Less is More: Travel Relieves the Burden of Having So Much

I had just finished putting Kalyra’s dirty clothes in the wash basket, when I walked into her room to find more scattered around the room.

Winter jackets needed hanging up, summer clothes packing away and a whole laundry basket of clean clothes remain sitting in my room waiting to be put  into cupboards already overflowing with clothes.

Ugh. I inwardly groaned. If only I was in Thailand, I wouldn’t need all these clothes. A few light dresses, skirts, thongs and a backpack to cater to just one season.

Less hassle.

I looked at the toys, the gadgets, the books, the endless stuff that seems to slime out from every corner of my house like the giant blob.

Sickening.

Stuff, stuff, stuff. Useless, pointless stuff that keeps growing, mutating and gathering dust.

 

 

 

Less is more
Overburdened by so much stuff

 

 

 

Why do we accumulate so much crap?

I began to think, once again, just why a life of travel is so great.

You can reduce your dependency on useless stuff. You come to know, appreciate and understand the adage Less is More. You understand that in order to be happy we really need so little.

Less is More Happiness

I began to think of those children and people I had met and spent time with in third world countries and how happy they were. I began to think of how light their load was.

They are not burdened by the demands that comes with owning so much stuff.

Think about it.

How much time and money is taken up during your day with maintaining and keeping your stuff?

The more you have the more you have to clean.

I feel like I am constantly cleaning and putting things away. It is because I have so much stuff to clean and put away. If I only had my backpack then it would take me only 10 minutes every day.

Think of all that extra time I now have to do what I really love.

Spend time with my daughter, curl up in a hammock and read a book, meditate, exercise, get a massage, take a walk on the beach. Things that truly add meaning to my life.

And then there is cooking. Uugh. What a chore! Hours every night spent doing this, and all for food that comes out medicocre at best. When I travel though, I don’t have to shop each week to fill my cupboards with packets of flour, herbs and spices and other ingredients that spend more time looking good on the shelf than making my food taste great.

With travel, I don’t have to slave over a hot stove, I can instead sit in a restaurant talking and laughing with my family while I wait for someone to bring me a delicious meal that costs me very little.

Let’s not forget the financial burden that comes with owning so much stuff.

We go to work just so we can pay the bills to keep our stuff.

Electricity to cover the TV, kitchen appliances, internet, stereo, all the lights, the cable channels. Stuff that is probably zapping us with cancer each time we put them on.

We’ve got to buy the car, insure the car, fill the car up with expensive fuel, maintain the car, repair the car when the engine gets sick, replace the car when it dies. Some of us have to do this with two cars.

We have to insure our homes, our jewellery, our gadgets, our bikes, ourselves. Each time we buy something new, we get asked,

“Would you like to insure that?”

“I better just in case.”

All of these increasing the burden on us more and more until eventually we wake up and find ourselves deep in the mire shouting

“What the hell is all this for?”

With travel, you sell it all, you give the insurance policies back and you reclaim your freedom.

No more burdening my time and financial resources with more.

Give me less

Give me freedom

Give me moments spent doing what I love with those I love.

Do you agree that less is more? How has travel helped you to see this?

 

Caz
Caz Makepeace is the co-founder of y Travel Blog and has been traveling the world since 1997, first solo, then with her husband, and now with her two daughters. Get her free email series on the 4 best ways to reduce travel costs. Follow her on Google+

32 Comments on “Less is More: Travel Relieves the Burden of Having So Much”

  1. YES YES YES – We got rid of soo much “stuff” before we left home only a few weeks ago! The Salvation Army store was so grateful for our 20 bags of clothing – boxes of books and other things. We have just over 40kgs – including our laptops now – and if I want new clothes I will be replacing something that I’ll give away. It is SOOO liberating!!! Thanks for this post guys!!

    Reply
    • Thanks for appreciating Deb. It’s always great to know that when you get rid of stuff those who need it more will be benefiting. Always trade something old for something new, otherwise you the crap will start accumulating again. Let’s hear it for crap liberation!

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  2. We realized a few years ago that – even though we were fairly mindful people and critical thinkers – we were being owned by our stuff. While we are by no means living without, we have downsized our home, sold our car and now live with the mentality that we don’t want to be burdened with stuff.

    We are living the opposite of the classic american dream where we measure success by how little we can get by with. It’s very liberating.

    Reply
    • There are so many people being owned by their stuff. They can’t travel, or go out to dinner, or do the things they love doing because their money has to go to the mortgage, the bills and the debt. It’s time for people to start realizing how short life really is so they can live it more! you guys are such an inspiration!

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  3. I remember being in Thailand last year and a Frenchman told me (while looking at me carrying my backpack) “Tu voyages tres legèrement.” Yes, I do very lightly. I have come to believe less is more, especially when I was shipping shit home from Japan. I find when I’m not doing great financially, I don’t spend money on frivolous things. My life is much better when I don’t spend money on frivolous things. I’m happiest when I’m on the beach, and I don’t need anything to be happy on the beach. Except nice sand and warm weather.

    Reply
    • It’s always the simplest things in life that bring us the most pleasure. you can’t get more much more enjoyable than a day on the beach in the warm sunshine. Experiences count not stuff.

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  4. I agree Caz, less is more. Though I’ve never been big on possessions, I have found the burden of everyday living to be the biggest problem. Working hard just to pay bills, getting into debt and paying more bills. The funny thing is that our living expenses still total a good $2700 a month which actually is pretty cheap living here in Australia, but we could easily travel the world on that money without the stress of paying bills etc.

    Reply
    • We really struggled coming home with the burden of everyday living. I think it really caused a lot of our problems as we just couldn’t cope with it, which brought about more issues. That is really cheap living costs for Oz. You are doing well. It’s so great to travel and not see any bills arriving at your door. :)

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  5. Well start by getting rid of that cat house with the pillow in front of it.
    Better still, get rid of the cat!

    Reply
    • Ha Ha. Agree Jim! We have not and never will own a pet. We know what an entrapment they are!!

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  6. I can relate to this Caz. In my case… books.
    I am really attached to books I liked. But some time ago, maybe since I’ve decided to move or to live a simple life, these books that I have seems so wasted. So I started to give these away to people. I almost finalized the process few days ago, and I found the book I had since 1992. So emotional, but.. I just want a simple life so I’ve decided to give it away.

    Reply
    • I hear you on this Juno! Craig and I struggle with letting go of our books. They contain so much knowledge. Our backpacks always had too many books in them. I’m learning to let go of them, but it is really hard. I find I use them a lot for inspiration and motivation so its hard to give them away. I guess the internet makes it all a little easier as we can access so much of this stuff online.

      Reply
  7. Oh yeahhhh….totally get it. When we got home from South America last summer and house sat for a few months, we managed to accumulate more *stuff* then we could fit in our packs. I didn’t like it at all. The thought of ever settling and having to accumulate anything more then what fits in my pack, makes me nervous….

    Reply
    • Nervous is a great way to explain it. You know what it can all mean- useless stuff that can imprison you and take away your freedom to just enjoy living.

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  8. Last year we got rid of most of what we owned and only kept what we could fit in an RV and a small storage unit. After a year even all that felt like too much stuff, so we dumped storage and got rid of pretty much everything in the RV. Now everything we own can be fit in three suitcases… well, plus a laptop bag and a few boxes of photos staying with parents.

    I have to say, it’s incredibly liberating – we can go anywhere! Do anything! We’re freeeeeee!!! :)

    Reply
    • It is so liberating Christy. I feel so imprisoned by all my stuff, I’m doing yet another declutter this weekend and culling so much crap! Freedom is the most addictive and satisfying condition ever. That is why people have been fighting for it for ever

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  9. Great Blog post … Totally agree, the only material possessions I need and will not do without are my macbook and an internet connection … the rest is just stuff that I don’t really need … materials and possessions in my mind (other than those that take care of your basic needs) are just smoke and mirrors, designed to make others rich and distract you from the things that are important to you in life

    Reply
    • I like that “designed to make others rich and distract you from what’s important” :) I think the internet would have to be the only thing we can’t do without now either- and my passport. Well maybe some clothes as I’m not ready to become a nudist yet!! :)

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  10. Great post. I completely agree with you. I always considered myself to be somewhat of a minimalist and tried not to accumulate things I didn’t need. But travel has really solidified that view for me.

    When I had to get rid of everything and move out of my condo to prepare for my year of nomad life in Latin America, I was shocked at how much stuff I had. And the process of getting rid of it was one of the most stressful experiences of my life. Never again will I be in that position.

    Reply
  11. Emphatically, YES.

    I feel like you wrote this post just for us. When we were preparing for our current year of travel, I realized that everything we own has to be stored, cleaned and paid taxes on in some shape or form. It’s AMAZING how liberating it has been to have less stuff!

    Although, we don’t eat in restaurants all the time. No way we could afford to. But meals are much less of a hassle and more of an experience, I think because it isn’t taking us away from a long list of other stuff we have to do that day, like clean.

    Reply
  12. Alouise

    I agree on all counts – too much stuff weighs you down. I’m really disorganized when it comes to my stuff, I’m always missing things because I’ve got too much (in my opinion). My mom jokes that if I had kids I lose them in the laundry. Ironically what motivates me to purge my things is watching Hoarders on tv. I’m not nearly as bad as that, but whenever I watch it I think, “I gotta get rid of some stuff.”

    And I never even thought about all the insurance policies as stuff, but they can be too much. Once salesmans tried to sell me insurance on $40 headphones, it wasn’t worth it.

    Reply
  13. Well said!! It’s amazing how much we can hoard in life and call it ‘important’. I had to move back home after a relationship breakdown and hadn’t touched my room since I’d moved out…the charity shops were over the moon with my 30+ bags/boxes I gave them and it felt so good to declutter my space because it helped to declutter my head =)

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  14. Living out of a backpack definitely shows you that you don’t need much. Last year we felt completely overburdened with everything – and we were just looking after a small rented apartment and our house that we rent out to tenants. I hope that we keep with the “buy only what we need” philosophy once we stay in one place for awhile again as expats. I would think that once a child comes into the picture the tendency to accumulate is overwhelming. Because kids often want a lot of stuff and to have what their friends have – they are too young to understand the lessons we’ve already learned as adults. I guess we’ll find out on our own…

    Reply
    • And the problem you have when you have kids is that everyone else around you just wants to buy them stuff. I dread birthdays and christmas as I know Kalyra will receive way too much stuff. Most of the stuff she doesn’t use, it just clutters the house. We’ve tried telling people to please hold back, she really doesn’t need much, but no one listens. Ugh. Can’t wait to travel again and just buy special experiences for special occassions rathar than stuff.

      Reply
  15. Maybe I did learn something being gone for three weeks taught me that I have too much Stuff..Ive always been a packrat. I often bought on credit of course. I used to have a stack of Costco clothes in my closet that Id never worn. These books may not have cost me any money but I now realize that they werent exactly free.

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  16. Love this post! Less is definitely more. I always feel like I’m going crazy if I start to accumulate too much stuff.

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    • I pull my hair out every day when I look around at how much crap I have. I’m always looking for new ways to cull

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  17. Less is so much more!
    I can clean our whole bus in 30 minutes, and that is from the back to the front.
    Beds made
    Kitchen dishes are washed
    floor swept
    bathroom sink and shower cleaned
    Bus tidy
    Ready to start the day – and spend time with exploring.
    Yep less is so much more
    Even though our Motorhome doesnt have enough beds for our boys.
    Even though our motorhome doesnt have any storage bins.
    We are fine with that. It may be shorter than most buses – but its our home!
    I so would recommend this way of life to anyone :)
    Cheers
    Lisa

    Reply
    • Love a 30 minute clean. Craig was walking the house grumbling last night as he had been cleaning for 2 hours and achieved nothing. What a waste of precious time!!! We are working on dusting to reduce the amount of time spent on the most insane task of all- cleaning.

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  18. We have been travelling for 2 years now and have settled in Edinburgh for nearly a year now while working our way around Europe and the amount of stuff we have accumulated already is sickening. Not sure how we are meant to get it all home in the future, will end up throwing it out I bet which is terrible for sustainability.

    Reply
    • It gets disgusting doesn’t it? We are working on culling at the moment- it is such a task

      Reply
  19. [...] each other?  Yes. The more we travel the less stuff we want to own. I wrote a post on this called Less is More. I think we had so many celebrations on the travelling road that we have become used to not really [...]

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