UPDATE 2: Getting Rid of Our Stuff
Downsizing, paring down, minimalism, spring cleaning. No matter what you call it, getting rid of your stuff isn’t easy. Follow our process of getting ride of 95% of our belongings in preparation to travel long-term as digital nomads.
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See how our process of paring down and getting rid of our stuff in preparation for continuous long-term travel began.
Yes, here is another update on getting rid of our stuff! Even us, who pride ourselves at aiming to be in the 90th percentile, are getting rid of more stuff.
After hearing all of the stories of people starting off their adventures with large, heavy and full travel backpacks, only to quickly realize they needed to get rid of stuff to free up space and weight, we were sure this wouldn't be us...
This Is Us
Allow us to clarify. The way we thought we'd travel has changed now that we’re actually doing it.
Now that we’re in Europe, we realize that rather than staying largely in hostels, we’ll be doing more house sits. This changes what we need to travel around with. Because of this change, along with a few more lessons learned (that you can only really learn in practice), we're slimming down just a bit.
But who wouldn’t want to have less weight to carry around? We’ll probably keep fine tuning our bag indefinitely! Check out our Ultimate Gear and Packing List page to see what we’re currently packing.
A Pare Down in Ireland
A week into our adventure we looked at our bags and knew that we had too much crap. The bags are bursting with stuff and weigh too much. We purchased a larger bag (36-litters) because it fit us better, but our intent had always been to have some spare room in it.
We regret to say, that our initial plan really didn’t happen. So, now we had a large task at hand: get rid of more stuff!
The Pare Down Process
We pulled everything, and we mean everything we were carrying with us and spread it on the bed in our room. And let’s be honest, there wasn’t much spreading out of the stuff because it was pretty crammed on to the double bed.
We split things up, his and hers. We then went item by item, starting at one end and going to the other. We discussed each and every item, defending why we wanted to keep it or get rid of it. Having this back and forth helped keep us realistic with what was absolutely needed and what wasn’t.
We thought this process would take an hour, maybe two at the most. We started with a full day of light and ended in a pitch black evening four (yes FOUR) hours later!
Here's a bit of what we learned…
The way we envisioned we’d be traveling, in reality has turned out to be much different. We thought we’d be primarily in hostels, but it now seems that our lodging accommodations will be centered around house sitting jobs.
This means we’re in safe, well equipped places a majority of the time. In other words, less need for locks and basic equipment.
We Don’t Need to Pack for a Full Year
We started in Boise, Idaho packing our bags with the idea that we needed to pack minimally, but for a full year adventure. We thought our bags, our clothes, our tools and even some of our toiletries, like band aides, needed to last a year.
How silly, and extremely un-realistic!
Our clothes will last a fraction of what they would at home because we’re wearing them under different conditions. We’re traveling, undertaking rougher activities, and wearing them over and over, as we only have a couple pairs to rotate through. Our day packs, our phone cables, our laptop cases, will all have more wear and use than they would at home.
These will all need replacements once, if not two or three times over the next twelve months.
We Packed Too Many Clothes
We need to hand wash our clothing more often.
We packed enough clothing to be able to go for four to five days between washes. That means 3-4 tops, 4-5 pairs of socks, 4-5 chones*, etc. This is simply too much. It really isn’t that hard to take the clothing in with us in the shower and wash it there. Or use our DIY reinforced Ziploc bags as washing bags.
* Chones is Spanish slang for underwear.
We Don’t Need Work Tools
Sergio, as an IT Consultant, is working on this trip. He’s not always sure what he’ll need along the way, so he packed the bare essentials for work.
Smart right? Well, not really.
We discussed it and came to the conclusion that most of what he was lugging around was stuff that he could buy if and when he needed it. Yes, it would come at a cost, but what’s a few bucks when you’re saving priceless space and weight?
Sharing is Caring
We don’t need to pack for both of us what we can share. This means we can share toothpaste, mouthwash, shampoo etc., which will cut our toiletries in half. We’ll also focus on using as little as necessary to make it last as long as possible. Then we’ll buy more when needed.
We sent back ‘sun protection’ items since it’s winter and there’s no need to carry around the sun sleeves and hats when there’s very little sun outside. Just as we purchased warmer clothing when we needed it, we’ll purchase summer clothing when we need it as well.
What We Got Rid Of**
A few pairs of chones* and socks
IT equipment (USB to SATA adapter, USB drive, Molex to SATA power cables, drive image and file backup CD’s, SD Card)
1/2 of our toiletries (toothpaste, mouthwash, q-tips, dental picks, etc.)
Notepad and pens
A Random battery (we weren’t sure how this ended up in our bag to begin with)
We ended freeing up a bit of space and probably around four to five pounds in weight.
It was such a relief to get rid of stuff! So much so, that we already know we’ll be doing another pare down in a couple of months. Sergio is prepared to get rid of a shirt or two and Shannon is prepared to ditch a couple of shirts and maybe a pair of pants. Shannon is also leaning towards getting rid of her travel pillow and we’re both considering ditching our travel towels.
The plan is to go the next couple of months and see how we do and what we use. Then we’ll do another pare down.
* Chones is Spanish slang for underwear.
** We sent valuable items home and gave the rest away.
It’s not too late to read the first two posts from this series on getting rid of our stuff!