Backpacks with flags

Downsizing Our Lives to Fit in Backpacks

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Once we had made the decision to travel long-term with the kids we began to look around at all our possessions that we had accumulated over the 10 years we had lived in our three bedroom house.   There was a lot of stuff.  A lot of stuff that we would have to get rid of or store.

Funnily enough, we have really enjoyed getting rid of the clutter in our house and slowly freeing ourselves up for long term travel.   Adam Baker gave a brilliant TED talk entitled “Sell your crap.  Pay your debt.  Do what you love.” which will sum up what we felt far better than I can describe here.  You can watch the talk below:

We watched this talk.  Then we too decided to sell our crap, pay our debts and do what we love.  This is how we went about it.

Categorize Items

We took a long look at everything we owned and placed it into categories:

  1. Keep in storage
  2. Sell
  3. Give away (to friends/charity)
  4. Throw away
  5. Take with us.
Storage

There were some things that we did want to keep safe until we return.  Nothing too materialistic, mainly sentimental items such as photo albums, pictures that the kids did when they were little.   The kids would want some of their toys when they come back, so we decided to store Lego and Playmobil along with a few other cuddly toys that they have become attached to over the years.   Our family tent and camping equipment will also go into storage (who knows, we may even need to stay in it for a few days when we return).  In total the items we will be storing will fit into a 40sq ft. room!!

Selling

Over the last year we’ve been identifying items that we didn’t really need, or the kids didn’t play with, which we thought may attract some eBay bids.   Whatever little amount we received for selling these items we immediately used to pay off our debts so that we are not burdened while travelling.

The biggest item we’re selling to do this is our house.   We talked about renting it out while we were away and other options, but decided that we probably won’t be doing something like this again.  We wanted to make the most of our travels by seeing some big ticket places like the Galapagos Islands and we can do this by selling and using half the equity from the sale for our trip, putting the other half aside for our return.

The final item we will be selling is our car.  This will either be sold a day before, or on the day we leave.

Giving Away

A lot of items have been given away to either friends or charity.   These were items that we didn’t think we would receive any money for, or were just too awkward to sell on eBay.   While our kids had a great deal of toys, they are at their happiest when doing arts and crafts.  This has made giving away their possessions a lot easier as they are happy for them to go knowing they are doing some good.

As the house nears completion we will be donating a lot of our furniture to a local charity who will re-distribute them to victims of domestic violence, woman’s hostels, the mentally challenged and the registered disabled amongst others.

Throwing Away

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It’s amazing after ten years in a house you find that you have actually kept items that don’t fit into any of the previous categories and need either re-cycling or simply throwing away.

Taking With Us

So after we’ve repeated the cycle of going through things and fitting them into the categories above we will ultimately be left with the items we will be taking in our backpacks.

We are not taking a lot with us.   Probably just over a weeks worth of clothes each, some technology to record our trip, first aid items and other travel accessories.    We will have two adult backpacks, two adult day bags and the kids have their own little backpacks, mainly for a change of clothes and a selection of toys, paper and pens.

We still have a feeling we’re still taking too much!!!

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