Things I've Learned From Living Out Of A Suitcase

Home takes on a different meaning.
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You might not know this, but I live out of a suitcase. Really. Like a carry-on. Your average orchid colored, two zipper compartment, Samsonite roller. And it goes where I go. Even in my own home I rarely unpack it. Partially because I rent out my home to visiting parties and partially because I want to be ready at all times for the next adventure. And while I do have a small stash of valuables in several plastic tubs in my garage, the extent of what I need on any given day is essentially in my suitcase. But whether by design or circumstance, there is no question that simple living has provided me with an abundance of life lessons and revelations.

Here are some of the most powerful ones:

1. It’s amazing what you can live without. Living out of a suitcase forces you to decide what’s important. Pondering questions like “Will I use this?”, “How often do I really wear this?” and “How greatly will/does this item impact my life?” are commonplace to me. I’m constantly donating clothing (I haven’t worn or even thought about in a year) and homewares (cut to that cake plate that’s never once seen a baked good) to Goodwill. I truly embrace that one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. And I’m gratified in thinking that cake plate might be what showcases the next Rachael Ray’s culinary creations.

2. The lighter the load, the lighter the spirit. The relative amount of “stuff” we collect over time is stunning compared to others around the world. One of my favorite, most comfortable spaces abroad in which I’ve stayed had nothing more than warm-hued walls, a cozy couch and a small TV on a card table. I have found that as I simplify my own surroundings, there is less clutter in my brain. And much more room to allow in meaningful opportunities, experiences, and interactions.

3. You let go of what other people might think. Example: A suitcase-living wardrobe is admittedly limiting. I wear jeans and some shade of neutral top just about everywhere. Do you think I care if my friends and family see me in the same outfit daily? No. Do you think I would love those people like I do if they cared what I wore everyday? No. Paring down to a suitcase creates an apples to oranges lifestyle to most people around you. So comparisons, “keeping up withs,” and frankly others’ understanding become less important. Bottom line: Those who truly know and love you don’t care what the heck is in your suitcase. They care about who’s holding it.

4. It’s great for your wallet. As you might imagine, the financial benefits are undeniable. That need to spend comes to a grinding halt. Unless of course you can’t go another day without booking that barge cruise down the Rhine. Which I’m all in favor of since it won’t take up any room in your suitcase!

5. Home takes on a different meaning. People always ask me... “Don’t you miss being at home?” My response is “I feel at home wherever it is I am. It has nothing to do with a physical dwelling or the things in it.” Whether in a thick stone, Austrian building built in 1374, a creaky, rustic pirate-ship-of-a-boat in Indonesia, or a local friend’s apartment, the inner peace I have in being where and with whom I want gives me the comfort and contentment I need.

And so the quest for simple living continues. I would invite anyone to try the Suitcase Challenge for one month. And love for you to share your thoughts afterward! It will likely not only simplify your life but bring you more personal freedom than you thought possible.

Good luck!

Check out Robin’s latest trip to Antarctica and travel-inspired creations at