I’d wanted to downsize my life for a while. I don’t know what it was about becoming a homeowner. Maybe the knowledge that belongings would more likely accumulate rather than get thinned out every few years during future moves. Or maybe it was all of the eco-friendly renovations and the knowledge that came with them. Whatever the reason, by the time I decided to take my round the world trip, my belongings were starting to nag at me.  And once I’d determined that I was taking that trip solo, I knew that by the time I left, I would have far fewer material possessions.

When I moved out in January, I left most of the furniture without a second thought. The vintage telephone table I’d scoured shops, antique fairs, and Craigslist for months to find. The limited edition art deco coffee table I’d managed to get a screaming deal on. The 100% natural latex mattress with the organic cotton and wool cover that I’d fought to make a priority. I left them all and much of the contents of our 2.5 bedroom house…and I was ready to.

But right then, when I was giving up so much- my house, stuff, partner, and the neighborhood I loved, I wasn’t ready to give up everything. My music collection-the records- many of which I’d had since I was in elementary school, my books- I even had my Judy Blume books- all the material evidence of my life that I’d managed to hold onto in spite of moving at least every three years for my whole life. I couldn’t decide what to keep and what to get rid of while dealing with grief.

So instead, I went through every piece of paperwork in the house, shredded anything I didn’t have to keep, and recycled it. I went to local liquor stores and got a bunch of used beer boxes to pack my things, and moved everything I wanted to deal with later to my friend’s garages. And that was grueling enough.

But it seemed that minimalism took on a life of it’s own. Like if I wasn’t going to deal with my stuff, it was going to deal with me. During one rainstorm, my friend Josh’s garage ceiling collapsed and while none of my stuff was destroyed, it did need cleaning up, and couldn’t be put back. Less than two weeks later, in a separate storm, Leslie’s garage flooded and boxes of my books and some clothes were ruined. I got the message. I couldn’t just park this stuff, take off, and come back to deal with it later like I’d started to think I might. Hmm…

So when Leslie suggested the yard sale date of April 30th, what would have been my 5-year wedding/10-years together anniversary, I was ready…ish. In an attempt to do better than yard sale prices, I listed items on Craigslist with photos the week leading up to the sale. I took my books to a used bookstore called Moe’s in Berkeley. I sold my vintage/used clothes and shoes to resellers Mercy Vintage in Piedmont, Crossroads Trading Co., and Buffalo Exchange. I may have made more money selling on Ebay, but I wanted to avoid items being shipped (not as green, although you can buy carbon off-sets). Fortunately, I’d already made a pretty penny while knowing my stuff would have more local life, before yard sale day even came.

It took three yard sales on a busy street (Leslie’s) in Oakland, individual item Craigslist ads linking to yard sale posts, and amazing friends, neighbors, and strangers, for nearly all my stuff to sell. In the end I donated all of my leftover books to the Longfellow Community Association (a neighborhood group I co-founded with Leslie) for their White Elephant Sale this summer. I sold all my leftover CDs and cassettes to a music store, Rasputin in Berkeley, and donated leftover clothing and miscellaneous items to Goodwill. I used a drop box and donated all my underwear, socks, things that can’t be re-worn by others and usually get thrown out to USAgain- a for-profit business that sells them to textile recyclers for use as filling. All of my empty, already recycled boxes were put in the recycle bin or given to a friend for her move.

With everything out of both my friend’s garages, I spent the last week before my June 8th departure going through every single thing I had left and vetting it for importance. Most of what I now own is important paperwork, things from my Grandmother, and printed photos, and a few things I just didn’t have time to recycle properly as my conference deadline loomed. Knowing I had too much to ship and store at my Mom’s, I hunted for the smallest, most eco-friendly storage unit I could find. I was so excited to find that Point Richmond Self-Storage, in Richmond, CA., not only had the smallest, most affordable units – 4’w x 3’d x 4’h lockers- but that they are also powered by solar electricity. The owners also are partners in other facilities in other parts of the U.S.

Me, in front of my locker, in my Together for Japan t-shirt

I feel pretty happy with the approach I took and the voraciousness with which I downsized. I feel lighter and am happy knowing that others are enjoying the things I was ready to let go of, and very little, if anything, ended up in the landfill. My one regret is that I couldn’t find a more eco-friendly, waterproof (I’ve learned my lesson!) alternative to the two 22-gallon plastic tubs I’m using to store my most treasured items. My goal is to return to the Bay Area between my road trip and international trip and scan all my photos and paperwork to further reduce my footprint, and then move that extremely tiny footprint to my Mom’s place while I travel the world…lightly. :)

me, with everything I own that's not along for the road trip

Have suggestions for living and traveling lighter? More eco-friendly? Waterproof alternatives to plastic tubs? Love your comments as always! :)

96 Responses to “Selling Everything to Travel- My Zero Waste Approach”

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  1. Up with downsizing!! Great that you were able to recycle or reuse so much stuff. I don’t know of any greener alternative to those plastic tubs, but at least they are a good long-term solution not likely to end up in a landfill somewhere. Plus they are super-easy to freecycle… :)

    • thanks raymond! that’s true- can give those suckers away in a snap! and once i do stage 3 downsizing, i’ll probably have to. :) LOVE freecycle! so glad you mentioned it here :)

  2. I am a cluttered, disorganized pack rat. It’s not that I don’t want to clean up. But organizing and filing are like nails on a chalkboard for me. Plus I tend to save everything. If I had someone do it for me, they could probably throw out most of the stuff I think is important and I would probabbly never miss it or think it is important.

    • thanks jeremy! i’m not cluttered or disorganized (kind of a wizard at that stuff- have to be for work) but i DID save crazy little notes, records, books, things from the time i was so little. so much of it not really worth keeping and that i hadn’t laid eyes on in years! agree- someone could have come in for me too and i wouldn’t have missed half of it. it was such a shit-ton of work, but sooooo glad i did it! :)

  3. So impressed, as always, by your thorough approach. I bet you will only feel more and more free as time goes by and you settle further into your minimalist road trip.

    For us, we have a long way to go in our eco-friendly efforts but try – at all costs – to not simply throw stuff away.

    Reading this makes we want to try even harder. Thanks for that.

    • thanks so much guys! i think you’re right- that hindsight will make this feel even better for me as i realize there isn’t anything i’m pining for and get the chinook organized with everything in its place. and as far as the green living goes- none of us is ever going to be perfect enough- we are human, and we are going to disrupt nature just for that sheer fact, but i just try to factor that into my thoughts and decisions. glad to inspire, but the effort you already make is a biggie! :)

  4. So proud of you. So inspired by you. So in love with your approach and serious commitment to living more simply in the wake of personal disaster. You’re one of my heros Lorna. I just wish I had more time to keep in touch with you in a detailed manner. But know that I think of you and love you and am so behind what you are doing. It is AWESOME.

    I do hope our travel paths can cross again soon, this time – with more time to actually spend talking.

    • tears tears tears- happy ones- reading this kirsten! omg wow thank you! i feel the very same way and feel your support lady! and hell yes and cheers to paths crossing soon when we can chat away :)

  5. Also, woot freecyle!!

  6. Great job! I had a hectic downsizing stage right before I left simply because I had no idea how much time it would actually take to go through everything, make the trips to Goodwill, used book store, used music store, used sporting equipment store, etc.

    I think what surprised me the most was the amount of time it took to go through all the paperwork, scan the important stuff, and shred everything.

    • thanks stephanie! YESSSSSSS!!! i did the same! totally underestimated how much time it would take and how intense it would be. i started off thinking i was going to handle everything as i was moving out/breaking up. yikes! can you imagine if i’d stuck to that plan? crazeballs! you know, i wonder if it always feels hectic? if it’s not possible to have it feel calm, just for the sake of what it dredges up and requires? here’s to getting ‘er done! ;)

  7. I have never heard of Us Again. That’s good to know there is a place like that. I love how conscious you were about the environment when going through your stuff. You are awesome. I’m sure so many people just throw things away because it’s easier. I tend to go through my things every so often because after having a 3 bedroom house and accumulating so much crap, I don’t want to ever get to that point again.

    • thanks so much christy! i heard about them at the green festival in sf. the owner was there and we chatted about the fact that they take things no one does. i could SO appreciate that, but i hadn’t seen their drop boxes anywhere. he asked me to take his card and be on the lookout, and sure enough, once i’d seen his card (which looks like the boxes) i started noticing them everywhere! ha ha. it’s so great that you regularly purge. i’m sure it makes it so much easier than going through a mountain of stuff all at once. i used to trim with each move, but this was certainly the biggest one ever! i can’t believe i own like 5 CDs (autographed by musician friends), about 2 books, so few clothes, 3 pair of shoes. i LOVE this new light life. :)

  8. This is precisely the approach to life that travel has taught me, that you don’t need a lot to live a fulfilled life. Bravo to you for being brave enough to get rid of the comfortable stuff that was holding you back. Teach the rest of us to do the same?

    • thanks so much marsha! gosh, that’s a tall order, since i don’t know that i hold the key! it’s just something that began to well up in me, and sort of as a reaction to accumulating more things than i’d ever had before! it felt really uncomfortable and it took SO much time to maintain it all, that what i found was, the thing i value most- freedom- was slipping away. i kind of felt like i was being buried under my stuff. i felt like a glutton. maybe it was working with refugees while doing my research as well. with folks with so little and yet so happy and willing to give away or share what they have. it was the right thing at the right time for me, but i don’t think everyone has to follow my lead if their priorities are different. i get it- stuff is tempting for a reason! :)

  9. Wow. I’m super impressed by your downsizing… but, man, that picture of shoes made me cry a little. I now only own 4 pairs of shoes myself. I know there are a lot of benefits of minimalist living, but, man, I miss the shoes!

    • thanks sally! i know- the shoes! the thing that was hard, was knowing that there are finite pieces of vintage clothing (although, what is vintage shifts in time as well) and that i was giving up my pieces and couldn’t count on getting replacements later. after all, clothing gets worn out, and once those are worn out, well… but in the end am i really going to travel with a backpack and high heels? i’d probably throw them in the ocean inside of two minutes! now in the chinook, i’ve got a little pair of vintage dior black pumps- ooooh girl! ;)

  10. Nice! I’ve done Craiglist and Amazon to sell everything and the response was fast. I got everything sold really quick. I donated all my clothes too. Now I have one plastic box like yours sitting at my parents house. The rest I’m traveling with right now. Feels amazing.

    • thanks michael! doesn’t it?! my goal in phase 3 (hopefully january) is to get where you are! well done mister and glad to hear there are no regrets :)

  11. Oh, I feel you on this! Shedding items definitely makes me feel lighter too. Though, it does take a lot more work than you expect. One of my biggest problems is with my books and clothes. One part of my brain just wants to donate the stuff, while the other part is like, “Hey Bud, are you sure you won’t have a use for that the future?” Lately, the former has been winning out, and I got to say it feels good!

    • thanks randy! i know! the clothes, because they were special collectors items were the toughest, but what? am i going to let them get wrecked in a backpack or put in storage indefinitely?! the thing i forgot to mention here, was that once i found out about my flight bennies, i got a lot more pep in my step for getting rid of stuff. kept thinking then, “i can just keeping gooooooooiinnnnnngg! why do i need this?!” the books were tough too, but i just knew a library card or a kindle could solve that right away. kept a few of my little kid books that had my autograph though. lol ;)

  12. Very inspiring! I am constantly downsizing. I still have a big box of old VHS tapes, but I’m finally buying a converter so I can transfer them to digital and eliminate the tapes. Scanning old documents is a great idea!

    • thanks scott! oooh footage! one of those boxes is footage and i’d like to do the same. have to say that may be one of the boxes that goes to mom though… a little afraid to trust oral histories of my late grandmas to a digital files! eeee! maybe i’ll get over it when i tackle phase 3. :)

  13. Great post! A yard sale is what we should have done – twice. After 13 years overseas, and two major house moves, and five years on the road, we now have two storage units, one in Sydney and one in Dubai. I’m dreading having to sort them out. Knowing they’re ‘there’ keeps me from accumulating things as we travel. Although I still find myself sending things to family every now and again when the bags get too heavy. Congratulations! Maintain the minimalism! :)

    • P.S I actually have two copies of that Frida book – one in Sydney and one in Dubai. Something I could *never* part with! :)

      • awesome! LOVE that book, but figured i can get it from a library or on kindle or something! hoping all is not lost- it’s a goodie! :)

    • thanks so much lara! you know, even after just the 4 months of having the boxes at friend’s places before the yard sales, it was SUCH a daunting task to start opening them and deciding what to keep and what to sell. i actually called 3 different girlfriends in a moment of panic and tears while standing there waiting to start opening. i talked it out for a few minutes and then surprised the hell out of myself when i just started doing it and was done in two hours. i had so little i’d pulled aside that i’d consider keeping, and everything else i was ready to sell or donate. this is just to say you may be pleasantly surprised! thanks for the congrats, and YES! i’ll keep it up and actually push myself to go to the next level soon after my road trip! :)

  14. Dang! Sorry I missed the big sale, and only just *now* discovered your blog via @BeersandBeans on Twitter. How wonderful that you ditched so much stuff. I am *constantly* thinking about doing the same to travel. So it makes me kind of giddy when I read about other people actually doing it. I hope to too, one day … And sooner rather than later.

    • thanks marisa! sorry you missed it too, but so glad you landed here via beers and beans- love them! so glad you had that reaction to my post! i did the same- experienced it vicariously through others blogs, until i was ready myself. i don’t have a special chip, powers, or anything you don’t have- you can do it! hope you’ll keep in touch! can’t wait to hear about it when you do :) and i’m just getting started girl- good times a comin’ :)

  15. I love it! Great job and I love that you keep the environment in mind. I too am eco-friendly (though personally I hate the term) but have devote my whole career to the cause. Congrats to you as you travel lightly upon the earth.

    • thanks so much kim! really appreciate your kind words- especially since you’ve devoted your career to it! thank you for doing so- i know we all benefit from your choice and hard work. really appreciate the cheer! :D

  16. Very inspiring! And such a unique story idea. I especially like how you listed the places you went, in order to help others do the same things as you. :)

    • thanks michael! i’m glad you like how i wrote it! i toyed with the idea of just a straight how-to, but my posts are generally so personal, that i felt showing my process and explaining my decision-making (by example) would be better than proselytizing. but i did want to give folks a way to duplicate my actions easily (links) or know what i’d chosen so that they could find like-businesses in their area if these specific ones don’t exist where they are. SO glad you feel that worked :)

  17. power to ya girlfriend. wish i could part with some of it all, but my record albums are very dear to me and my artist studio crucial for making my artwork. ck out my artwork @ sheedy-mazzucca.com. Hey happy canada day, if and hope u are, still in canada. slip south for the fourth. still working out some mechanical probs with our little chinook. still in love with it. tomorrow we will venture on a overnight but leaving him/her home on the fourth (need to get my labrador up in the oregon forest and away from fireworks and chinooky isn’t quite ready for a big haul.

    • thanks carrie! a record player is the first thing i ever bought with my own money. i had $26 from my 6th birthday and bought one of those denim-looking numbers from sears :) so you can imagine my collection! a lifetime :) but in this digital age, i know i can hear those sounds and now my neighbor friend noé is raising his baby listening to the tunes i grew up on. :) can’t wait til you get that chinooky on a big haul!

  18. Girl…this post resonated with me SO much. This month marked the very first time I’ve ever stored anything. I sold most of my clothes, a lot of my possessions and got rid of things I never thought I would. Although I panicked in the moments, I realized that I don’t even miss anything. Stuff is just stuff. Experience is what’s important.

    You’re awesome lady.

    • thanks so much sally! ahhhh- you understand! when i think of all the trucking around, shipping, etc. those items have seen… but you know, if they could talk, i think they’d even say “let us go and go!” ha ha. you hit it exactly- stuff is stuff, experience is what’s important…at least to us! kudos to you too lady! :)

  19. We are about to move and after spending 4 years in the same apartment, we will need a huge purge. I’m getting excited but it is going to be a lot of work. Those shoes hurt my soul too! shoes are my weakness!

    • thanks jade! it IS a lot of work, but you two are so adventurous- you’ll relish some parts & quake during others i’m sure, but you’ll get ‘er done ;)
      yeah, the shoes…sigh. but really, in the end i had to admit that my chucks are really my first love anyway, so some other sassy lady ought to get to enjoy by little beauties :)

  20. I am minimalist to the extreme. Ok, I do own a home, or rather two, but there is noting in them but the bare essentials. I can’t live without knowing that I can move from one continent to another with my possessions fitting into a Samsonite.Well done and, by the way, I loved that shoe collection. Someone else will be very happy now.

    • thanks inka! that’s fantastic! living so light with your samsonite :) yeah, i loved the shoes too- all the ladies here seem to, ha ha!- but you’re right- some other rockabella can enjoy them now while i traipse all over the world in my chucks! ;)

  21. Good for you on your downsizing.
    Though I am not as “eco friendly” as you, this idea of being the “consumer” is done for me.
    I realized I had bought into a concept that I did not believe in – accumulate and spend – for what?
    If more people rejected this consumerism, the world would be a much better place.
    Simple, less is more and do I really have to have that double mocha latte cream, blah blah blah to make me feel good about myself?
    Good go – keep this philosophy throughout your life.
    Cheers,
    John D. Wilson
    aka The Big Mozey

    • thanks john! agree! but you know, me and others can benefit from the rabid consumerism of others. most of the stuff i sold i was able to buy USED myself! with the pace that some consume, i can shop in used stores and buy clothing that was made last year. so crazy, but works for me :) thanks for the encouragement! i’ll certainly try! :)

  22. I absolutely love your environmental approach to simplifying your life! Getting rid of stuff is to cathartic, even if it is difficult. I never knew what to do with old underwear so thanks for sharing this. When I moved to Germany, I brought two checked in bags, then shipped 6 plastic containers (I couldn’t find anything durable that was environmentally friendly either). I haven’t missed my stuff either, and it was interesting to see what was really important to me – artwork collected from travels, sports and hiking equipment and boos. It’s a freeing process and I learned something about myself while doing it as well and going forward I’m trying very hard not to accumulate stuff again both for environmental reasons and for keeping my life simple.

    • thanks laurel! you get me! it does feel really good. i know it’s not for everyone, but for those who have the inclination but think they couldn’t handle it, i’d say GO FOR IT. i had such sentimental attachment to so many of these things. if i can do it, anyone who wants to can. like you said- it’s cathartic! :)

  23. I’m really impressed, Lorna! It sounds like it took a lot of work to get rid of everything, but it’s great that you were able to do it and donate/sell so much!

    I’ve been trying to take stock of a lot of the crap that I own, as I have yet another move coming up in August. I’ve gotten rid of a good amount of stuff, but it’s much different when you know you’ll have an apartment to fill up and store things in. I almost wish I was going on a long-term trip, just so I could be forced to get rid of a bunch more stuff!

    • thanks so much amanda! it did take a lot of work, but work SO well worth it for me! it’s true- when you know you’re moving to the next place, it’s easy to hold on. what would you put in your new place for example, right? if you really want to, you could always act like you are going on a long-term trip and see how that changes your opinion of you really want to keep. just a thought! but you know, i understand liking stuff too :)

  24. Good for you, Lorna! And a great post about your downsizing and zero-waste approach for your travels. Don’t know if I could be so successful — lots of accumulation over the years and much of it of great sentimental, if not monetary, value. But there’s certainly a lot of plain old stuff that could go.

    All the best in your travels! Keep us posted!

    • thanks cathy! i know! hard when you’ve had things for so long. that was the weirdest stuff to let go of. thanks for the well-wishes! many adventures to come :)

  25. Great post! congrats! If you are giving stuff away.what are you going to give me?

    Mike

    • lol mike! i already gave all the *stuff* away, so love. i give you love. there’s some for lucy too. :)

  26. Good on you for actually getting rid of all that stuff. It’s so easy to keep things that hold memories (clothes and things) but in the end if you stick them in storage no one gets to enjoy them.

    When I was going through my clothes and things in Italy I really struggled because there is no real stores like Goodwill there let alone somewhere to recycle my underwear and things. It would have been nice to have those resources so that I felt better about downsizing!

    • thanks annie! yeah! there’s a few reasons why i try to avoid storage. first, others could be enjoying stuff that’s just sitting waiting for me, second, i’ve already paid for it, i don’t want to pay for it again in storage, third, if i can do without it for whatever amount of time i’m storing it, i can’t probably just plain do without it! i hadn’t thought about being in a place where it’s a challenge to donate stuff! but yeah- i bet that would be extra hard! i guess in those instances, churches, who often have charity work with those who need things, or NGOs, etc., would be good places to try. :)

  27. Wow, more power to you on the minimal approach! I’m more in love with the idea than the practice! Ha! If a tornado swept it all away, I’d probably barely replace any of it, but until then or until I maybe decide to settle down again, my ‘treasures’ sit in storage – luckily not pricey. I really have divested myself of a lot both before and when I sold my house. It’s amazing when you start going through the boxes of stuff how much you don’t remember why you saved or even if you do remember, you just don’t have the need to hang on anymore. I come from a long line of packrats and have always been a serial one myself. I’ll accumulate and purge, rinse and repeat. Not having a house of my own has really helped with that accumulation curve. ;-)

    Enjoy your freedom from stuff!

    • thanks mark! you know, reading posts of other travelers downsizing, and then posts from those travelers coming back from big trips to the stuff they, like you, “didn’t know why” they kept helped with my mindset a bit. i forget which blogger wrote it, but one said they came back, looked in boxes and were baffled. i wanted to save myself having paid for that discovery- ha ha. it’s great that you have a system and that what you’re doing now is working for you. i totally get that house = accumulating stuff thing! :)

      • Mine isn’t so much accumulation from owning a house as family belongings that came into my possession that I can’t part with, grandparent’s bedroom suite from when they first got married, a dresser that belonged to great grandparents, etc. If I had bought it in a store myself, I would have had it on craigslist in a heartbeat. Now, there’s stuff in storage that doesn’t fit that bill but I’m in the smallest storage unit they had in my home town (nothing nearly so wee as yours here!), so some stuff I’d probably like to get rid of now squeaked by at the time because I had the room to keep it… That was what I meant by stuff that if a tornado took it I wouldn’t replace it, I couldn’t anyway.

        I think all things come in degrees. If I go the house route again one day, I have no doubt it will be small and I do think we’d all benefit from really examining our purchases more. I’m sure you’ve probably seen the video on “stuff” and I think many of us do get on that treadmill of buy, buy, buy, thinking it’ll make you happy but it doesn’t!

        • i love that video on stuff! so awesome. it’s SO tough to get rid of the stuff from family, right? i never had big things from them because i lived so far away from them when they passed, but i know that would make it so much harder. and then once you have a storage unit, well…i get you there too!

  28. Good for you! When I began doing this I was 55 years old – so you can imagine the junk I had to deal with! I didn’t manage to get it all done the first time, and in my eagerness to get away I didn’t maximize the potential i.e. I could have sold more stuff which would have helped fund the travels! Came back, acquired more stuff and did it all over again. Next time it will be down to the bare bones, but you can imagine the older you get, the more memories things hold (I have two adult “kids”) so there will always be something. I’ve learned that how I look at possessions is the important thing, not the possessions (or lack of them) themselves. It’s absolutely fantastic that you do this when you are young. The new memories you are creating now are worth every cd or pair of shoes you angsted over letting go! Great post!

    • thanks so much linda! i know you’re right! my mom downsized from one move to the next with we kids. so.much.stuff- yikes! and thanks bunches for thinking i’m so young…i feel it, but numbers say otherwise! lol ;) soooo happy to gather all the experience that is coming. i’ve only been gone 3 weeks and my life is so much richer already. i’m over the moon honestly!!! that’s a really great remark “i’ve learned that how i look at possessions is the important thing…” wow! :)

  29. This is so inspiring!! And mature. When I decided to leave my life as I knew it, it was in a big huff. After eight months of misery, I finally decided to leave — in a week. It was madness! I was dropping off bags and bags of clothes at Goodwill drop-offs, at like midnight. I gave away so much stuff to my movers. “Just take it!” And my neighbors… And still, when I came back after more than a year to my tiny storage unit I was repulsed by how much stuff I had. And I gave away more. Long-term travel/living abroad really changes you!

    • thanks so much abby! and WOW! i can’t imagine the job of doing this in a week! hats off to you lady! i think the reason i went so voraciously at this, is because of our blogging peeps who’ve written just what you have here- that when they got back they didn’t relate to what they’d held on to at all. thought i’d try to take a lesson from you all! so awesome that in the chaos you still gave to others instead of dumping it! bravo :)

  30. Wow! Really love that you took such an eco-friendly approach to getting rid of your clutter. Awesomesauce.

  31. Love getting rid of things. Feels just as great as losing weight :)

  32. Well done! I love knowing that everyone I own I’m able to carry with me :)

    • thanks roy! how many people do you own?! ;) sorry, couldn’t resist! LOL (re-read your comment above!). that’s pretty phenomenal that all that you own is what you’re carrying! bowing now in respect :)

  33. You know the first thing Shaun said when he saw your shoes pic? “Why don’t YOU travel with shoes like that?” Ugh. Although, I think I would have cried had I left THAT shoe collection. It is already hard enough to walk through the shoe shops of Mexico and leave behind the 30 pairs of custom Mary Jane’s I saw in the window.

    I’m so proud of you lady with minimizing to that degree! We still have quite a bit of things left in our garage that we have to deal with later. If we continue to travel we will definitely have to get rid of a few more things. :)

    • thanks erica! HAHAHAHA shaun! i know, sigh, pretty great shoesies right? but you know, it really does feel good. and you know what put me over the edge with being ready to go this small? my free flight benefits. i thought about paying again for all of those things over time in storage, and it just really didn’t make sense with the indefinite aspect of those benefits. if it were six months, a year, then maybe i would have done this differently. but it feels SO EFFING GOOD i gotta tell ya! and um, what? custom mary janes?! proud of YOU! :)

  34. This month we finally condensed everything we’re leaving behind into three boxes!! Okay, and a medium-sized handmade wooden drum, but that’s beside the point. :P We got rid of tons of photos (why did I originally think I needed three copies of each??), essays from high school, notebooks full of illegible notes, junk, junk, and more junk! It’s amazing the kind of stuff we keep around! While in the RV we had a small storage unit as well, but we didn’t want to pay for it anymore and we realized we didn’t even need any of that stuff. So now all we have are photos, a few small things from childhood, some really special books, and important papers. Three boxes… and it feels sooooooo liberating! :)

    • that is SO awesome christy!!! i know i at least have doubles of some of those photos and i can’t wait to dig into them, scan them, and give them to family! it’s especially impressive to me that you reduced that much when there are two of you. bravo! i had so many of those school notebooks too! so convinced i’d go use my syllabi from berkeley to re-read all of the assigned stuff and look at my notes. HA!!! in seven years since graduating that NEVER happened. ba-bye! :)

  35. Wow, wow, wow Lorna! So amazed by how well you downsized. We have a gigantic locker filled with tons of stuff (mostly furniture) that we don’t want to get rid of – though we have been paying a lot in locker fees every month for the last 2 1/2 years. We’re paying for it for the next year but if we decide to keep extending our travels afterward, we’re going to have start minimizing – a LOT!

    • thanks so much akila! i hear you on the long term travel making a difference. it was easier thinking about doing it once i knew i had those unlimited flight benefits that’s for sure! really appreciate your cheer :)

  36. USAgain is a favorite of mine as well as I purge items every quarter. I’m trying a minimalist approach in life but clearly you are light years ahead my dear.

    • that’s fantastic grace!!! i don’t know about that light year stuff! i went from 0-60 in two seconds (2.5 BR to locker), but sounds like your using the slow and steady wins the race method! we’re both doing our parts and so glad USAgain is a part of that instead of the landfill! :)

  37. I know how hard it must have been to get rid of everything! But it is such a liberating feeling! At least you could sell most of it, I decided very quickly so just gave it all to the charity.

    • thanks alexandra! it is such a liberating feeling! so great that you took time to donate rather than just pitching everything in the trash! :)

  38. This is a wonderful idea! As much as it can seem like you’re giving up things you’re actually gaining because you’re mastering the lesson that material possessions are not in control of you & that happiness is found in experiences not in materials.

    • thanks samuel! cheers to THAT!!! :) and in the months since i have, i haven’t regretted it one little bit. i don’t miss any of it, and that just reinforces this. :)

  39. Wow, awesome work, Lorna! I am truly inspired – and will be bookmarking this post so I can follow some of your steps (I’m headed back to my parents’ house later this month to sort out everything I dumped there when I moved to Argentina 4 years ago! Eek!). I know it’s going to be time-consuming, and I am pretty settled on getting rid of most of my books – though I imagine I will have second thoughts as I go through them! I hope I can actually get some decent money for things. But in the end, I know I’ll feel so much better not having all that stuff there hanging over my head.

    I’m off to hunt down some pics of your Chinook! (And awesome about that guy who left the note on your windshield!)

    • thanks so much amy!!! i’m honored! feel free to email me with any questions too. i definitely understand the book thing. i had second thoughts too! and then i had second thoughts about having second thoughts ;) what i came to in the end, was how easy it is to get a library card or ebook and have anything you want to read in a snap. that made it easier! ah! you want pics of the chinook? check out before and after here: http://www.theroamantics.com/power-tools-and-lipstick-the-chinook-gets-a-diy-makeover/
      thanks so much for the interest & support! :)

      • Lookin’ good! Wow! Yes, I’m sure you’re right about the second thoughts and all. For me with the books it’s not so much not being able to reread them (at least right now – I’ve been separated from most of them for 4 or 5 years already), it’s that feeling of giving up the dream of that book-lined library I imagined having in my home some day… ah well. It’ll all be worth it I’m sure. :)

        • thanks amy! i SO get that whole home library thing! funny though, once i finally got it, i was fine with giving it up! lol. i’m so sure it’s going to be worth it for you too. i really feel so free! :)

  40. It’s a wonderful thing to see how little we need and yet have an even more satisfying life. :)

    • thanks david- yeah, i don’t miss that stuff at all! and i’m about to do phase 3 downsizing in the next month. it’s kind of addicting! lol ;)

  41. Thinking of selling some of my used books. Hmmmm

  42. I love your strategy for getting rid of things. I think losing the books would be the hardest part!

  43. The moment I started reading, my heart ached at the thought of leaving everything I have worked so hard for. But I believe there comes a time when the dream to be fulfilled is much bigger than material possessions. Thank for the inspiration and How To’s

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