After reading dozens of other family’s stories living with less on the road, I thought about what we were living without and how our family was coping and feeling about it. After 5 months travelling throughout Europe, and living out of 2 suitcases, we learn to live without many creature comforts; high priced books, lattes, dry cleaning and dryers or internet all the time, are a few things off our priority list.
What could you live without?
Before travelling I would have panicked at the thought of hand washing my families clothes every other day, or going a day without Starbucks, but it is surprising what people will give up for travel. The sacrifice is worth the reward of showing the children the world.
We often live in small spaces as we travel from country to country, either an apartment or our van, and everything has more than one purpose. We live minimalist-ically. I don’t want to tote it around on the road and would rather live without than carry it.
Here are our most surprising sacrifices for travel.
#1 Kids Toys
The kids went from rooms full of toys, ones we thought they needed to develop properly in this world, and down sized to very little. Even though we put their bare essentials into their toy suitcase, they chose to draw without playing with any of it. The Lego, the Babies, the Pokémon cards, even the dress-up clothes all sit abandoned, with the exception of Daniel’s DSi that he plays in the car.
How many toys does a child need? Zero.
It is amazing what kids adapt to. After 6 months with few toys, now that we are moving to a centrally located house in France, we have space. The question is, will we fill it back up with stuff? We will see.
I asked the kids to make a list for Santa with all their desires. Angelina had one item on it, a kitten. And Daniel had a pair of Heely’s and a jet pack on his small list. SO we obviously will get him the jet pack!
Still a pretty interesting phenomenon if you ask me. Going from thinking they want and need everything they were being exposed to, to one item. Daniel wants the jetpack to travel to school faster, and so people will think he is cool, even though he doesn’t speak French yet! Out of the mouths of babes! Eh?
#2 Kitchen Stuff
At home I had a beautiful Denby 8 place dish set called Linen. It was powder blue and we had cups, side plates, matching saucers; the list was endless. Now everything fits into one large Tupperware container in the van. Once we get settled I am sure to buy a good set of dishes for daily use. The days of fine china when company comes over are long gone. No fancy serving stuff either, it is just not necessary. Less is more. Anyways the food should be the main attraction not where I got the serving dish.
I used to have a mixer, a blender, a food processor, a dicer, a slicer, a pizza stone, a bread maker, different size pots and pans for every possible dish, used while cooking all at once. Truth, I never used any of it. I couldn’t be bothered.
Either received as a gift and thought I should hold on to it, or impulse buy when watching the amazing Rachel Ray; still those luxury items sat and collected dust. I did use my crock-pot, a great time saver, my large Dutch oven, and my good deep large skillet with glass lid. One large soup pot, and one smaller would round off my essentials and will be getting those the day after we move in to our new home! From Canada I brought our excellent knife set, and our salt and pepper shakers. Having good tools is a sacrifice I am not willing to make. I love to cook, and don’t want to kill myself with cheap knives doing it!
I have one pair of boots when it gets cold, one pair of sandals when it gets hot. Okay I have two pairs of heels that I brought from Canada, but I haven’t wore either of them! Out of the 4 pair of jeans, I re-wash and wear the smallest. Same goes for most things. Underpants, I have 15 pairs, but really only need a few. Socks too, why do I have so many? Even though we narrowed our lives down to 2 suitcases, we could cut the fat. When we travelled from Hungary to France with one suitcase each, we felt a whole lot lighter. Once settled, we need to trade out a few items in our wardrobes. Road travel was hard on the kid’s clothes especially. Will we ever buy more than we need again? I sure hope not. I feel we have learned to live a new way, and want to keep it up.
#4 One Vehicle
I haven’t drove anywhere in 5 months and don’t plan to once in our new home. We strategically found a house within walking distance from everything for the kids and me. I loved this when I lived in Kits, Vancouver and still love it, living in France. Our feet are my family’s transportation, and my form of exercise. Even my feet have double duty! Our camper van is for travelling. And Alfonz has his hobby bike if in a pinch. I hope we can stick to this one. The only reason we might need a small car, is large cars have hard time parking anywhere in France.
#5 No TV = No Commercials
I miss some shows, like House Hunters International, Oprah but she went off the TV when we did, and I would love to know what is happening in the HBO series Weeds. I don’t miss the endless waste of time in front of the TV. Especially now that those hours go back into the family, my writing, and our family travel adventures. And of course if I really want to see them, commercial free, I could always down load or buy the DVD sets at Christmas time. I love the kids watching DVD’s instead, and I can regulate exactly what they are watching.
The no commercials part is essential. Kids are easily manipulated by strategically designed commercials for your children to bond to their brand. Making loyal customers out of them when they grow up. Maybe without TV, the ads won’t effective them as much in creating another generation based on consumption.
De-value your items, and you can live without them. We put the value on our things. All those wedding gifts, crystal, porcelain, statues, end up becoming just things after you diminish them. They are items that are not worth their weight when leading a travel adventure lifestyle and they weigh you down. Lighten up your load. It is that simple. The memories attached to those items, are still yours to carry.
Of course we have a few items that we will never part with and high cost items we couldn’t replace like: an original painting, motorbike gear, ski clothes, skates, heavy jackets and snow boots, and are having these items sent to us, in a few boxes for the house.
Once you lighten up your life it is truly cleansing. The ability to pack up and move along is freeing. I don’t think that big businesses appreciate people thinking like we do.
I want to live my life, instead of spending my life accumulating items I only enjoy for a fleeting moment, to keep up with the Jones’!