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Monday, June 22, 2015

The Less is More Project: Week 25 - What you really need

Manoj Kengudelu, Flickr

“[A traveller] should carry with him two bags: one very full of patience, the other containing two hundred Venetian ducats, or at least one hundred and fifty … Above all he should take plenty of fruit syrup, because that is what keeps a man alive in extreme heat; and also ginger syrup to settle his stomach if it is upset by too much vomiting.” 
Santo Brasca, Viaggio in Terrasanta

Soon, many of us will go on vacation. Whether it's for a weekend of camping or for a month-long trip abroad, we will have to chose what we pack and what we leave behind. 

Many seasoned travelers find that they keep bringing less stuff on each trip... because when you have to carry your belongings around, or pack them in a car, less really becomes more. My friends have teased me about how little I put in my bag or suitcase (which, in turn, can be relatively small), but I love having only one compact piece of luggage to carry, quickly finding what I'm looking for, and being ready in minutes.

Traveling is a great way to reassess what we really need. Here is a travel-list based exercise on true needs. The only things you really need are:

  1. A shelter that will keep you warm and dry and safe (or fresh and away from the sun) in all seasons.
  2. Something to provide light (unless you plan to go to bed at 5 pm in the winter).
  3. Something to sleep on that's reasonably comfortable (including some bedding).
  4. Something to sit on.
  5. A horizontal surface to work on (cooking, writing, etc.)
  6. A way of communicating (phone).
  7. Access to clean water.
  8. Reasonable amounts of reasonably healthy food.
  9. A way to store that food and water for a few days.
  10. Something to cook on.
  11. A small number of pots, containers, dishes and utensils.
  12. Something to wash dishes in, something to wash dishes with.
  13. Clothes and shoes that keep you warm and dry (or fresh), that are comfortable, and that you feel good in - for all seasons and different types of activities.
  14. Something to wash clothes in, something to wash clothes with.
  15. Some way of drying clothes (air dry is best).
  16. Access to some form of toilet and some form of shower.
  17. Basic toiletries to keep clean and groomed (think body, hair and teeth).
  18. Eyesight items and products.
  19. Medication (if you need any).
  20. A towel and hand towel or two, and a few facecloths.
  21. Some way of carrying or storing your things (bags, baskets, shelves, drawers, etc.)
  22. Some tools for repairs, plus rope, tape, etc.
  23. Some cleaning materials (you can go a long way with a broom and dustpan, baking soda, vinegar, lemon juice and a few rags).
  24. A first aid kit.
  25. Some form of entertainment (a book, a creative project).
  26. Some way to make and/or listen to music.
  27. A handful of mementos or beautiful objects (as few as possible).
  28. If you need it for freelance work, a laptop.
  29. A means of locomotion (could be your feet, public transport, a bike, and if necessary, a car).

Anything else than this is, for all intents and purposes, superfluous. Any of the above items also becomes superfluous when you own more than one or two of it. Any belonging should be ditched if it's not used on a regular basis. Whatever we chose to own should be the result of a conscious, informed choice.

As you gradually give less importance to stuff (including the acquisition, maintenance, cleaning, and transportation thereof), you might find yourself giving more importance to meaningful relationships, meaningful activities, and all sorts of wonderful things. What will they be?


Donations (good riddance)

Summer clothes are under scrutiny. Anything that doesn't fit or doesn't please is put away. There's already a small pile ready to go. 

Observations and cogitations

Tidying up the house used to take hours. It now takes minutes, thanks to the much lower amount of stuff lying around. I am loving the look and feel of my surroundings, and I am loving the time I save!

Your turn to share about your struggles and victories of the week! What did you resist? Did you donate or get rid of anything? Did you face any challenge? Please comment below! And...

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  1. Very nice list! Your experience in this area shows.

    Rick Steves had a show on how to pack for a trip. It was pretty good. (Didn't he find one of the greatest jobs in the world) His best suggestion was after you pack, carry the stuff of a walking trip around your city. HaHa! I bet that led to a few less items.

    I've done a lot of traveling. The most I ever took was on an extended study in France. I almost injured myself carrying too much through the Paris airport. The one item that is the most challenging for me is shoes. Sometimes it almost makes more sense to buy them where you go, and then leave them there.

    1. Carrying your bag around is a good trick to get rid of some items for sure!

      I did get injured in the airport in Paris, but it was not because of the size of my bag: it was because of sprinting on an escalator to catch a flight.

  2. I AM MAKING SUPERFLUOUS MY WORD OF THE MONTH FOR JULY --she shouts wth excitement.
    I need to focus on shedding the superfluous in all arenas literal and metaphorical

  3. One reason I love backpacking is because it shows me how little I truly need to be happy and survive. I always come home from those trips and purge a closet or my dresser or something!

  4. Lists always help when going away, it focuses the mind on what do we really need !

    All the best Jan