I just returned from a 3 week long road trip from Colorado to Massachusetts to Florida and back to Colorado. Before I left, I set up all my bills to be paid automatically, I turned off and unplugged everything in my house, and asked a friend to stop by a few times to water the plants. I packed a suitcase with some clothes, threw some snacks in a bag, grabbed my MacBook, loaded some music on my iPhone, and away I went in the Subaru. And after 21 days and 5,640 miles, do you know what I missed back at my house?
I didn’t miss my books, my couch, my television. I didn’t miss my expensive toaster/convection oven, my stainless steel kitchen backsplash, my walk-in closet full of clothes I barely ever wear. And I didn’t miss my super-cool aluminum barstools from Crate & Barrel, my stereo, or the rest of the music I didn’t bring with me. In fact, I discovered that for 21 days I was perfectly happy without any of it at all. My life wasn’t any worse for not having these things, and in fact it simplified what I could do with my spare time between familial events – I could nap, read one of 2 books I got for Christmas, or do some work on the computer.
Don’t get me wrong, I do like my stuff that I listed above. It’s pretty much all that is left after the divorce, the purge, and the move to Colorado. And until I live in a tent or an RV full-time (probably not), these things are staying in my house. But what my 3 week “home-hiatus” reminded me of is that the stuff isn’t what’s important, and sometimes you need that reminder to keep the extras at bay.
If you don’t believe me, then the next time you go on vacation only bring the minimal amount of items you need for the time you are away. About 1/2 way through your holiday, spend some time mentally walking around your house looking at what you own and are doing just fine without. I guarantee that we all have extra stuff taking up space in our homes and our psyches that we don’t need anymore, because I know I still had a few things I am getting rid of this week. It’s amazing how all that stuff gets accumulated and then somehow becomes necessary – but it’s nothing a little time away won’t cure. 🙂
I lived out of a suitcase for a year while I was in the military, and for multiple stretches of 2-4 months at a time. I usually didn’t miss much, other than my guitars or my stereo. But I think my iPod Touch would be enough to replace my stereo now. As long as I have that and my computer, I’m pretty much good to go. Creature comforts are nice to have, but it wouldn’t hurt me to simplify my life and declutter/streamline my physical possessions.
I agree 100%. After moving here I had my duffel bag and one suitcase worth of stuff to live with until my big shipment arrived. And I didn’t really miss anything in that shipment. Now that I’m preparing to return, if not for my bad-back-bed, I would be moving with just that duffel!
STUFF-cations really make you aware of just how attached we as a society have become to our material possessions. and just how easily we can get by, even thrive, without most of them!
I’ve never done any long travel apart from two week stints here and there, but I’ve often considered that part of what makes a vacation so appealing and less stressful is the fact that you’re not stuck around the house surrounded by your own crap.
I’ve resolved in 2010 to live with 100 personal items, but with a spouse who is not on board and three infants at home, I dare say that my experiment hasn’t done much to overall declutter my home apart from the personal areas that I frequent.
I’ve heard that we spend the first half of our lives accumulating stuff and the second half trying to get rid of it. If that’s true, I’m on a fast downhill slide.LOL! I’ll never be a minimalist, but would certainly be happy to live a lot lighter. Like Charley mentioned, it’s difficult in a multi-person home. Sigh….
When I travel, the appeal of a hotel to me is there is no clutter!
What I normally do miss is my own bed! Something about returning home to ones own bed…!
Being away is good way to realize what few possessions we “really” need or want. Now if I can just convince the rest of the family!
Hotels are great for reminding us of how fantastic it is to live without clutter!
I wonder when the 1/2 mark is… 😉
Good luck Charley, I imagine that would be hard to do with kids at home!
I like your perspective. I always feel encouraged after reading simple organized life. When traveling, I am into living the experience as well and not thinking about stuff to take along or take care of.
Glad you get something out of the site, Erin!
No kidding. I’ve done three cross-country trips and every time I’ve learned that I can live with less and left. During my last move, I left the house with only two suitcases of stuff — most of that electronics and basic clothing. The less I have the happier I seem to be.
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