The year 2020 is probably going to remain in our memories for a long time to come. With the Covid-19 pandemic, so many of things we took for granted are simply no more, and the effect of all these restrictions, closures and health scares are more profound than anyone could every imagine even back in January.
One thing that I hope most of my readers were able to do is take a step back from the rat race of material enrichment and realize there were other things to life. I know some of you were literally forced to do that, and that is unfortunate, because in this world of ours, money still plays the main role as a key to one’s well-being. Which is why I would like to remind you that there are still so many things you can enjoy even if you are dirt-poor. In fact, some of these things are pretty major. Here’s my top ten list of activities and pleasures you can enjoy just as much as any super wealthy person would.
I wasn’t planning to include the basic human biological functions in this list, because, hey, some people might enjoy even going to the toilet. But sleep is different – it’s how we spend a quarter to a third of our lives, and whether you are rich or poor, you can enjoy it all the same. Some might say, the poor sleep worse because they worry more about their lives. Trust me, the rich have plenty to worry and keep them awake as well. With money comes power and responsibility, and it can weigh down on a person, affecting their sleep. So someone who doesn’t have much material wealth might actually sleep even better!
Spending time with the loved ones
Friends, family, girlfriend, boyfriend – none of those are exclusive to anyone with wealth. Everybody has the loved ones in their lives. Human relationships are the foundation of our existence, and we spend colossal time and effort building and supporting them. Of course, they are not all rosy, as everybody knows – there will always be quarrels, people we dislike, family feuds and breakups. But all that is a huge part of life, regardless of your income level. You might have personal problems with your loved ones because of income or money matters, but that does not mean that the rich don’t have their share of breakups – perhaps even more, because they have to always question whether people by their side stay there because they like them or their money. So let’s cherish and value the human contact, because it is a huge part of everybody’s life.
Reading a book
Remember books? Those funny thick bundles of paper sheets with words printed on them? Well, thankfully, we still have them – or if you prefer, in electronic form on your tablet or a Kindle. A good book can provide enjoyment for everyone, and reading is still the best way to learn about the world around us. Rich or poor, it doesn’t matter – libraries are mostly free, and books are rarely expensive.
A good movie
The same reasoning as with books applies to movies. Yes, going to a cinema costs a little more every year, but it’s still cheap, as is subscription to any of the streaming services or pay-per-view channels. Or there are ways to download movies for free. Regardless of how you watch them, films (and TV) are equally available for all, whether you watch them in your private screening room or on your mobile phone.
I am more of a wine drinker than beer, although I do enjoy a pint whenever I can. While there is plenty of good inexpensive wine, to be able to try some real exquisite stuff, you are going to spend some serious cash. Not so with beer. Thousands of breweries compete for the market, and there is hardly a more egalitarian beverage than beer. Anyone can and should afford a cold brew whenever they want. Of course, there is lots of gourmet beer, mostly from Belgium, that can cost way more than your Bud Light – some bottles could set you back $10 or more. But that’s still chump change compared to hundreds you would have to spend for a serious bottle of Bordeaux. So cheers to that!
Simple (and street) food
Food, like beverages, can be very expensive as well. Try eating at a 3-star Michelin restaurant, for example. Not only you would have to part with a crazy sum of money few could afford for a dinner, but they’d often make you wait a few MONTHS before you could do it. Fortunately, there is simple food available everywhere that is just as enjoyable. Remember it? The kind you grew up with, even if you were born with a silver spoon up your butt. The rich and the poor equally enjoy a simple burger and fries, some chicken wings, a slice of pizza, a steak sandwich… None of those cost more than just about anyone could afford. I’m not saying they are always good for you – but even simple veggies do not need to be pricey. And if you are a traveler, I encourage you to explore street food of every place you visit. It’s the food of the masses that has been tried and tested for generations, and for the most part, it will be delicious. Not to mention cheap.
Since we are talking about food, I’d like to mention a whole category of it separately – the sweet stuff. If you have a sweet tooth like me, you’d agree that you really never have to spend too much on it. It’s more of a bad thing, sure – that’s how candy and chocolate companies get you on the hook on their products. But whether it’s ice cream, a chocolate bar, a piece of pie or a donut, you almost never have to think if you can afford it. Most of the stuff is cheap and widely available to all. And yes, the rich have their sweet cravings, too!
But enough about food. What about pastimes? While there are plenty that can easily break your bank (and I’ll hopefully write about those in the near future, just in case you get a sudden windfall of cash), there are many activities that are equally enjoyable and available for the rich and the poor. One of them is nature hikes. It could be anything from a walk in your city park to a multiday trek in a national park. While camping gear could be pricey, it is rarely unaffordable to most. And as long as you don’t venture out too far, you can do a day hike and return home. As I’ve said before, better any kind of a walk than none. Rich or poor, it’s one of the easiest and cheapest things you can do out there while getting your exercise and enjoying the scenery and nature around you.
This one might be the most questionable of the bunch, but hear me out. I have written previously that travelling needn’t be pricey. Particularly, if you are a backpacker, your biggest expense is your plane ticket. The rest will probably cost you way more than even the most modest lifestyle back home. And once you are in a new country, sightseeing doesn’t have to cost much, either. I’m not talking about anything extreme – just your regular world-famous sights, such as the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat. Yes, the prices for most of those have gone up in recent years, but if you are already in the country where they are located, you can generally afford what it typically costs to visit. The most important thing is, the impression that these sights produce is the same on everybody, regardless of their wealth.
As I have written before, backpacking is not just a cheap way to travel. It’s a whole DIFFERENT way to travel – where you get to experience not just the sights and fancy hotels, but the lives of regular people of whichever country you visit. And I am a firm believer that even a rich person would appreciate the experience a backpacking trip would afford him or her. Mingling with the locals and other travelers, enjoying simple parties, meals and drinks, travelling light and taking public transport can all be very rewarding. There is a reason that hundreds of wealthy people from the Silicon Valley descend onto Burning Man festival every year – yes, they mostly glamp and bring their entourage, but even with that, they can’t avoid the harshness of the desert and the joy of togetherness. Well, backpacking is similar in what it can offer, and I encourage all my readers to start planning their next trip – when the borders reopen!
So there you have it – that’s my list. Can you think of other activities and pastimes people can enjoy regardless of their income? Feel free to comment!