Imagine looking around your house and realizing that all your stuff—everything you’ve work so hard for—had just vanished. How would that feel? That’s exactly what happened to my husband and me five years ago.
There wasn’t a fire or a burglary. Nothing bad happened to us; we just made a conscious decision to sell all our stuff and live our lives out of a few suitcases.
So, why would we do such a thing? One word: freedom.
At the time, we worked very long hours and had only about four days off per month. We had acquired a ton of financial responsibilities because of our choices, and each month, after all of our bills were paid, we could barely even afford dinner out. I’ll admit it: Since we didn’t have a ton of extra cash on hand, or time off work, we would constantly max out our credit cards to pay for trips and take time off work to go, even when we didn’t get paid for it.
That way of living made it difficult for us to get out of the hole, and we felt like we were always playing catchup.
One day, we looked around at our big house filled with stuff, all of our clothes, all of our things—and we realized we had created a life that felt kind of like a prison. It was robbing us of our true desires, so we decided to break free. In 2012, we made the radical decision to sell our home and all of our belongings, leave our full-time jobs, wave goodbye to friends and family, and hit the road.
Now, we work for three months at a time in health care, then take a couple of months off to explore our other passions and to travel the world. Over the last seven months, we’ve been to Bali, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, San Francisco—the list goes on. Now, we are living debt-free, and we’ve managed to cut down on our monthly expenses quite a bit. We prefer to stay in Airbnbs wherever we go because it’s usually cheaper and it allows us to immerse ourselves in the culture right out of the gate. Even though we don’t have a stable, physical home, home has become the comfort within, and we bring that with us everywhere we go.
We’re not sure where this journey will lead us, but we have our two suitcases packed, and we’re ready for anything. Here are the top four reasons we love our new lifestyle:
1. We have the freedom to travel.
We had always dreamed of traveling the world. Our desire for travel extended beyond the occasional vacation—there was always this magnetic pull, this soul urge, to just go, to get out there and explore this beautiful world that we live in. Travel for us is the gateway to our creativity, our inspiration, and our intuition. Travel opens up our hearts and stretches us far out of our comfort zones, creating space for expansion, growth, and new adventures!
We wanted the freedom in our lives to travel as often and as long as we wanted to, and making the decision to simplify and downsize our life has made it possible for us to do just that.
2. We’ve realized we don’t need very much.
For a long time, I was very attached to my things. My clothes, my shoes, my “stuff”—it was all very important to me. I always thought I needed so much in my everyday life. I was always that girl who packed two huge suitcases for an overnight stay at the beach because I always believed having more was better than not having enough.
When I began to let go of the meaning I had placed on all of my things and slowly started to part ways with my prized possessions, I began to feel so much lighter and so much happier. And I realized I truly need very little, just a few basic things to get by, and that was an incredible feeling.
3. It gave us a new perspective on happiness.
Once we were stripped of all our belongings, we became even more aware that material things and external circumstances do not make us happy. Too often we tend to search for fulfillment outside of ourselves. We think a new car will make us happy, or maybe it will take buying a new house at the beach. But those moments of happiness are fleeting, and they do not have the capacity to fill us up for very long.
The novelty wears off pretty quickly, and then we’re off looking for our next fix. True happiness is an inside job, meaning it begins with you. It radiates from within and works its way out into all areas of your life.
In our case, happiness came from the freedom we had created for ourselves: Freedom to have space to breathe, space to feel, space to connect to something deeper.
4. We don’t have clutter.
In the backs of our minds, we know we simply don’t have the room for anything extra, so that stops us from spending money on a bunch of junk that we really don’t need. This makes it easy for us to clean out and get rid of things we aren’t using. Most importantly, this experience has cracked us open and shown us what’s possible.
We are all capable of creating and living a life that lights us up from the inside out. When we lean into our joy and listen to our hearts, anything and everything is possible. All you have to do is say yes.