Disconnecting from Things
Being a digital nomad has its benefits. Not having to participate in the 9 to 5 grind. Removing yourself from office politics. New experiences while traveling the country or world. However, there are some considerations. The first installment of the Work Vanlife Balance covered 5 Things to Consider if you want to be a Digital Nomad. While taking your career on the road may be an exciting prospect, you must consider you’ll be taking very little else! While finding your career and considering technology are important, Disconnecting from Things is a challenge in its own. Here are some tips we found helpful.
Disconnecting from things means letting go of all the things we collect. And while this first tip may destroy any of our chances of sponsorship from Amazon, before you take your life on the road, you need to stop accumulating things. This is not easy. I’ve been known to “Drink and Prime” a few times.
Budgeting helped us with this. We knew we had to part ways with most of our possessions, so it was pointless to buy more. Years of budgeting forced us to focus on what was important to us and not spend money on things we didn’t need. If we did have some extra money to spend we used it on experiences with friends and family, instead of things. When we stopped accumulating, it became much easier to part ways with things because we didn’t have as many things, and the extra bonus was that it helped us save money.
There are possessions we all have that mean a lot. Belongings we could never part with, until it was time to pass them down like they were passed to you. I’m not talking about those things. Keep those things. I’m talking about everything else. Everything else you can replace.
When purging for long term travel think about usefulness. This step will be different for everyone based on how much you’re storing and the size of your rig. We had to disconnect from the things that weren’t useful in our van. Since Stan the Tan Van isn’t Stan the Tan House, that was pretty much everything we owned.
The purge is more involved than a garage sale or donating your life’s collection of heavy metal CD’s (that was tough). Make a list of what you need to store and a list of what you’ll bring. Everything else can go. There will be lots of trips to Goodwill and lots of Craigslist ads.
Now that we’re on the road, instead of a set of pots and pans we have a pot and a pan. We each have 1 fork, 1 spoon, and 1 knife. Actually, we’re sharing a knife since I lost one of them. In place of hundreds of sci-fi/fantasy books we’re content with a Kindle (maybe there’s still a chance for the Amazon sponsorship!) Everything we travel with has its purpose and its place in Stan. And you know, I don’t really miss all the things we parted with.
Purging your belongings take’s time, it took us over a year. If you’re seriously considering this life style – start now.
Consider All Purchases
Letting go of things is easier than disconnecting from them. Once you’ve parted ways with your possessions you need to fight the urge to replace them. Commercials, websites, billboards, everywhere is full of reminders that we need to buy something. Resist the urge!
Sometimes we need new things, but when we do, we make very thoughtful purchases. Will it be something that will fit in the van? Will it be something useful? What will it be replacing? You’ll have to ask these questions because your purchase needs to fit into your small living space. If something new comes into our van, something else must go.
It is not easy to disconnect from things, it was harder for us than we thought it would be. We knew we couldn’t take everything with us, and we didn’t want to spend a bunch of money to put everything in storage. Disconnecting from things is a necessary step on the path to a nomadic lifestyle. Remember things are just things – they can be replaced. We’ve found filling our lives with experiences instead of things is much more rewarding.
While being a digital nomad can be an exciting prospect, remember there will be some sacrifice. What are some things you could part with? What would be the hardest to let go of?