Downsizing doesn’t mean you are able to get rid of a lifetime worth of stuff all at once. It’s a process just like everything else that one wants to learn. We had several garage sales and each one we had was all together different from the other. For example, I held on to my parents 70’s food tray and ashtray FOREVER. Why? I don’t know. I do have a genuine idea however that it was based on a falsehood of what I thought it meant to me. AND there in lies the issue of downsizing. It’s NOT the stuff, but the emotional attachment the stuff has.
Each time we have put stuff out to sell, we asked ourselves “is this important to us”? Thus the first few times Ariane asked me if the mutli colored quite ugly ashtray was important, of course I responded “YES”. It was my parents and I remember it growing up. That ashtray made it through seven (7) garage sales until it dawned on me that I had no emotional attachment to it and in fact was ugly…and I no one in my family ever smoked.
Downsizing for us was not about getting rid of stuff, but asking ourselves this:
Is our past defined from what stuff we keep, or is it defined by the experienced we have had?
After we defined what was the more important goal of downsizing, it was relatively easy to start getting rid of stuff we just didn’t need anymore. A lot of it were from our parents who has passed away. It was more their memories than ours. We continued to realize that our stuff was their stuff and we were just carrying it around for the sake of carrying it around.
Here are some tips that we have learned:
Since then, we have drastically cut down what we want and only have what we need. Getting ready to live in a 190 sq ft Travel Trailer will do that. Even so, it’s so free to be able to pack all the stuff you own in a day and move. We have gone from a 3,000 sq ft house, to a small one room apartment. In just a few months, we’ll do it all again to move into our Airstream Argosy named Lucy.
Downsizing to be nomadic is one of the best choices we have ever made.
In a world of Instagram and other Social Media platforms, we often see the best of the best when it comes to “Adventure”. No matter if it’s a epic backpacking trip, or a road trip across the U.S. or even living in a camper van and doing what you love. We all get fixed on the fact that “they are living the life”. But is it what you think?
It wasn’t until I was half way done with my 2003 Appalachian Trail thru-hike did I realize that the adventure started long before I set one foot on the trail itself. I remembered how hard it was to actually get ON the trail. All the research and gear testing (in the rain by the way). All the doubt about actually being out there and living in the woods for five in a half months. Quitting my job, packing, finding storage, selling my car, finances. I mean, if it were all really easy to plan for a extended backpacking trip, there would be multitudes of multitudes living on the Appalachian Trail and hiking 2000 miles. The fact is: It was freaking hard.
My Adventure started the day I made the decision to hike it. Plain and simple. I so much appreciate the “hard” in planning and getting on the trail. Back in 2003, there was no Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, there was barely Cell Service, yet we all hiked anyway. No fame, no endorsements, no video production team. We did it, because it was hard.
We feel the same now as we enter into a new journey. The complete renovation of our 1976 Airstream Argosy. In the same way as a long distance hike, we still feel trepidation in our planning because of what we don’t know. AND just like learning how to live on the trail for months, this journey also has a huge learning curve.
Along with the journey however is the adventure. When we look back now on our renovation process and see how far we have come, we also take time to think back about how much we have learned and laugh about our mistakes.
One time on my Thru-Hike, I thought I hiking with a rain poncho would be easy. I was wrong.
One time while renovating our Argosy, I thought removing 40 year subfloor would be easy. I was wrong.
Would I trade those learning experiences for something easier? NO WAY. This is our adventure. It’s the hard in everything that takes to chase your dream and live it, that’s you have to remember. It’s easy to quit.
Next time you see a beautiful Instagram pic, or a Facebook Post, or a great YouTube vid showing living a minimal life. Just remember, it was the hard that got them there. The adventure isn’t what you are seeing, the adventure is in what happened before the pic, the post, or the vid.
So you want to get outdoors and have fun. So many places to go and visit. Planning that amazing vacation or trekking out into the Wilderness for some long over due quiet time. But sometimes in planning the fun stuff, we forget to have a PLAN for real stuff. What do we mean by “real stuff”? The stuff that you don’t think of until that moment of “what do I do now” happens.
Real Stuff like being prepared for some circumstances that happens ALL the time. We call it a “safety plan” Let’s take a look at some of the common issues people have while enjoying the outdoors.
FALLS – Falls while hiking in mountainous terrain typically account for more fatalities than any other direct cause. A fall can result in a few scrapes minutes from the trailhead or life-threatening injuries miles – and hours – from help. This is why it’s especially important to never hike alone.
HEAT: Overexertion on hot summer days can lead to heat-related injuries.
COLD & HYPOTHERMIA: The lowering of your body’s core temperature below normal can lead to poor judgement and confusion, loss of consciousness and death – even in summer! We have seen this first hand when temps are in the 90’s and people get wet from a cold rain. Wind starts howling, clouds block the sun, and the next thing you know, you start shivering.
No matter if you are day hiking, backpacking, kayaking, having the right safety plan is the best thing you can do for you and your family.
According to the Journal of Travel Medicine, From 2003 to 2006, there were 12,337 SAR operations involving 15,537 visitors. The total operational costs were US$16,552,053. The operations ended with 522 fatalities, 4,860 ill or injured visitors, and 2,855 saves. Almost half (40%) of the operations occurred on Saturday and Sunday, and visitors aged 20 to 29 years were involved in 23% of the incidents. Males accounted for 66.3% of the visitors requiring SAR assistance. Day hiking, motorized boating, swimming, overnight hiking, and nonmotorized boating were the participant activities resulting in the most SAR operations. But here is the most important point:
An error in judgment, fatigue and physical conditions, and insufficient equipment, clothing, and experience were the most common contributing factors.
So what do you do? ALWAYS HAVE A PLAN. What’s a PLAN?
Finally. Understand the acronym STOP-A This is the biggest asset to you if your plan has to do with being lost. The number one question we get when taking new people out backpacking is “what if I get lost”.
If there is no immediate threat, like a wildfire or a bear breathing down your neck, then stop and sit down. The goal is to prevent any irrational thinking due to fear or an adrenaline dump.
let’s break out the best survival tool we have, our brain.
Countless books and stories attest to the fact that a positive mental attitude can pull people through even the most dire of circumstances.
Understand the difference between real threats and fears.
Take a look at your surroundings and identify threats. Are there widow makers? How much time until it gets dark? Do you hear vehicles in the distance? Can you smell a campfire?
After thinking about your priorities and observing your surroundings and gear, it is time to make some choices. Like prioritizing, planning is dependent on your situation. Generally, staying put and waiting for rescue is a good plan, but what if you didn’t tell anyone you were headed out and no one will know you are missing for days?
The best plan in the world will not do you any good until it is put in to action. Once you have a plan, start using your skills and execute the plan.
For those who want to leave trusted friends or family your itinerary. Go to hikeralert.com this is an excellent web based platform that alerts through text message when you do not return
In operation since 2012, HikerAlert is a Web-based service that will automatically send an alert text message and email to your emergency contacts (your friends and family) if you don’t check in from an outdoor trip or other event by your scheduled return time.
Remember, your outdoor experience is your responsibility. Make sure you’re stay safe out there. Mother Nature doesn’t care about your weekend plans.