It’s amazing how much stuff people accumulate nowadays*. Houses full of things, storage cabinets and attics full of memories and decorations, closets stuffed full… and we often feel like we don’t have what we need. I for one, am guilty of having stared at my closet before (which has more than enough in it) and felt like I had nothing to wear. I had plenty of clothing, and plenty of outfits I could make, but still felt stressed out because I couldn’t find anything to wear.
Consumerism at its finest? Not.
Fast forward to spontaneously deciding to spend a year traveling SE Asia, buying tickets, and opting to go carry-on only. Wait what? We’re going from decent sized closets to one carry on each?
Are you insane????
How’s that going to work?
Well, it did. We packed up our lives into Tortuga Backpacks (with some difficulty figuring out what to bring at first) and three months later we’re in Thailand still loving our “mini” packs (45L) and the minimalism it affords. We highly recommend Tortuga packs for those looking to go carry-on only. Don’t take our word for it though, see why thewirecutter.com says Tortugas are “the best carry-on travel bag for travelers determined to never check luggage again”.
Before we left the states on our journey I had a wall of quotes on my cubicle at work one of which said:
“collect experiences not things”
And that’s what we’re doing now. What used to be more of a fleeting idea has become a daily practice and makes me feel free in so many ways. It’s been said that those who have too many choices to make are unhappy … it’s called decision fatigue. Look it up if you’re curious! Sites like Huffington Post (8 Ways to Combat Decision Fatigue), CNBC (4 Signs You May Be Suffering From Decision Fatigue—And How To Combat It), Be More With Less (Create a Decision-Free Closet to Reduce Decision Fatigue), The Muse (Yes, No, Maybe So: Defeating Decision Fatigue), and countless others have written all about it.
Decision fatigue occurs when we are overloaded with choices in our lives which in turn exhausts us, fueling our stress and unhappiness, and results in us not wanting to make the choice at all. Ever gone through multiple outfits in your closet only to settle on the first one you tried or the one that is now closest to you? I know I have. Thanks TJ for letting me drive you nuts as I ask… “what about this one?”, “is this one better?”, “how ‘bout this one?”, “what do you think?”.
When it comes to the clothing I now carry on my back and in my Tortuga Pack, I couldn’t agree more with this idea behind how decision fatigue affects our daily life. I’ve gone from owning a pretty large closet and thinking I had nothing to wear to having everything I need all on my back and being super happy about it!
Yes, it’s a year of travel with multiple activities like trekking to waterfalls, exploring hidden lagoons, visiting temples, and so much more, but I have everything I need and it makes me happy to be able to carry it all in just one backpack.
Fewer Choices = More Happiness
If we’re heading to a temple, I’ll wear my over-the-knee-skirt (covering your knees at temples is respectful). If that’s dirty, I’ll wear a shirt and tie my long sarong around my legs. When you only own a handful of things, you learn to utilize them to their full potential and find that doing so is far more practical than having to change outfits all the time. Aside from having less, there’s something special about reverting to the basics… including doing laundry by hand.
Washing laundry by hand? Why on earth?
Because we can, it’s cheap, and you feel satisfied knowing you’ve done it yourself! Doing laundry at home was never my favorite thing, partly because it meant moving lots of things around, and partly because it meant folding and hanging lots of things up. Now, the washing part itself is a bit more work, but it’s also more enjoyable!
We love to use our Scrubba Portable Laundry System Wash Bag to take care of our washing needs on the road. It is super compact, works great for taking care of small loads of laundry, and even doubles as a dry bag which can be very handy on a long trip (especially when you like to Kayak around the island you’re staying on!). Here is TJ’s personal review: “You get to see the grime in the Scrubba Bag, feel the fabric in your hands, rinse away the dirt and sweat from your explorations, and prepare to take your clothes on new adventures!”
Once we’re done washing we hang it up on our line and wait for the sun and heat to do their trick.
Next – that awesome feeling of having clean clothing!
Going from a closet to a backpack, one that’s carry-on sized at that, was one of the best decisions I have ever made and it will be for you too! Have you traveled with just a backpack? Just a carry-on? Let us know what it was like for you in the comments!
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*Not everyone accumulates as much, some people are “better” at living a minimalistic life, and others don’t have the option to accumulate much be it due to space, money, time, or anything else.
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