3 days until departure. A post about housekeeping: literal and otherwise

by Kim on May 18, 2012 · 36 comments

Housekeeping: literally

Things are crazy around here!

We’re packing boxes and tying up loose ends, making decisions about what to keep and what to give away, determining what we can’t let go of.

This photo does not do the chaos justice

Until we started packing up I just didn’t think we had much stuff. But when you’re aiming to own only what can fit in a backpack, it becomes apparent how much you really do have.  

On one hand, I want to pile it all into the corner and light it on fire, but on the other hand a part of me panics each time I put something new into the Goodwill pile.  What will you do when you come back? I ask myself.  The answer is: We’ll come back, we’ll get more stuff, we’ll figure it out.  

It’s hard to let go. Choosing what to hang on to and what to get rid of is a very emotional process and the decisions we’ve been making about what to keep and what to lose are not logical.

For instance, we got rid of my wedding dress but we’re keeping Brian’s childhood monkey. I recycled all of my work papers and business contacts but am shipping my old journals and poems back to Ohio. I donated all of my marathon medals to Goodwill, but I’m keeping the collection of baseball cards I’ve had since I was a girl.  We’re keeping photo albums, wedding pictures, and a few sentimental knickknacks but we won’t own a bed, a fork or (gasp!) a coffee maker. 

Everything goes but the monkey stays

Getting rid of everything feels pretty extreme.  But Brian and I ultimately decided that we wanted the freedom that comes with owning very little.  We wanted to end up here or there, to turn left or right, without worrying about where our stuff was.  Stuff.  It’s a dirty word to me these days.  

But as Brian said the other day, it isn’t getting rid of the stuff that is hard but the fear of losing the memories attached to the things.  We worry that, without the stuff, we might forget the past. This is probably where hoarders get in trouble, he said solemnly, and it made me laugh. 

So we keep sifting through our things, loading the car up and driving to Goodwill, handing over the past eight years of our life.  We hope that we will feel freedom, not loss, when all of this stuff is out of the way.  We’re banking on the fact that our memories will live on inside of us even after the stuff is gone. 

Housekeeping: otherwise

I want to address a few things before we take this show on the road, some So Many Places housekeeping details, if you will.

Detail 1

Some of you have asked if I will keep updating the blog once we are traveling.  The answer is definitely yes!  I started this blog dreaming of the day when I could write about our experiences moving through the world.  Documenting the process of getting to the starting line has been a powerful thing, but it has always been my intention to write about our journey as we travel.  There’s no way I’d stop now, we’re just getting to the good stuff. 

Detail 2

I have tried (and failed) to keep to a posting schedule of Sunday and Wednesday (did you notice)?  I would like to post more often and hope to eventually figure out a schedule that allows me to tell the stories I want to tell without bombarding your inbox every day.  Until I nail this schedule down, posts might be a little erratic and more frequent than they have been in the past.  

Detail 3

If you don’t already, make sure to follow the So Many Places Facebook page (click here to do so).  Don’t miss out on lots of pictures and real-time status updates. 

Detail 4

Finally, I want to let you know once again how blessed I feel to have you, my community of readers, to support and encourage us on this journey.  It has always seemed that just when I need it, one of you reaches out to tell me that you look forward to reading the blog, or that it has given you courage to follow your own dreams, or even that you are simply cheering for us, and those words have always been the fuel that I need to keep going.  Getting out the door, it is as much a product of your support as it is our own doing. Thank you. 



{ 35 comments… read them below or add one }

Leif aka The Runaway Guide May 18, 2012 at 9:49 am

Light it on fire! 🙂 That’s exciting you guys. What is your itinerary looking like? I have got to suggest Koh Phan gan thailand. This place is pork paradise. Good luck, and safe travels


Kim May 29, 2012 at 7:54 am

Ha, well, I didn’t end up lightening it on fire but it was tempting! Truthfully, it’s been a week and I can’t even remember what we kept!!

We’re in the U.S. for three months then head to South America. We will definitely make it to Thailand at some point so I will keep Koh Phan Gan on the list!


Steph (@ 20 Years Hence) May 18, 2012 at 9:55 am

Reading your blog definitely motivated me to finally start my own, so I definitely look forward to your updates! Also, my blogging background is in the book blogging community, where posting is only considered excessive if you are updating multiple times per day, so I say let the daily posts begin! 😉

I can’t even face the idea of packing our stuff and moving. The one thing keeping me going is knowing that we’re actually going to get rid of most of it, which is scary but also feels liberating. A few months back we did a massive clothing purge, but I think we’ll do another one before we leave on our trip. Slowly we’ve been paring back on DVDs and video games, and last night we decided we’re only going to keep three items of furniture (2 bookshelves & 1 dresser) and sell the rest. As much as I know I have a proclivity to get attached to stuff, I know that when it comes to finally packing boxes and moving out of our apartment, I’ll be glad we were ruthless. I have to think that after a year (or more!) on the road, I won’t regret selling my Ikea coffee table.


Kim May 29, 2012 at 7:56 am

Hi Steph!

Looking back, we really spent about two years paring down our stuff. We started small, getting rid of DVDs and some stuff in the kitchen, excess clothes. We sold our books, which was VERY hard for me. As we got closer to leaving we just got more ruthless until we finally pared down to the few Rubbermaid containers and the stuff in our backpacks.

I already don’t miss the stuff, though I cried as I gave it away.


Carmel May 18, 2012 at 9:56 am

For god’s sakes…bombard us! Sometimes it’s the only thing that gets me through Monday morning.

I am amazed at your ability to get rid of your wedding dress. I once said something about it and my mom said she wouldn’t let me give it away. Of course, I don’t know that I could give it up either. It felt fated to be mine. When it comes down to it, I keep thinking to myself, “What would I REALLY miss if something like a major fire came and destroyed all our belongings?” Mostly, just pictures and such.


Kim May 29, 2012 at 7:57 am

Guess what? I kept the wedding dress. The *plan* was to get rid of it but it somehow ended up being the last thing in the closet in the last day before we left. I pulled it out and got so emotional that I couldn’t do it… so I shoved it in a container and put it in a friends basement.


Dana - Our Wanderlust May 18, 2012 at 10:07 am

So exciting! We’re prepping for a huge garage sale around here and definitely dealing with all of the hard feeling surrounding letting things go – your wedding dress? BRAVE. But I bet you have loads of amazing photos and memories.

Can’t wait to follow your adventures! Get on the road already 🙂


Kim May 29, 2012 at 7:58 am

Hi Dana, I just said to Carmel in the comment but I’ll say it here too… I ended up keeping the wedding dress. I planned to get rid of it (it is such a pain, so big and I never know where to store it) but when I thought about donating it to Goodwill I just couldn’t do it. If I had taken the time to donate it to another bride I think I could have give it away… but alas it is in the basement of a friends house now.


Annie May 18, 2012 at 10:18 am

Hey Guys –

OK…so we didn’t get rid of all of our “stuff”. We have a renter in our house where many things still reside….beds, lamps, couches. We did take down our personal photos, empty our closets and sold a car. So, we didn’t purge quite as thoroughly as you did but it was so liberating.

A key to your journey is the photos and journals that will be the most precious things. You may find a necklace or other bauble on the road that means a lot to you. I just bought a bracelet in Turkey that reminds me of my love for Ayvalik.

You will find more stuff…albeit in a more selective manner both financially and from a shear space perspective. It makes it that much more delicious when you find the right item that speaks to your soul.

You guys are going to love the journey. The wedding dress could have a new life…..however, I had a Curious George, too….and he has stayed!

Big hugs! Annie


Kim May 29, 2012 at 8:00 am

Hi Annie,

A week in to it and I don’t miss the stuff. I know we’ll get stuff again when/if we come back. It really is just stuff, which I always know intellectually but emotionally it is sometimes hard to remember that.

I can’t wait to see what little things I pick up on the road.


Lisa May 18, 2012 at 10:19 am

I’m so happy for you guys! I’m looking forward to your posts. Ha, a schedule of posts, that hasn’t happened on my site either..lol


Kim May 29, 2012 at 8:01 am

Thanks Lisa!!

Yeah… a schedule of posts. Already failing at that! Maybe someday…


Amy May 18, 2012 at 10:26 am

Whoa. Cannot believe you are three days away! I was just thinking this time last year we were talking about house selling and Vancouver! I am so happy for you both and cannot wait to follow along with you.

PS: Love the Reds shirt!


Sarah Bott May 18, 2012 at 10:42 am

Good call on the monkey!


Torre – Fearful Adventurer May 18, 2012 at 11:16 am

I would’ve kept that monkey too.

This stage is always the hardest for me. The truth is we all have to get rid of precious stuff eventually. If we strengthen ourselves early by having this experience (and learning that it’s not the end of the world), then it’s not so hard later.

At least, that’s what I tell myself …


Amy May 18, 2012 at 11:25 am

I’m fairly new to your reading community, and I’m so glad I stumbled upon your blog! I dream of taking a mid-career break and your journey is inspiring. It’s funny you talked about your job for the city and how most would consider it a dream position — I have a similar situation, with good federal benefits (lots of vacation time), but still feel “trapped” in my cubicle doing the 9-5 thing…wondering how I can do this for 20+ more years! Until I figure it all out, I’ll live vicariously through you two. I cannot wait for the on-the-road posts and photos! ~ Cheers


Kelley May 18, 2012 at 12:49 pm

I love, love, love your blog and I am just a random person who stumbled across it many months ago. I, too, am leaving on a worldwide adventure in Sept. to Africa and have learned so much about the prep-stuff from reading your posts (thank you!). I only wish I had your ability to write such a great blog! Wishing you and Brian the best on your travels and looking forward to “the good stuff” to come!


Ashley May 18, 2012 at 1:06 pm

So exciting! I can’t wait to see where your road takes you…


manda May 18, 2012 at 3:20 pm

All i can say is EEEEEKKKKKK!!!


Gillian @OneGiantStep May 18, 2012 at 4:05 pm

I can’t believe it’s sooooo clooose!! I’ll just say that, once again, I can’t wait to see the world through your eyes and the amazing way you write about it. Cheers!


Kim May 29, 2012 at 8:01 am

Thank you Gillian!! I can’t wait to see the world and write about it 🙂


Lindsey May 18, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Aahhh, so close! I’m so excited for you both. I’m quietly terrified of reaching that stage myself. That said, I’m hoping to achieve the same freedom from stuff that you and Brian are achieving. I can’t wait to read about your adventures!


Kim May 29, 2012 at 8:03 am

Thank you Lindsey! Man, that was a rough to weeks. Now that we are on the road I feel much better, though my heart still aches for Oregon and the friends we’ve left behind.


Lize mare May 19, 2012 at 3:05 am

Hey I’ve been on the road for about 10 days done so much back pack carrying I’ve chucked a few things already and bought a few more and I have totally forgot about what I left behind been to 2 islands 6 cities 2 continents and yeah just keep on keeping on! Make sure you get to ko phi phi and Mayan bay in Thailand that place is magical


Kim May 29, 2012 at 8:04 am

Hello! You are the second person to suggest Ko Phi Phi so I will put it on my list!!

Yeah, I’ve just traveled across the country and it is so evident that I overpacked. Before we leave our family’s house I’ll be chucking more stuff.


Traveling Ted May 19, 2012 at 11:34 am

Yeahhhhh!!!! Three days until we begin. I cannot wait to start 🙂


Kim May 29, 2012 at 8:05 am

I love it!


Miel Hendrickson May 19, 2012 at 12:20 pm

As hard as it is to imagine now, it will be equally hard to accumulate later. I recall coming back from months on the road backpacking in South America and living in Fiji, being weighed down by suddenly needing so much more. A shower curtain becomes a requirement after getting back from being on the road, and your perspective changes about stuff.

I’ve been on the road for the last six weeks, and the only things I have regretted are a few things that I should have left at home. Nothing at all that I’ve missed.

Good luck,



Kim May 29, 2012 at 10:31 am

Hi Miel,

It is always good to hear your perspective because you are such a seasoned traveler. We’ve only got a tiny bit now, one week in to our trip, and I don’t miss all that other stuff.


Jeff May 19, 2012 at 8:01 pm

I’m glad I’ll get to follow you from the beginning of your trip. I did my own round the world trip last year and it was the time of my life. It will change you in amazing ways. Enjoy!


Sarah Somewhere May 20, 2012 at 7:52 am

I’m reading your wonderful post from a bamboo bungalow in Pai, Northern Thailand. Today we rode a motorbike through the back roads to a hot spring resort where we bathed like Kings for $3. This afternoon, as the sun was low on the mountainous horizon, we strolled through rice fields and along muddy tracks. Two small children wandered behind, stopping when we stopped, waving when we did. When I greeted them with the Thai ‘wai’ gesture, and they replied with tiny heads bowed over tiny pressed together palms, my heart swelled. Do I miss my stuff? Not for a second. I’m so happy for you guys and can’t wait to read about your adventures!


Kim May 29, 2012 at 10:33 am

Sarah!!!! You are so good at painting a picture. I just loved everything about that comment. When those moments happen to us I know we won’t miss our stuff either. Actually, I already don’t miss it.


Rhonda May 21, 2012 at 11:51 am

Oh guys… I was rolling reading Brian’s comment about hoarding! I don’t think you need to worry in that regard. Sarah is absolutely correct, when you’re on the road, living your dream, every day fueled with adventure, you won’t miss a single “thing” you left at home. You will occasionally miss friends or family but never the stuff we all accumulate.
Safe travels and we can’t wait to follow you along on your journey and so look forward to meeting up with you again along this journey of life!
Best wishes friends,
Jim & Rhonda


Kim May 29, 2012 at 10:34 am

Thank you Jim and Rhonda 🙂 Have you signed up for the Rickshaw Run yet 🙂


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