More Experiences are Easier to Collect When You Have Less Stuff

All we own!
The last 6-7 years our family has made an effort to really simplify our way of living. Before this process, we took a long look at what it was that we really needed and started to weed out the goods and services that we could do without. Once you start this process you see just how fulfilling life is even without things that you may have believed were vital in the past.

I remember sitting in our house, and listing all the things we could NEVER live without again; 2 cars, king size bed, caller ID, a massive TV with hundreds of channels and a DVR, our own house, beauty and cleaning products, etc, etc. It makes us laugh now and, at the same time, feel so grateful that we changed our ways.

Over the past few years we have slowly eliminated material "things" in an effort to focus on experiences and each other. It seems that once you begin to rid your life of the extra things, you get the fever to do more. It has become something like an addiction to me now. Getting rid of things is liberating. A freedom that one only knows when they also rid themselves of all the "stuff".

It all starts, I think, when we are kids and formulate the way we feel about things like this.  When I was young I didn't have very much money and always desired things that I couldn't have.  Fast forward to my adulthood when I reached a point that I could afford these desired items I had always craved, and we got them!  Hook line and sinker, we bought into commercial America.  I felt that if I didn't give my kids all these "things" that I didn't have when I was young, then they would feel the way I did growing up, always wanting and sacrificing.

But what I know now is that my kids are far better off without these things.  They crave experiences (and food) rather then material items. They'll be able to move around the world, adapt, and assimilate almost anyplace.  They understand the difference between what they need and what they want and can logically think through whether we should purchase something or let it go (most of the time anyway). This ability at such young ages amazes me on a regular basis, and I am so proud knowing that it was the choices we made as a family 5 years ago that contributed mostly to this.

So what types of things have we left behind or learned to live without? Cable or Sat TV, including Tivo or any DVR option, clothes dryers, hot water, dishwasher, screens on our windows, phone line at our home, including caller ID, king size bed (and sometimes a lack of plush sleeping quarters at all), a home of our own, cars, specific beauty products, cleaning products, fancy clothing, and toys.  We are down to 4 travel backpacks and 3 day packs worth of belongings.  Knowing you can be content with so little is a great feeling and something I could never regret in life!  I would rather spend money on the experiences that I feel enrich our lives and now we are able to because we learned to let those things go.

I am not suggesting that anyone, including me, should live without the basics in life. Or, that anyone shouldn't enjoy the pleasure one gets from certain goodies.  I do suggest, however, that we all can reevaluate what is truly a necessity to, at minimum, better appreciate the extras. What we need and what we want should be viewed as very different because they are. Obviously, electricity and water should not be in the same class as cable, DVR, or caller ID.

I think the first thing to remember is to start small! Don't let yourself become overwhelmed by trying to do it all right away.  And focus only on what works for you!  I would have had a very hard time going from all my things down to where we are now, living out of backpacks, in less than the time it took us (6 years or so). We had spent our lives feeling a great sense of security wrapped up in our belongings. The thought of living without these belongings gave me a sense of loss.  It is not something I would do all at once.

Now we see that with less stuff comes less responsibility, worry, and stress. By ridding your life of these things there seems to be more time and energy for what really matters; family, love, and experiences. You will never sit on your deathbed wishing you had more things, or regret that you didn’t have a nicer car or that new cell phone. But if you don’t start living a truly purposeful life today, you may ultimately wish you made more time for family, and that you experienced more of what the universe has to offer.

See what other travelling families had to say about living with less:

Windwalker Duo Living Better With Less
 The Nomadic Family
Tripping Mom  Less stuff, more life
New life on the road  http://www.newlifeontheroad/Living-The-Simple-Lifestyle-But-Still-Would-Love-One-Thing
Living Outisde of the Box -
 A King's Life: Living with Less & Spoiling Ourselves
Heather Greenwood Davis : Globetrotting Mama -
With 2 kids in tow:  After 10 Months of Living With Less
Family on Bikes : Living with less: What can you ditch?
Miro's post: Living without the norm- 
A minor diversion:
CarriedontheWind: Living Without
Livin On The Road: Living Without ...


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  1. I love how you decided to live with less stuff over a period of six years! Our kids are the same - they almost get why we dont buy anything and everything when we go to the shops..but they still love eating out - so we try to do that once a week!
    Its amazing how much stuff we think we have to live with, and how much we can live without...happiness comes from within!


  2. I love that you made that original list. How funny! Thanks for the inspiration!

  3. I love the original list, especially the Caller ID. That is so funny. Doesn't it seem silly now?

    Nicely written. Most people know how good it feels to purge, but usually fill the space they have created with more things, only to purge again. It is this cycle that needs to be examined as to why its a compulsion to fill the void.
    Those of us who have been able to purge and 'stay purged' know the freedom it has in so many aspects of life.
    Well said and a great dramatic ending that is very true to the core.

  4. Very well said, especially about 'less stuff comes less responsiblility, ect...and more time and energy for what really matters'. People don't ofter stop to evaluate their 'wants' which they incorrectly view as 'needs' which they then become enslaved to--like working to pay for the new car, the bigger house, etc. Like you said, living out of a backpack may not be the answer long-term, but a more conscious way of living and consuming is certainly in order.

  5. I respect you for what you said. Too bad that many of us feel the need to want more. I could not imagine living like this, but who knows. Big screen TV, Caller ID, nice new car, all the luxuries that pertain to a useful life. BIG DEAL! Can't wait for X-Mas to see all the goodies I will be getting.

  6. @Zimmett, Everyone needs to live in their own comfort zone, I would never tell anyone what they should or should not own. This is just an article to try and help people see that life without some of the material things can be just as amazing. I understand totally what you are saying as I used to have all the goodies as well but honestly I prefer this life without all that stuff! Give it a try, skip all the Christmas spending, it may be the best holiday season yet. And if not there is always next year:)

  7. Love your article! It just shows how vulnerable some individuals can be when faced with loss of their material belongings.

    You, to the contrary, were determined to let them go, which opened the door to a spectrum of new possibilities. Life is the whole new, clutter free, experience for you and the family now. Well done on that bold move.

  8. When we made the break and moved to Costa Rica, I was afraid to let go of my stuff. "What if it doesn't work out and I have to come back?" So we kept a condo's worth of furniture and kitchen stuff, stuff we had worked half a lifetime to accumulate, stuff we loved. Six years later, it's still filling up my sister's garage and it literally keeps me awake at night. All that stuff just sitting there, stuff that I now believe I will never need - it worked out great and I don't plan to go back - feels like a burden. I want to get rid of it but everytime I try, I get stopped. I really love that stuff andi worked really hard to acquire it, even though it has nopurpose in my life.

    You did a good thing!

  9. That is what we did, and getting rid of it all was really hard while I did it but I stayed on focus and honestly it feels so good. I have no regrets at all! Just do it:)