Ever since I started traveling, I’ve been preoccupied with leading a minimalist lifestyle, simply for practical reasons.
7 years ago, it took me 3 months to sell and give away all my stuff, my car, my furniture, even my beloved record collection and player. I was left with one backpack to travel with and a suitcase of “formal clothes” which I left with a friend (which I collected a few years later).
Every time I had a base I would accumulate a bit more stuff. But as long as I could take it all on the plane with me I was happy. Finally, after settling in Toronto for a while I had accumulated the most stuff I’ve had since leaving Auckland. I had lots of furniture, clothes, shoes, snowboarding stuff, a bike, winter clothes, comics and a ton of costumes (we had a rule in our house that all parties had to have a theme).
I made a feeble attempt at selling my stuff and most ended up given away to friends or to Value Village (a popular second-hand store in Canada) until I was down to 2 suitcases, 1 backpack and 1 computer bag. Roughly 120 pounds of stuff.
I was annoyed that I had spent so much money on crap I didn’t need. Like a couple of hundred bucks on comics which I hadn’t even read (I think I must have been trying to relive my childhood). Or all that camping gear, when I hate camping (that’s what happens when you hang around Canadians for too long – they convince you that you’ll like camping). But worse of all was the leather trench-coat “used by a villain an episode of Charmed” – purchased at a sample sale for $100 only because the cute salesgirl said I looked hot in it. Yeah i know, what a sucker. Ok so it did suit me but it also looked like I was about to go out and vanquish some witches. Which isn’t typically the look I tend to go for.
No matter, I left it behind realizing that there would probably be no scenario on my cruise ship where I could go “Hey, I’ll wear my leather trench-coat from Charmed, out tonight”. It’s hard enough already to pick up on ships, I did not need to dress up as a flasher with a fetish for cow hide.
My comics however seemed impossible to get rid off. I couldn’t sell them, nor did any friends want them for free. I hated the idea of just giving it away to a stranger, only to have them end up as insulation for some homeless person’s cardboard box home. So I stubbornly packed up my comics and took it on my ship with me, with the full intention of reading them all. Unfortunately, I soon realized that I prefer getting drunk to reading comics.
I was effectively lugging around a 15 pound white elephant and was tired of it. So this week in London, I posted ads on gumtree, eBay, Craigslist and emailed every comic book store in town. I finally got one reply from a comic book store and he offered me £35 for the lot, about a quarter of what I had paid for them. Considering I was ready to give it away for free, it was fine. I had finally gotten rid of my last white elephant.
My worldly possessions are now down to slightly under 100 pounds. I’ve stopped counting the number of things I have simply because I don’t think it’s an effective barometer for measuring minimalism. Weight is far more relevant, especially since that’s what airlines actually care about. Regardless, I’m happy that I can now travel without risking a hernia!
Do you have any white elephants for sale?