The idea of packing up your entire life and moving to a new city/state/country every six months seems daunting to many people, completely harrowing to others, and at the very least stress-inducing for most. Anyone who’s ever moved before can attest to the fact that bubble wrapping the china, sorting everything by room, packing all of your belongings into boxes, bribing your friends with beer and borrowing your buddy’s truck are not fun exciting saturday-afternoon activities.
The degree to which you hate moving probably has to do with the amount of stuff you’ve accumulated over the years. You’ve probably got some really great stuff; that record collection over there looks pretty nice, and so does that stack of DVD’s. I sure wish I had a nice comfy couch like that one you’re sitting on, I bet it’s great for watching that huge TV you’ve got there. But you NEED this stuff, where else would you sit? What would you listen to? You’d be dreadfully bored if you didn’t have your stuff wouldn’t you?
The truth is, every single thing you own ties you down to where you are.
Getting rid of your stuff is a key element in the long-term slow-travel lifestyle. Nobody wants to go trotting around the globe with a moving van, unloading their sleeper sofa and television everywhere they go. In order to be successful you’re going to have to lighten your load a bit. It’s going to be hard at first, but the freedom you’ll feel after the purge will be worth it. Take some time to mentally separate yourself from all of this stuff. You really don’t need it, you can’t take it all with you, and you can always store the most important things that you just can’t part with yet.
Step 1: Take Inventory/Decide what to keep
Open you eyes and look. Look at all the stuff you have. I bet there’s even more stuff in the closet you can’t even see right now from where you’re sitting on that nice comfy couch. You need to take a good honest look at this stuff and decide what you can easily get rid of. Which clothes don’t fit anymore? Which haven’t you used in a while, or bought and used once only to put it on the shelf for years of dust collection? Get rid of it, I promise you wont miss it. The things you decide to keep/take with you should be useful, practical things that will be worth the valuable space they occupy, things like camping gear, maybe your guitar, or your luggage.
Step 2: Sort
Start putting the stuff into piles. What do you want to throw away? What do you want to sell? Which items should you donate to Goodwill? Things like stereos, handbags, dvd collections and such sell very easily on craigslist or at a lawn sale. Items such as clothes, old golf clubs, bocce balls, or kitchenwares like glasses and plates are probably easier to donate. And you should probably just throw away those empty liquor bottle trophies you’ve been hoarding.
Step 3: The Purge
This is the best part! Every item you get rid of will make you feel better and better. Each item tossed or sold or donated will lighten your load that much and bring you that much closer to freedom on the open road. Have a lawn sale, advertise that you’re moving. Tell your friends, they’ve been secretly eyeing your neat stuff for a while now. Post on craigslist, or put up flyers in town. Start a sellers account on Ebay. Do whatever it is you have to do. When you’ve finally tossed/sold/donated everything you can, put the rest in storage somewhere and celebrate your new found freedom from possession.
Step 4: Upkeep
Once you get rid of your stuff, it can be very easy to quickly accumulate more. You have to focus on keeping yourself light so that when it comes time to move again, all you have to do it pack up the little bit that you have and you’re off. Think twice about purchases, am I going to take that with me when I move? Am I going to actually use this? Is this something I need? If the answer is no, put it back on the shelf and be thankful for your amazing life of travel.
Lets have a discussion about it: What’s going to be the hardest item for you to sell? Which items would you definitely keep?