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Judit and Aitor, founders of Less is More


According to an article published in The Guardian a few years ago, four out of five Londoners intended to leave the city within the following five years.

As much as I love London, it's easy to see why many of its inhabitants eventually get tired of spending half their lives and salaries on the city's underground system (amongst other urban delights).

Judit and her partner Aitor, who came to London from Barcelona, are statistically speaking two of those "escapist Londoners".

They did what many only dare to think of as an utopian dream. After getting rid of most of their worldly goods, they flew to Bali to start their very own backpacking adventure.

via YouTube

But not only that, they also started a travel blog. Each stop is described in great detail, with useful tips and information for readers to follow, and stunning photography to get inspired by. Ideal for real and armchair travellers alike! 

As it happens quite often, once you get the courage together to make one of your big dreams happen, others follow suit. 

I'm guessing this was what led Judit and Aitor to adding another dimension to their blog with their project Less is More. A project aiming to support the livelihoods of local communities through craft traditions around the world.

Curious to hear more about their project, as well as their travel adventures, I've asked the two to tell us their story via an interview...

Judit and Aitor, what did it feel like to give away almost of your belongings, and which ones were the hardest to let go of?

Judit: I felt free. I was happy. The moment we had our two 72 liter backpacks ready, was one of the most exciting experiences in my life. Perhaps it was for that very emotion that came over me back then, that I did't feel bad when giving away a great part of my belongings.

Aitor: I have to say I've never been a very materialistic person, so when we had to sell, give away, or donate almost all of our belongings, I felt that now we were finally free to travel without any limitations. 

The only thing that was a little painful to sell was my PlayStation 3. But as Judit said, "What else are you going to take with you, the telly?"

Menjangan Island

Now that you've been travelling for quite a while, do you think your attitudes have changed somehow?

Judit: I've become a little more carefree, I've lost some of my shyness, although I have to admit, once I get to know somebody better, I can't stop talking! But perhaps most importantly, I've lost some of my fears and have become more adventurous. 

Looking at it from a distance, I think that living in a big city, especially in the first world, numbs you in some way. It inflicts a strange need for security on us, turning us into cowards.

Just a few months ago, it would have been unthinkable for me to hitchhike, while now it has become a joy. 
The idea of getting on a scooter through the chaotic south of Bali, used to represent the epitome of adventure to me. However, nowadays it is a part of my daily life. It is as if social evolution has diminished our innate instinct for adventure. After all, isn't the great majority of western society against taking risks?

Aitor: I didn't go quite as "crazy" as Judit, having always been a little more prone to creating routines. Living this life of ongoing travelling has made ​​me live each day to the full, and eventually get out of my comfort zone. So now I can enjoy what it means to have the freedom to decide what to do at any given time.

via YouTube

What do you most enjoy about sharing your travel experiences with your blog readers?

Judit: I personally find it very fulfilling to think that through our blog we could become part of someone else's decision to follow their dream, whatever it may be. Eventually pushing all of us to consciously and unconsciously look for ways to make changes in our lives. In other words, I guess what I enjoy most about this experience is to inspire others.

Aitor: I enjoy thinking that someone may be reading our blog, dreaming of a different life for a few minutes, away from society's restrictions. And who knows? This may be that little push we all need to get out of our routines and embark on an adventure!

children of the Indonesian Ngada tribe 

Have there been any particular moments since you've been away, where you would have liked to have your family and friends with you?

Judit: The truth is no. I mean, of course it would be great to get my family together, have a heart to heart with my close friends, give the little members of the family a big hug, or spend some time with my grandparents. Maybe that's the hardest thing for me, being away from elderly relatives and not knowing whether I'll ever see them again. 

But in our day-to-day life, we are very happy, we really couldn't be happier otherwise. If there's something I know for sure, it's that you can't have everything, you have to make certain sacrifices, and I guess this is ours.

Aitor: I agree with Judit. On the other hand, it is also true, that the more time we spend away from our family and friends, the less we depend on them in our daily life.

Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park

Where did the idea of your social project come from and how did you get started?

Judit: Having been new to Bali, we had no idea what we wanted to do exactly. The only thing we did know, was that we wanted to create something with a positive social impact. 

After two or three months in Bali, we realized that this would be a place of transit for us. So the obvious question arose, where do we go next? We were thinking about Latin America, but before that we wanted to visit New Zealand, and so why not visit Australia as well?

It was therefore crucial for our project to be adaptable to any country we would go to in order to work out. It didn't have to make us rich, but simply allow us to live a modest life without luxuries. 

On the other hand, crafts have always fascinated me. I'm someone who appreciates unique pieces, rather than mass production.

Bali being a craft haven, it was the ideal starting point for our project. We wanted to convey the culture of the region through the product we created. The combination of Batik, a technique of painting and dyeing, typical of Indonesia and other countries, and the sarong, with its countless uses, seemed therefore ideal. 

Also, as great nature lovers, we thought why not work with eco-friendly products?

Less is More's Indah sarong - 100% organic satin silk, handmade by Balinese fair-trade artisans, using eco-friendly production methods.

Why is sustainability important to you personally?

Judit: I guess because we both love nature, and so we thought, if it is somehow possible, why not do things right? We knew it wasn't going to be easy, it meant that the choice of artisans we could work with was limited, and it was also going to be more expensive. The fact that eco-friendly production comes at a higher cost decreased the product's sales margin, and therefore wasn't for everyone.

However, despite the difficult economic situation many countries are currently facing, we firmly believe, that there is a growing audience for sustainable products. We ourselves support sustainability because it goes with our personal philosophy, and also because we like to have a good cause behind a product.

In a broader context, we believe that evolution involves not only scientific and technological advances, but also an increased awareness of the world we're living in. 

Maybe we need to go "back to basics" in order to rethink what is truly important to our lives, don't you think?

How did you find your collaborators and what was it like to work with them at first?

Judit: After a tedious research for information, we came across the story of Pak Tjok, a Balinese indigo guru. After the 2002 nightclub bombing in Bali, Pak Tjok decided that Bali couldn't carry on being so highly dependent on tourism. He returned to his village Pejeng, and launched Batik Pejeng, his studio, where he hires local village women to promote the economic development of his community. 

Once we entered his workshop, with its smell of indigo and wax used for Batik printing, its artists and fabrics decorated with natural dyes hung up to dry, we were captivated and determined to produce our sarong, Indah, there. 

After selecting the fabric and pattern, we decided to produce our first print and voila, the first sample was made! We had the pleasure of getting to know Pak Tjok personally, however, it is his wife whom we work with on a daily basis. Although her English is quite basic, we manage to understand each other perfectly!

Of course we had to make some changes to our initial sample, since our standards weren't quite the same. However, over time the workers involved have become highly skilled artisans whilst producing our Indah

Given how complicated the Batik technique is, especially when working with a fabric like silk satin, we are very impressed with what they've achieved. 

What do you most enjoy about this project?

Judit: Everything! From inspiring others with our adventures, over supporting communities at risk, to combining skills to make things work, it's impossible to ever get bored doing all this! But above all, what I like most is that Less Is More is a life project, we are the project.

You can order your Indah here! 

Kuta Lombok

You're off to Australia, New Zealand and America next, do you already have anything planned for your stay there?

Judit: Although we tend to plan less and less, we do have an idea of what we'll be doing by the end of 2014 and the beginning of 2015. We're off to Perth in early December, from there we're going to start a three-months road trip around Australia.

By the end of February 2015, we're going to explore New Zealand for three months - even without having been there before I'm pretty sure that it's going to be next to incredible! And in May 2015, we're going to take the big leap to the US, San Francisco to be precise. 

From there, we'll be heading to Alaska via Canada, and then southwards right down to Tierra del Fuego, in Patagonia. How are we going to travel? Probably in a van, as well as hiking, in order to get to know remoter areas. But the final plan remains to be seen! 

In any case, throughout this whole journey, our main aim will be the continued support of local communities through crafts wherever we go.

Being a project in constant development, Less Is More will continue to grow with us, and even though we don't have a clear idea of where we'd like it to go beyond 2015, we'll try to push its social impact as far as possible.

I guess it would be best to let it evolve freely for a bit and see where it takes itself ;)

Cemoro Lawang

What are you hoping to take back home with you from this trip?

Judit: Well, in fact we have no real intention of returning for good, except for visits of course. Although, never say never! When we left London after living there for three years, we said we'd never go back, and eventually we did for another three years.

So, who knows? Our dream is to make this travelling lifestyle work. We may settle down for a while if we find a place we fall in love with to start a family. 

In any case, I expect us to gain a myriad of experiences, growing as people, and become happier with every step we take.

Aitor: There came a point where, if it hadn't been for our families and friends back in Spain, we wouldn't have considered it "home" anymore.

After living in different places, we've realized that we can make a home anywhere we go. The funny thing is, for the first two days in a new place we always seem a little disorientated, but after that, we feel like we had lived there all our lives. 

Anyway, for me, the most important things are the experiences we gain and the people we meet along the way.

Judit and Aitor, thank you very much for sharing your experiences with us, and we wish you all the very best and look forward to following you on your blog!

You can also follow Aitor and Judit's 
day-to-day adventures on FacebookInstagramTwitter y Google+.

Borobudur, Java

For those of you who are thinking about doing something similar, here are a few links that might be helpful:

Worldwide budget travel agency, specialized in student and sabbatical travel.

International platform linking travellers and locals offering free home stays.

Platform for gap year jobs and volunteer work.

Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WOOF/ing)
Exchange programme for volunteer work/stays on organic/sustainable farms.

The Guardian 
Gap year travel article section

All pictures courtesy of Less is More Project

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