When it comes to travel, I would never call myself an expert. Maybe an aficionado. Maybe an enthusiast. Whatever you call it, I’ve had the chance to visit more places than I can count. I’m pretty lucky. One thing that I have found is that travel inspires you to live with less.
You could say I’ve got a lot of practice. At times, I’ve had to learn things the hard way. Getting stuck in situations I’m not prepared for or having to figure stuff out on the fly comes with the territory. Now I’m ready to pass that wealth of knowledge on to the masses – and to you.
Please, hold your applause.
Travel Inspires you to Live with Less
Today, we’re going to talk about stuff – the stuff you pack, and the stuff you don’t. Sounds so boring, right? I can hear the groans as you brace yourself for a lecture of vacuum sealing, on carry-on liquid limits, and how many extra pairs of underwear you’ll want to bring in case of emergencies. But don’t worry, this isn’t that kind of lecture. This is the one about treasuring the important things and leaving the excess behind. This one is about how travel inspires you to live with less.
Older generations seem to set out with that mindset and get seriously lost along the way. Think about clearing out your grandparents’ house. Hutches filled with fine china that gets used once a year, bookshelves filled with tchotchkes from trips around the world that they never use or look at. Stacks of magazines collecting dust. Older generations just love to hoard stuff.
If there’s anything to be said about our generation, it’s that we value experiences over junk. Not to say we don’t have our own little materialistic streak, but that streak is a little more useful. Think smart watches, nice cameras, etc. We like items that help us achieve our goals, that make a task easier, so we can get closer to living the life we want to live.
When you’re traveling a lot, you’ll learn to be less materialistic a whole lot quicker.
Pack Only What you Need
You probably didn’t follow this advice when you were younger, going on vacations with your parents. Most of us didn’t have to! We’d go to a resort, or a cabin, or on a boat, drop our bags in the room and go about our trip for the week. It didn’t matter if we brought an insane amount of stuff – we weren’t moving around a country, staying in a different place every night, with a tiny amount of carry-on space. Plus, sometimes you can trick Dad into carrying all of it.
Once you start being responsible for your own travel, the whole game changes – and I’m not just talking baggage fees. Those bags are heavy, and they’re hard to keep track of. More importantly though, baggage becomes everything once you go backpacking.
Even if you’re staying at hotels on your trip, or other spaces where you have plenty of room, it’s no fun to lug a huge bag around day after day. You’ll quickly narrow down what is really essential to have, and what you could definitely do without.
I’ve always heard girls packing outfit alternatives, just in case they’re not in the mood to wear what they brought. That stuff really adds up! Instead of worrying about how you’ll look, you’ll worry about how it will feel to carry fifteen outfits around, with corresponding shoe options. It won’t be long before you’re consolidating what’s in your bag. Two pairs of pants for three weeks? No problem, you can wash them halfway. T-shirts that you can roll up to compact them, while also keeping you cool on the go? Done. A fancy blouse that makes you sweat and wrinkles in your suitcase? Hard pass.
Home Becomes Something Different
Home takes a different shape when you get addicted to being on the road. Especially if travel is part of your job. Home isn’t a place to labor over, to crowd into, or to fill with more things to collect dust. Being away often means home really needs to be a place of solace, of comfort, of relaxation. And once you’ve learned how to parse out essentials when packing, it will quickly spill over into your home life. This is one area how travel inspires you to live with less.
I don’t know if this is true for everyone, but I find it hard to be comfortable in a room cluttered with things. Open space helps me breathe and relax. And when there’s less stuff getting dusty and getting rummaged, there’s less to clean. Imagine how nice it would be to sink into your couch a little easier without looking around and seeing a to-do list.
I’m not saying I don’t have decorations or creature comforts – I love good home design as much as the next girl. When it comes to straw baskets and a good throw pillow, sign me up. All I’m saying is, you won’t catch me with a decorative table with a decorative globe and a decorative set of books that I’ll never read. There’s just no point! Everything that takes up space should be taking up space because of functionality, or because it really, really brings me joy.
How Far your Dollar can Take You
When you start to see items at face value, and learn what’s important and what isn’t, the way you spend changes. Your priorities change. I know it’s a goofy phrase but, once you get bit by the travel bug you’ll be hooked. Like, seriously hooked.
Beyond “throw twenty dollars in a jar each paycheck” hooked. Beyond “Oh, we should totally go there sometime” hooked.
I’m talking, block-out-your-calendar, save-every-penny, fly-Spirit-airlines-with-so-little-luggage-you-don’t-have-to-pay-fees hooked. I’m talking, eat-beans-and-rice-every-day-so-you-can-go-somewhere-new hooked.
Sure, there are cheap ways to travel, but it can only get you so far. Some trips are just expensive! And they’re not something everyone can afford – but especially if you’re playing a keep-up-with-the-Jones’ lifestyle.
Soon, you’ll start valuing experiences over having the latest pair of heels. That selfie will be cute, but no amount of likes can compare to the fullness you’ll feel at the top of a mountain range, seeing what feels like the entire world in front of you. Travel inspires you to live with less and it is liberating!
Travelling is seriously addicting, and it’s well worth it. The memories you make, those new experiences, will help you grow and change your life. And once you’ve found something so important and impactful, you’ll do whatever it takes to make it a priority.
So, no, I might not have on the latest dress, but I’ve got on the biggest smile as I tour a brand new city making memories. No Yeezy’s on, but no blisters either!
The Less you Grab, the Quicker you Go
Once you’re hooked on seeing the world, you’ll jump at any opportunity to do so. When my best friend is taking a last minute work trip to a new place and asks if I want to hop on a flight there tomorrow, I need to be able to run out the door at a moment’s notice and meet her at the airport ready to go.
There’s no room for complication there! Being ready to go means nothing too complicated. No hair masks, fifteen serums, multiple eyeshadow palettes.
Being ready to adventure at the drop of a hat has helped me simplify my entire life. Sometimes, I’ll catch myself getting ready to buy something silly. Mid-checkout, I’ll look at my cart and think: Will I get any good use out of it? Will it serve my needs and support my goals?
If the answer is no, you better believe I’m closing that tab and moving on to the cheap flights instead. There’s no room for any sort of clutter in my life. If you start to do the same, you’ll probably start to see savings go up quick – and clutter go down.
On the Road Less Traveled with the Bag Less Packed
In fact, I keep some of my travel essentials pre-packed, so I don’t have to run down a list each time to make sure I have everything. It’s mostly toiletries, like shampoo/conditioner and a travel toothbrush, but taking one step out of the packing process honestly makes it go so much faster. Less anxiety and time spent getting ready means I’m going to be enjoying the ride so much sooner.
If you’ve found you need a change in your life, to shake up your routine, I can’t recommend travel enough. It seriously changes your habits, your outlook on life, your sense of adventure, your self-confidence…you’ll find yourself happier than ever before. Stop waiting for a sign to get moving – it’s right here in front of you!
Do you also find that travel inspires you to live with less?