Joy. Warmth. Comfort. Content. These are all feelings that can be used to describe hygge. The Scandinavian word that, not too long ago, was popularised and became known to us all.
‘The word hygge doesn’t translate into a single word or phrase, but it can be understood as the feeling of finding joy in the simple pleasures of everyday life. And- whether you’re snuggled in front of the hearth in winter, or feeling the summer sunshine on your cheeks and the grass between your toes- hygge can be enjoyed all year round’- The Little Book of Hygge by Jonny Jackson & Elias Larson
Hygge initially makes me think of home. It creates a welcoming picture in my head of sitting by a log fire with my Godson (Fionne the dog).Wrapped up and snug in my winter pyjamas, having just come out of a luxurious bubble bath. The gentle flames are drying my long, wet hair whilst I enjoy peanut butter with bananas on toast alongside a mug of hot chocolate- topped with cream and marshmallows.
After thinking more about Hygge, I remembered all the times I have experienced it, not just at home but on the road. For me, it happens every single time I take a bus or train. When I am able to turn my mind off and simply observe the world outside the window. It’s magical to be able to feel that level of comfort and joy whilst living like a nomad. I wanted to write a piece about those moments I have had. Hopefully it might inspire some one to go exploring and seek out those moments of bliss themselves.
The most peaceful sunrise of my life
We were aboard the sleeper train to Chiang Mai from Bangkok. I slept on the lower berth which meant I was fortunate enough to have a window. After sleeping throughout the whole night I woke up early in the morning to the sun gleaming through the window.
The train goes at a perfect speed so you can watch everything in detail as you pass by. The morning sun created an amber glow that brushed over the deep greens of the jungle. It slipped through the gaps between the trees so majestically it looked like the whole scene had been meticulously crafted.
I felt no desire to check my phone or to put music on through my headphones, amazingly I didn’t even want to write about it in my journal. For around half an hour I simply sat, marvelling at the wonder, appreciating every second for what it was.
As a girl who normally spends at least an hour every morning trying to drag her eyes open, this sunrise gave me a welcome change. No matter how tired I felt, my eyes refused to close. I knew that our trip was nearing an end and this might well be the last sunrise I saw in Asia.
Laying on the grass in Parc de la Tête d’Or, Lyon
You’re free. You have nothing to worry about. You can spend the whole day exploring however you please. Parc de la Tête d’or is a grand, public space in Lyon. I spent two weeks staying with family in Lyon and once I was shown this Park, I returned almost every day.
I would stroll around until I found my own little spot on the grass and then I would take my socks and shoes off, lay my jacket over my eyes as make-shift sunglasses, put my headphones in and relax. Sunbathing, with no troubles picking at the mind. I could feel the sensation of my feet on the grass and the sun bathing my skin. I was able to listen to the music and to really hear it, without any distraction at all.
Creating a den in your hostel dorm
Remember the feeling of safety when hiding in the pillow and blanket fort you made when you were you were young? If I was allowed, I would have permanently lived in one. It’s a similar feeling when you make your hostel bed into your own space. There’s no reason why you can’t have comfort whilst slumbering in a 12 bed dorm for a week.
If you don’t have curtains you can use your towel or any large t shirts to create them yourself. If your bedside light is too harsh, use a cap or hat to create a lampshade and give your space a warmer glow.
In some hostels, the beds are in their own little pods which makes it a lot easier to create your den. It doesn’t have to be unsocial. Some nights, after a hard day of bartering in humid markets or wading through a monsoon with your 65 litre backpack, you might crave to have your own little safe space to retreat to and wind down.
I created a lovely den in Shangai. We were sleeping in a six bed dorm and I had curtains on one side and towels on the other. Harry came up to join me before we slept. We used the bars across the top as a washing line for smaller items of clothing. I used my new knock-off, beige North face cap as a light shade. We separately wrote in our journals and reflected on the day. I remember looking over to him at the other side of the bed, writing calmly whilst protected by our dorm-bed fort and experiencing the most calm, sincere feeling of ‘hygge’.
What have been some of your most peaceful moments when travelling?
What helps you feel comfortable whilst halfway across the world?
What does ‘hygge’ mean to you?
Let me know what you think in the comments below 😀