29 Nov

I suppose it’s an oxymoron to think of downsizing when traveling. But there are things one can usefully do when not at home. If you are taking a genuine vacation where the goal is to see new places and/or to leave your worries at home, then ignore this post. Some of your ability to downsize will depend on whether you are traveling by car or some other means. 

Car Trips: During these downsizing years, we’ve taken several car vacations just to get away from home. On those, we’ve taken small projects with us. On one such trip in the winter, I took a bag of old correspondence to sort through for my “return to sender” letter project. On some others, I had a tin of boxes of photographic slides to cull. I owned a lightweight light board (about $25) suitable for viewing the slides. Although my ambitions sometimes exceeded the actual work accomplished, I did make progress. Even on days when we had plans, I was able to fit in time here or there. 

Some tips: 

  • Focus on one or two types of projects at most. Ephemera of any kinds make for good downsizing road projects: photographs, correspondence, postcards, news clippings, magazines.
  • Select items that require some amount of processing time, rather than ones you can make quick decisions about. For example, a letter may take you a few minutes to read; a box of slides might take you fifteen minutes to go through.
  • Keep the actual amount of downsizing you take manageable. Your feelings of success will be greater if you can complete or nearly complete what you take with you. For car trips limit it to a box worth of stuff.
  • Choose projects that you can work on for short periods of time without needing to gear up each time.
  • Research possible places/organizations in your destination that might be interested in some of your stuff. After being unsuccessful in selling some old books with some value near my hometown, I found a dealer in the town we were visiting and contacted him ahead of time by email. He bought 45 of the 80 books I had for sale. We donated the rest when we returned.

Trips with or without Cars: When traveling any other way than by car, you will be limited by what you can take with you. I often take my small laptop when I go by air, rail, or bus. And, of course, we all have our smart phones with us.  Here are a few downsizing ideas for these kinds of trips as well as car trips. 

  • Delete and organize digital photos.
  • Figure out how you are going to tackle a big project when you return. What are the steps?
  • Do some research on places where you can donate things to.
  • Think about your “keepers.”  Visualize the way you want your space. What items give you joy? What do you use regularly. Relying on your memory for this task will provide good information about what’s important to you.

BUT Give yourself permission to not do any downsizing related tasks! And don’t be hard on yourself if you come home with uncompleted projects. It’s your time away from home after all. Enjoy it!  You might find yourself refreshed and ready to tackle the task with renewed energy and enthusiasm.

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