Each time you purge there is a payoff. But there should also be a focus. Do you know your focus?
We did well.
We fit a family of four into ~ 260 square feet.
It wasn’t easy. It was hard work physically and emotionally to get rid of so much stuff.
We kept our house. Most of it got cleaned out but we retained use of some of it. A small bedroom held furniture and mattresses. Downstairs shelves were full of:
- More paperwork
- Holiday decorations
- Homeschooling supplies
There was a point to the work. A payoff.
Our downsizing efforts paid off by :
- Freeing up enough of the house that a friend could live there
- Financing a portion of the RV and Truck purchase
- Freeing ourselves from suburbia so we could travel the country for a year
And we developed a focus. We wanted to learn as much about our country as we could. Visit friends and family. Be missional. And be re-created.
Round #2 - The House
After a year on the road we came back and sold the house.
Another round of purging. Some selling, some donating. The work was harder this time. The volume of stuff was lower, but the importance of what was left was higher.
Again, we managed.
Again, we fudged. We kept several crates of posessions and stored them at my parents house.
Again, there was a payoff from our efforts. Literally this time.
- Paid off all our debt
- Fulfilled a long-time dream of living on a houseboat on the Mississippi River
- Had a year of amazing experiences together as a family
We tweaked the focus of our travels. Our young teens were now older. Graduation and leaving our “nest” was now on the horizon.
Round #3: Fifth Wheel to Class B Campervan
Our oldest has been out for a year and a half. Our youngest is out on a long term solo farm stay. Our trusty truck needed an expensive repair. We let the crisis be catalyst for change.
34’ to 19’ this time.
No slides-outs. No basement storage. No truck bed. No toolbox.
We say belongings don’t define us but we lie to ourselves.
If you don’t own scuplture supplies are you still an artist? If you don’t have a kayak can you still be a kayaker? If you don’t own an instrument are you still a musician?
I decided we needed a small cargo trailer. The trailer would hold our bikes, inflatable kayak, camp chairs, keyboard, guitar, and sculpture supplies.
The cargo trailer would allow us to downsize the rig but keep the things that felt core to our own self-identity. The things that, without, made us feel like we wouldn’t be ourselves any longer.
Then we drove the van.
We parked in normal parking spaces. Grabbed a front-row spot at the beach. Easily navigated a tight State Park. Backed in with other cars while boondocking. Reversed out of tight places.
We realized that even adding a small cargo trailer would completely change our Class B experience. We’d have to park across multiple sites. Hitch and unhitch. Backing up would be possible but still a hassle.
We wouldn’t be nimble.
If we weren’t going to be nimble, what was the point of downsizing so radically?
While driving the van home from FL to TX this movie scene played in my head:
We knew the payoff of this round of downsizing. We would:
- Be out of a questionable truck
- Get rid of an RV payment
- Be able to park in many more places
- Radically lower our cost of living
What we hadn’t figured out was our focus.
Our one thing.
With the kids off doing their own things why were we traveling? What was the point? What was our goal?
We couldn’t be indecisive. Class Bs don’t have space for options. We needed one thing. One activity to gear our travels around. One thing to carry the gear for. One focus.
We chose hiking.
We haven’t been great at it in the past. We were never one of those families who could do 10-12 miles in a day. We had dissension in the ranks. Not everyone enjoyed hiking for the sake of hiking.
But those voices are now elsewhere. MsBoyink and I are going to see what kind of hikers we can become on our own.
We’ll choose travel destinations based on the availability of great hikes that are within our capabilities.
Based on that focus, I made a list.
On the list was everthing we owned that was “bigger than a breadbasket” but not related to hiking. We sold some of it. Most of it we gave away.
If you are curious about the nuts and bolts of our radical downsize, here’s that list with notes about what’s gone and what remains:
|Kayak + kayak stuff||Gone|
|Bag of various shop supplies||Kept|
|Camp chairs||Kept partial|
|Lynx Levelers||Kept partial|
|Fishing stuff||Kept partial|
Have You Changed Focus?
Have you been on the road for a while? Has your “one-thing” changed? Was that the cause or effect of downsizing?
Leave a comment and let us know.
More Class B Organization
Here’s how we organized other areas of the Class B: