How packing for a year in china helped me realize my travel goals
I have read countless blogs about travelers who sold all their possessions to travel the world. Long have I envied their freedom. This is exactly what I always pictured for myself. I wanted all of my things to fit in just one suitcase so I could pack my whole life within a few minutes and hit the road. I wish I could say that I sold everything I owned to fund my travels and never looked back. As it turns out, that is far from my reality.
Everything happened so quickly. Within one week I had gone from trying to find an apartment in Southern Ontario to preparing for a move to Southern China. Talk about a whirlwind! With deadlines for my work visa fast approaching, I barely had time to think about what I was going to do with all my belongings. Do I sell it? Do I store it?
What do i do with all my things?!
With regular spring cleaning I have tried to get rid of stuff that I don’t need, so everything I have must be essential, right? In my head I was going through all the stuff I owned and deciding if I will actually use it in the next year. There’s my books, board games, camping equipment, Christmas decorations, favourite mugs… things I use regularly at home. When it came down to it though, most of these things would be more of an inconvenience to travel with. Then I thought maybe this was my chance to declutter my life and rid myself of useless material possessions!
I couldn’t do it. I knew saying goodbye to loved ones would be hard, but I did not anticipate the attachment that I started feeling towards my stuff. Everything seemed to have sentimental value. I had to find a way to keep everything. Lucky for me, I had friends and family that could house my things, so I didn’t have to worry about paying for storage. It was a huge relief knowing it will all be there when I return.
Can i be world traveler and still have a home?
I had written a whole article about the anxiety I had over being separated from my belongings. I thought that my attachment to it meant that I over-valued material things. As I edited the blog I soon realized that the real issue was never about my stuff. My real conflict was choosing between life as nomad on the road or building a life in Canada. I had envisioned the expat life, but I knew deep down that I planned on “settling down” at some point. There are so many places I want to travel and explore, but if I’m being honest with myself I know it won’t be year-round venture.
I was pressuring myself to get rid of everything to be a true nomad, but it just wasn’t practical for me. There’s so many everyday things you need when you have a home that aren’t necessary for life on the road. Sure I could buy it all again, but from an environmental perspective it is much better that I reuse the things that I already own instead of wasting resources to replace it all later.
My dream of living out of a suitcase is probably not realistic. I’ve had to re-evaluate my travel goals and reassure myself that I can pursue long-term travel without being homeless. A few months at home, a few months away… I think it can work. I can have my cake and eat it too.