Upon arriving at my new destination, wherever that may be, I am often asked by my host, “Where is the rest of your stuff? Why so few possessions…” This is a good question, and one that I have had to explain many times before.
Since I started traveling, I have significantly cut down on the amount of luggage I carry around. Before, I would pack many items that I thought “may come in handy” or I would just bring along items for preventative measures. Now, I can fit everything neatly into two bags. And this consists of 95% of my personal belongings!
Instead of getting into the details of what I pack and how this amount is sufficient for world travel, I want to explain the thought process and mentality behind being able to decide on not only traveling with less, but deciding on living with less.
One may consider how I live to be that of a ‘Minimalist’ lifestyle. I don’t own many of the things I used to while living back in the States. I don’t own a car. I don’t own furniture. I don’t own a home or condo. I no longer own all of the trinkets and tools that used to sit atop the shelves of my library of books. I don’t have a lease or utility bills that confine me to one spot for a set period of time. I no longer possess, as I feel, all of the items, products, and material items that I used to think were supposed to make me happy.
I’ve been called many names by friends and acquaintances over the past few years; A nomad, a vagabond, and my favorite… a homeless entrepreneur. And I take from these names a sense of pride! If anyone who knew me about a decade ago, I was a totally different person. Although I didn’t get caught up as much as some of my friends in the rat-race and trying to “Keep up with the Jones’,” I definitely fell victim to trying to live and maintain a lifestyle that I perceived as the path to happiness, bent on social status and material wealth.
As I am, I still tend to over-analyze everything, usually to a point of causing modes of depression, realizing that I know so little about so many things! This usually pumps up my overactive curiosity for learning. These traits helped me break free from the chains of an ignorant, youthful mind. It took many years to realize that something wasn’t right about my life, and to take a little overseas trip to ponder this realization. Travel helped open the floodgates to new ideas. In this case, specifically, getting rid of all the possessions that were wearing me down and held no significant value in my daily life.
This was contrary to everything I had ever seen or thought before. We live in a society that prides itself on the accumulation of possessions, and makes those owners appear as if they have been rewarded for being able to obtain those possessions. All of this excess consumerism, materialism, clutter, distraction, and static, causes us to lose what really gives meaning and value to our lives. Some people may still prefer the materialistic approach, but I can guarantee they will need to more greatly supplement themselves with the activities and thought-provoking material required to satisfy the soul.
Upon achieving location independence, I was able to sell off a huge majority of my personal belongings and live a life free from this suffocating baggage. At first, it was extremely difficult seeing a stack of my books being tossed away into a bag for donation, or my tattered jeans that had seen so many great adventures throughout the city, being thrown into the trash bin. Or, worse yet, was the act of throwing out my WCW belt and “Sting” Halloween tights into the garbage.
Do I miss these items? Not at all. In fact, I haven’t even thought about them until just now, years later. Through living with just the few possessions that I do own, I was able to travel year-round in exotic destinations without thinking about what I would have needed to take care of back home, if my belongings were safe, or how much I was going to spend on storage. Instead, I was enjoying less stress, fewer expenses, less maintenance, and more time doing the things I wanted to do without worrying about unimportant possessions. I learned to be more selective about the clothes I bought, the quality of the gadgets, and whether choosing to spend my money on temporary fixes or activities was worth the cost. I became 10x more productive at my work, as I didn’t have the distractions that once consumed so much of my time. But most importantly – It freed me from comparing myself to others. I no longer felt burdened with trying to impress other people, or trying to one-up them with what they had in their possession. I learned to be happy with what I had, and realized that life continued to go on whether I had rooms of material possessions, or none at all.
For me, it was all about making the choice to find simplicity and importance in my life, free from the consumerist mindset in which my culture had bred into me. I found this happiness through travel and being able to setup shop to do my work wherever I was in the world. This was only obtainable through ridding myself of the excess baggage encompassing my ego. I still continue to express gratitude every morning for the ability to be where I am today, moving in the path I have chosen. Who knows… If I didn’t take this action, I may still be having to explain the bright blue “Sting” tights hanging in my closet.
Awesome. I find the less I have, the more I have.
Absolutely, Carole! I have found that trying to obtain more or buying more “things” led to me missing out on living in the moment. We constantly defer “living in the present” by waiting for something else to make us feel better, usually by buying things. We are always wanting more, assuming that what we have now, is never enough. Good to hear that you have discovered you have more with less 🙂
Interesting article! I’ve always found that I have a tendency to overpack when I travel, and this has seriously made me reconsider that. As well as this, at home I like to keep a lot of items for sentimental value which has lead to a lot of clutter and mess :S Thanks for posting!
Learning to get rid of things can be a difficult process, especially with sentimental items. I still keep a box of items from special moments in my life:) But the rest? I don’t miss 99% of it. Traveling with less has taught me how to live with less.