doing away with baggage.

Getting rid of “stuff” seems to be a hot topic right now. This could totally be biased, considering I follow many blogs that tout “minimalism” and “sustainability.” It also could be seasonal – considering spring started literally overnight last week and everyone has the spring cleaning bug. Regardless, I’ve seen a lot of talk about it, and I’m actively participating, so it’s been on my mind. David and I leave in two weeks. I technically leave in one week, as I’m dropping my car (the non-road trip car) at my parents’ in Maine loaded with all the things we’ll need when we settle down somewhere for longer than a few weeks. So this weekend is packed full of sorting, packing, unpacking, repacking, etc. etc. (pun intended). Sometimes I think I live to get rid of stuff. I find every excuse to do it: spring cleaning, buying too much new stuff, attending a lecture on climate change that scares the crap out of me, watching a movie about third world countries… really any event that makes me feel awful about my privileges or like I’m drowning in unused possessions. It always leaves me feeling renewed. This winter I undertook the most involved “simplification” of my life thus far – to the point that there’s barely anything left to get rid of that makes any reasonable sense. And now we have to fit it all in two cars… IMG_4057To the left is what our bedroom looked like this morning as we sorted everything into: (1) winter clothes, (2) farm clothes, (3) running clothes, (3) work/nice clothes, (4) frequently worn, (4) not so frequently worn. The first two categories are headed to Maine, the rest we’re taking with us – whatever doesn’t fit a category is headed to Salvation Army. And that’s just clothes; we’ve also sorted through books, dishes, memorabilia, and everything else we own. At least four times over the last few months we’ve done a full sweep of the apartment, throwing everything we’re ready to part with in a cardboard box to donate or listing it on Craiglist (um…anyone want an antique sewing machine?). All of this in preparation for today – the car stuffing day of truth.  Each time we undertook a cleaning we found ourselves willing to part with more and more stuff. In January I wanted to keep that blue dress, for special occasion, you know? In February I decided it could go, I don’t attend a lot of those; but that really nice speaker system we never use? We might need that. Then in March: maybe a speaker system isn’t actually that useful on the road… Stuff is just stuff. Yet, for some reason, we emotionally attach ourselves to it. We avoid getting rid of things because so-and-so gave it to us, or it could have use some day, or we like to wear it maybesometimes, etc. etc. In my opinion, our emotional attachments to material objects could actually be considered emotional baggage. As a culture we’re drowning in the chaos of our material lives, in our anxiety about getting rid of anything we might possibly regret. For the record: I’ve never regretted getting rid of anything, no matter how worried I was before I pitched it. Usually, I just forget I ever owned it. Out of sight, out of mind – forever one less worry. Take a look around you – are you surrounded by things you never use? Really think about it. When was the last time you cracked open that book? Do you even remember what it was about? How often do you really use those cookie cutters? You have how many coffee mugs for two people!? Where did you even get that weird looking plant pot anyways? And those pants that are too big, too small, too short, or too hole-y? C’mon, you know the ones, the ones you haven’t worn in three years. Newsflash: you’ll probably never wear them again.

Get rid of it! All of it!

Note: Please sell or donate before throwing away. Unless it’s like underwear… or broken sneakers… or dish rags… throw that shit out (in the proper receptacle, of course). It’s rude to assume other people want that gross stuff. Every item we’ve gotten rid of has pushed us closer to our goal of independence on the road. Every item you do away with will give you that same sense of freedom – one step closer to a life without baggage.

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13 thoughts on “doing away with baggage.

  1. When my daughter left the University of Wyoming she really downsized. Everything had to fit in her truck as she traveled to Tennessee to enter her PhD program. On day 1 she got rid of 1 thing, day 2-two things and she did this for 21 days. Now if she buys something new she gets rid of 1 thing so she can maintain her status quo. She says it has really simplified her life.

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  2. great idea, I love it! Over the last few years, I’ve gotten rid of SO much stuff, it’s great. Esp if you want/love to travel. I am in a bachelor apt now and don’t really have a lot of stuff besides the basics (except some old mementos such as photos etc, and other stuff I can’t part with). I just realized I just had too much stuff, and most of it I didn’t really need…even IF I wasn’t travelling a lot (lol). Glad to have discovered your blog, have a great trip and looking forward to hearing more about it here on your blog.

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  3. The road trip is sure to be awesome! I drove around/across the U.S. for the first time last summer, and it was a fantastic experience. I lived out of my car, stayed with friends and family, couch-surfed, got AirBnBs, slept in the back of trucks with climbing buddies, and pitched my tent many times. There really is nothing like a summer road trip across the U.S. — the REAL American Dream!

    Incidentally, I’m shopping for a new place to live myself, so I’ll have to come back to see how you guys are getting on! Right now, Colorado is at the top of my list, although some spots in Oregon are in the competition, too. We’ll see.

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    1. Sounds awesome! Do you have any suggestions for places we absolutely have to stop? What’s AirBnB? Never heard of it. Love news that other people have survived a similar trip! We’re getting really excited. Thanks for the comment 🙂

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      1. AirBnB is a website where homeowners rent out rooms in their house/apartment — or their entire homes — to travelers. It’s better than a hotel for several reasons: You usually get access to a kitchen and a washer/dryer, you get a personalized connection to the city in the form of your host, the spaces you stay in are always unique and often beautiful, and you can stay in better areas of a city for cheaper than a hotel room. I’ve used it across the U.S. as well as in Europe.

        As for where to stop… I could give you so many suggestions! Not sure of your general route — given that you’re coming from Maine, it might be more northerly? I missed Chicago but was bummed about it. But New Orleans is a great city. Austin, TX, has amazing food and a strong food truck scene.

        Colorado is simply amazing. There’s one 14er southwest of Denver that you can drive to the top of if you’re short on time: Mt. Evans. If you do have time for hikes, Hanging Lake is just off I-70 east of Glenwood Springs, CO. Google for photos — it’s worth it. The hike is steep, but fairly short.

        Stay in Page, AZ, or Kanab, UT, and visit Antelope Canyon, Zion National Park, Bryce NP, Horseshoe Bend, and Lake Powell. If you stay in Page, get a room at the Lake Powell Motel — it’s small and is run by a super friendly local who can give you lots of good tips, including info on lesser-known (& therefore less busy) hikes, etc. He also has a boat and will likely offer to take you out on Lake Powell!

        North of there, the Bonneville Salt Flats on I-80 at the NV-UT state line are an amazing and alien landscape. It’s where they take cars to break land speed records (and film lots of car commercials).

        South of I-80, Highway 50 across NV is known as “The Loneliest Road in America” — it rings true. Keep your gas gauge above 1/3 and take in the “hills” and valleys. It can feel a bit holy — I weirdly enjoyed it!

        Not sure your final destination, but the west coast is a playground all its own! For me, San Diego is overrated, LA is underwhelming, SF is expensive but worth it, and the drive up the coast through Oregon and into Washington is as amazing as everyone says it is (definitely camp if you can). Portland is a great city with its own character and vibe. Seattle feels bigger than Portland, but it’s still nice. There are some incredible national parks up in the PNW, too.

        Montana is surprisingly beautiful. I’d consider living there if it didn’t get so cold in the winter — and stay that way for so long. Wyoming felt like “the last frontier” to me. Roads through lovely landscapes that go forever with nothing around. The skies are beautiful, though. Kansas (and Nebraska) are just as boring to drive across as everyone says they are. The only speeding ticket I got was in Texas, where, ironically, the speed limit is usually 80. (I got caught zooming through a small town with a posted speed of 35.)

        …I’m going to stop now, ha! Feel free to ask if you have specific questions! You really can’t go too wrong. There’s nuggets of awesomeness all over the U.S. — I hit a bunch on my route, but I know I missed just as many. You’ll love it!

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      2. Wow. This is awesome. I’m definitely going to look into all of these things! I’ll let you know if I have specific questions. Thanks so so much! We’re actually heading down to FL and taking route 10 west, so southern 🙂

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  4. I am really excited for you! I am absolutely embracing the process of “loving and leaving” the excess stuff in my home. I also have no regrets and do not even remember what it is I have moved along. It really tells you something, doesn’t it? I should also consider selling on eBay, apparently! Thanks for the encouraging and inspiring post. 🙂

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