Updated on May 13, 2014
Updated on May 13, 2014
When Drew and I got married we sent out invitations that requested guests not to bring gifts as we wanted a life with less that would keep us free to travel. Thanks to that endeavor, as we travel we have few enough boxes to store them in the basements of friends. (Thanks guys! Someday we’ll clear out that corner for you!)
That’s not the only way that keeping things simple has accommodated travel though. Here are 5 ways we keep things simple for home life or for travel life.
1.) A no-phone-plan iPhone. Instead of a real live cell phone, we have a friend’s old iPhone and a Skype-provided phone number that costs a few bucks a month. The iPhone has two apps to help it function : Skype and a free texting app. I’ve tried “textme” “textplus” and “textnow” and they’re all essentially the same, assigning you a phone number and allowing you to text any phone and receive texts from any phone. I have yet to find one that supports picture texts, though nearly all of them advertise the feature. None of them seem to work for that.
When our Skype subscription ends in a few months, we plan on investigating Google’s free version. Apparently they too offer a phone number you can use to send and receive calls. I’ll report more on that when we try it out. Our friends will hate us for again providing another phone number.
Why does this no phone method keep things simple? Because not only do we avoid heinous data plan fees, we also avoid the mess of SIM cards while going from country to country. The Skype plan price never changes whether we’re phoning our mothers from South Africa or South Carolina.
The downside, which…in the spirit of simplicity could be seen as a plus side, is that it only works in wifi. If we’re out in the wilderness miles away from Internet, we won’t be texting or calling. Oh darn. We’ll only be able to entertain ourselves with our actual surroundings. Boohoo.
(My sister instagramming in Easter Island.)
2.) No car. We are out of the country about as much as we’re in it, if not, more. So this one seems like a no brainer. While public transit isn’t stellar in the U.S, the slight disadvantages are worth the money we save by not insuring a car we barely would be using. Besides when we are in the states, we’re all over the place, so where would we keep a car?
Even when we were stationary we chose a car-less lifestyle and it worked just fine. If we absolutely needed a vehicle for something, we always had the option of renting, which we did a few times. Rather than pay for a car, we chose a slightly higher rent for a place close to downtown and right on the University bus route. Every time a co-worker came to work with car trouble woes or every time the weather got bad, I felt infinitely grateful we didn’t have a car to worry about.
3.) No tv, but good wifi instead. Hasn’t the computer kind of replaced television by now? We don’t watch tv at all, but for those of you who do, if I’m not mistaken, a Netflix or Hulu account can follow you wherever you and your laptop go. Not to mention Internet entertainments follow your schedule too. Watch it when you want to. This decision not to watch tv keeps us productive in a way that self employment demands. IMHO. I’m a terrible task master so if I gave myself permission to attach myself to a show…I’d be useless. I realize this isn’t true for everyone.
4.) Pack light and rotate often. Every time I visit those storage boxes it’s like shopping. Shopping that doesn’t require accumulating more and doesn’t require spending money.
My sister practices a version of this with her stationary life. She stores whatever won’t fit into her closet or whatever she wouldn’t consider “favorite” until a rainy day when she’s bored and wants a new wardrobe.
My other sister practices yet another strategy that’s equally awesome. She loves shopping so she frequents the thrift stores. But she’s just as quick to donate or give away as she is to shop, so she’s saving money by choosing thrift and combatting accumulation by giving away. Let’s be honest. A large part of shopping has to do with shifting interests or boredom. Which doesn’t require the amount of money and accumulation we may think.
5.) Paperless accounting/storage. This isn’t something I’ve gotten to yet but it’s on my to-do list. Again, an idea that came from one of my sisters. I have a ton of papers which I can’t decide whether or not they’re important. Some of them have to do with my college achievements, taxes, student loans, old art projects… My parents have a scanner so my older sister started creating paperless versions of all these probably useless papers. It’s like having your cake and eating it too…or rather having your cake and having the space that cake takes up too.
I plan on doing this and sticking the files on one of three external hard drives we keep distributed about.
how does this relate to travel? I think all of these things keep us freer to come and go and freer to be locationally independent. But personally I think these are things that could help keep a stationary person feeling freer too.
Obviously these things won’t work for everyone. For instance my parents live in the boondocks and couldn’t maintain jobs without a car. And people with growing kids don’t shop out of boredom; they shop because kids grow like weeds and last season’s shoes don’t fit anymore. So obviously I’m not laying out five “rules.” They’re five strategies a person can try to become freer to come and go.