Decluttering is a bit like striping a plaster from a wound, I’ve learned. You can do it quickly, and get over the pain quickly, or you can peel it off slowly and prolong the agony. It’s a lesson I thought I’d learned – but apparently not!
My old van was just chock-a-block with “stuff” when I set out in early October, and deep down I knew that I likely wouldn’t need/want all of it. The day I left, it took me a while in the pre-dawn chill to finish loading my van, and it was a squeeze for Trix – who didn’t seem to mind so long as she could curl up! It turns out that about a half of what I packed in was “not needed on voyage,” which is why I haven’t written a post entitled something like “What I Packed for My New Adventure,” or some such.
The danger in traveling long-term by car or van or camper i.e. on wheels, is that you think you have so much room, so you can easily fit in those “just in case” items. Truth is, however, that even if you do have the room, there’s a lot of inconvenience to carting lots of stuff around with you. A journey is almost certainly a metaphor for life in this sense. I remind myself of this as I search, for the umpteenth time, for my car papers. They are MIA, and wherever they turn up, it’s for sure I can’t find them right now because –
I Brought Too Much!
Basically I brought five categories of stuff with me: clothes, technology, files, household things, and, er, books.
Let’s look at where I went wrong. The technology is pretty well-organized. There is nothing I haven’t needed, except a spare adaptor & a couple of spare cables, but they are for emergencies, and don’t take up much room. When I was in UK in September I picked up these practical cable organizers from Lakeland. I adore Lakeland, and they aren’t paying me a thing to say that! I also got these adaptor wraps and once everything was wound up, I popped it in one of these packing squares…..if only everything was so well-organized!
But clothes were a different matter. Because I don’t know how long I will be away, and because I had no baggage restrictions, and because I’ve whittled down my wardrobe (oh you would not believe the clothes I once had!), I brought almost everything. You never know if I might get a call to hightail it to UK in mid-winter, so it made sense. But, that said, do I really need thermal undies, ski gloves or no less than six sun hats? Er, I don’t think so! I now have this organized to one, smallish bag (gym bag size) which contains my winter clothes if I dash off anywhere cold; one very small bag which contains spare seasonal clothes, stuff I had too much off, so won’t bother with until the duplicate runs out, and one small case (allegedly carry on size) with the clothes I use day-to-day, minus shoes which go loose in the corners of the van.
And do not mention the books. Did I really expect to read my way through 3 boxes of books (not counting those on my laptop!) when there is so much exploring and discovering to do each day? Sign of true a true addict. Books are my utterly incurable addiction. In the next, few weeks before I leave for my next port of call, I will whittle these down. This will be a challenge, but somehow I will rise to it!
Files remain a conundrum. Old habits die hard, this probably harks back to my early working days as a secretary……now there’s a word to conjure with! Files are: information about how to do stuff online; magazines with articles which might be useful; bank statements (please, please to my banks – stop killing our forests to send me this useless stuff which is already online!); pamphlets, cards and flyers about places and things on this journey and possibly future ones; the important stuff like powers of attorney, legal papers etc; notebooks of ideas for various things I’ve jotted down, but never gone back to (there are a lot of those!); instructions and guarantees for all the technology. Truthfully, I can almost certainly whittle this down to about a quarter of its size, but the thought of doing it appalls me – oh for a rainy day so I could settle down with a few beers and sort it out! But, like the books, it will be done by the end of this month!
As for the household stuff? Spare sheets were left in La Gomera ( I have a sleeping bag anyway if needs be). Spare towels to be kept -for the beach, and they squidge into corners in the van anyway. And apart from the small items listed below, I dropped off the rest at Nueva Frontera (the Spanish equivalent of Goodwill).
And …….. my final declutter takes place. So far, passing through Tenerife on my way to England, I dumped three more boxes, and passing through again next month I will dump a final four more, one of which will contain four sun hats and thermal underwear. That might just leave me room to be able to use the van for camping, which I’d hoped to do this summer!
Odd things I’m glad I brought?
A big mug for my coffee – Spain does not, willingly, do mugs!
My special knife for cutting grapefruit – Great invention! I’ve never seen these anywhere else & I’ve had it now for, oh, 30 years. The blade is curved at the end so you don’t have so much waste. I love grapefruit!
Those clips for tying up packets once opened – since I did away with bulky tupperware.
Stoppers for wine bottles :)
Old blankets and throws – working our way through these, what with Trixy & picnicking, or just for throwing over stuff in the car.
My old duvet! I almost gave this to the Spanish equivalent of Goodwill, but at the least minute squeezed it in. When I was in England last month, my friend, Colleen, made a super, super bed for Trix from it & an old curtain, since Trixy stretched her old one out of existence. Thank you, Colleen!
Can opener – almost all cans are ring pulls now, so places don’t have openers, and I needed it just once so far.
We live and learn – of course. It’s right what folk say, pack what you think you need……and then half it!
…….and Trixy is very happy about the extra space!