Stuff: You won’t miss (most of ) it when it’s gone.

gratitude sticker

I exaggerated slightly when I said what I now know about stuff is:

“You need less stuff than you think, (and you won’t miss it when it’s gone.)

I should have have said: you won’t miss most of it when it’s gone.

When I collapsed my life into a mobile, RV-sized space, some things obviously didn’t make the cut.  (A gorgeous solid-wood armoire anyone?)  Three years on, I’ve discovered only three things that I truly miss: a bathtub, a king-sized bed, and my own washer and dryer.

If I hadn’t gone on this journey, I never would have come to appreciate these things as I do.  And I never would have this spent time considering them … and their alternatives.

You need a lot of space for the things I miss. And there’s a lot of stuff that goes along with them: linens and pillows and towels and bath soaps and bubble bath and hangers and clotheslines and boxes and bottles of stuff. All of which you need to supply, resupply, clean and maintain.  Letting 90 percent of that stuff go has opened the door to a whole new range of experiences.

Vanilla Guerrilla and Honda on the Baja beach
It’s all about your perspective. No room here for a bathtub, a big bed or a laundry room.

Doing the laundry

Not owning a washer and dryer has often meant a return to my younger years of collecting coins and finding laundry rooms.  In fact, when we first hit the road, the need to do laundry was one of the primary reasons we would “hook up” in a full-service RV park. RV park laundry rooms are usually clean, well-maintained and charge reasonable rates ($1.50-$2.00 US per load.) Using them is not so bad; we’ve met great fellow travellers while sorting clothes and hanging sheets.

Even better for us though was discovering that, in Mexico, we could drop our clothes off at a local lavanderia. Not only are these laundry services fast and affordable, they are everywhere. They gave us the opportunity to engage with Mexicans, practise our Spanish, and feel like locals. And they gave us back clean, folded fresh-smelling clothes. A great exchange for about $10-$15 US for about two weeks worth of two people’s laundry.

Having a bath

I love a hot bath on a cold night. I can wax eloquent about the joys of a sufficiently deep tub. I love to play in the bath, shaping bubbles into landforms that my loofah-ship can navigate through. (I remembered how fun this was by watching my own kids do it.)

Not having a tub is a drag. Kinda. But it’s also taught me a lot. It’s taught me that you don’t need to own something to enjoy it.  And that scarcity that can make something feel more precious and special. Now when we have come across an actual tub – as unexpected as the setting might be — I’m excited and grateful in a whole new way.

women's clothes hanging in cuba
Thinking about privilege, contrasts, and the colourful, vibrant joie de vivre I found in Cuba.

Finally, it’s reminded me that the concept of “taking a bath” can come in all sorts of wonderful forms.

pool next door in baja
Enjoying the neighbour’s hospitality overlooking the Gulf of California.
Hot Springs pool
Taking a break at the unexpected oasis at Hot Springs, a free camping spot in Southern California
shower at Imperial Dam Hot Springs
Complete with a piping hot shower!

Getting a good night’s sleep

When we bought our first-ever RV three years ago, our goal was to find something “big enough to live in, but small enough to drive around.”

In choosing this particular mobile home base, I knew I would miss the king-sized bed we’ve had for most of our marriage. But from years of travelling together, I also knew the queen-bed-in-the-back and double-bed-over-the-cab combination would work out fine.

That’s because I’ve learned (and this would have been a surprise to my younger self) that sometimes getting a good night’s sleep is all you really want — and it’s great for you both to be able to claim your own chunk of real estate to do it.

What’s that old saying? “Two beds are better than one?”

Never knowing what’s around the corner

I think everyone who chooses to #livewithless will inevitably have a few things they hate to do without. But I would say this about that:  remember the only constant in life is change.

Recently, and unexpectedly, we had the opportunity to rent an empty heritage house while we work to replenish our retirement fund.  In the bathroom: a deep, glorious claw-footed tub. In the basement, a brand new washer and dryer. In the bedroom? You guessed it. Room for a great, big, glorious king-sized bed.

Did not see that coming. And I’m still smiling with gratitude and feelings of good fortune.

king-sized bed
Appreciating the luxury of our current king-sized bed.

 

 

 

 

2 comments

  1. Beautiful post, Laurie! I love seeing photos from your travels combined with your reflections on living with less. So much of our stuff exists only to serve our other stuff and the cycle can be hard to break. You are an inspiration! Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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