Nearly All My Possessions Fit In A Suitcase, And I’ve Never Been Happier

I ditched almost everything I owned to travel the world — and it wasn’t that hard.


Paring down my worldly possessions made trips like this one to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus an awful lot easier. Picture: NIKKI KELLY

(This is an excerpt from an article that’s part of HuffPost’s “Reclaim” campaign, an ongoing project spotlighting the world’s waste crisis and how we can begin to solve it.)

My life changed for the better when I left Australia in 2012.

I’d spent 10 wonderful years living large down under, but my husband and I wanted to go on a globe-trotting adventure. Being a journalist allows me to work pretty much anywhere in the world, and my husband’s job lets him be based wherever mine is. So it made sense to become digital nomads.

First, we had to drastically downsize our wardrobes and the collection of stuff with which we’d filled our home over the years. Out went the gym equipment, the car, the scooter and the bicycle, along with many clothes that we never really wore.

My husband and I stripped our wardrobes down to the bare minimum so we could fit everything into one suitcase and a backpack each. All I kept were two sets of tops and bottoms for each season, two cardigans, five sets of gym clothes, 10 sets of socks and 10 sets of underwear.

That left plenty of room in my case for treasured keepsakes, which I stored in a canvas bag, itself a memento from a reporting trip. The bag fit easily in my suitcase on top of the clothes. I carried essential freelance work items, including a laptop, in my backpack.

We became minimalists so that we could easily travel with all our belongings, whether on planes, trains or buses. It felt liberating to give away so much to loved ones and charity and be left with so little.

HP2.jpegMethods like the KonMari approach make it easier to part with clothes, creating room in your bag for keepsakes. In my case, these include George the hippo, a soft toy travel mascot I’ve had since 2002. Picture: REBECCA FALCONER/HUFF POST

My clothes-culling system was similar to the KonMari method created by Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering And Organizing. KonMari followers keep only those clothing items that spark joy, discarding all others. I separated everything into “yes,” “no” and “maybe” piles after asking myself, “Do I really need this?” I ended up ditching most of the “maybe” items.

The one thing I couldn’t part with was a red dress I’d bought over 15 years ago. I’d used it to stand out from the media scrum’s sea of gray suits when I was a reporter in central Australia, a region that dignitaries often visit. I still wear it sometimes now.

Some people thought our lifestyle change was radical, but we just saw it as practical. I’d arrived in Australia as a backpacker and even spent a few months renting a room with no furniture in it at a house-share. I was single back then, but it’s amazing how much clutter you can accumulate as a couple settled in the Adelaide Hills. (The barbecue and outdoor heater were nice for winter parties, though.)

Having a small wardrobe and few belongings allowed me and my husband to effortlessly move between countries ― spending 11 months in Qatar, three months each in Mongolia, France and Belgium, and two three-month spells in Spain.

Read the full HuffPost report here

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