Roaming About

A Life Less Ordinary

B is for Belongings

Day 2 of the A to Z Blogging Challenge – Thoughts on Being a Nomad

As we get older, we collect more stuff. We move into bigger houses, with more room to store our gear, gear that multiplies with every birthday, Christmas, and shopping spree. It is normal. It is what happens. We work full-time, we make decent money and then we treat ourselves and our family members with new things. The old things disappear in a closet, the attic or the basement, maybe accompanied by some of the nice items we recently bought, that don’t prove as useful or attractive as we thought, back at the cash register.

When you are a nomad, like Mark and I, this behavior is not normal. Nor is it recommended. Unless you want to rent (and spend money better used for travel) on a storage unit. The we from the first paragraph and the we as in Mark and I are not the same. The we above are people who comfortably live in a house or apartment, the majority amongst us here in the western world. Mark and I don’t have a house, don’t make decent money and cannot afford to have – or desire – lots of stuff. It is liberating to pick up shop in a jiffy and move to the next house where we will be pet sitting. Life is easy and straightforward without heaps of belongings, clutter and with the knowledge of where to find everything. We try our hardest to not collect more stuff while temporarily being semi-settled in the United States right now. It is good for our purse, our backs and our spirits, which soar with the thought of another adventure in the near future.

At the ages of 40 and 45, while most of our peers are settled with their families in a cozy home full of gadgets and conveniences, Mark and I are still kind of “roughing” it, being minimalists. Our most important belongings are our computers (replacing pen and paper for me), my camera and three suitcases of clothes. We also own some books, and electronics needed for our business. What we miss the least is TV, since we can watch movies on our hard drive and TV series and news on the internet. Apart from some keepsakes at our parents’ houses, all of our personal goods fit in the trunk of our biggest asset: a red Toyota Prius.

As choices and opportunities these days remain overwhelming, the “back to basics” attitude is getting a bit of momentum. More and more people decide to downsize (one example is the Tiny House Movement, another the growing amount of people selling all their stuff and moving on a sailboat or an RV) and use their resources for a change in lifestyle, creating more inspiring and precious moments, like extensive travel experiences and/or increased quality time with family. You don’t need a lot of belongings to be happy. Most material goods are overrated, unnecessary and distracting in my mind. As a matter of fact, I feel like Mark and I still have too much stuff we don’t really need (and hate carrying around). Time to create another pile for the thrift shop!

Are you a hoarder? What are your most important belongings? Do you see material goods as a burden or a pleasure? Have you ever thought about downsizing and changing your lifestyle?

Yesterday, I wrote about “A is for Adventure“. Tomorrow is a day off in the A to Z blogosphere, but Monday I will be back with “C is for Camper” in the “Thoughts about Being a Nomad” series.


  1. This season of life is a prime time for simplifying. (Don’t tell a certain someone I said that. He thinks I am something of a clutterbug.)

    Happy A-Z!
    Doing 7 blogs this time around.
    Here are a few:

    Nickers and Ink Poetry and Humor
    Practically at Home
    Working in Words

    • Simplifying means discovering different values in life and embracing the things that really matter to you! I love your glossary of phobias, Linda. Learning something new every day! And, the blog about the famous writers provides an easy overview I (will) enjoy reading and keeping. I hate to do research and with your blogs, the information is at my finger tips!

  2. I am not a nomad, but I move often enough as a graduate student between cities and between continents that I try to keep my stuff to a minimum. The only thing I hoard is books, and I have gotten a lot better at it since I got a Kindle… The clutter is also a very American thing, I am still amazed just how much STUFF I find in American homes…

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    The Multicolored Diary

    • I totally agree that the materialism in the States is much more prominent than in other countries I have visited. Everything is bigger (and better :-)) here and the whole economy is focused on the “need” and “attraction” to buy stuff. It is why people work here, to spend! Hard to resist the temptation sometimes, but we do know better. 🙂 Books are so awesome to read, keep and cherish, but the invention of digital books does offer a solution.

  3. I agree that material goods are overrated.
    I think simplicity and contentment go hand in hand.
    Thanks for the visit and thoughtful comments on my A and B posts! 🙂
    Writer In Transit

  4. One of things that surprises most people when I tell them that I live on a boat is that I don’t have a TV. I know that lots of liveaboards do have TVs, but we don’t. And, I don’t miss it. I can read what’s happening in the world online and watch movies and TV shows on my computer or read books. It’s amazing what you don’t need, but don’t realize you don’t need until you don’t have it. Great post!

    • Let’s call ourselves the non-TV generation, Ellen, and set an example for live and life entertainment in other forms. 🙂

  5. When I was a teenager, my family had little money for extra things. We struggled to maintain the basic things- food, clothes, a little money for treats or whatnot. Also at this time, I became convinced that things=happiness. So when I had money of my own, I spent it on things, lots of things. It took me until I was in my late 30’s to realize that stuff never made me any more happy. Being with the people I care about makes me happy. Since that late realization, I’ve tried to downsize, simplify, reduce. I still have a few things I “can’t live without,” like books and music, but I’m far less attached than I used to be. Baby steps…

    • That’s so great. What a revelation that must have been, Ryan. I think it is really important that you experienced both sides of it and came to that realization yourself, to then take action. Some people are happy with a lot of stuff and a lot of choices (or so they think), and everyone needs some items they enjoy and can’t live without. Some people don’t realize they are unhappy and that having a lot of material goods doesn’t solve that aspect. Many who downsize, however, feel more free and happy, and the extra money and time that opened up is spent in more valuable ways.

  6. Sometime “B is for Belongings” feel a lot like “A is for Anchors.” Congrats on getting to where the only things you accumulate are memories and friends!

    • You are so right about the anchor analogy! Or, how about “V is for Velcro”? 🙂 When you are stuck to your stuff and that stuff is stuck to a house or other settled dwelling, you are stuck to that as well, not able to leave. I love the tips about downsizing on your blog, especially the “shop in your own house” one. Such great advice. We had a rule on the boat that whatever we didn’t use after one year, we would give away or sell. Except for medicines and tools. It is incredible how much stuff we keep “just in case” and that we never use.

      • True that … but first aid stuff (for example) or emergency repair stuff are things that you’re delighted to learn you’ve carrried around unnecessarily and never needed to use. 😀 Glad you found the downsizing tips useful. (We do have a storage shed, though, and precious mementos in a friend’s basement.)

        • Agreed! Too bad the medicines have to get tossed as some point! In our case, when – oh – about five years expired. I will have to turn a blind eye to that storage shed… 🙂

  7. Glad to have found your blog through A to Z.

    As we prepare to move to an island (it’s looking like Thailand), we’ve been steadily downsizing and selling our belongings. By the time we move, the goal is to be down to just what we need or absolutely can’t part with. There will probably always be things I have too much of–like jewelry, stuffed animals, and books–but I’m trying my best to pare down and change my mindset.

    I’m most looking forward to selling all my winter clothes! 😀

    • Wow, JM! Moving to an island… so exciting. Thailand is a great choice – such a diverse country, where almost everyone speaks English. Which island are you thinking? I am curious. Island living is quite different, especially the pace and priorities, and the climate will be wonderful. Since you will still be living in a house or cabana, it sounds like there will be room for some stuff still. Stuff your light jacket with the heaviest items when you fly and ship the light and bulky goods. 🙂 After one winter here in New England (which was pretty mild), we don’t plan on doing it again and I am so looking forward to getting rid of most of our winter clothes as well. I am actually starting to bug my husband about it and am making a pile myself. And then, guess what…it snowed today and three inches are expected tomorrow. I guess I will hold on to them a little bit longer. 🙂 Enjoy island time and life in the tropics!

  8. Quite many years ago, Mr. Quantum and I realized we were not watching TV shows, so we got rid of cable. We have a roku box, which works with the television we used with cable. I don’t miss the cable thing a bit. Were we to take off, we could do everything we do through roku on our laptops. I wouldn’t miss the television, but Q needs the bigger screen to see. But that’s neither here nor there.

    What I personally have come to appreciate is that I can fit everything single book which we have in our actual library in the house, in my kindle. I can carry thousands of books with me, in one single device. So I totally get the whole downsizing thing, except, right now, we’re living in a house which is the combination of two, at the moment. I’ve been working to get rid of a lot, but it is difficult when it comes to making decisions about momentos.

    Of course, being in our 60s, now, traveling is way more difficult, because the need to be closer to our medical community. I guess I’d wonder how that part of your life works out? It would be good to not have to be so attached to things like that.

    I enjoyed reading your post!

    • Thanks for stopping by, Fimnora. Two houses combined in one. That is a lot of stuff, I’m sure. While some of the sorting and getting rid of is fun and exciting (I love that part!), deciding about the momentos is much harder. I could never get rid of my photo albums of the era before digital cameras, the souvenirs I gathered all over the world, my diaries of 25 years and some things that bring back happy memories. Having everything digitalized these days means that we can indeed keep everything on our computer or tablet. Such a blessing! Just like you and your books, I couldn’t imagine where I would store the thousands of digital photos I have taken over the years, if they were to be prints. Well, I probably would have been a little bit more selective taking the photos in the first place, but still… If you guys are interested in setting out and traveling, I would highly recommend getting a camper (RV) to drive around the continent. You could drive to a hospital if needed and once outside the US (if that is where you are based), health care is very affordable. Stay tuned for my “C is for Camper” and “H is for Health”. 🙂

  9. i’m a recovering hoarder :). I’m working a more minimalist lifestyle and toward finding that balance.

    • It is all about a balance, for sure! And, there are ways to travel and see the world with a few belongings in tow! 🙂

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