What Living Out of a Carry-On for 5 Months Taught Me
Last spring I arrived in Spain for a “workation”, the exact evening when the first full Covid lockdown was announced. It went into effect the next day. With me, I had a carry-on suitcase with some clothes and toiletries, and a backpack that carried my tech. Initially, I planned on staying for a couple of weeks. That turned into several months.
The strict lockdown was lifted after seven weeks, but traveling between provinces wasn’t immediately permitted again. Flights back home to Germany were still suspended, so I was “stuck” abroad much longer than anticipated. Not that I was in a rush to fly back. I didn’t mind enjoying a Mediterranean climate and “real” summery weather that matched the season.
My carry-on was packed with a week’s worth of clothes and contained only the bare essentials. The end destination was a tiny village. I’d be spending most of my time inside the house in front of a computer. The number of times I put on makeup can be counted on one hand. It is there that I transitioned from a decently dressed woman who made an effort when she went outdoors to a sports-and-loungewear-wearing slouch.
For who or what would I dress up now that we’d have to stay indoors? My Focusmates saw my face on camera, but they couldn’t see, nor did they care about what I was wearing.
Normally, I drag along more than the essentials. “It might rain, better pack some rainproof clothing. Oh, better pack some fancy outfits for when we go out for dinner.” But during the lockdown, no one’s going anywhere.
It felt freeing, first of all not letting myself need to worry about what to wear or to pre-pack outfits for possible events. I packed for comfort. I wore the same outfits every single week, alternating between the few items that I brought with me. It didn’t bother me.
The anti-hoarding approach to home life
When I finally could return to Berlin, I opened the door to my home, happy to be back at last. But something was off. Why was there so much stuff in my house? I looked around and felt suffocated by the non-used objects taking up space in my house and in my head.
On the workation, I regained an appreciation for traveling and living lightly. All I needed was the laptop and a working internet connection. Anything beyond that was for added comfort or a plain luxury. If I spontaneously decide to move houses in the next hour, I want my most important belongings to fit into one backpack and one suitcase.
I did what any minimalist-fan would do: hardcore clearing out. Household items I’m not using nor plan to use had to go. Clothes that hadn’t been worn in over a year also. I live in a 28m2 one-room flat, so any junk or piece of furniture I leave to take up space in the room will make it feel more cluttered and smaller.
And, with fewer material belongings to look after (and within my direct sight) I feel calmer, less distracted, and more able to focus on what’s important: bettering my skills and feeding my brain. That’s why I don’t put a limit on books. Those are the only material possessions that get a free pass in my home.
Live lightly, feel calmer
If you feel uneasy or anxious because of the neglected to-do’s related to tidying your living spacer, I highly suggest getting rid of the clutter. Why keep things you don’t need? Or those you keep “just in case”, but haven’t touched in multiple years? Do yourself a favor and get rid of the unessentials.
Simplicity prevents overwhelm. You probably need less stuff than you think.