By Nanette Cole
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Betssssssy
Thirty years. That is how long this journey has been rambling through my head. Originally, at the ripe ol’ age of 18, I was going to travel in my car, sleep in a tent, and work my way across this great nation. Only one thing has changed in the past 30 years: deciding on an RV; I’m too old to sleep in my car or a tent every night for the next 1,825 days.
Two years ago, after being diagnosed with malignant melanoma, I put the wheels in motion to make this dream happen and here is what I have done to prepare:
- Simplifying Your Belongings
I started getting rid of “stuff,” because all it is, is stuff. I started in the easiest place: my closet. I didn’t need–nor did I wear–all of the 542 T-shirts I owned. The rest of it was simple. If I didn’t wear it the previous year, it was put in a bag. That eliminated two-thirds of my clothing. When I was finished with my bedroom, my dresser had four empty drawers and the armoire was empty.
On to the kitchen! I am a gadget freak and I LOVE to cook, so you can imagine what all I had in the kitchen. I started with the stuff I hadn’t used in a while: bread machine, ice cream maker, pasta maker, complete set of copper pots and pans. I’m not sure why I had two blenders, three coffee makers, or nine pie plates, but I did. I had more utensils than Williams Sonoma! The kitchen stuff was divided up between my two boys and the remainder was given to friends who also love to cook.
- Transitioning to Less Space
In May 2011, I moved out of my apartment and in with a friend whose husband had died. I rented the bonus room over her four-car garage to save money. This move was saving me $1,000 a month and was getting me used to a smaller place. It was also giving me the opportunity to see just what all I “needed” to have with me. I found out it isn’t much. During this move I gave the majority of my furniture to my boys, the stuff I wanted to keep went into a climate storage unit, and the rest was sold, given away, or tossed.
- Taking Care of Business
I have had a business for the past 24 years, but in November 2011, I sold off part of it and recently “closed” the last of it. It had been put into storage also, but I decided I won’t be coming back here and will have it sold off. There is no point in paying to store stuff that I no longer want.
Another important item to take care of was being able to receive my mail. Last year I started renting a P.O. box. I have the smallest one available for $52 a year. The person who holds my power of attorney (in case anything happens to me while traveling), also has a key to the box. When there is mail that I need, he will forward it on to me, wherever that may be. There are mail forwarding services for full-timers out there, but I found this to be more cost effective and this is a person I know and trust and not a stranger I have hired to go through my mail.
Getting ready to hit the road full-time has had many blessings. I don’t spend money on “stuff” anymore, I have learned to do more with less, and I lead a much simpler life. My time is now spent studying maps, walking my dog Callie, and looking for the next story. I will say the only things I miss are my pictures. The rest of it, well, it’s just stuff!