A wise woman in a far-off land once said to me, “I often wonder how much of what weighs me down is not mine to carry.”
When we sold all of our belongings in 2013, we made a very deliberate decision. With three kids in tow, the idea of traveling with just one carry-on each was both frightening and liberating. We spent many nights going over the “what if” list and eventually took the plunge.
After nearly 2,000 days on the road, 30 countries, and 20 U.S. States, the following items have been instrumental in our success to living large with less. As you will see, these items have transcended the “travel essentials” category and become central in our daily lives on so many levels.
Carry-on Please, Carry-on
To say we bought the right carry-ons to hold all of our worldly goods is an understatement. Our Osprey Meridian Wheeled Carry-Ons have been everywhere, dragged over cobblestones, planes, trains, and automobiles. The daypacks that accompany the carry-ons have been used for school bags in Tuscany and hiking the Great Walks of New Zealand. We have taken them skiing in Italy and bushwhacking in Indonesia. We are astounded with the performance of this luggage that has truly enabled us to engage in so many varied activities with ease. Our Ospreys and our North Face gear are the two things we have relentlessly road-tested that still look brand new. The boys will be taking their Osprey luggage to Vietnam for a month this January on their first international trip without the parents! The global brand reputation, paired with remarkable performance, means they are travel essentials.
Bluffworks and CAbi: Wear Ever You Roam
Because of the lack of hip, high performance, durable travel clothes for teens, as we traveled to 30 countries in the past five years, we found ourselves buying more “disposable” clothing for the boys – items that look good for a short time and then need to be replaced. Bluffworks has changed that because not only are the clothes stylish but they offer slim and regular cuts as well as varying lengths to fit young men beautifully. These clothes work perfectly for school, date night, or rock climbing. Oh, and the washable suit for men (on Ron below) is the perfect suit whether you travel in your car to the office or across continents. “Wear ever you roam” is their tagline and so, we do!
My CAbi stylist creates a wardrobe for me that works in four seasons, two hemispheres, casual to formal, and all fits in one carry-on! Not only that, but when something wears out, or I sit on chewing gum in a train station in SE Asia, my stylist finds a way to get clothing to me. From Italy to New Zealand, to school board meetings, I can travel lightly and in style because of CAbi! When I get dressed, I feel honored to wear beautiful clothes made by a company dedicated to empowering women. For every CAbi item you purchase between now and the end of the year, CAbi will donate a new garment to a woman in need. For our friends in Washington State, Debra McElroy is hosting a sample sale in Kirkland this Friday 10-7 pm, and Saturday 10-4 pm. Stop by and see her at 6204 108th PL NE, Kirkland (Lindsay’s) for 50% off of CAbi for everyone on your list! To order a CAbi gift card as a stocking stuffer, click here.
Home Away From Home
We learned about Booking.com from a Dutch friend we met in Sicily in 2013. Since that day, Booking.com has put the roof over our heads at the last minute countless times. As a nomadic family of five, lodging is our number one priority, whether we are moving daily or monthly. Booking.com has welcomed us “home” in so many places and spaces. We love that we can search based on what we want out of a certain destination. For blogging trips, we can make sure we select “Wifi” and for sight-seeing trips, “transportation.” For cultural immersion we can choose “homes” and for teenagers, we can choose “breakfast included,” to customize our search results. When we double book or book in Paris, Arkansas instead of Paris, France, we talk to real people who help us solve our problem when we call customer service. Priceless!
How Well Do You Read People?
We use our Kindles every day. Since we have been out of the USA for the majority of the last five years, we don’t have access to any streaming or videos. What we do have is invaluable. I have written many times about the incredible libraries around the globe. We have such a great library system in the U.S. and our library allows us to download books from the most remote corners of the world right to our Kindles. We can also download free music “for keeps” with Freegal and we check out full-color magazines through Zinio and RB Digital agreements with the library. Giving the gift of Amazon eBooks is huge in our family since reading is our number one form of entertainment. Kindle makes it easy and affordable!
Live Large Rent Free
If you are interested in giving experiences to that special someone on your list, a TrustedHousesitters subscription is perfect! They offer gift vouchers for both home/pet owners that need quality sitters as well as those interested in becoming trusted house sitters. More than half of our time wandering the globe has been spent house sitting. From a vineyard in Provence to an organic farm in New Zealand, we have lived like locals all over the globe because of our TrustedHousesitters membership. Whether you go to the other side of the earth, or just down the street, the experience will shift how you view the world. That is a powerful gift!
The Right Stuff
One small piece of luggage each requires us to purge, move, borrow, donate, and recycle. Our nomadic lifestyle has completely shifted our focus from things to experiences. The stuff on this list has enhanced the quality of our experiences as all stuff should.
Whether a little stuff or a lot of stuff is right for you, what matters is that it is the right stuff and the load is easy to bear and packed with joy.