We purged our possessions to pack our life into a van. No more bikes. No more kayaks. No more stepladder. Extra hoses. Step stool. All gone.

Along with 100’s of other things I don’t remember.

Most of it we gave away. We piled it up on a picnic table outside our fifth wheel after we bought the van. A handwritten “FREE” sign attracted people celebrating Easter in the campground.

Some of it we sold. Ads on Craigslist and Facebook brought buyers for a DSLR camera, the Yakima roof rack, and a keyboard.

Purging is stressful. Even after the experience of downsizing from our house to the fifth wheel, going from fifth wheel to van was harder rather than easier.

Justin Case

In the van, there is no room for a Justin Case. You know what a Justin Case is, right?

Most people have them.

It’s where you store those things you can’t decide if you’ll use or not. So you keep them.

Just in case.

Our Dirty Secret

But we did it. We’ve been fulltime in the van for three and a half months.

Have we achieved minimalist nirvana? Living with only the beautiful or useful?

Freed up from slavery to possessions? Able to spend that time and energy to now save the planet?

Not yet.

Here’s our dirty secret.

Since getting into the van we’ve had a steady stream of packages delivered to our door.

For every item that left it feels like we’ve purchased something to replace it. Packing cubes. A magnetic spice rack. A kitchen faucet. A 30A extension cord. Phone mounts. A small grill.

We could package up the items on our Amazon order history and sell it as a #vanlife starter kit.

Just add van.

If I’m not sleeping or doing client work I’m probably working on the van. Or thinking about working on the van.

Consumer Fail

Yesterday we killed an entire day dealing with stuff. My laptop needed a new battery. MsBoyink isn’t happy with her wardrobe. We needed paint supplies for the van. We wanted a photo frame for that freshly painted wall.

We went to the mall. Then a Goodwill. Then we parked in the middle of a giant shopping complex and walked to almost every store.

We don’t enjoy shopping. Our success rate sucks. I’d stand in the store and wait for MsBoyink to come out of the dressing room, shaking her head yet again.

In that moment of nothing to do, I’d pull out my phone and look at Instagram.

A mistake, I know. But I can’t help it.

Eclipse photos. Sunsets. Mountains. Hikers on trails. RVs on the move. Sailboats under sail.

People adventuring.

Inspiring, yes. But also depressing.

Because those aren’t our photos.

We fought 5:00 traffic going home. We backed into our site. MsBoyink and I put up our feet.

It bugged me overnight. Too much of our world still revolves around stuff. How heavy it all is. What we have and don’t need. What we want but can’t afford.

This morning, I remembered a word.



The definition is:

To supply with food, drink, or equipment, especially for a journey.

But do you see the root word?


The history of the word provision includes:

  • foreseeing
  • foresight
  • preparation
  • prevention

We are foreseeing our next phase of travel. We are preparing Sally the campervan for that work. We imagine the experiences we want to have and are stocking up with the items we think we’ll need.

We imagine what can go wrong and take steps to prevent those things from happening.

All expeditions start with a vision. All expeditions prepare themselves based on that vision.

Lewis and Clark

In 1804 Meriwether Lewis spent the equivalent of $46,282 provisioning for his journey with William Clark.

He did well for his money. They established a place in history and only one person died on the expedition.

Terra Nova

Other expeditions didn’t do as well. Robert Falcon Scott led the Terra Nova Expedition to claim the South Pole for Britain in 1910. Scott chose:

  • Untested motorized sledges
  • Ponies rather than dogs - but didn’t have staff who knew about ponies
  • To add a fifth team member without increasing the amount of food they were carrying

Ultimately Scott failed. He and his entire party died on the return trip. Another team from another country got to the South Pole first.

Take Your Time

Provisioning takes time. Lewis and Clark spent nearly two years preparing.

We took nine months to provision for ditching suburbia in 2010. We aren’t taking that long this time, but it will still be a few weeks.

Until then, I’ll keep looking at Instagram.

And I’ll continue to provision in the anticipation of shifting our focus to be less about the stuff, and more about the beautiful places and interesting people waiting for us on the road.

What’s On Your Provisioning List?

Do me a favor - leave a comment below tell me where you are at with provisioning. And let me know if there’s any way we can help you prepare for your adventure.

4 Comments Provisioning

  1. Picture of Erica PowellErica PowellSeptember 21, 2017

    We have sold the majority of our “stuff” and moved from a Alaska to our current place in South Carolina. We are provisioning for at least a year in a fifth wheel, homeschooling our five kiddos remaining at home. The wait is AWFUL! Finding the right trailer combo is excoriating! However, our living minimal lifestyle, not opening the 6000 pounds of stuff we thought we just HAD to have had been easy. We’re in a tiny rental house, going on adventures a few times a week and preparing… Every journey has to start somewhere! We’d love to chat about the MILLIONS of things we don’t know to even expect on our journey if you ever have the time. Thanks for your posts, your heart certainly shows through!

  2. Picture of Beth MBeth MOctober 06, 2017

    I don’t have much stuff to begin with, but I’m pairing down my possessions and selling what I can. I am also getting out of debt ASAP (which has become slightly more difficult since I just had Lasik done, but that was definitely worth it, because now I can actually see and I don’t have to pay for eye exams every year and expensive contacts +solution, etc.)
    I’m not planning on living in an RV or anything, but my eventual goal is to work part time and/or have an online business and travel a lot. I’m currently starting the online graphic novel that I’ve had in my head for probably two years. Maybe that can someday be my source of income.  :)  Thanks for the great article!

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