Maybe you feel the way we did before my wife Jammie and I decided to take a year to travel the world. Life felt entirely too cluttered. Our daily schedules were full of important obligations, useless time wasters, emergencies and commutes. Our apartment was cluttered with a bunch of stuff we never used. All the clutter got in the way of life.
Clutter consumed our lives with the unimportant. It distracted us from more important and meaningful pursuits. It was so hard to focus because our schedules were impossible and there was just too much junk surrounding us, fighting for attention.
This round-the-world trip (3 months each in Bangkok, Buenos Aires, Berlin and Bombay) has been a godsend. In a way, it has given us a clean slate. We’ve been able to get rid of the clutter. Here’s how this has happened and why I am absolutely convinced travel allows the new you to emerge:
Less stuff to carry
At first glance, airline luggage limits are a pain. It was frustrating to have to obsess so much about what we really needed to bring on the trip. We could only take one 50 lb check-in bag each. We had to make some difficult decisions. What did we take and what did we leave? What was nice but not necessary? What did we really need? These were hard questions as we were leaving for a whole year. I dreaded leaving something behind that I would really need and then have to buy again. (And yes, there were a number of these items that we did leave behind only to have to re-buy in Bangkok.)
Now that we are here in Bangkok though, it is really fun looking around at our apartment. We basically only have what we need. There is a sparse, zen-like feel to the place. Our stuff doesn’t stress me out the way our belongings did in our apartment in Northern California.
Less in the daily schedule
I used to be the king of over-commitment. I had a full workload at my job and on top of that I would pack business mixers, various community club commitments, volunteer work, a busy social schedule, etc. Cutting all that out with this trip has been one of the most liberating experiences of my life. The new you that travel allows can really be whomever you want. Your schedule is your own. This has been an amazing realization.
Less forced upon you
I want to drill down here and address meetings specifically. Meetings are often a waste of time. We all know this. But between work and other organizations that we are part of, most of us spend a lot of our time frustrated in nonproductive gabfests that go nowhere. This changes when you travel because the new you can say no before meeting creep sets in. You make the calls. Did you feel as though your schedule controlled you back home? The new you doesn’t need to put up with that.
Less needed to survive
Money can also be clutter. We need it, sure. But if I think back to life in Northern California and all the ways I ended up spending money, I find it shocking. Life now is more streamlined. No car insurance, no gas expenses, far less spent on the necessities (our monthly budget for all our expenses here in Bangkok is about $600). The new you really does not need to keep up with the Joneses because you have left the Joneses at home with their white picket fence.
I could go on and on. The longer Jammie are here in Thailand, the more we meet people that left Europe and the US years ago to live here and redefine their lives. Their new approaches to life are more deliberate, more thought through than what they endured at home. Travel allows this. The new you is what you make it.
What is the first thing you would change about your life and schedule if you were on a long-term trip? What would the new you look like? I would love to hear in the comments!