Do you ever feel burdened by having too much “stuff?” Wondering what you are going to do with it all? One of the biggest tasks in preparing for our year-long journey was deciding what to do with all our stuff, the things we had spent a lifetime in acquiring. Getting rid of the house was an easy choice. But what about furniture, kitchen gadgets, clothing and more? We were traveling light so we’d have to leave everything behind but surely we’d need it all when we returned, right? It turns out the answer to that is “wrong.”
While we sold or gave away almost everything we owned before we left, we still had enough possessions we “couldn’t live without” to fill a 10’ x 10’ storage unit. It seemed kind of small compared to having a whole house full of belongings. But when we returned we slid open the overhead door to the unit, took one look at all the things piled up and thought, “Why the heck did we keep all this?” (Along with, “Why do we have so many lamps?”)
We were going to keep traveling and writing so we couldn’t imagine settling down any time soon. By contrast, that stuff in the storage unit seemed quite settled in.
So we did what any rational person would do, we slid the door back down and walked away, not thinking about it for six months. Six months that we continued to pay monthly storage rent because we just couldn’t face going through it all again.
During that time we gave a lecture at the Penn State Arts & Culture Series about our adventure and mentioned how we now live out of our suitcases, possessions no longer meaning anything to us. But a little voice in the back of our heads kept saying, “You hypocrites, what about all that crap in your storage unit?”
The voice kept getting louder and no amount of justifying–but it’s a pain to get rid of all that stuff, what if we need it again?, we just don’t have the time!—could make the voice go away. We were just coming up with pitiful excuses to avoid reality.
So we decided to clean out the shed and finally make the hard choices to get rid of our remaining possessions. Did we really need our college yearbooks anymore or CDs or any of the detritus of everyday life? We packed a few sentimental objects like family photos (after severely culling them) into boxes to store in a cousin’s basement. We sold or gave away the rest.
Since we are living a nomadic lifestyle, the material possessions we now own have to fit into the trunk of our car. (Without even spilling over into the back seat, Michael is very proud of his packing capabilities.)
One of the most common questions we get from people we meet along the way is “What about all your stuff?” We’re now pleased to answer, “What stuff?” This is the lightest and most free we have ever felt. No weight bearing us down, no material goods to worry about.
Believe it or not, it’s a lot of work to simplify your life, more so than we anticipated. But in the end, it’s been worth it and we encourage you to try it. If you could snap your fingers and cut some items from YOUR life, what would they be? (Please, no spouses.)