When I moved to London, I took way to much stuff and I know that's a problem for most people: overpacking. Once I got settled in, I acquired more clothes and I thought, "how in the world am I going to get all of this stuff home?" You have to remember, YOU are carrying all of this luggage that you bring, no one else. You don't really have anyone helping you, especially if you are moving out of the country, so do yourself a favor - take LESS stuff.
This year, however, has taught me that experiences mean more than material objects and so when it came time to pack up to leave London, I purged A LOT of stuff. I took an entire suitcase full of stuff to the local charity shop and just left it for someone else to enjoy. I couldn't and didn't want to take all of that stuff with me up to Scotland. I also wanted to simplify my life a bit and in order to do that I knew I needed to part ways with a lot of crap I didn't need. So, for this post I wanted to share with you 5 ways to simplify your life for travel and how obtain a simplified lifestyle.
1. Do you actually wear it?
This is something I had to continually ask myself as I was cleaning out my wardrobe. I kept thinking, "oh this is so cute though" but I had never actually worn it. So, if the answer to this question is "no" then get rid of it. You don't need to pack around stuff, especially as a traveler, that you don't utilize. It's just dead weight.
2. Do you actually need it?
I asked myself this question about several other objects besides clothing such as: books, makeup, decorations, jewelry, etc. Things that you don't think take up a lot of space, actually do - so get rid of them if you don't actually need it! I had books from school & recreational books that I had already read - so I got rid of them. I also had a bunch of old makeup and a few room decorations that were NOT coming with me, so they went in the donation bin as well. A lot of stuff that you acquire over the years were wants and not needs, so learning the difference between the two will help you greatly when you go to pack up your belongings.
3. How much can you carry alone?
This is not a joke. I asked myself this question on a daily basis for a week straight. How much can I actually, physically carry by myself. It was like I was challenging myself to do the impossible. I had to make the trek from my flat into central London to catch a bus and then up to Scotland and so much more... There is no way I was going to take two big suitcases and two backpacks - it just wasn't going to happen. When this reality sets in, you are forced to make a decision between your wants and your needs. Do you need it? Keep it. Do you want it but not use it? Get rid of it. Carrying a lot of luggage by yourself can be exhausting, so do yourself the favor and get rid of it now before you start your journey.
4. What kind of lifestyle do you want?
To me, this is the most important question of all. If you are after a lifestyle with nice things, nice house, nice clothes, nice everything and you don't mind carrying a lot of luggage - then this post is not for you. However, if you are after a more simpler lifestyle and you seek experiences and not things, this post is very much for you. I knew I wanted a lifestyle change and I knew that collecting things and not experiences was not the life that I wanted. So, if this is the kind of lifestyle you want then making the decision to get rid of a few material things will be no big deal. You will gladly give away a suitcase, or two, to travel lighter in order to seek out experiences and not things.
5. Where will this stuff go at home?
Once you get back to wherever home is - where is all of this stuff you've acquired going to go? Is it going to go in the closet with all of your other unused objects? Is it going to go on a shelf for display? Is it going to be used on the daily? Are the clothes actually wearable in your country/state/city? These are all questions you need to ask yourself because if the answer is "I don't know where I'm going to put this" or "I don't think I will be able to wear this back home" then the obvious solution is to NOT take it with you! Don't keep dragging it around like, again, dead weight. If this stuff has no place in your home or wherever you are living then it needs to be donated or done away with. Often, we go to stores and think oh I need this or oh I want that but in all reality we don't actually need it. Marketing today has become central to what we think about shopping (Marketing Master's degree here = master manipulator with advertising ;)) and when we go into stores we are drawn to the pretty displays and packaging. We need to tell ourselves that it's just advertising and we don't NEED what they are selling. Stop making empty purchases just for the sake of having something cute.
I had a conversation with a lady a few weeks ago who bought an expensive pair of shoes because she had worked hard for them and then guess what she did? She put them in a closet, at her moms house, two cities away and LEFT THEM there! She hasn't worn them at all and they cost over $1,000. Meanwhile, I tell her the story of it taking me three hours to buy a new pair of shoes because for me it was such a huge investment.
I know, I know.. I'm weird and a different bread but for me material objects aren't something I take pleasure in. I don't thoroughly enjoy shopping and I don't spend my money on trivial things that don't matter in the long run. I prefer to spend my money on experiences, if anything, and make memories that will last me a lifetime. For me, I invest in good camera equipment & a solid computer - once I have that, I don't need much else.
So, in order to simplify your life - I would say look at what you have and decide whether it's worth keeping or not. Also, very important, is to decide what kind of life you want to live. If you want to live a life full of stuff but not have the extra money for experiences or travel - great! I'm all for doing what makes you happy. If you want a life of experiences and adventure - it's time to start simplifying your life and really figuring out what matters most. For me, again, material objects don't matter that much - what matters is to love the life you live and be happy doing it!