Tag Archive | "living out of a suitcase"

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Life In A Backpack: An Exercise in Minimalist Living

Posted on 13 July 2009 by Carl

100 Items or Less

When was the last time you considering the things you carried.

I’m not talking about emotions and the past, I’m talking about the objects in your life.

Even if you don’t carry them around with you everywhere you go (as I do) – you carry them with you in life.

Possessions weigh on you by attaching you to the world, to a place, to things.  The modern brand of Western consumerism driven by the cradle-to-grave philosophy encourages status by possession and not status by merit.  And when those possessions are no longer interesting it’s time to stuff them into corners and leave them forgotten.

Yet they are still there.  They weigh upon your freedom.

Examine the things you carry with you in life.

Are they necessary?  Do they contribute to your life in a meaningful way?  Are they just a way of showing status to others?

Cut the cords of attachment to possessions, reduce the clutter, and go on with a minimalist living.

My Minimalist Living Story:

Recently I re-considered the things I carry when my suitcase died.  I sought out a replacement and settled on the 22″ E-Motion 4.0 Trek Pack Plus.  It is quite a bit smaller than my old suitcase which forced me to minimize.

And so my 100 Item Challenge is underway.

My initial list was around 90 items.  I was already under 100 items – a surprising fact.

So, when I ended up in Maine for a week long respite from the world, I thinned down my travel gear once more and below is the final list.  Some of the items are listed as collections which made the challenge a little easier.

My final total: 77 items.

  • 4 Ties
  • 3 Scarves
  • 1 Belt
  • 1 Set of Suspenders
  • 1 Pair of Florsheim Dress Shoes
  • 1 Pair of White Leather Keds
  • 1 Hat
  • 1 White Linen Jacket
  • 2 Pairs of Dress Pants
  • 1 Pair of Jeans
  • 1 Pair of Shorts
  • 10 T-Shirts / Short Sleeve Shirts
  • 5 Dress Shirts / Long Sleeve Shirts
  • 2 Sweaters
  • 1 Black Pin-Stripe Vest
  • 1 Sweater Vest
  • 7 Pairs of Boxer Briefs
  • 7 Pairs of Socks
  • 1 Travel Towel
  • 1 External Hard Drive with Cable
  • 1 MacBook Pro with Cables, Extra Battery and Bluetooth Mouse
  • 1 iPhone 3G with Cable and vModo Duo Headphones
  • 1 Extra Internal Hard Drive
  • 1 LED Flashlight
  • 1 Wallet
  • 1 Washboard with Thimbles and Brushes
  • 1 Book Collection
  • 1 Pen Collection
  • 1 Journal
  • 1 Moleskin Pocket Reporters Notebook
  • 1 Pad of Graph Paper
  • 1 Pad of Yellow Notepaper
  • 2 Small Pilates Balls
  • 1 Set of Exercise Bands
  • 1 Bar Soap
  • 1 Shaving Kit (Merkur Safety Razor, Brush and Shave Soap)
  • 1 Stick Deodorant
  • 1 Bottle of Pain Relievers
  • 1 Toothbrush
  • 1 Container of Hel Gel
  • 1 Passport
  • 1 Thermos
  • 1 Victorinox 22″ E-Motion 4.0 Trek Pack Plus
  • 1 Chrome Metropolis Messenger Bag

What Do You Carry?

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Fears and Challenges on the Road – Video Blog 8

Posted on 16 June 2009 by Carl

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How To – Living out of a Suitcase 101

Posted on 26 February 2009 by Carl

Living out of a suitcase 101

“How do you do it?”

“Do what?”

“Live with just that?”

What we were talking about is my suitcase.

How do I live out of one suitcase?

Here I’ll explain a little about my process of downsizing and the effort to simplify my existence by removing the burden of possessing.  In essence Living out of a Suitcase 101.

Downsizing – My Process of Liberation

Wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.

- Epictetus, Stoic Philosopher

In a little more than a year I have gone from having an apartment full of the accoutrement of daily life (bed, desktop computer, kitchen wares, bookshelves filled with books, etc.) to living out of one carry-on sized suitcase and a messenger bag.  My initial downsizing was forced when I was denied reentry to Canada for a year.  My following downsizing has been by choice.

I moved to New York City in January 2008 with a rolling garment bag, a smaller suitcase, and my Chrome messenger bag.  I lived with friends for two months while I searched for a room of my own.  That room came in the form of a converted office adjoining a bedroom in a triplex in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY.  It was six feet wide and at most ten feet in length.  I had a large window to a balcony, a scavenged end table and bookshelf (as dresser), and slept on an air mattress.

November 2008 I was laid off.  Relationship came to an end.  I had no reason to stay in the City or the Northeast for that matter.  Within two weeks I had decided to leave New York and try my hand at vagabonding.  My process of liberation was at hand.

Simplicity – Breaking the Chains of Attachment

Chains How To   Living out of a Suitcase 101

Our crude civilization engenders a multitude of wants. . . . Our forefathers forged chains of duty and habit, which bind us notwitstanding our boasted freedom, and we ourselves in desperation, add link to link, groaning and making medicinal laws for relief.

-John Muir, Kindred and Related Spirits

On the road it is is justifiably more difficult to live with an excess of things.  There is the sheer physical weight of carrying your stuff from one place to another but ever more burdening is the attachment to possessing.

Attachment to possessing burdens me whether I am vagabonding or working in an office 9 to 5. It is easy to fall prey to, and I have no exception to this weakness.  It is already an old adage that we are bombarded by advertisements, that we live in a society of consumption, and that we measure ourselves by the things we have.

Breaking out of this perspective is our first step.

To do this I took a cue from Aristotle. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.”  To live more simply I had to act by breaking the chains of attachment.

The initial action is often the hardest.

Confronting the prospect of going through my possessions and classifying them as donation, junk, store, or take was daunting.  I was amazed at the accumulation of things that were mine, and it is still not all whittled away.  Where did I start?

Just go and don’t ask questions.

Rather than debate each item, I attacked the problem as aggressively as I could throwing things into piles based on my initial reaction.

Going with your gut, or, the Ready, Fire, Aim method is the quickest way to get started.  You can always backtrack a bit and move things around later but your biggest obstacle is starting.

I had long ago realized I wore only a small percentage of my clothing regularly.  I would not miss the rest.  They were merely the outliers of my outfit regimen, benefiting me only a fraction of what they cost me in keeping.  Those few items I believed would be required later in the future were pressed into storage, the rest bagged and donated.

As for the rest of my possessions, very few of the things that I had would benefit me on the road.  With my Macbook Pro and iPhone I had all the necessary means for communication and working covered.  I had a copy of Vagabonding, a notebook, a safety razor and a few odds-and-ends.  Anything else I have needed I have picked up on the way or borrowed.

Now What – Living out of a Suitcase

Once you’ve cut out all of those non-essentials looking at your suitcase or backpack as the only burden on the road will make the road ahead appear closer, more accessible and lighthearted.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune,

Henceforth I whimper no more, postpone no more, need nothing.

-Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road

This simplicity gives us liberation.  Taking responsibility of the things we possess and reducing that to an understandable level gives us freedom to live.

We become eccentric.  Unconventional.  Foolish.  Free.

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