About our stuff

(This article is part of a series called:  Checking in at 12 months.)

Oh what a difference six months makes when it comes to what we are carrying in our back packs.  When I last checked in after six months, my pack weighed about 19.5 kg and I was quite happy to lug that heavy beast everywhere I went.  Boy have I changed my tune lately.  My large back pack now weighs a meagre 13 kg and I’m stilling trying to reduce the weight further. My day pack is well under 5 kg.

Why the change of heart?  Quite simply, I got tired of hauling all that weight around.

I must admit, I do not let go of things in my pack without a lot of careful thought, probably too much thought!  I usually put the item aside for a while to make sure I can live without it.  I may not have much stuff, but I am attached to the stuff that I have.  It’s easy to say just buy what you need as you need it, but it’s often easier said than done.  Take for instance this past summer.  I wanted a pair of dressy summer sandals that I could wear in Paris and London.  Well, I spent weeks in England shopping without success.  Little did I know that I would find the perfect pair as soon as I got off the train in Paris – I hadn’t even left the station!  And then as we were getting ready to fly to Egypt, I realized I needed some lighter weight clothing, but in was late September in Germany, and the stores were full of winter clothes so I am just making do with what I have.

Not only is it difficult for me to find things that I like and that fit properly, when I do find something, it usually means paying a premium which just goes against my grain.  My running shoes were a good example.  I have been wearing the same brand of runners for about 5 years now – I can literally just buy them off the shelf without even trying them on.  They fit me perfectly.  So, when I left my worn out runners behind on the farm in Tuscany (they will make great gardening shoes by the way), it wasn’t until September that I found a replacement pair in London.  I paid 100 pounds for them (about $170 CAD), the most I have ever paid for a pair of running shoes.  And to add insult to injury, they are the ugliest runners I have ever had.  But they fit like a dream and it means I can run again.

We have taken advantage of our family members who have joined us in our travels to lighten our loads.  My sister Sonja brought new supplies with her – most importantly prescription drugs for me and sleeping bags and mats that we needed for the Camino de Santiago – and she went home with a large duffel bag of surplus stuff.  Afterall, we had to make room for those sleeping bags and mats. We did the same when my kids, Andrew and Alyssa met us in Paris.  Andrew brought the same duffel bag with him (empty) and returned with it full, including the sleeping bags and mats that we no longer needed. In Germany, we sent another package home by post, purging even more from our packs.

So what am I carrying in my pack these days.  I have two rectangular cubes with my clothing, one long cube for underwear and socks, rain jacket, fleece, walking sticks, minimal toiletries including a travel towel and face cloth, and shoes.  Shoes are still an issue as they tend to be heavy and bulky.  Aside from my hiking shoes, I have a pair of hiking sandals, running shoes, and walking shoes (used primarily for city touring).  I also have a pair of walking sandals. The strappy high heels from Paris are long gone.  I would love to carry fewer shoes, but I for one am not prepared to live in hiking boots and hiking sandals exclusively.  Who knows, maybe in another six months, all those extra shoes will be history too!

My clothes have changed over the months as things get quite worn out faster than normal when you are wearing them constantly.  Our needs have changed as well especially during the past three months where we have been in major cities like Paris, London, and Berlin.  Trekking clothes just don’t cut it when touring world class cities.  Imagine how thrilled I was when my daughter Alyssa brought five outfits for me to wear while in Paris.  I had a different outfit every day – what an indulgence!  Of course, she had to take all the clothes home with her (except for a couple of tops that I hung onto for the rest of the summer) since I had no room in my pack.

I continue to enjoy living a minimalist lifestyle, being content with the basic necessities of life.  It has given me a lot to think about in terms of our excessive western lifestyle.  And it further reinforces my desire to live differently going forward.


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One Response
  1. Meredith Guse says:

    Hi Chris and Chris!
    This is such a wonderful website! I haven’t yet had time to look at much of it, but the pics of Italy are breathtakingly beautiful, and each one looks like a painting! You should print and sell them! It’s so nice to read the blog, because it’s beautifully written and so honest. The description is detailed and informative, and just right. Chris, are you a writer in your regular life? If not, you should be!
    I look forward to spending more time looking around your site!
    Meredith Guse