living out of one bag

Since August of last year I’ve lived in three different countries with one light suitcase. I’ve been shedding possessions and still have more than I thought I would. There have been moments where I’ve needed something and didn’t have it, but those are few and far between.

This process began more out of necessity than amenity. When I flew to Ibiza from home my flight only had one bag to check. I had a second one packed at home ready to have my dad send. It had a bunch of things I thought I needed; an Xbox, some sweatpants, extra socks and the like. As my time on the island continued I found that I had over packed. Most of my clothes were there more out of nostalgia than utility. Through the first two months of my time I figured out that I had enough clothing to do laundry once a week and still have clothes I rarely wore. After weeks of waiting on our practice equipment, it finally arrived, and with it came the weight of having more stuff.

As my time on the island progressed I found it easier to have less. Although this began as an accident I found my mindset transitioning towards one of frugality and minimalism. I became happier. Less time was spent thinking about my stuff and more time was involved with what I owned. This translated to other aspects of my life; like my diet. I ate out less, which unexpectedly made eating out better. It was a wild realization that some of the things I had normalized were luxuries I didn’t need.

In the middle of March the country of Spain came to a complete standstill due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. This meant that we had to get out soon as possible to avoid the impending lock down. I decided to go to Germany to spend time with my Mother. After packing my things I got my possessions into two bags; one filled with all the clothing I loved and needed and the other with everything else. I happily left my second bag as I walked out of the apartment for the last time, it had become easy to abandon my things and keep moving.

In Germany I found myself looking for any excuse to shed the things I I didn’t need. I bought in to less. Every day I looked into my closet and thought, “Fuck, how do I best put all these clothes to use?” Even though my perception was that I had this ridiculous amount of clothes, in reality I had less than I started with. Every time I went to visit a family member or friend it became clearer that I didn’t need half the things I brought, and with this realization my bags became lighter again.

Every little trip I took I found myself needing less and desiring to have less. All I had was my computer, my camera, some clothes and a few books. My few things became more valuable to me and I got more use out of what was mine. I learned how get the most from my camera and tied it into a lot of adventures. The books I owned were getting read and reread and my computer became an effective tool.

Finally, in early June I came back to the US. My bag looks like a deflated balloon at this point but, it has everything I need. A few clothes, a toiletry kit and my backpack covered pretty much all my bases. I even had my backpack with all my valuables stolen. That experience solidified my belief that there is something valuable in the conscious pursuit of less. I couldn’t tell you exactly what, but I’ve found so much opportunity to improvise and adapt based on what I have. It becomes so easy to shed the mental weight & decision fatigue that comes with more possessions. The items I used to worry about don’t bother me very much anymore because I don’t own them anymore.

I understand I’m living differently than most people right now, however I challenge you to give less a try. Next time you go somewhere pack your bag then try leaving half the things you packed at home. Or go through your closet and get rid of things, I promise you’ll find it freeing. Maybe you’ll get to feel what I’m talking about. If not, tell me while I’m wrong below in the comments or send me an email. If you enjoyed this article Sign up for my newsletter here and get my BEST from every week.

3 replies on “living out of one bag”

Great perspective on “stuff,” Julian. Moving around helps a lot in shedding possessions, doesn’t it? I’ll admit, I have a weakness for shoes, and I know I can only wear one pair at a time. The great thing is that they have specific purposes, so I am happy having running, hiking, work, pants, dress, etc. shoes. In the search for sustainability, though, I don’t need to buy any more. In pursuit of sustainability it seems that we can all shed stuff, such as no longer owning 2 or 3 cars…

[…] I have always been an avid reader and I read enough I suddenly wanted to write. A few months ago realized I wanted to refine my ability to tell stories that resonate. Writing had become something I had a growing desire for. Eventually I settled on creating a website where I could write about things that interested me. Interestingly enough, I used a similar strategy when I reduced my possessions down to one bag. […]

Indeed! I’ve never been a hoarder, however, at one time I had three storage spaces in three different states… Iv’e grown exponentially since then, and take pride in traveling like you…with one bag.

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