Mike and I live differently now. Maybe it’s just another year of maturing or perhaps it’s a result of our 14-month RTW trip. I like to think it’s the latter because I truly believe that a lot of positive things came from the people we met and what we experienced.
It’s been easy for us to spot some of the changes. A quick look around our apartment reveals simplicity, nothing excessive. Tabletops are generally clear of clutter. Our shoes are left in foyer; our feet bare when we’re inside the apartment (a great habit we picked up in Asia).
Before we left on our trip, we spent at least eight solid months selling and donating anything we owned that didn’t have immense meaning to us – books, clothes, furniture, electronics, kitchenware, unopened pantry items, and more. The amount of possessions we saved could easily fit in a small closet. Doing this allowed us to store our remaining things with my aunt and uncle instead of shelling out monthly payments for a storage unit (A big thanks to Rick & Lisa!!!). It saved us money during our trip, but most importantly, it provided us with a fresh start when we moved into an efficiency apartment in DC in February. Instead of being burdened with hand-me-downs, possessions that had been grandfathered into our relationship and items that we may have otherwise never gotten rid of, we were able to furnish and decorate our new space from scratch.
We also made a promise to each other to live minimally and not purchase anything that seems excessive or doesn’t have long-lasting value. A comfortable mattress, yes. A fancy frame and headboard? Not for us, or at least not yet. Instead, we spent a little more on high-quality sheets that we love curling up in every night. We even continually evaluate the things we did save. After having them out of sight for more than a year, we’ve been able to view them more objectively and put some things aside for donation.
This promise even extends to the groceries we buy. We shop for the week, not the month, because we don’t want to add excessive items to our cabinets and fridge. In the past, we would stock up on certain products, only to overfill our shelves and forget about some things. When it came time to clean out our kitchen before leaving for the trip, we were shocked at the amount of food and spices we had accumulated and never finished. Unless you do a major clean-out every so often, you may not even realize how much you overstock household items. Now, we just want to avoid the possibility altogether.
I guess you could say we still have the mentality of long-term travelers even though we have a base again. We’re used to buying only what we immediately need, making anything else seems excessive and not like the best use of our money. And after being unemployed for 14+ months, we’ve certainly redefined and pinpointed what is most meaningful to us and what the best use of our money is.
Are you hoping to make any changes to your lifestyle in 2014? Tell us in the comments below!
Stay tuned for part 2 when I unveil another positive way that long-term travel changed our habits.