Contrary to what many speculated, I have succeeded in transforming myself from a hermit and hoarder (yes, like on the TV shows) to exploring the world while living out of suitcases! I am going cold turkey. I can’t accumulate things while traveling because they would have to fit in my already over packed suitcase. By the time I settle down again, it will have been 5-10 years, so I will hopefully be over it!
It was not an easy transition, and started slowly, but gained impetus once I booked my flight. For the last year I had been (mostly) successful in not buying anything. I started packing/sorting with no help, in large part because I still was unsure how this was going to happen and where to start. It was an overwhelming task. As I began to create a plan, I got a bit of help and continued to add more helpers. In the last few weeks, I only succeeded with the help of friends and employees working insane hours. But we did it! Before I left, the car sold, the house sold, and most of what I owned was gone. All the pieces fell in place and I’m on the road!
Letting go of my ‘Stuff” was even more painful than expected. Yes, some things I had no clue why I still had or even how I got them in the first place, but most were carefully selected at one time. Things I still loved that, though buried, I drew comfort from knowing I had it somewhere. And I had an incredible amount of EBay and Amazon inventory (my business since 1999) but at this point, no time to list & ship it to Amazon!
Not all went as planned, of course, especially the last month. One afternoon, the AC in my car suddenly went completely out. ($1422 later, the car was working again and fit to sell.) Meanwhile, same day, my worker’s transmission seized, so they were stuck. I drove my car home from the other side of town in 108-degree heat with no AC to find my dog is very ill, so brought him to the emergency vet & he died that night. Bad day. Made me second guess if this was a sign that I should not be moving. Naw!
It was suggested that sending furniture, décor, and household goods to an auction house would be a lot easier (and less time consuming) than dealing with craigslist or a yard sale, and I’d still make some $$. Sounded good, but now I wouldn’t recommend this. Just getting things there ended up costing me almost as much as I made since things were selling for pennies on the dollar. (For instance the Ashley leather love seat went for $20, less their cut!) But it’s all gone now so I just have to breathe deeply & accept it. Yes, it was easier than organizing a yard sale, but I ended up making more on just putting things out on the carport as we got to them & a sign at the street and having whoever was working outside telling people to just make an offer and take whatever they said. Yes, a few of the bigger items I did put on craigslist, but again, once they came, if they made an offer, fine. Sold.
No longer owning a truck limited things. Lack of communication and no-shows of workers messed with the plan. Haboobs and heavy rain storms didn’t help, either. Attacks of my old hoarding instincts were cropping up now and then, too. But I kept asking myself if it had a place in my suitcase. If that didn’t work to squelch the impulse, it went in a keep box for storage. After I’ve been traveling awhile and return to Phoenix, I’ll weed that out to only things I will want for when I do have another home in a decade. Already I’m anxious to start discarding!
The final drawback was that 2 nights before leaving, I was out on the carport showing a neighbor the little bit of things left to get rid of and fell over something in the dark. All 285 lbs. of me landed on the outside of one calf. The good news, no external bleeding or bones broken. The bad news, severe pain, swelling, and, being on blood thinners, internal bleeding in that leg. With my recent clotting problems, I didn’t go to the Dr. because I was afraid they would ground me!
We continued packing, but with me sitting with my leg up and ice on it in a staging area. Several people would empty boxes at once with me directing where things went: to my 2 daughters, a pregnant friend in need, Goodwill, inventory, auction, things to keep, things to take with me, and trash. It actually went pretty fast!
Now it was time to take what I had wanted to bring with me and cram it into suitcases. The four of us had been putting in long hours for several days. It was now 1AM and I had to leave by 3:30AM to catch my plane. Luckily the airport did not ask me if I’d packed my own bags, because I didn’t! For a month I’d been tucking things to bring into the empty suitcases in my room. Since deciding to travel, I had bought a number of special items to make my travels easier. And before returning to Phoenix, I would be visiting very hot places and cold ones, so I needed tank tops and swim suits as well as turtlenecks and a jacket. There was no way all that I thought I might want to bring could make it so others were deciding what to eliminate. But the bulk of my things made it, so with all the confusion, I count myself lucky! I left with 2 tightly packed carry-ons and 4 checked bags. And I mean packed! Damned good thing they did not ask me what was in there! I could not have answered!
I am eternally grateful to those who helped me. You know who you are! I could not have embarked on this adventure without your help launching me!