The ‘Stuff’ Update.

Travelling light?

Travelling light?

Right now I’m sitting by the fire in the home that we are housesitting for the next three months. It’s quiet. The children are sleeping soundly, Simon is reading on his tablet and the scent of some Jonquil flowers that I picked from the garden this afternoon is drifting over from the kitchen bench. I am completely at peace and utterly happy. Now that we are 100% debt free, and free from the ‘stuff’ that kept us chained to the daily grind. I have had so many moments when I’ve wanted to pinch myself. Could this be real? Can a family really exist without a toaster or a set of steak knives? The answer is, ‘Yes we can’. In fact we are not just surviving, we’re thriving!

Just one month ago we were wondering if this day would ever come. We were still in our house in Adelaide. Some the furniture was still in the house because the new owner was purchasing it. There were piles of ‘stuff’ all aver the dining room floor. Stuff I was giving my mother, my sister, friends and sister-in-law. There was still a bit of food in our pantry, and the mental list of ‘maybe we could take that with us’ stuff was definitely larger than the amount of space either in our backpacks or our car.

On the day that we had to clean the house and hand over the keys to the agent, we were still filling my husband’s caged trailer (since sold) with rubbish to take to the dump, and dropping off boxes at friends places. One of my gorgeous girlfriends arrived with take-away coffees and her vacuum cleaner ready to help us tackle the house, and honestly, I could have kissed her. I think we’d been trying to put up this front of ‘cool, calm and collected, everything is under control’ but really we were running out of time, and the gig was up. Trust me when I tell you that getting rid of practically everything you own after 16 years of marriage, 2 children and a large house full of built-in robes is no easy feat.

As we cleaned out each room, one by one, we closed the door and moved any retrieved stuff to the trailer or a steadily growing pile in the lounge room to be packed into our family sedan car. The pile included our backpacks and bags of clothes, toiletries, laptops, tablets and a few kid’s toys. We’d also bagged up the contents of the pantry, since we figured we’d just end up buying it again in N.S.W. if we ditched it. Our duvets, pillows and a fitted sheet for each bed were also piled high, our thought process being that we may as well take them and be comfortable if we could, and then donate them to charity when we were ready to leave Australia. There was also all the miscellaneous bits that you need for travel, cameras, drink bottles etc. Simon’s small tool bag, the First Aid kit and a few books that we wanted to read during our housesitting time. The pile in the lounge kept getting bigger and bigger and the furrow between my husband’s eyes got deeper and deeper.

Even after culling all of the stuff that filled our house, apparently we still had too much of it. It wouldn’t matter how we packed it, all that stuff was never going to fit in the car. So, we culled again. The bedding was the first to go. We gave it to my mother to donate to charity, we’d just have to make do with whatever was at our house-sit. Next, the two bags of pantry food were given to a friend, along with my Jamie Oliver Tefal frypan which I adored and hoped to get another 3 months use out of. At that point we could just squeeze it all in. We knew that we still had more than would be traveling with us to Ireland, but planned to have another cull before packing for the plane.

We handed over the keys to the agent and drove off that evening, tightly squeezed into a very over packed car. We’d planned to stay with friends that night on the South Eastern side of Adelaide, (better for an early getaway to Melbourne) and headed off with that nagging feeling like when you think you’ve left the iron on. Perhaps it was just that this was the big beginning to Our Global Adventure, and it all seemed so un-ceremonious. It’s a funny feeling driving off from the family home like that, knowing that it doesn’t belong to you anymore and you’re not moving into another. It’s not a feeling of regret, more a nervous apprehension of the unknown. There’s no manual on how to behave in such situations, should we have been jumping for joy? Shedding a tear?  So we just drove off with, well, nothing really. I don’t think it had all sunk in.

The next day we drove for about 11 hours toward Bairnsdale on the eastern side of Melbourne. We relaxed a little, but still that nagging feeling hung in the air, which was silly because we no longer owned an iron!

About an hour before we pulled into Bairnsdale, all of us quiet and tired from our long drive, Simon shared his thoughts. He wanted to unpack the car, have another cull in Bairnsdale, and re-pack again before heading toward Bega in the morning. I absolutely agreed with him! The same plaguing thought had been bothering me as well. We still had too much stuff. It was uncomfortably cramped in the car, and the boot was about to burst open under the strain of what we’d stuffed in there the night before. This was ridiculous, we were meant to be traveling lightly; working our way toward getting on a plane with just four bags, and our carry-on luggage in just three months, and yet here we were uncomfortable with all of the stuff surrounding us.

That night we unpacked all of our bags and spread out the contents into our hotel room. Toiletries were the first to be sorted. Between us there was far too much, and we needed to combine everything from three separate toiletries bags into one. Next clothing; dressing gowns, some shoes and other bits and pieces we knew we could live without were folded and placed into plastic bags ready to donate into the nearest charity bin. We squeezed our woollen winter coats into vacuum storage bags as they wouldn’t be needed until Ireland, and re-packed our backpacks neatly by rolling, instead of folding our clothes. When we re-packed the car, things fit much better, and we felt closer to our aim of travelling lightly in a few months, since there would be more clothing that we could get rid of after our housesitting stint.

So, there you have it. We are almost at our aim of 4 check-in and 4 small carry-on bags of luggage. It’s taken just over 12 months, (the last 6 weeks of which were the most stressful), to sell, donate and dump the possessions that we had spent over 16 years collecting. We’ve raised an additional $22,121 from the sales that we made, which is on top of the sale of our house and car (we still have one car for the time being). All of this has helped us to pay off our debt, and become free. Finally, we have begun Our Global Adventure, and gosh it feels great.

12 thoughts on “The ‘Stuff’ Update.

  1. Well done! It’s a tough gig, the culling thing. We are 7 weeks out from the end of our 7 year rental tenancy, with plans to do something other than move into another house – motorhome, overseas travel, car and camp, lots of options. Hard and stressful work, but sooooooo liberating!! Trying to get down to a carry on each and a few odds and ends to be left with friends. Love a challenge!

    • Fantastic! Wow, watch out those seven weeks go fast 😉 Isn’t it fabulous how the possibilities open up to you when you start culling? Yes, we have also found it very liberating, but also an excellent life lesson. Even the kids were saying that they never wanted to have so much stuff ever again! In the end we all just felt weighed down by it all. I know that most people love their home and the collection of sentimental possessions (and some useless ones!) but right now, this just feels so much better for us. I hope to hear in 8 weeks from now how you are feeling, and what you decided, make sure to let us know xx

  2. I completely related to this post! I am gaining tips and putting them to use. We are at our 6 week out point right now and I can feel ya sister! This purging business is hard! I know that I’ll be doing a lot more of it over the next few weeks and I love hearing about your successful transiting. Enjoy your housesit and I look forward to following you on your adventure!

    • Good luck Casey, it is hard work, but right now we are already seeing the benefits. The thing that has struck us the most, even at this early stage, is the opportunities that have presented themselves, and the like minded people that we are meeting already. Keep in touch, and let us know how you go 🙂 xx
      PS Simon really does have a sister called Casey!

  3. I am so glad to hear how fantastic everything is going. We miss you. Claire loves seeing the photos you put on facebook. As for your “stuff” well I think of you all every morning as I have my coffee in your old coffee cups, and smile knowing your on your journey. And we have made Pizza Night a weekly thing in this house, using the Pizza Oven I got off you. So whilst we may be far apart in distance, we think about you often, and wonder what amazing things you’ll be doing today. 😀 xx

  4. Gina, what a fabulous story, told beautifully. James and I went through a very similar exercise, and your description of how you felt really hit home. Selling your home, sorting through your belongings, and then driving away one day all seemed kind of surreal to us. I love your nagging feeling of leaving the iron on. Perfect! 🙂 But then it just started to feel absolutely great! Glad to hear that you’re doing so well. All the best, Terri

    • Thanks so much Terri, glad you could relate, I hope that we inspire others who might be considering doing as we have to just go for it! Our new found freedom is a wonderful feeling 🙂 Thanks for stopping by and congratulations on recently being Freshly Pressed, it was well deserved, your blog is beautiful work xx

  5. This is great!! Since we are traveling with the kids for a year, every time we move we have to re-pack our things, and every time we re-pack, we realize there are a few more things that we really don’t need. I have joked and said that by the time we settle in to a new place back home, we will be down to one pair of socks each – but honestly I don’t think that is too far off the mark! Good luck with your travels!

    • Yes, it feels like that doesn’t it? We know we’ll be packing less when we leave this housesit 🙂 You’re in South America aren’t you? What a wonderful adventure for your family, which I think is a lot younger than ours, I wish we’d done it earlier, but then I don’t envy you traveling with nappies (diapers)! Thanks for commenting, see you out there on the planet one day!

It's your turn! Please leave a comment or question.