, and I was barefoot as usual. My diet consisted of water, noodle soup, and smoothies. And coconuts. I was becoming a coco-nut. Living my true definition of "off the grid," taking the slow boat to go further—where tiki talks replace travel guides and my pocket notebook holds more hidden gems than any Fodor's.
This idea of living off the grid is coming back into popular culture, making some people hit the road and others to question how its done. It's discussed like a taboo, or a mysterious thing. You know, like the girl who comes up at the BBQ, like "oh Sarah, what ever happened to her . . .she's really out there."
But what fails to come up is how simple it is. How the main thing it requires is trust. Trust in the unknown. In the process, and the moment you have yet to meet. Trust, above all, in yourself. It's an easy excuse to say the cost, the adventure gear, the sheer impossibility, without ever stopping to consider the other side.
Because the truth is the things required to go off the grid you can't buy. Above all, an open mind, creative problem solving, and ability to observe all sides of a situation, to bend and not break, to be open and meet each situation as a fun task to conquer.
The difference is the decision. To go against mainstream opinion while trusting in something you can't yet see.
Courage in one pocket and optimism in the other.
Time is the most valuable resource. It's the difference between not just vacationing, but traveling. And not just traveling—but going off the grid. Time is where everything changes. The simplicity of life brings out your true nature. You go back to basics—bored long thoughts and remembering how to play. It looks different for everyone, but if given time, the impact is just as strong.
It doesn't even matter where.
Once you're out there everything works to support you. Every person becomes not a friend but a teacher. You find your natural rhythm, the way it make sense for you. And since getting started is the hardest part, here are five tips to get you going:
5 STEPS TO GO OFF THE GRID:
The main thing stopping you from going is fear itself. Get through this mental block by first becoming aware of it. Observe it in a nonjudgemental way, so you notice it when it kicks in and can recognize it for what it is. Visualize yourself where you want to be and put the picture in your mind.
1. MAKE THE DECISION
The choice is everything. And we all have choices. To see this through, be clear on what you want and why you want it. (For example, you know you want to go off the grid because you want to trade consumerism for a more simple way of living, or you want to reconnect with yourself and immerse yourself in cultures of the world.)
2. NO PLAN B
Forget plan B. Or, keep it stored way back in your mind. Otherwise, go all in. Bring all of yourself to the process and believe in it. Remember what you want and why you want it. Write it down, set your intentions. Make space in your life for adventure and let the idea take up space. Talk to everyone about it. Don't be reserved or embarrassed, you doing this gives people permission to do it in their own life. Talking also helps you feel out how this looks for you. Take a big breath of courage and go all in and things will begin to fall into place. Focus brings direction, so focus where you want to go. Cut out expenses, time wasters and unhealthy relationships that don't contribute to making this happen.
Get the one-way ticket, van, car, train, or bus ticket. It doesn't really matter where. You could go to Columbia, or Cambodia, or Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Portugal. You could get in the car and explore your country. The two important parts are the departure date and destination. Start where the cost of living is less and safe, and go from there. Time is crucial, so go where your dollar will go further. This makes the logistics of food, water and shelter extend for more time.
4. STAY AWHILE
Reaping the benefits of going off the grid means staying long enough to experience them. Or to experience in general. It takes uprooting from an old lifestyle. Time impacts your beliefs, habits and worldview. These shifts happen deep in your ideas about living and don’t occur overnight or on a two-week vacation. So don’t be afraid to stay awhile. Let a place seep under your skin. Let it change you.
5. COME BACK TO BEING
This step comes naturally when you've allowed for enough time. It’s more a byproduct of the lifestyle. When you detach from relationships, possessions, jobs, and habits that don’t serve you, new space opens in your life, to fill however you like. When you fill this space with meaningful conversation, organic connection, and enriching experiences, everything in your life starts to shift. Time fills in different ways. You change because you are pulled into the moment . . . and not just any moment. You live this way
& ONE MORE THING
You can drown yourself in information about logistics of how, where, why and what. But if you aren't connecting with yourself, your desire to go, and then acting on it, logistics mean nothing. Take a few steps back and focus on why you want to go, what you hope to gain. Logistics will work themselves out, intuition will speak, your internal compass will help guide you. It all comes back to the decision to go.
Then go all in, stay awhile, and have zero expectations. Be patient in the process of coming back to you. You’ll find your path and your natural rhythm. Remember you are strong and resourceful, and capable of way more than you realize. Start with micro-steps.
Remember living is easy, it's the leaving that's the hard part. But then one day you'll be on a slow boat to a remote island, with rusty hair and copper shoulders and the only thing on your mind is relationhips and watermelon. You'll realize you found a way back to yourself through a simple life. And it's all because the choice you made to go off the grid.
So, what's the one thing holding you back? How will you overcome it? Let me know by leaving a comment below. Have a friend who might benefit from this information? Share it with them—go together!