Chicago - Selling Everything
Our living room in Chicago (2010)

Clutter. Stuff. Things. Possessions. Goods. Whatever. How much of it do you actually have? Ang found these photos from before we left Chicago over a year ago, and we thought we should share. Look at all that stuff! Did we really need it? Well, I guess it depends on what you want to do with your life. We love travel, and we’ll soon be location independent, which means we can only have what we can carry (and less than that is even better).

That said, we sold or gave away about 99.9% of what you see in those photos before we left the U.S. The rest went with us in the form of equipment we didn’t need (more on that in another post), too many clothes, and our beloved collection of artwork. We even spent over $1000 (US) on shipping all of this in a 36” x 36” x 48” crate – the vast majority of which was never even touched during nearly 1.5 years in Germany.

We had a plan, and brought what we thought we needed. As our lives have changed and the way we work has changed so dramatically since we got to Berlin, we now find ourselves not needing a lot of what we brought, needing to get rid of it plus whatever else we bought during our time in Germany.

And you’ll hear from me now what you’ll hear from a lot of location-independent folks: I don’t miss any of it. As I said above, we even took too much stuff with us in the first place. We’ve both lived and traveled all over, “know the ropes,” and we still brought too much.

I was preparing to put some things up for sale on the local classifieds here, and Ang dug up the photos in this post, from just before the last time we made the big move from Chicago to Berlin. Amazing.

Chicago - Selling Everything
A table we never ate at, books we never re-read, and I couldn't even tell you most of what was in those sideboards. (2010)

I’m not going to turn this post into a rant about what you do or don’t need, what you have and can live without, or why clutter and possessions can be your worst enemy – especially when you want to travel. I’ll save that for future posts.

What I’m going to do instead is tell you this: If you haven’t used it in six months and it’s not related to the weather, dump it. If you have boxes of photos that you just can’t get rid of but keep as memories in huge scrapbooks that you swear are family heirlooms yet no one ever looks at them and they’re crammed into a crawl space or the back of a closet, scan them. If you travel already and have been carrying something around for a few months without using it, give it away. You can probably buy one of whatever it is for crazy cheap whenever you actually need it.

Chicago - Sell Everything
A quarter of our office in Chicago (2010)

Extra mattresses in storage, piles of old cell phones, bikes you never use, books you never read, sixteen pairs of jeans but only three you actually wear, that TV you just had to have for the office but only ever got turned on twice, three sets of dishes because you might just have a dinner party once or twice a year and you just can’t see yourself using anything but the finest of three different matching and non-matching sets of “designer” dishes from Target, multiple sets of cookware because you might just have Thanksgiving at your place even though you haven’t had it at your place in fifteen years, forty pairs of sneakers because you clearly have an addiction and wearing a different pair every day actually matters to no one – especially when you only have warm weather for 4-5 months a year, an entire coat closet full of coats that you rarely ever wear but have somehow accumulated over the years, the list goes on. I can seriously do this for hours.

All of those things are keeping you from being mobile. Whether it’s more travel now and then, or going on the road permanently, you are literally going to sleep every night surrounded by what’s holding you back. And the best part about it is that it could actually be what sets you free.

Chicago - Sell Everything
Half of our deck, including a bike I never rebuilt, tools we never used, and crates of spray cans that I hadn't touched in ages. The grill was regularly abused, though! (2010)

What I mean by that is this: If you are schooled in the art form of selling everything you own, there’s a good chance that doing so can produce a nice, plump savings account balance or envelope of cash to serve as a major game changer for your trip. You’d be in utter shock if I told you how much we sold and how much it helped us when we moved.

And even if you aren’t a traveler, you might as well dump the clutter. It can work wonders when it comes to spring cleaning, a surprise move, or a sudden forced evacuation due to zombie attacks.

You know, the zombies that are probably hiding in all that stuff, waiting for the right time to pounce. If you didn’t have all that crap, you might not have to worry about zombie attacks. Bonus!

Can’t afford to travel? Look around – you’re surrounded by your travel fund. (And possibly zombies.)