What It's Like To Sell Everything You Own And Live Out Of A Backpack
THIS GUEST POST is brought to you by Eric and Allison of The Endless Adventure. Currently in Europe they work on the road sampling all the delights on offer across the world, whilst living out of their backpack's. We wanted to find out just how they do it so we invited them to chat about their life as nomads.
35 pounds. That’s the weight of everything I own. A year ago, if you had told me that I’d eventually fit everything I own into a single backpack, I would have broken out into uncontrollable laughter.
Fast forward 12 months and my wife and I are sitting in Milan, Italy with no permanent home, no long-term plans and nothing but our bags to our names.
It’s a dream of many to 'sell it all and travel the world with nothing but a backpack' (If you couldn’t tell, that was meant to be read in a nice whimsical tone while looking up to the sky). But, in reality, it’s actually extremely difficult and not very glamorous (but it’s fun as heck!).
When we arrive at a new hotel or Airbnb, it quickly turns into a battlefield of clothes, electronics and… yeah that’s pretty much all we carry these days. And when it’s time to stuff everything back into our bags and move on to the next location, suddenly they become impossible to close!
We’re in a constant battle with our things.
With every single purchase, we have to consider the weight, size of the item, as well as what it will replace in our bags (since all bag space is pretty much spoken for). It can be easy to say “eh, this item’s weight is negligible” when making a new purchase. But you pay for that sort of thinking later on when you strap on a 50 pound bag to your back and trek through Milan for an hour searching for your AirBnB.
This isn’t good for your body and it isn’t good for your spirit. Trust us, traveling light will save you long-term back pain and potentially permanent damage to your body.
Naturally, when everything you own fits into a single carry-on, you’ve got to learn to be versatile with your items. We keep a small bottle of Dr. Bronner’s soap on us at all times. This stuff is literally magic. It can wash dishes, clothes, bodies, you can brush your teeth with it... okay maybe not that last one.
It’s also important to pack clothing items that can be mixed and matched. This is typically easier for us guys. 5 t-shirts, 5 underoos, 5 shorts/pants 5 socks and boom, you’re covered. But for the ladies, it’s not that simple.
Here are a few tips from Allison:
Stick with a general color palette. For me it was blacks and grays as these photograph well and show less stains.
Take an outfit that can be dressed up with a pair of nicer flats, but make sure they’re both appropriate for everyday wear so that they’re more versatile.
Avoid taking any items “special occasion” items. Chances are you won’t need them and they’ll just be dead weight.
Pretty much every top should be able to mix with every bottom. It’s fine to take some bright colors or patterned items, but keep them either all on top or bottom. That way you can have fun skirts/pants to mix and match with basic tops or vice versa.
Check out her minimalist packing guide for even more tips!
Talking about becoming homeless and actually making the leap are two very different things. For most people, it’s easy to put up with uncomfortable beds and weird showers for a week, maybe two. But, when you have no permanent home and travel is your life, you have to learn to accept that your home is wherever you are for the night.
If you’ve got a bed that’s too small for you and your legs hang off the bottom, that’s home. If the people on the street outside your window are partying until 6am, that’s home. Once you realize that home is wherever you are, it’s easier to accept your circumstances for what they are.
Before setting out on this endless adventure, we had an apartment in San Francisco, 2 cats and a whole bunch of stuff that we needed to sort out. We gave ourselves 5 days to figure out a new home for all of it (yeah, I know, we’re idiots).
We decided to sell anything that we thought was of value. We seriously had about 20 separate listings on Craigslist at a time. Everything from workout equipment, to old records to Magic the Gathering cards. Surprisingly, we were able to sell most of it and put about $1500 into our pockets. Everything that was not-so-valuable went to Goodwill.
Parting with all of our things was tough, but I wouldn’t say it was emotional. We had put a 'lot' of thought into this decision beforehand. And we had actually taken an 4 month road trip around the USA leading up to it, so we had already lived without these items for a while.
On the other hand, parting with our sweet little kitty cats was very emotional. We didn’t want to have strangers taking care of them, but most of our friends and family were like “hell no” when we asked if they could take them. Luckily, we found a friend who was willing to take them in. Now they have a lot more room to roam and I’m sure are much happier!
We also decided to try and scrub the heck out of the apartment to see if we could get at least some of the deposit back. Most of our friends said we were dreaming and should just consider that money gone. But the jokes on them! That place was so clean we got almost the entire deposit back, around $1400!
For the most part, we’ve gotten used to living out of a single backpack, but we’re also constantly looking for potential improvements. We’ve tried tons of different packing techniques, we’ve shipped boxes of stuff back to our parents to decrease our weight, we’ve tried booking rooms close to the bus station or airport so we didn’t have to walk too far with our packs on. No doubt, this lifestyle is a constant learning process.
I don’t know how long we’ll be living out of our backpacks (we honestly haven’t made any long-term plans). But, for now, we’ll travel the world with everything we own strapped to our backs, with home being wherever we lay our heads for the night.
I'm currently travelling the world and searching for adventure with my wife, Allison. We're vlogging our daily travels on YouTube, subscribe here to follow along! Have you ever tried living out of a backpack? Do you have any tips or stories to share? Leave a comment or reach out to us on Twitter. Thanks for reading!