Planning on Going Nomadic – Getting Rid of Stuff

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It has been a month since I wrote about weighing the pros and cons of going nomadic. Whether I embrace the location independent lifestyle or not I am starting to downsize my life. I want to have fewer possessions. Planning on going nomadic gives me the motivation to start getting rid of stuff.

Each day I scan my belongings for things that I have not used, no longer want, or things that simply do not bring me joy when I look at them. Keeping clutter to a minimum has long been a rule to live by in my world. Ever since my first solo trip to South-East Asia, living out of a backpack for seven months, I have enjoyed a minimalist lifestyle. I prefer to collect experiences rather than things.

But I do own a lot of things. Letting go of these things can be difficult. In that past I used the guidance of English designer William Morris:

Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful

Several years ago when I was selling handmade jewelry I decided I would like to have handmade art work on my walls and no mass-produced stuff. Now the dilemma is what to do with all the beautiful handmade art work on my walls? I suppose I will give most of the art away or try to sell some. That is something that can wait for now.

So far I have eliminated a few pairs of shoes (I am down to 20 pairs now, including flip-flops) and lots of clothing from my wardrobe. I have rid my kitchen of all sorts of baking pans and utensils that I have not used for years. I grew up in a home with only home-baked bread and desserts. I gave up bread a few years ago and I do not bake anymore – because I would just eat it all! In the past I have applied this rule:

If you haven’t used it or worn it in a year – get rid of it!

Now my rule is more or less if you won’t use it within the next 6 months – get rid of it! There is reward in getting rid of stuff. I feel good when I get rid of clutter in my home. I feel good giving my stuff to the Goodwill store down the street. I feel good when I give things to my friends that I know they want, need, or enjoy owning. It feels like a weight is lifted every time I unload another bunch of stuff that I thought I could not live without.

My main goal now is to downsize my possessions to the point that I have only the necessities in my home within the next two months. This means I have to further reduce my clothing and shoes, and get rid of all the art supplies, tools for jewelry and glass fusing that I have not used in years. Once I complete that task I will only own my furniture, basic office supplies, clothing, and basic kitchen supplies. Oh and the art work that I will enjoy for the next few months.


Art collected while traveling - Mother and Daughter watercolor painting by Ude Daves - Port Harcourt Nigeria

Mother & Daughter – watercolor painting by Ude Daves – Nigeria


Dogs joyriding in pickup truck by Wisconsin artist Teresa Bouzek

Metal art by Teresa Bouzek – Wisconsin – Dogs Joyriding in Red Pickup Truck


Music inspired painting by Austin Texas artist Tony Westlund

Music inspired painting by Tony Westlund – Austin Texas


Folk art by Austin TX artist Terrell Powell - Ant painting on wood - mixed media

Folk Art – Ant painted on wood, mixed media – by Terrell Powell


Austin Texas artist Jeanne Philquist - painting of three women with oranges

Painting by Jeanne Philquist – Austin Texas – Three Women with Oranges


Further planning on going nomadic with my lifestyle includes:

  • Creating a road trip plan for 1 – 2 years around USA and Canada
  • Work on my budget – consider accommodations costs in each location
  • Work with my clients to transition to remote work
  • Find a mail service to scan/send my mail to me
  • Buy a new laptop – Norbert (my Dell laptop) is almost 9 years old. I do have small backup laptop but it is 3 years old and it has a tiny 11″ screen

Getting rid of stuff is the priority for the next two months and I will be traveling to Calgary at the end of March to celebrate my mom’s birthday. Off to Barcelona and Lloret de Mar in Catalonia Spain at the of April. I better get to work!

Click here to find out how the first 6 months of location independent worked out for me…


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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling solo around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 5 of a solo road trip around the USA and Canada, living a nomadic life, and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

24 Replies

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  1. How exciting! I loved enjoying your art through your photos. Our storage unit still holds art (and tax records and family memorabilia) back in Minnesota. Pete wants to get rid of it all. Looking forward to meeting you in Catalunya. :)

    • Oh my gosh, I forgot about tax records – I think I will just scan all the documents and then get rid of them. I will keep some old family photos and such at my parents place in Calgary. And yes we will meet in Catalunya soon!!!

  2. Downsizing is very difficult to say the least. It took me ages to sort through things to move at the beginning as I remembered different things. Then I got tired and ruthless at the end. I love Mother & Daughter – watercolor painting by Ude Daves – Nigeria. Keep it.

    • I will keep my watercolor paintings by Ude Daves – I have 4 total and I will take them out of their frames so they won’t take up any space at all. Whenever I have had to pack up and move I try to get rid of a lot of stuff – closer to moving day is when I would get ruthless and just give stuff away or toss it out. I am trying to get into that mindset now.

  3. Possessions can become such a ball and chain – I don’t have a problem with things I can simply buy again – But anything that has an emotional or ancestral connection I get hung up with the fact that that very one can never be replaced… So? They’re the things that have to go into storage!

    • The art work and oddly enough, rocks and shells that I have collected from my travels are the things I most want to keep, along with some old family photos and letters. I was going rent a storage unit but I just don’t want to keep much at all and I convinced my mom to let me keep a few boxes of stuff at their house.

  4. In the 80s when I got rid of everything and went travelling I gave certain precious items to close friends. Now , when I visit them, I get a lot of pleasure of seeing those items around their homes. Your artwork is lovely – maybe you could put it on semi-permanent loan to a small gallery, restaurant, community centre… that way you could go and look at it from time to time when you are in the area.

  5. Your art collection is beautiful and I can identify with your inner tug-of-war between wanting to keep it and letting go. When we started jettisoning our belongings in preparation for our new nomadic life our art collection was one of our hardest things to part with. We had some very nice art that we were able to donate to a couple of museums in Montana and Oregon and also donated to various charities for fundraising auctions. We gave away many paintings to friends and family and made sure to take a photo of each one that we carry on our computer and can enjoy whenever we want. The big thing to keep in mind is the freedom you gain when you let go … !

    • Freedom is the main ingredient I am after so yes, I must keep focused on that. I have started photographing all of the art so that I can at least keep it with me via the photos – most of it will definitely be given away or donated. And like Yasha mentioned, I can still visit the art when I am back in town.

  6. I’m not very good at this but taking digital photos of “stuff” is a way to keep it and get rid of it:-) What a tough task it is for me!

    • I do like documenting things via photography so this will be a good project – photographing my art work and souvenirs, etc that will be gone soon. Happy memories will be mine to keep!

  7. Carole Terwilliger Meyers says:

    Divesting myself of stuff has been my mantra/focus for several years now. I’ve make progress but still have a lot. One thing I find is that when I make space something else comes along to fill it. However, I don’t intend to give up my house until I’m dead so I do need some things to keep it a home.

    • In the past I have made a rule for myself that anytime I buy something I have to get rid of something else – mostly I did this for clothing and footwear so that I wouldn’t acquire too much stuff and it made me think about making purchases more carefully.

  8. Good luck. Downsizing can be hard. We did it this past summer, but not as dramatically as you are. It’s the stuff with emotional attachments that is the hardest to deal with. Much of my art work would be hard for me to part with, some because of its significance to me and others because they were painted by friends and family of places or people important to me.

    • I have a few pieces from an artist friend, and those pieces will be difficult to part with. Today I went through a box of cards and letters – so many memories. I am keeping them but also I think I will photograph or scan a lot of them too – just in case something ever happens to the actual documents I will still have the photos.

  9. It is very cleansing to get rid of almost all of the possessions. We have done it twice in our lives with absolutely no regrets.

    • I did get rid of almost all my possessions for my trip to SE Asia – but it was easier then because I knew I would be back in 6 -8 months time. Now I hoping this lifestyle experiment will last several years, or decades.

  10. Nancie says:

    I downsized when I moved to Asia in 2000. However, I didn’t sell the house until 2 or 3 years later. I had used the basement area for storage, and all of that was put into storage by my real estate agent. I went back in 2006, and sold pretty much everything. Now, I am looking at 15 years of accumulation in Korea, and I am pretty good at not buying stuff. However, I do need to get a rid of everything by September when either I will be leaving Korea, or taking a job in another city. By the way, your art work is lovely. Mine is stored at my Dad’s :)

    • Good luck with your project of getting rid of everything by September. That’s my deadline too. I have become rather obsessed with getting rid of something each day now. I need to spend several days scanning documents – that is not something I am looking forward to, but it will save me from having to keep the hard copies. Thanks for you comment about the art work – it all makes me happy to look at – I will miss the pieces I part with.

  11. When you start getting rid of things it’s hard to stop. We’ve moved so many times that when we decided to put everything in storage and travel, there wasn’t really that much left.

    • Yes moving is a good reminder that we don’t need to keep so much stuff. Some of the things I look at now and wonder – why have I been lugging this around for so long? It feels good to get rid of it now.

  12. The process is a difficult one and it’s nice to follow along on your process, as I think we are in parallel stages. Doing a little each day makes it easier. Your art work is lovely, that will be the toughest part for my household as well. I like the idea of giving it to friends with ‘visiting rights.’ Luckily my sisters live close by, as well as my kids, so I hope I can share a few treasures with each of them. Looking forward to meeting you and the rest of the boomers who will be in Spain!

    • Alison, I am looking forward to meeting you in Spain! It will be good to chat about this process of eliminating stuff – so cool to know of someone else who is also going through this now! That’s great that your sisters live close by so you shouldn’t have too much trouble transporting the treasures to their new home. All of my family lives in Canada – just 2,000 miles away!

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