Yes, I did it. Exactly six weeks after getting back from a three-month sojourn to Asia, I came back home and decided to do what many other travel bloggers and nomads have already had the courage to do. I sold just about every item I owned, so that I, too, could travel the world. When I was in the midst of the “biggest garage sale on earth”, I couldn’t help but tell my story. So many people, as they grabbed up all of my stuff, would comment, “I don’t think that’s something I could ever do. I could never get rid of my stuff.”
It’s funny because I once thought the same thing. When I had this dream, at the beginning, as I looked around at all the things I had surrounded myself with, I wondered if I could actually do it. Cooking and giving dinner parties had been one of my favorite activities and I had it all. Over 200 cookbooks, the grinder for grinding wheat to make bread, spoons made of seashells, vintage cocktail glasses, enough kitchen gadgets to make Kitchen Kaboodle jealous. How would I part with all of it?
Then one night I watched the movie “Up”. Somehow, the movie got stuck on the part where the old man is having to throw all of his beloved “stuff” out of the house, so it will go up again. I watched this scene three times before I realized it had stuck on this part. I had to laugh as I realized it was a divine message, that if I wanted my dreams to come true, I would have to get rid of all my “stuff”.
Then, I went on my three-month journey. Guess what? I never once thought of my “stuff.” In fact, I realized that to become the person that I want to be in life, I would also need to get rid of my emotional “stuff.” You know all that heaviness that we like to carry around because we are convinced that someone didn’t treat us right or “stuff” from painful memories, and expectations, and, “Wow!”, I realized that here I was without my “stuff”, and I was still carrying a lot of stuff. So, I did a lot of work on myself. I lightened up. I went to healers. I opened my heart. I danced. A lot. I painted. I let go of all the “stuff”, and boy, did it feel so great to feel so light on the earth.
And so a few weekends ago, I felt like getting rid of the physical stuff was more symbolic than anything. It was time. I was ready. And you know what? I didn’t feel any sadness. It wasn’t hard to let go of my things because I realized that they weren’t really mine to let go of. These “things” were mine to borrow for a while, and now it was time to let them go. Just like the emotional “things” I had held onto. All of those stories were things that had happened to me. And they all made me who I am today. But it was time to let go of them. Because it’s time to create a new story. And that story is my dream.
I am always looking for the perfect escape, the perfect paradise, the kind of place that tosses your cares into the sea. Fortunately, I have discovered many! I created this site to show you where to go and how to get there. My goal is to show you that Paradise is only a plane ticket (or boat ride) away. I have inspired many others to travel and to create a better life. I am available for inspirational speaking, coaching, writing, travel planning, and photography.
Enjoy your new adventures ……..
So awesome to read about you making the big move! I’ve been slowly getting rid of all my possessions over the past year and am down to just a handful of things. I’ll be heading out in a few months to live the nomadic lifestyle for a while!
We are also feeling happy about the stuff we got rid of before leaving New Zealand. I sold my two cars and I felt a little bit vulnerable after doing that, but mostly it feels really good.
We are wishing we’d packed about half of what we packed although now that we’ve been away 2 months we’re starting to occasionally use some of the extra stuff.
Well done! You just took the hardest step on your journey! The first one! Congratulations 🙂 See you on the flip side!
Have fun in your new adventure 🙂
It feels good, does it?
When we did it, we realized how many things we could do without, it makes you look at things in a different way, less materialistically.
Enjoy your new adventure! 😉
It sure does!! Thanks for being one of the nomads to inspire me!!
How inspiring… Material things are easily replaceable., your friends you have for life where ever you are in the world. I cannot wait to read about your adventures… L’Chaim!
I love this story, it’s so bold. I can’t wait to sell all of my things! Its so good to live free of “stuff”. I’ve written about letting go of materialism, I come to realised that it doesn’t matter about the things I own, it’s where I’m going and what I’m doing that counts.
Where are you going on your journey?
I will be starting out in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. I will be staying there until February and then off to Europe for a bit. Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Crete!
you go gurl!!!
This post just brought back memories of my “Going RTW Garage Sale” I made big signs telling people to buy my stuff and help me get around the world. People loved hearing the story about what I was setting off to do and I think in some cases bought a bit of my crap just to help out. I am back home now after 2 1/2 years on the road and just took the few boxes I had left at my dad’s house out of storage. Looking through them I have no idea why this stuff was the things I decided to keep as treasure. It is mostly crap that I am once again getting rid of. @ years living out of a backpack makes you really realize how your belongings truly don’t define you. Good Luck! I am sure joyous adventures await you… and I might just be stopping by for tacos ‘)
Alexandra, I hope that you do!! Yeah, I think I had the only garage sale in Portland where people were actually giving me more money than I was asking for for items…but, then again, that’s Portland!!
I’m sitting here in Bali enjoying a month of solace at the cheapest homestay I could find and my to do list is getting bigger, which means my budget is expanding. Can I ask, how were you able to afford to travel for 2.5 years? I am envious and in awe!
I used my blogs as my income and also did life coaching and other freelance work.
Very inspiring Val! Great article….I bet your feet barely hit the ground (so light). 🙂
Shauna, how did you know? 😉
Ahhh I’ve been there and it is an incredible feeling! Enjoy all the emotions you are experiencing right now, they are the best part!
It is the people not the stuff! The one with the most toys does not win! Life is short, we love you and are ready to hear more about your adventure!
Right now, we have a 10’x20′ storage unit that’s sitting in Canada.
When I packed our storage unit, I thought I’d pared everything down to the bare minimum. We’ve been traveling for six months, and I honestly can’t even remember what’s in there. It’s definitely been (another!) lesson in learning that I don’t really need my stuff!
As empty nesters, we’ve downsized twice. It gets easier and easier to divest oneself of stuff. My husband still loves his day job, so we won’t be completely untethering any time soon, but we’ve never lamented having less stuff. Wishing you safe and wonderful travels.
The Self Storage business in the US brings in $22 billion in revenue…we have over 2.3 billion rentable square feet in the US. Fasting growing real estate business in the US – storage rentals.
…. People can’t let GO – and they have so much shit they choose pay someone else to STORE it in a shed. Who in their right mind needs more STUFF? And then goes and pays someone else to put things they don’t need or have room for in a building for years. If it was that sentimental – it would be in YOUR home. Ridiculous-ness. Really. Sadly – our cultural has put so much value on COLLECTING and ACQUIRING shit – that we seem to think its OK to pay someone to hold our stuff. Then we scratch our head on why we are not happy. It’s pretty much a no-brainer – we have decided that the collection of THINGS must make us happy…it doesn’t – but some never ever learn that in a lifetime.
You are so right!!Well put…
My Dad was always throwing my stuff away..
Back in the 60’s, I wanted to keep my comic books forever..
Now, I’ve come to realize that I have too much crap..
What’s the best way to get rid of it all quickly?
I also want to move on with my own story
/ let go of all the sentimental stuff that I own..
A garage sale or donating to Goodwill is always great. If you are in Portland, Oregon, I actually now help people with organizing and getting rid of things that aren’t needed!
Beautiful! Travel has a way of putting the “stuff” in perspective, doesn’t it?? Good for you! Happy travels!
Congratulations! We still like having our home and aren’t ready to sell everything and just travel indefinitely. But I do admire those that can make that leap!
You sound liberated. And I’ll bet you won’t miss what you shed. We put a mountain of stuff in storage when we moved overseas for 10 years, and when we got back and unearthed it, we dumped nearly all of it. It was from a different life, and we’d moved on. Seems like you’ve moved on, too, and are more than ready for your new life.
Ooh… a likeminded person! I too am fine with brutally selling everything to enable my dreams. There are one or two items I would never get rid of (family heirlooms etc) but I have friends happy to loan me a square foot whilst I do what I need to do.
It’s a good feeling…. getting rid of all that clutter.
Enjoy your adventures!
Congratulations! It must feel wonderful! A divine intervention always helps!
A girl after my own heart! After almost 2 years traveling full-time, we finally cleaned out the storage shed we had filled up before we left (stuff we thought we couldn’t live without, of course!). Definitely happier without it! Here’s a link to that post: http://www.changesinlongitude.com/how-to-simplify-your-life-less-stuff/
Who knew the movie Up was such a dream maker? 🙂 Love it!
Val, this is the first thing I”ve read today. what a great story to begin my day with.
Isn’t it amazing how much ‘stuff’ we have in our lives that we don’t even really care about?!?? As we prepare for our RTW departure in January we have been liquidating and selling stuff like mad! My husband and I both look at each other on a regular basis and marvel at how we haven’t missed ANY of the things we have sold. Cheers to you!
It’s a liberating feeling isn’t it? I remember how great it felt, during a period of extended travel, to have nothing but a small backpack full of belongings and realize that was all I needed to get by. I didn’t need lots of random “stuff” to make me happy. Now, even though I have a home base and therefore more stuff, I’ve managed to maintain that sense of detachment – I generally don’t buy things I don’t really love or need, and I don’t get irrationally attached to things. Congratulations on taking such a big step!
it’s time to create a new story. i am your fan for life dearest val. i love you. gabi
We are kindred souls for sure, Gabi!! I love you, too!!
It’s amazing how attached people can get to possessions…sometimes for perfectly good reasons, too. What am I going to do if I get rid of the couch and get another apartment later? Buy a brand new one, obviously. But if you want to escape the grind of daily life, it comes to feel like the right thing to do. It’s far more liberating than tear-inducing, and I rarely regret getting rid of anything after it’s gone. Besides, someone else can use it. Experiences are worth far more anyway.
Congrats! It is quite liberating, no? All of my worldly possessions now weigh only 29.2 kilos and I’ve returned to Asia (my favorite corner of the world) on a one-way ticket. We’ll have to cross paths sometime soon! Have you decided where you are heading next? Let me know!
That would be great Derek!! I am going to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico in mid-September and staying until February as I’m enrolling in art classes there. How about you?
Well I prefer not to plan too much but my rough itinerary after Indonesia (where I currently am) is Singapore -> Malaysia -> Thailand -> Cambodia -> Laos -> Vietnam -> China. After that it gets a bit murky but I’m currently on a 4yr+ RTW adventure — the link is below 🙂
Very exciting!! I think it would be really, really hard for me to do, but in a way is seems like a good cleanse to make. Here’s wishing you a safe and fun journey, Val!
Thank you, Cat!!
Congratulations! We did it, too! Escaped the rat race and moved to a tropical island – from Minnesota to Kauai. Epic travel is on the horizon, but we’re happy we decided to take a few months and simply “be.” Wishing you the best!
Wow, that is a courageous thing to do! 😀 Congratulations and we’re all looking forward to your travel adventures 😀
Yay! This is awesome! I did the same thing two years ago, and I have not regretted it since. Hopping about with one bag really does get you aware of the simple things one needs and has me feeling really flexible and able to take on any adventure. Congrats!
You’re very courageous, and brilliant too! After growing up in a nomadic family–we moved several times, leaving everything behind–I craved stability as an adult. Now that I’ve had that for more than a decade, the longest I’ve lived anywhere in nearly 50 years of living, the travel bug is making me itch to repeat my youth.
Isn’t it so liberating?? Now that we’re on the road I wish I’d culled more and not kept so much in storage. Good for you!!!!
This post reminded me a lot of what I did before I left on my own RTW trip. Thanks for the trip down memory lane 😉
And awesome to see how excited you are about your future travels!! Your enthusiasm is great!!
Thank you, Barbara!! Thanks for your encouragement…
Congratulations to you, Val. I can’t wait to read about the adventures ahead of you. Your story is truly inspirational to all of us. The best of luck to you as you begin this journey!
Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. It all really strikes a chord with me.
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Inspiring post! That’s a powerful move to make, and I know over the past year you’ve done so much to be in the moment even more!
What a lovely post and so wise, too. You look really happy on the last photo. I got rid of my stuff too, not the emotional ones..not yet, but I’m working on it.
Yes, and I am still so happy. I miss a few of my kitchen items, but getting rid of all the stuff that was weighing me down was the best decision I ever made!
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Now you’re settling again, I wonder if you will start replacing the “stuff” . I hope I won’t, or never will, I know now that time is more valuable than money or posessions, but that temptation to buy is hard to resist once you settle. Let us know how it goes 🙂
I didn’t have a lot of money left to buy too much. And, I found most of it used which is great. I had a friend that came over and mentioned how sparse my place is, and then she commented, “that’s right, you just moved in.” I laughed and said, actually, I don’t plan on adding much else. I actually owned more at my place in Mexico. I love feeling simple and I spend way more time analyzing a purchase. I didn’t buy a TV because I decided I would much rather spend that time calling a friend and connecting than watching a made up story. One good thing about not having the money to buy things is I didn’t unconsciously go on a spending spree!
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