A painful lesson in how the things you own can end up owning you... Start getting rid of your things now.

Get Rid of Everything: Expensive Lessons Embracing Minimalism

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This is a guest post from my buddy Robert Domingo as he prepared to embark on a ‘Round the World trip. I asked Robert to tell his humorous story of how he got rid of everything for a life of travel. Though he may have reached “middle age”, he’s proof that you can still take on big, life-altering changes, set out to travel, and follow the path you want to… No matter what your age is. Take it away, Robert.

“It is easy to buy things. It’s hard to sell things. And it’s even harder to sell things at a profit.”
– Jean Chatzky, Money Rules: The Simple Path to Lifelong Security

“The things you own end up owning you. It’s only after you lose everything that you’re free to do anything.”
– Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Get Rid of Everything: Expensive Lessons Embracing Minimalism guest-post

I couldn’t believe this ponytailed, glasses-wearing nerd was trying to take advantage of me.

It was two days before I was scheduled to move out of my apartment. I had been trying to sell my organic mattress for over a month.

I paid $3,395 less than three years ago. With the bed frame, pillows, sheets, topper, and mattress pad, the total cost was $5,835.

Stupidest purchase I ever made.

My asking price for the mattress on Craigslist had dropped from $2,000 to $500.

Finally, I got a text from someone who couldn’t pay $500 but could pay $200. I took it. Better than nothing.

She said her boyfriend would pick it up. Later that night I showed him the mattress.

Then he said something that made my squint my eyes and think “You gotta be effin kidding me!”

Maybe you want to live out of your truck and trade your 9-to-5 for climbing 5.9s.

Or you want to live out of your backpack and trade your cubicle for a round-the-world trip.

Either way, things are the enemy.

Every thing is something you have to try to sell on Craigslist, list on eBay, donate to Goodwill, recycle, throw away, give away, put into storage, ship across the country, or cram into your checked baggage.

Every thing weighs you down and takes up space in your pack, your trunk, and the back of your mind.

Start to take an inventory of your things now.

Imagine you’re getting on a plane to Medellin in three days.

How would you deal with each thing?

Is it essential to your adventure?

If it’s not essential, sell it, or otherwise get rid of it.

On the other side of your stuff is the freedom you’ve been looking for.

“I know my girlfriend said $200, but I just brought $100. If that doesn’t work for you, we can talk about it.”

The thought of rewarding this kind of slippery behavior made me sick.

I told him, “There’s nothing to talk about” and kicked his ass out of my apartment.

The next day I paid $137 to watch my beautiful organic mattress get dragged down the sidewalk by the guys from 1-800-GOT-JUNK.

I dropped off my keys at my landlord’s office and got on a cross-country flight with my things packed in a box, suitcase, backpack and jacket.

My mattress was a massive loss. However, getting rid of the mattress — my biggest thing — brought me one massive step closer to my round-the-world trip.

What is your “mattress,” and how will you get rid of it?

About the Author

Robert Domingo is preparing for his first round-the-world trip starting in The Philippines. Follow his journey on Twitter at @robertdomingo.

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Get Rid of Everything: Expensive Lessons Embracing Minimalism guest-post


Head Writer and Adventurer at Desk to Dirtbag
Ryan is an author, adventurer, perpetual wanderer, and self-proclaimed dirtbag (but that might not mean what you think). Originally from Seattle, he headed to Washington D.C. where he spent five years working for Congress before heeding the call of the wild. He set out truck camping to road trip across the American West, and then across all of Central America and South America. When he isn't on the move, you can find him living as an expat in Colombia. He is also the author of the best selling book: Big Travel, Small Budget that will help you travel more for less. Follow the adventures on social media or read more.

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Comments 7

  1. My house burnt to the ground, pretty much got rid of my shit quick. Problem is, staying home is not a choice anymore, it’s a necessity and I miss my shit. It’s not 1989 anymore when I was more interested in touring the USA on the back of a Harley and taking pics sleeping in trees up in Oregon. Now my only entertainment is the internet and basic cable. Getting old sucks. Being poor sucks even more.

    1. Post

      What stuff do you miss specifically? I’m all for stuff that gets you out there having experiences, but yeah, paying for cable and TVs and such, not so much. A lot of people’s only form of entertainment is internet and TV, but there are plenty of hobbies that don’t require tons of money.

  2. The things you own end up owning you – I couldn’t have said it better myself. My wife and I cleaned out the house, I gave away a $400 dollar studio lighting and a $150 projector screen I THOUGHT I would use for marketing vids. Oddly I feel like a weight was lifted of my shoulders!

    1. Andrew, yes, it’s those things you “think” you’re going to use, that you “might” need someday, that you’re keeping “just in case” that can really pile up.

  3. I’ve been there and I’ve done that too. I used to be that kind of person very attached to things, material objects and I used to collect everything that meant something for me. When me and Dale decided to quit our jobs and travel the world, it wasn’t easy to get rid of everything we had (literally everything), it was painful give away our CD collections, books, etc.. but now we don’t miss them at all and we realize how not important material things are compared to the experiences we are getting from our travels.

    Getting rid of your own things might be painful and not easy, but so very worth it! 🙂

    1. Post

      There are a lot of psychological studies that back that up. We are much more averse to losing something we already have than gaining something else. In this case we get ourselves all worked up about all the stuff we will love or have to get rid of, because it is much more psychologically difficult, than everything we stand to gain from travel. But once you overcome that hurdle, like you said, you don’t even miss those things at all. You don’t even think about them really…

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