Without a Vision, the People Perish: Overcoming Fear and Getting Rid of Your Stuff

by | Sep 15, 2013 | 71 comments

Without a Vision, the People Perish: Overcoming Fear and Getting Rid of Your Stuff

You are here:
< All Topics

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’ve imagined.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

SONY DSC

Maybe your dream is to have adventures and climb mountains…

For nearly everybody who wants to live a fee and mobile life the single hardest thing we must do is getting rid of our stuff (there are exceptions to that, but not many). Vans (and even RVs) are so small that the majority of our possessions simply will not fit in them so we have no choice but to sell it, give it away, or throw it away. That can be extremely difficult and heart-wrenching! This is an email I got from a reader not too long ago, and I thought I would share it with you and my answer to him: Hi Bob, I’ve got all my gear now. I just bought a Eureka Copper Canyon 6 man tent and have most of the gear you and others have suggested. The problem that I’m having is what to do with all the stuff in this apartment. I know what you say about getting rid of it but my butt won’t move to get it done. I’ve lost everything three different times though the years (mainly from divorces) and just can’t get motivated to part with my stuff again. I find it interesting that you’ve been talking about fear lately because I know that’s what’s holding me back. I’m hoping to meet up with you in Quartzsite this coming winter. I know it’s what I want because it’s always on my mind. I live in Charleston WV. There are a lot of great camping sites near here. When I’m out camping is when I’m at peace. I love it!! Any encouragement from you would be great!! I’m so close but yet so far…lol…Thanks
Maybe your dream is to travel and see the stunning beauty of America...

Maybe your dream is to travel and see the stunning beauty of America like Delicate Arch, Arches National Park…

To change one’s life: Start immediately. Do it flamboyantly. No exceptions. ~William James

In my answer I suggest a two pronged method to motivate yourself to do the difficult job of getting rid of your possessions: 1) Keep a Vision in your mind of what you are running away from. (Again, I know there are some exceptions out there. You are not running away from anything, you have had a wonderful life and this is just the next logical step. You are the lucky few.) It doesn’t really matter exactly what has driven you to the point of making such a drastic change in your life, but it is important that you identify it and hold it clearly in your mind. There are an infinite number of things that may have been the final straw to compel you to become a vandweller. Things like:

  • Divorce or end of a Relationship
  • Job Loss, Debt or other Economic Hardship
  • Poor Health
  • Monotony and Boredom with Life
  • Stress and Worry
  • Hating the Rat Race
  • Emptiness or Purposelessness
  • Retirement

2) Keep a firm vision in the front of your mind what you want your Dream Life to be like; what you are running towards. Things like:

  • Economic Security
  • Freedom
  • Peace of Mind and Heart
  • Joy
  • Physical, Emotional, Mental or Spiritual Healing
  • Environmental Improvement of the Planet
  • Travel
  • Adventure, Fun or Excitement
  • Connection with Nature
  • Learning and Culture
Maybe you love history and want to stand on the very spot where man first took flight at Kitty Hawk, NC...

Maybe you love history and want to stand on the very spot where man first took flight at Kitty Hawk, NC…

Without a Vision, the People Perish. Proverbs 29:18

This is my answer to the above email. I wrote it to him using the details he had given me, so the details may not apply to you. As you read it, substitute whatever it is you are running away from and what you are running toward: For many of us, getting rid of our stuff is the hardest thing we have to do. That includes me! I still have pack-rat tendencies in me and so my stuff automatically expands to fill all the room I have. We are all so different that there is no one right answer, but here is what I do when I get really bogged down and just can’t get rid of stuff that is holding me back. First, I encourage you to sit back in your favorite chair (maybe close your eyes) and think of some of your favorite camping trips. Relive them in your mind. Try to feel all over again the peace, joy and pleasure you got out of those times. Remember the smells of bacon cooking or the campfire, or the pine trees–whatever applies to you. Remember the company of the people you were with, the relaxed and jovial conversations. Remember the sounds of the birds and the streams and the winds in the trees. See the birds and beautiful sky through the forest canopy. Remember the SILENCE!
"One
Of course the details of our memories will be very different, but whatever your dream life is, I think you will find a deep longing to experience that all over again. Now imagine a future where those sights, sounds and feeling occurred every day, not just for a few days or weeks, but for the rest of your life! What price would you be willing to pay to get that?
One of the best experiences of my life was going to Washington DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival in April. This is the Jefferson Memorial.
Now, start going through the whole house and hold every item in your left hand that is really hard for you to get rid of. Now imagine a life of freedom, peace and joy in your right hand and the thing in your left. Weigh them and measure them in your mind and ask yourself this:

“I can have a life of total freedom and joy, or I can have this thing. I CAN’T HAVE BOTH!! Which do I want?”

That works for me! Once I see things that simply, making a decision becomes very easy. Whatever this thing offers me is literally shit compared to the life I am aiming for. Get rid of it!

Maybe you like museums; this is one of the capsules that flew around the moon and returned the astronauts of the Apollo program to Earth.

Maybe you like museums; this is one of the capsules that flew around the moon and returned the astronauts of the Apollo program to Earth.

Maybe you want to walk on a WWII Battleship....

Maybe you want to walk on a WW II Battleship….

Or visit a recreation of Jamestown Colony--including replicas of the ships that brought them from England.

Or visit a recreation of Jamestown Colony–including replicas of the ships that brought them from England.

Fear says the price is too high and it is too risky. Hope says it is worth any cost. Use your imagination and dreams to Feed the Hope, and Starve the Fear. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Feed the Hope: Spend time every day and throughout the day imagining the wonderful life waiting for you. Hang pictures around the house of the beautiful places you want to go. Download pictures from my blog and other blogs of vans you love, people you want to meet, places you want to go. Whatever moves you and drives you, keep those images in the forefront of your mind and hopefully on the walls of your place.
  2. Starve the Fear: Fear keeps telling you that the risks are too high, so you have to convince yourself that finding a new life is worth any risk and any cost because the old one is so mediocre, mundane, or even terrible! Nothing can be worse than the life you are running away from! So when the fear pops up in your mind, reassure it that you have thought things through and everything is going to be all right. Then mentally force yourself to focus once more on the vision you have of your dream life. Every time you do that, you starve and weaken your fears.

One thing alcoholics do to stay sober is carry with them the feelings, sights and sounds of the final event that drove them to get sober. Nearly universally it is a moment so full of despair, hopelessness, pain and grief that is almost beyond comprehension and a human’s ability to bear it. It serves to become the driving motivation towards sobriety for the rest of their life. It becomes their most prized possession and the gateway into a new and wonderful life. I suggest you do the same.
maybe you are like me and love the living museums where actors recreate historical times. Then you will love Colonial Williamsburg where history jumps off the dry pages of books and comes to life!!
Keep in the front of your mind all the things you hate about your present life: The boredom and tedium, the traffic, the money-worries, the soul-sucking job you hate, the continual stress. Whatever applies to you. Basically, you always want to remember the heaven you are running toward, and the hell you are running away from. Now that is motivating! I hope that helps! Bob

“Happy are those who dream dreams and are willing to pay the price to make them come true.” Anonymous

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

If you like hiking, you can hike Angels Landing in Zion National Park–It will change your life!

 

Previous Why our Carbon Footprint is Critically Important

71 Comments

  1. OpenSpaceMan

    “All my possessions for a moment of time” – Queen Elizabeth I
    Supposedly said on her death bed…
    Bob_
    As a freshly minted minimalist…and a lefthander, that struggles with organizing my thoughts, time, possessions…you name it. I had a rough time condensing my stuff.
    But now that that parts over I feel much more clear headed. Another bonus, I’ve been gettin’ the occasional check from the furniture consignment shop.
    *And I don’t lose stuff…there’s only so many places to misplace things in my van.

    • Bob

      Thanks Openspace man, great quote. I agree totally about organizing in the van. It is a top priority for me as well!
      Bob

    • Douglas

      But, they hide so well in the van. (sarcasm here). Not really, but sometimes I find that when I do lose things in my truck, they seem to take a while to find.
      I don’t have to do as much walking though. So very few places that they could be. Mostly I lose my glasses or my keys (sometimes at the same time if it is right after waking up).
      The more space that you have, the more places to lose things and it seems always the more stuff to lose. The old phrase “give a soldier a ruck and he will fill it” seems to be a universal one.

  2. David

    YES!
    Wondeful words of wisdom! Thank you for sharing.

    • Bob

      Thanks David!! You are very welcome.
      Bob

  3. Naomi

    Very inspiring, Bob! Don’t know when it’s gonna happen for me, but unless I kick the bucket first, I will get there. I love the visions and steps, and I’m working on it each day.
    Is that the USS Alabama I see? The last time I was there, I was much more limber than I am now, but I still want to go back.
    Keep on keepin’ on!
    ~Naomi

    • Bob

      Thanks Naomi! You know I can’t remember which ship that was. It was in Virginia very near Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and the Yorktown area. There was an air and space museum there also. It was very interesting to see all those things so close to each other.
      Bob

      • Naomi

        Ok. It looks very much like the Alabama, but all from that era probably look similar.
        Off topic – today while driving in central Alabama, I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Homer, AK A quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem.” You’ve probably seen that many times, but we don’t see things like that much down here. 🙂

        • Bob

          Naomi, I have seen that bumper sticker and I must say that Homer is one of my favorite places in the country!!
          Bob

  4. Mario

    This by far has to be the most important stage of one’s decision to follow this type of life and i’m talking using my own thoughts as an example , it will be a heart wrenching moment when one has to start picking up valuable “stuff” that may have taken a lot of money and or effort to accumulate and suddenly having to get rid off it !
    Your method Bob is a very good one,very logical and clear cut , bringing you face to face with your fear and at the same time allowing one’s mind to process the fearful thoughts in such a way that the outcome will be the one desired without much pain( OK maybe a little)LOL.
    I know for me the most difficult item to part with will be my 2 motorcycles (having had one yourself i know you can relate to that Bob), since the age of 12 (44 years)i have never been without at least one motorcycle, they have been symbols of that FREEDOM that occupies our minds constantly. No doubt , i had a lot of great times with them but in recent years,the cost of fuel and insurance in Canada has become so prohibitive that i start to see them as a liability, forcing me to work a lot of hours just for them , so an item that should be giving me FREEDOM is actually taking some away from me (see,that wasn’t as hard as i thought,they MUST GO).
    Of course this FREEDOM we are aiming for, does come with a price so preparing psychologically and physically for that moment is a good idea.
    My sequence of thought : i know that i just can’t have everything.
    I have enjoyed certain items for nearly 40 years,but still i feel something very important is missing that these items so far have been unable to provide, looking at the photos you just posted, i see what has been missing. We have lost our true spirit .When one is lost instictively is looking for the “way back home” …in a similar way i think we have lost our “HOME” ( NATURE)so reconnecting with it will be pretty much “COMING BACK HOME”.
    I also see a “UNIQUE BEAUTY” in minimalism as the less “stuff” you have to worry about, the healthier and clearer your mind becomes to focus on really enjoying life.
    What a “mind blowing” photo the one at Zion NP. ( as well as your helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon ) Bob, waking up with this sight in front of you is truly “priceless” , the serenity, peacefulness of such natural settings are sure to drive your stress levels into negative territory , better than any known tranquillizer
    of the medical world…… “GET ME OUT OF HERE NOW” !! LOL.

    • Bob

      Mario, that is a wonderful summary of everything I am trying to say in this blog!! I’ve written tens of thousands of words to say it, and you said it in a few paragraphs. Thank you! And yes, the freedom is what I sought and what I have found int his life, but you also nailed it on the head when you said:

      the serenity, peacefulness of such natural settings are sure to drive your stress levels into negative territory


      Freedom and Peace of Mind and Heart are the great result of vandwelling.
      In most states in the US you can have a 50cc scooter and not have to have a license, wear a helmet or get insurance. Is Canada like that? If so, that might be a way to keep your MC fix in. If not an Electric bike or motorized bicycle might be a good solution.
      Bob

      • Joni

        Here in BC, Canada…under 50cc is no lisence but you still need a helmet.

        • Bob

          Joni, thanks for that information. I think the little scooters are very handy for vandellers–if you can figure out how to carry them.
          Bob

  5. LaVonne Ellis

    It won’t be hard to part with most of my possessions because I never accumulated much to begin with. I hate taking care of stuff–spending money for it in the first place, then keeping it clean and functional. But of course, that’s also working against me because I keep putting off getting rid of what stuff I do have, out of pure laziness. Thanks for the lovely motivation. 🙂

    • Bob

      So you are one of THOSE people! Things call to me and I have to have them. It has not been easy for me to switch to not having stuff. It remains a constant battle.
      When you finally get your van I’m sure you will find the motivation to get rid of the little you have!!
      Bob

  6. Meg

    I’ve moved a lot over the years and that has helped me get rid of stuff, but I find there are still things I hold onto without even thinking about it – it’s like I assume I’ll just keep [whatever it is]. But every once in a while I go into “declutter” mode and then I’m able to rethink what I really need/want. I’m doing that now with my craft supplies; I have a lot of different interests and a *lot* of supplies! But I’m finally getting realistic about what I will actually use; the way I see it, if it’s been in a box for a long time – and some of it’s been boxed for several years – I am not going to use it and it needs to go. I have sometimes surprised myself at what I’ve been able to get rid of – stuff I thought I was really attached to and would always have.
    Actually, about attachment – I think there’s a spiritual principle that attachment can be a source of suffering. Whether you believe that or not, I do find that decluttering helps me destress. That probably sounds strange; I’m sure some people would feel bad about letting things go. For me, it’s liberating. I feel less burdened, and there’s also a good feeling about giving someone else – whoever that may be – the opportunity to use something I can’t/don’t use.
    I don’t know if this will help anyone else struggling with this, but it works for me. I guess we each have to find our own way to let go of things.

    • Bob

      Meg, it is very easy for me to see attachment as a spiritual principle. Our connection to things can be so powerful it has to be more than just normal physical need or longing. Civilization is so destructive to our soul that we are all left with a hole that we long to fill and things become the stuff we throw in it.
      For me, the solution has been a Re-Connecting with nature and with others. But we are all different.
      Bob

  7. Curtis Carper

    Bob, The first time I became a full-timer I kept and carried with me all my tools from my career as a mechanic. Couldn’t give them up. Having moved into a number of RV’s, they all came with me. Went sticks and bricks again, the tools went into the shed. After 10 years, they became rusted from non-use. Now I travel in a mini-van and only carry two screwdrivers, a pair of pliers, and an adjustable wrench. I was a slow learner!

    • Bob

      Curtis, but you are learning!! And that is what counts!
      Bob

  8. Marshall

    Another good one Bob! Thanks!
    I’ll never forget the weeks leading up to us taking off. We were having a perpetual yard sale. Day by day and slowly it went. On take off day we turned the SALE sign over and spray painted FREE on it and drove away never looking back. Really!
    That was ONE of the best days of my life so far. Not only was it liberating, but it cemented my thoughts and feelings to the world that I AM BIGGER than my possessions. And guess what? My neighbors took notice and when we come back into town they view me in awe.
    When the pain of a nightmare life becomes too great to bear you will begin to see possessions as the devil’s weights around your neck. Because that’s what they are, dream killers. Gods travel lightly loaded understanding and utilizing the abundance that surrounds them. They are home in heart and mind and the earth is theirs!
    If you can’t set it down and walk away IT OWNS YOU! Understand? Where is the freedom in that?
    The beginning is letting go of physical possessions. Then comes your REAL possessions that truly own you making you lame, sick and tired. I’m talking about PRIDE and such. A true minimalist understands this.
    Chuck it all and just BE! THAT IS FREEDOM!

    • Bob

      Marshall, very well said–as usual!
      But the idea that pride, fear, stress and such are your worst possessions and real masters, that is a brilliant idea!!. You can’t call yourself a minimalist until it’s in your heart as well
      Bob

  9. HappynOak

    Wow…Bob…you’ve done it again…just when I thought I had a handle on things…BOOM…there you are making it bery simple…at least it reads..simple…my challenge is my fotos…im not computer literate so saving them onto a computer is not me…the 5%that I will be keeping them in a storage locker..thats a 25$ bill I will just have to bear…its small and I wont be able to put a lot of ‘stuff’ into it…the rest will either be yard sale or give away..i like what Marshall said about changing the sign to say ///free…and driving away…the fears associatied with living in my truck are slowly dwindling…I spend a lot of time reading you blogs and other folks on here…it hels keep me…focused…keep up the good ..words…Happy n Oak in Utah

    • Bob

      HappynOak, staying focused is the key! Photos are a hard one to solve. I don’t have any solutions as of yet myself. Some I took to Walgreens to get scanned, but I still have a lot left over. I’m scared of the learning curve to get scan them myself, but I need to get over that.
      Wish I had a better solution!
      Bob

  10. Joni

    Bob;
    Another awesome blog entry. Sheesh, leading the pack of us around in the darkness must leave you practically NO time for your own pursuits! *smile*.
    I’m having one BIG problem with getting rid of my stuff – No One Wants It! I was part of a yard sale over the week-end and it was kinda’ surprising to me…its been quite a while.
    A few people came, obviously NOT the type with deep pockets…and they carefully selected items from the ‘free to a good home’ side of the yard and then shovelled change into a can we had for donations to the local no-kill shelter as the furry babes are always hungry.
    Then, there was the majority, they came in shiny new cars…and they complained! One woman picked up a genuine 1950’s peach-luster glass serving bowl, it had one tiny chip on the bottom rim, the part it sits on bottom. She practically threw it down and sniffed something about people having no respect for things. I know this bowl…it was/is mine, and it just made the cut! In re-thinking, being pretty and glass had to be weighed against the fact that it has taken everything my family could do to it and its still functional after 60+ years, it may not be typical gear but it is great gear!
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that while I am thrilled to be getting rid of most the stuff, I learned a lesson; it is just fine to really like things I CHOOSE to keep.
    And, I have questions:
    How the hell do I still have this thing? (It came from my family home so it had to have come with me 40ish years ago, I took only what would fit in my Dad’s WW11 footlocker which is NOT big. *laughter*)
    Also, are others re-making the same choices that they made in their teens or is this my own mid-life meltdown?
    I’m going to wrap this babble up with a quote of George Carlin (Thanks again for all the laughter George!) “Trying to get happy by aquiring possessions is like trying to get fed by taping sandwiches to your body.”
    Thanks Bob!
    Joni

    • Bob

      Joni, something are just too hard to get rid of and so there is nothing wrong with keeping a very few of them. But, most of us can’t have many because our rigs are just too small!
      Bob

      • Joni

        Actually Bob;
        As it turns out it was not hard to get rid of after all…gravity check!! 60+ years and I drop it on the ceramic tile floor. I laughed so hard, well lets just say I’m glad it wasn’t far to the bathroom.
        Regards to All,
        Joni

  11. Lynnxie

    Bob, what a lovely sermon…and inspiration!
    You are showing us all what truly matters in life. While floating on a lake in a canoe yesterday I told a friend to forget fixing up his home, redoing all his antique cars get rid of his Stuff it really does not matter anymore just live for the adventure fun that changed him… to enjoy his life.
    We all need to do a life review and say did that object bring me joy or fun or is it functional enough to add to my freedom?
    Blessings …
    Lynnzie

    • Bob

      Lynnxie thank you so much for you nice comment! You are headed on a great path, keep going!
      Bob

  12. m.a.

    or…in fewer words – get rid of it & hit the road! You’ll never miss it. 🙂

    • Bob

      m.a. those are a powerful 8 words!
      Bob

      • m.a.

        Thank you, Bob. I’ve even learned to get rid of a lot of my words. 🙂

        • Bob

          That’s good m.a.!! It must be starting to get cold up there, when are you heading south?
          Bob

  13. Jan Johnson

    This is one of best posts, Bob!! Thank You!
    I will be joining you in Quartsite in January. Finally got my Scamp repaired enough that I feel safe in it. I’m the 70 year old from Oregon..bought a used Scamp in the Spring and was excited to go camping in it while pulling it with my Subaru Forester..took it to my mechanic to go through and tell me it was safe for me to take it to the Coast. He found two major things that kept me home for a couple months. One, the axel was chewed up. Scamp wanted $500.00 for a new axel!!! A local machine shop re-did the chewing up part and now I feel safe to take it out.
    Anyway, I have now saved up for a solar system. I also want one of those nice freezers you talked about in one of your blogs so I can have my smoothies and live healthy. Should I buy the system and freezer together? Not sure if I have that much saved yet. Or should I buy the solar system first and have it installed before heading to Arizona in January? Not sure what to do next..thanks for any advice you can give..Jan from Oregon

    • Bob

      Jan, that’s wonderful that you got your Scamp ready to go finally. I have a very good friend who tows a Burro fiberglass trailer (it looks identical to the Scamp and Cassita) with her Subaru. The subaru isn’t really built to pull that weight so you really want to keep the minimum amount of stuff so the weight stays down. Also, plan all your routes so you have the minimum amount of hills.
      I’m planning to be back in Quartzsite by the end of November. If you can wait till then we can install your solar together. There is a place in Phoenix where you can get great prices on panels so it will probably be cheaper. I don’t think there is any advantage to buy them together. But since you need the solar to power the fridge I’d buy the solar first.
      If you can’t wait, there is a place in Oregon that is famous among RVers for solar. I have no idea if they are cheap, just that many people recommend them:
      http://www.amsolar.com/
      Bob

      • Jan Johnson

        Thank you Bob! I’ll check out the Oregon place and go from there. Humm..maybe I should come to Arizona in December instead of January. I’ll keep in touch. Thanks again!

        • Jan Johnson

          Can you give me the website to the solar place in Phoenix so I can compare prices, etc. Do you recommend any one special piece or panel and should I order as large as will fit and that I can afford?

          • Bob

            Jan, here is the place in Phoenix:
            http://sunelec.com/shop/solar-panels
            Right now they have a 140 watt panel for $152 which is an incredible price. But they are huge and so their stock changes ALL the time. Also, sometimes they have a minimum order amount. So you will have to call them before you buy.
            This is the place in Flagstaff I like a LOT!!
            http://www.solar-electric.com/hiposopa.html
            They have a 240 watt panel for $237 dollars. I have one of them and just mounted it on my roof yesterday. YES!! That is 99 cents a watt!!!!!! It’s a big panel and shipping would be very expensive. You need to pick it up in person.
            it’s a high voltage panel so I had to spend more for a Blue Sky MPPT controller. It cost me $320 with the display. that is $560 for the system plus batteries and cables.
            Bob

        • Bob

          Sounds like a very good idea to me. Why stay in the rain and cold when you can be in the desert. But, the desert can be surprisingly cold, so come ready.
          Bob

  14. CAE

    When the stuff you own starts to own you……

    • Bob

      Right!
      Bob

  15. Phyllis Anne

    GOOD BLOG BOB!! I always enjoy reading your words of wisdom. I also enjoy reading the comments too. I get lots of ideas from comments, and some of them seem to struggle with the same things I struggle with.
    As a member of FlyLady.com, I have been doing what they call a 27 FLING BOOGIE! I put the music on loud, any genre, and grab a bag or a box, set the stove timer for 7 minutes, and run around the house and grab 27 things one by one and put them in the box. As I grab things, I say to myself, “I can live without this, or, I don’t need that.”
    When the stove timer goes off I immediately take the box/bag out the front door and put it into the van, and my next trip out I stop by the GoodWill and drop it off. The trick is to NOT look in the box/bag so you don’t change your mind. This has been working for me. I have a lot less than I had 3 months ago. I’ve been doing the boogie about 3 times a week.
    I have not missed what I’ve flung into box/bag. I cannot remember what I’ve flung in there either. I have not said, “Wow, I need that “??” and I’m sorry I’ve thrown it away!”
    I have the same problem with photo albums too, that nearly everyone else has. I am working on scanning them and putting them onto CDs. When I am done, I plan on mailing the actual photos to my sister, who will be in the same home til the day she goes home.
    Less stuff is owning me, day by day.
    Phyllis Anne in Arizona

    • Bob

      That’s brilliant Phyllis Anne! It’s over-thinking that makes it so hard to get rid of stuff and that breaks its strangehold. Great idea!! Thanks for sharing it with us!
      Bob

    • Linda

      Phyllis Anne–I used to do those 27 Fling Boogies all the time! *grin*

  16. Calvin R

    I picked up a phrase from the Buddhists. “The great equanimity that is free from attachment and aversion” reminds me where my spiritual interests lie. In other words, if I don’t need it I don’t want it and there’s no use for fear beyond sensible precautions. I continue to work toward this, of course. I am not perfect but I am learning fast in my current situation.
    I have come to understand how blessed I am in certain ways. I grew up with poverty. Rather than envy others, I learned to know what I need and learned that others struggle to maintain anything from extra TVs to fancy sports cars. Over time, I have become more and more minimalist. Recently I moved from a 1-bedroom apartment to a room in someone else’s house. Fitting all the stuff I brought here into a small bedroom was a challenge, but I have already noticed not needing some of those things. By the time the situation that brought me here resolves, I will be traveling lighter.
    I have come to understand better the plight of those who have always lived with more than they need. They have no accurate way to sort out what matters. Beyond the personal issues, such as the glass bowl mentioned above, many do not know how attached they are to television, for example, which leaves them not sure whether to bring it with them. For another example, they might know that they eat in restaurants three times a week but not whether they will feel a loss if they cut back to, say, twice a month. The only answer I have for that dilemma is to make your best guess and take the plunge. If you are like me, you will be surprised at how little you need.

  17. jim

    Great post mr bob as always please keep them coming sure wish your tv show was going to be on u.s. tv

    • Bob

      Thanks jim! Remember that there is no certainty that the TV show will even happen. Maybe it;s best that it isn’t in the U.S. Why knows!
      Bob

  18. Linda

    When I arrived Stateside, I came with two suitcases and a carry-on bag, and nine boxes came afterwards by sea. Three of those were a stereo system that broke about a month after I arrived, and most of the rest was my extensive collection of Denby pottery, which I wish I had left with my ex; he would have used them more.
    For those who want stuff or use it as an anchor, there are storage sheds. Walking round ours is like being in a museum. Everyone is different.
    There’s a book called Sink Reflections about decluttering and cleaning. It’s amazingly sugary, but it does have some good ideas, including singing “Please release me” to your clutter. 😉 Generally, clutter uses up energy you can use better elsewhere.
    I find I do better with getting-rid if I can find somebody else to use the item. And some, there is no need to get rid of.
    For books, I use Book Crossing and leave them in the wild for people to find.
    Mostly I crave books when I crave possessions, but it wasn’t hard to stop collecting my collections like the lapel pins, or to pare things down to RV-size.
    Random thoughts on an interesting thread. I like all the historical pictures. 😉

    • Bob

      Linda, those are some really good tips, thank you! Yeah, I know how much you love historical places and markers!
      Bob

  19. Linda

    Oh yeah, and when we left the mobile home, I Freecycled a lot, and it was sort of fun meeting my neighbors. All sorts of stuff went that I couldn’t imagine would go, including a box of AAA maps. Hey, but if it made someone else happy, why not?

    • Bob

      Much better than going into the landfill!
      Bob

  20. wheelingit

    Another wonderfully inspiring post. I’m lucky in that I’ve never had much connection to “things” so getting rid of them was rather easy, but I do connect with your “starve the fear” line. That’s a wonderful way of putting it. Back in the 70’s there was a cheesy psychology book called “fear the fear, but do it anyway”. At the time I thought it was the silliest thing, and yet all these years later I still think about it and incorporate it into my daily life. So starve that fear, baby! Go forth and conquer!
    Nina

    • wheelingit

      That book title should say “FEEL the fear and do it anyway”….ooops

    • Bob

      Thanks Nina! You have to see a little irony in the person who has the easiest time getting rid of her stuff lives in the biggest rig! I struggle all the time with accumulating stuff and my trailer is probably much smaller then your bedroom! (JUST KIDDING!!)
      Bob

  21. Brad

    Great article once again Bob! Your timing is perfect for me as a prompt because I just gave a 30 day notice to my Landlord – I’m out by Oct 15th and will be living full-time in my Toyota RV. In the meantime, I get to detach and let go of a bunch of stuff I’ve accumulated – basically enough to fill a large one bedroom duplex & one car garage. Having lived on a sailboat in the past, as you know, I’ve been through this process before and now view it as trading stuff for freedom.
    After joining you and others at the last two RTR’s I’m convinced that I want to go full-time. Some people would think I’m nuts because they see that I’m giving up (selling at a big discount) my business – which is profitable and growing, giving up a decent and very affordable home in a great location near the ocean, and leaving a bunch of friends, etc (the list goes on).
    The short version is that I feel I’m being pushed away from many aspects of our frenetic society and pulled to being more connected with nature. I heartily agree with the quotes you have in this article as well as those on your other website. Here’s one from Thoreau that sums it up: “Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them.”
    All the best!
    Brad

    • Bob

      Brad, I’m delighted to hear that!! But I am just being selfish because I will get a chance to see more of you!
      Bob

  22. Oldnavy

    The battleship is the USS Wisconsin (hull number 64). When I left the Navy after my first enlistment, everything I owned (seabag, radio, tools, cooler) fit in the bed of my little Chevy Luv pickup truck with enough room left over for me to sleep there, too. It’s time to start working myself back to the good ol’ days…Bob, what you wrote spoke to my soul, not just my mind. Thank you!
    Regarding photos, I am a computer idiot but I was able to scan several plastic tote boxes full of photos using a phenomenally easy photo scanner like the Pandigital Photolink One-Touch PANSCN05 4-Inch x6-Inches Photo and Slide and Negative Scanner (Amazon has them on sale for $28 now!), good for most of our 4X6 photos. And you don’t even have to hook it up to your computer, it uses a memory card just like a digital camera! And when you are done, it is so cheap you can give it away so you don’t accumulate more stuff!!!
    Another Bob

    • Bob

      OldNavy, thanks for that tip. it look like just what I need! And yes, now I remember, it was the Wisconsin.
      Bob

    • Naomi

      Thanks for the ship info Oldnavy, and thank you even more for your service.
      ~Naomi

  23. J Grit

    Excellent article Bob.
    My dilemma is that I have a lifetime and a half of incredible tools accumulated by my father and myself. They are the older, better tools…irreplaceable. Some may have seen Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood. The boy asked Clint about his tools and he answered that it takes a lifetime to collect as many tools as he has. If I decided after 3-6 months that the Van lifestyle is not for me I would forever regret letting go of the tools and things connected with my hobbies and so forth.
    I have always loved travel and adventure. I love nature. I see through the rat race. I love freedom and peace. I lived in a vehicle when I was very young but it was for several months and times were very different back then. If I pay to store this stuff it will cost a fortune.
    This issue is confounding me!
    Any thoughts or advice?

    • Bob

      J Grit, I’m sorry I don’t have any advice. My knee jerk reaction is to just get rid of it all and be free. It’s a nice prison, but it is still a prison. But it is such a personal decision that no one can make it but you and my advice may be 100% wrong.
      But for me it is as simple as freedom and a life of joy versus a bunch of stuff. I would choose freedom. Maybe try a middle path. Store it for 6 months while you try out vandwelling and then make a decision.
      Bob

  24. Fred

    Hi Bob,
    Seeing how seemingly tough is for us to get rid of stuff, myself included (my storage is finally getting to the end, YEA!!), I remember what my Dad told me a long time ago. He was a very laid back kind of man and he said that it took him a while to learn it(they were married 52 yrs), BUT, before he hastily spoke or argued with my Mom, he would always think, “Will this issue matter in a week?” Applied to your latest blog, we might miss it for a bit, but in a week will it really matter that much? Usually the answer would be, I surmise, not no, but hell NO.

    • Bob

      I agree totally Fred. I think everyone I know who kept a storage place ultimately regretted it and got rid of all of it. But there i nothing wrong with hedging your bets and knowing you love the mobile life before you cut your ties. After all, it is just money you are loosing by paying for storage. And in a few years it probably won’t matter either.
      Bob

  25. Robert

    Thanks for sharing our e-mail Bob.. Hope it helps others to know they’re not alone!!

    • Bob

      Thanks you for sharing your life Robert. I hope you get it all figured out and it works great for you!
      Bob

  26. Curtis

    Thanks Bob for the encouragement!
    If there ever was a blog that should win an award for inspiration it should be this one.:)
    No matter what type of day one has had if this place don’t cheer you up then you are dead!

    • Bob

      Thanks so much Curtis for your encouragement to me!I guess karma may be real.
      Bob

  27. Curtis

    Bob “It’s a nice prison, but it is still a prison.”
    Very wise words Bob. Makes me think of other things that are prisons, a rat race job, a house payment, property taxes, etc.:)
    Also reminds me what you quoted in your book. “Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age a great many of us are possessed by our possessions.” Peace Pilgrim

    • Bob

      Thanks Curtis!
      Bob

  28. Elizabeth

    WOW! Been away for 3 weeks and am just reading your posts. I soooo loved this one and many of the comments, esp. Peace Pilgrim. She is still close to my heart after decades.
    My goal for the year has been to get rid of my stuff! I’ve been giving away tons, participating in yard sales, calling relatives to take some family antiques, but, but, but…….so many little things have not made it out of the house. Your suggestions were superb! Sublime! Intoxicating! Your visuals resonate with my soul. I will definitely use your idea of holding an item in my left hand and the image of sitting around the campfire under the stars with all of the smells of the forest in my right: the nighttime sounds, crackling fire, cool night air, scent of fresh pine and wood smoke, quiet, my husband, friends, family. Why on earth would keep anything! Thank you, Bob. Truly………many warm thanks!

  29. Silvianne

    Great post–just catching up after a few weeks. I am a Taurus and I love beautiful things, but I am also an independent fire girl so for the most part, parting with things wasn’t all that hard. EXCEPT, of course, for things that have a real history, unusual quality or special meaning–like the tools J Grit mentioned. Strangely enough, what helped me with that in my final transition into the van last month, was finding someone to GIVE them to, instead of selling them. I was too lazy to take the time to find the right market and knew I probably wouldn’t get near what they were worth anyway. Once I opened up to the possibility of letting go, Spirit sent me just the right person. For instance, I hauled a van full of stuff to the local village-wide garage sale in the neighboring town (“coincidentally” scheduled for the weekend before I had to move out of my house). It’s true, people aren’t collecting stuff so much now (which I think in the larger picture is actually good)so I ended up hauling a lot of stuff to Goodwill the next day. But, the things it had been hard to throw in the van the night before because of sentimental reasons, all found a perfect home and that meant more to me than the $75 I made. I cried when one of my sweetest neighbors took the red felt covered Christmas books my Dad got from his work each year when I was a child. And I met a wonderful woman, even older than me, who whispered in my ear after I shared my story “I once lived in a horse trailer with 2 horses and a rotweiller, touring the horse show circuit, and I was never happier in my life”. She ended up stopping by my shop to see me the next day and my $2,000 custom cowboys boots that will only fit someone with a very, very, very narrow foot fit her perfectly… so I gave them away. They were too sacred to me to sell. Some of my friends were appalled but it was one of the special moments of my life–she looked so happy wearing them and the boots looked happy to have a new life with a real cowgirl! I’m keeping my plain, everyday pair of vintage boots which is all I really need in a van. We are connected to everything we own (or that owns us) by invisible threads of energy, even if it is in a storage area 100s of miles away, and when we cut those cords we are free!

    • Bob

      Silvianne, thanks for those wonderful stories! Very heartwarming!

      We are connected to everything we own (or that owns us) by invisible threads of energy, even if it is in a storage area 100s of miles away, and when we cut those cords we are free!


      I absolutely believe that!
      Bob

Table of Contents

71 Comments

  1. OpenSpaceMan

    “All my possessions for a moment of time” – Queen Elizabeth I
    Supposedly said on her death bed…
    Bob_
    As a freshly minted minimalist…and a lefthander, that struggles with organizing my thoughts, time, possessions…you name it. I had a rough time condensing my stuff.
    But now that that parts over I feel much more clear headed. Another bonus, I’ve been gettin’ the occasional check from the furniture consignment shop.
    *And I don’t lose stuff…there’s only so many places to misplace things in my van.

    • Bob

      Thanks Openspace man, great quote. I agree totally about organizing in the van. It is a top priority for me as well!
      Bob

    • Douglas

      But, they hide so well in the van. (sarcasm here). Not really, but sometimes I find that when I do lose things in my truck, they seem to take a while to find.
      I don’t have to do as much walking though. So very few places that they could be. Mostly I lose my glasses or my keys (sometimes at the same time if it is right after waking up).
      The more space that you have, the more places to lose things and it seems always the more stuff to lose. The old phrase “give a soldier a ruck and he will fill it” seems to be a universal one.

  2. David

    YES!
    Wondeful words of wisdom! Thank you for sharing.

    • Bob

      Thanks David!! You are very welcome.
      Bob

  3. Naomi

    Very inspiring, Bob! Don’t know when it’s gonna happen for me, but unless I kick the bucket first, I will get there. I love the visions and steps, and I’m working on it each day.
    Is that the USS Alabama I see? The last time I was there, I was much more limber than I am now, but I still want to go back.
    Keep on keepin’ on!
    ~Naomi

    • Bob

      Thanks Naomi! You know I can’t remember which ship that was. It was in Virginia very near Jamestown, Colonial Williamsburg and the Yorktown area. There was an air and space museum there also. It was very interesting to see all those things so close to each other.
      Bob

      • Naomi

        Ok. It looks very much like the Alabama, but all from that era probably look similar.
        Off topic – today while driving in central Alabama, I saw a bumper sticker that read, “Homer, AK A quaint little drinking village with a fishing problem.” You’ve probably seen that many times, but we don’t see things like that much down here. 🙂

        • Bob

          Naomi, I have seen that bumper sticker and I must say that Homer is one of my favorite places in the country!!
          Bob

  4. Mario

    This by far has to be the most important stage of one’s decision to follow this type of life and i’m talking using my own thoughts as an example , it will be a heart wrenching moment when one has to start picking up valuable “stuff” that may have taken a lot of money and or effort to accumulate and suddenly having to get rid off it !
    Your method Bob is a very good one,very logical and clear cut , bringing you face to face with your fear and at the same time allowing one’s mind to process the fearful thoughts in such a way that the outcome will be the one desired without much pain( OK maybe a little)LOL.
    I know for me the most difficult item to part with will be my 2 motorcycles (having had one yourself i know you can relate to that Bob), since the age of 12 (44 years)i have never been without at least one motorcycle, they have been symbols of that FREEDOM that occupies our minds constantly. No doubt , i had a lot of great times with them but in recent years,the cost of fuel and insurance in Canada has become so prohibitive that i start to see them as a liability, forcing me to work a lot of hours just for them , so an item that should be giving me FREEDOM is actually taking some away from me (see,that wasn’t as hard as i thought,they MUST GO).
    Of course this FREEDOM we are aiming for, does come with a price so preparing psychologically and physically for that moment is a good idea.
    My sequence of thought : i know that i just can’t have everything.
    I have enjoyed certain items for nearly 40 years,but still i feel something very important is missing that these items so far have been unable to provide, looking at the photos you just posted, i see what has been missing. We have lost our true spirit .When one is lost instictively is looking for the “way back home” …in a similar way i think we have lost our “HOME” ( NATURE)so reconnecting with it will be pretty much “COMING BACK HOME”.
    I also see a “UNIQUE BEAUTY” in minimalism as the less “stuff” you have to worry about, the healthier and clearer your mind becomes to focus on really enjoying life.
    What a “mind blowing” photo the one at Zion NP. ( as well as your helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon ) Bob, waking up with this sight in front of you is truly “priceless” , the serenity, peacefulness of such natural settings are sure to drive your stress levels into negative territory , better than any known tranquillizer
    of the medical world…… “GET ME OUT OF HERE NOW” !! LOL.

    • Bob

      Mario, that is a wonderful summary of everything I am trying to say in this blog!! I’ve written tens of thousands of words to say it, and you said it in a few paragraphs. Thank you! And yes, the freedom is what I sought and what I have found int his life, but you also nailed it on the head when you said:

      the serenity, peacefulness of such natural settings are sure to drive your stress levels into negative territory


      Freedom and Peace of Mind and Heart are the great result of vandwelling.
      In most states in the US you can have a 50cc scooter and not have to have a license, wear a helmet or get insurance. Is Canada like that? If so, that might be a way to keep your MC fix in. If not an Electric bike or motorized bicycle might be a good solution.
      Bob

      • Joni

        Here in BC, Canada…under 50cc is no lisence but you still need a helmet.

        • Bob

          Joni, thanks for that information. I think the little scooters are very handy for vandellers–if you can figure out how to carry them.
          Bob

  5. LaVonne Ellis

    It won’t be hard to part with most of my possessions because I never accumulated much to begin with. I hate taking care of stuff–spending money for it in the first place, then keeping it clean and functional. But of course, that’s also working against me because I keep putting off getting rid of what stuff I do have, out of pure laziness. Thanks for the lovely motivation. 🙂

    • Bob

      So you are one of THOSE people! Things call to me and I have to have them. It has not been easy for me to switch to not having stuff. It remains a constant battle.
      When you finally get your van I’m sure you will find the motivation to get rid of the little you have!!
      Bob

  6. Meg

    I’ve moved a lot over the years and that has helped me get rid of stuff, but I find there are still things I hold onto without even thinking about it – it’s like I assume I’ll just keep [whatever it is]. But every once in a while I go into “declutter” mode and then I’m able to rethink what I really need/want. I’m doing that now with my craft supplies; I have a lot of different interests and a *lot* of supplies! But I’m finally getting realistic about what I will actually use; the way I see it, if it’s been in a box for a long time – and some of it’s been boxed for several years – I am not going to use it and it needs to go. I have sometimes surprised myself at what I’ve been able to get rid of – stuff I thought I was really attached to and would always have.
    Actually, about attachment – I think there’s a spiritual principle that attachment can be a source of suffering. Whether you believe that or not, I do find that decluttering helps me destress. That probably sounds strange; I’m sure some people would feel bad about letting things go. For me, it’s liberating. I feel less burdened, and there’s also a good feeling about giving someone else – whoever that may be – the opportunity to use something I can’t/don’t use.
    I don’t know if this will help anyone else struggling with this, but it works for me. I guess we each have to find our own way to let go of things.

    • Bob

      Meg, it is very easy for me to see attachment as a spiritual principle. Our connection to things can be so powerful it has to be more than just normal physical need or longing. Civilization is so destructive to our soul that we are all left with a hole that we long to fill and things become the stuff we throw in it.
      For me, the solution has been a Re-Connecting with nature and with others. But we are all different.
      Bob

  7. Curtis Carper

    Bob, The first time I became a full-timer I kept and carried with me all my tools from my career as a mechanic. Couldn’t give them up. Having moved into a number of RV’s, they all came with me. Went sticks and bricks again, the tools went into the shed. After 10 years, they became rusted from non-use. Now I travel in a mini-van and only carry two screwdrivers, a pair of pliers, and an adjustable wrench. I was a slow learner!

    • Bob

      Curtis, but you are learning!! And that is what counts!
      Bob

  8. Marshall

    Another good one Bob! Thanks!
    I’ll never forget the weeks leading up to us taking off. We were having a perpetual yard sale. Day by day and slowly it went. On take off day we turned the SALE sign over and spray painted FREE on it and drove away never looking back. Really!
    That was ONE of the best days of my life so far. Not only was it liberating, but it cemented my thoughts and feelings to the world that I AM BIGGER than my possessions. And guess what? My neighbors took notice and when we come back into town they view me in awe.
    When the pain of a nightmare life becomes too great to bear you will begin to see possessions as the devil’s weights around your neck. Because that’s what they are, dream killers. Gods travel lightly loaded understanding and utilizing the abundance that surrounds them. They are home in heart and mind and the earth is theirs!
    If you can’t set it down and walk away IT OWNS YOU! Understand? Where is the freedom in that?
    The beginning is letting go of physical possessions. Then comes your REAL possessions that truly own you making you lame, sick and tired. I’m talking about PRIDE and such. A true minimalist understands this.
    Chuck it all and just BE! THAT IS FREEDOM!

    • Bob

      Marshall, very well said–as usual!
      But the idea that pride, fear, stress and such are your worst possessions and real masters, that is a brilliant idea!!. You can’t call yourself a minimalist until it’s in your heart as well
      Bob

  9. HappynOak

    Wow…Bob…you’ve done it again…just when I thought I had a handle on things…BOOM…there you are making it bery simple…at least it reads..simple…my challenge is my fotos…im not computer literate so saving them onto a computer is not me…the 5%that I will be keeping them in a storage locker..thats a 25$ bill I will just have to bear…its small and I wont be able to put a lot of ‘stuff’ into it…the rest will either be yard sale or give away..i like what Marshall said about changing the sign to say ///free…and driving away…the fears associatied with living in my truck are slowly dwindling…I spend a lot of time reading you blogs and other folks on here…it hels keep me…focused…keep up the good ..words…Happy n Oak in Utah

    • Bob

      HappynOak, staying focused is the key! Photos are a hard one to solve. I don’t have any solutions as of yet myself. Some I took to Walgreens to get scanned, but I still have a lot left over. I’m scared of the learning curve to get scan them myself, but I need to get over that.
      Wish I had a better solution!
      Bob

  10. Joni

    Bob;
    Another awesome blog entry. Sheesh, leading the pack of us around in the darkness must leave you practically NO time for your own pursuits! *smile*.
    I’m having one BIG problem with getting rid of my stuff – No One Wants It! I was part of a yard sale over the week-end and it was kinda’ surprising to me…its been quite a while.
    A few people came, obviously NOT the type with deep pockets…and they carefully selected items from the ‘free to a good home’ side of the yard and then shovelled change into a can we had for donations to the local no-kill shelter as the furry babes are always hungry.
    Then, there was the majority, they came in shiny new cars…and they complained! One woman picked up a genuine 1950’s peach-luster glass serving bowl, it had one tiny chip on the bottom rim, the part it sits on bottom. She practically threw it down and sniffed something about people having no respect for things. I know this bowl…it was/is mine, and it just made the cut! In re-thinking, being pretty and glass had to be weighed against the fact that it has taken everything my family could do to it and its still functional after 60+ years, it may not be typical gear but it is great gear!
    I guess what I’m trying to say is that while I am thrilled to be getting rid of most the stuff, I learned a lesson; it is just fine to really like things I CHOOSE to keep.
    And, I have questions:
    How the hell do I still have this thing? (It came from my family home so it had to have come with me 40ish years ago, I took only what would fit in my Dad’s WW11 footlocker which is NOT big. *laughter*)
    Also, are others re-making the same choices that they made in their teens or is this my own mid-life meltdown?
    I’m going to wrap this babble up with a quote of George Carlin (Thanks again for all the laughter George!) “Trying to get happy by aquiring possessions is like trying to get fed by taping sandwiches to your body.”
    Thanks Bob!
    Joni

    • Bob

      Joni, something are just too hard to get rid of and so there is nothing wrong with keeping a very few of them. But, most of us can’t have many because our rigs are just too small!
      Bob

      • Joni

        Actually Bob;
        As it turns out it was not hard to get rid of after all…gravity check!! 60+ years and I drop it on the ceramic tile floor. I laughed so hard, well lets just say I’m glad it wasn’t far to the bathroom.
        Regards to All,
        Joni

  11. Lynnxie

    Bob, what a lovely sermon…and inspiration!
    You are showing us all what truly matters in life. While floating on a lake in a canoe yesterday I told a friend to forget fixing up his home, redoing all his antique cars get rid of his Stuff it really does not matter anymore just live for the adventure fun that changed him… to enjoy his life.
    We all need to do a life review and say did that object bring me joy or fun or is it functional enough to add to my freedom?
    Blessings …
    Lynnzie

    • Bob

      Lynnxie thank you so much for you nice comment! You are headed on a great path, keep going!
      Bob

  12. m.a.

    or…in fewer words – get rid of it & hit the road! You’ll never miss it. 🙂

    • Bob

      m.a. those are a powerful 8 words!
      Bob

      • m.a.

        Thank you, Bob. I’ve even learned to get rid of a lot of my words. 🙂

        • Bob

          That’s good m.a.!! It must be starting to get cold up there, when are you heading south?
          Bob

  13. Jan Johnson

    This is one of best posts, Bob!! Thank You!
    I will be joining you in Quartsite in January. Finally got my Scamp repaired enough that I feel safe in it. I’m the 70 year old from Oregon..bought a used Scamp in the Spring and was excited to go camping in it while pulling it with my Subaru Forester..took it to my mechanic to go through and tell me it was safe for me to take it to the Coast. He found two major things that kept me home for a couple months. One, the axel was chewed up. Scamp wanted $500.00 for a new axel!!! A local machine shop re-did the chewing up part and now I feel safe to take it out.
    Anyway, I have now saved up for a solar system. I also want one of those nice freezers you talked about in one of your blogs so I can have my smoothies and live healthy. Should I buy the system and freezer together? Not sure if I have that much saved yet. Or should I buy the solar system first and have it installed before heading to Arizona in January? Not sure what to do next..thanks for any advice you can give..Jan from Oregon

    • Bob

      Jan, that’s wonderful that you got your Scamp ready to go finally. I have a very good friend who tows a Burro fiberglass trailer (it looks identical to the Scamp and Cassita) with her Subaru. The subaru isn’t really built to pull that weight so you really want to keep the minimum amount of stuff so the weight stays down. Also, plan all your routes so you have the minimum amount of hills.
      I’m planning to be back in Quartzsite by the end of November. If you can wait till then we can install your solar together. There is a place in Phoenix where you can get great prices on panels so it will probably be cheaper. I don’t think there is any advantage to buy them together. But since you need the solar to power the fridge I’d buy the solar first.
      If you can’t wait, there is a place in Oregon that is famous among RVers for solar. I have no idea if they are cheap, just that many people recommend them:
      http://www.amsolar.com/
      Bob

      • Jan Johnson

        Thank you Bob! I’ll check out the Oregon place and go from there. Humm..maybe I should come to Arizona in December instead of January. I’ll keep in touch. Thanks again!

        • Jan Johnson

          Can you give me the website to the solar place in Phoenix so I can compare prices, etc. Do you recommend any one special piece or panel and should I order as large as will fit and that I can afford?

          • Bob

            Jan, here is the place in Phoenix:
            http://sunelec.com/shop/solar-panels
            Right now they have a 140 watt panel for $152 which is an incredible price. But they are huge and so their stock changes ALL the time. Also, sometimes they have a minimum order amount. So you will have to call them before you buy.
            This is the place in Flagstaff I like a LOT!!
            http://www.solar-electric.com/hiposopa.html
            They have a 240 watt panel for $237 dollars. I have one of them and just mounted it on my roof yesterday. YES!! That is 99 cents a watt!!!!!! It’s a big panel and shipping would be very expensive. You need to pick it up in person.
            it’s a high voltage panel so I had to spend more for a Blue Sky MPPT controller. It cost me $320 with the display. that is $560 for the system plus batteries and cables.
            Bob

        • Bob

          Sounds like a very good idea to me. Why stay in the rain and cold when you can be in the desert. But, the desert can be surprisingly cold, so come ready.
          Bob

  14. CAE

    When the stuff you own starts to own you……

    • Bob

      Right!
      Bob

  15. Phyllis Anne

    GOOD BLOG BOB!! I always enjoy reading your words of wisdom. I also enjoy reading the comments too. I get lots of ideas from comments, and some of them seem to struggle with the same things I struggle with.
    As a member of FlyLady.com, I have been doing what they call a 27 FLING BOOGIE! I put the music on loud, any genre, and grab a bag or a box, set the stove timer for 7 minutes, and run around the house and grab 27 things one by one and put them in the box. As I grab things, I say to myself, “I can live without this, or, I don’t need that.”
    When the stove timer goes off I immediately take the box/bag out the front door and put it into the van, and my next trip out I stop by the GoodWill and drop it off. The trick is to NOT look in the box/bag so you don’t change your mind. This has been working for me. I have a lot less than I had 3 months ago. I’ve been doing the boogie about 3 times a week.
    I have not missed what I’ve flung into box/bag. I cannot remember what I’ve flung in there either. I have not said, “Wow, I need that “??” and I’m sorry I’ve thrown it away!”
    I have the same problem with photo albums too, that nearly everyone else has. I am working on scanning them and putting them onto CDs. When I am done, I plan on mailing the actual photos to my sister, who will be in the same home til the day she goes home.
    Less stuff is owning me, day by day.
    Phyllis Anne in Arizona

    • Bob

      That’s brilliant Phyllis Anne! It’s over-thinking that makes it so hard to get rid of stuff and that breaks its strangehold. Great idea!! Thanks for sharing it with us!
      Bob

    • Linda

      Phyllis Anne–I used to do those 27 Fling Boogies all the time! *grin*

  16. Calvin R

    I picked up a phrase from the Buddhists. “The great equanimity that is free from attachment and aversion” reminds me where my spiritual interests lie. In other words, if I don’t need it I don’t want it and there’s no use for fear beyond sensible precautions. I continue to work toward this, of course. I am not perfect but I am learning fast in my current situation.
    I have come to understand how blessed I am in certain ways. I grew up with poverty. Rather than envy others, I learned to know what I need and learned that others struggle to maintain anything from extra TVs to fancy sports cars. Over time, I have become more and more minimalist. Recently I moved from a 1-bedroom apartment to a room in someone else’s house. Fitting all the stuff I brought here into a small bedroom was a challenge, but I have already noticed not needing some of those things. By the time the situation that brought me here resolves, I will be traveling lighter.
    I have come to understand better the plight of those who have always lived with more than they need. They have no accurate way to sort out what matters. Beyond the personal issues, such as the glass bowl mentioned above, many do not know how attached they are to television, for example, which leaves them not sure whether to bring it with them. For another example, they might know that they eat in restaurants three times a week but not whether they will feel a loss if they cut back to, say, twice a month. The only answer I have for that dilemma is to make your best guess and take the plunge. If you are like me, you will be surprised at how little you need.

  17. jim

    Great post mr bob as always please keep them coming sure wish your tv show was going to be on u.s. tv

    • Bob

      Thanks jim! Remember that there is no certainty that the TV show will even happen. Maybe it;s best that it isn’t in the U.S. Why knows!
      Bob

  18. Linda

    When I arrived Stateside, I came with two suitcases and a carry-on bag, and nine boxes came afterwards by sea. Three of those were a stereo system that broke about a month after I arrived, and most of the rest was my extensive collection of Denby pottery, which I wish I had left with my ex; he would have used them more.
    For those who want stuff or use it as an anchor, there are storage sheds. Walking round ours is like being in a museum. Everyone is different.
    There’s a book called Sink Reflections about decluttering and cleaning. It’s amazingly sugary, but it does have some good ideas, including singing “Please release me” to your clutter. 😉 Generally, clutter uses up energy you can use better elsewhere.
    I find I do better with getting-rid if I can find somebody else to use the item. And some, there is no need to get rid of.
    For books, I use Book Crossing and leave them in the wild for people to find.
    Mostly I crave books when I crave possessions, but it wasn’t hard to stop collecting my collections like the lapel pins, or to pare things down to RV-size.
    Random thoughts on an interesting thread. I like all the historical pictures. 😉

    • Bob

      Linda, those are some really good tips, thank you! Yeah, I know how much you love historical places and markers!
      Bob

  19. Linda

    Oh yeah, and when we left the mobile home, I Freecycled a lot, and it was sort of fun meeting my neighbors. All sorts of stuff went that I couldn’t imagine would go, including a box of AAA maps. Hey, but if it made someone else happy, why not?

    • Bob

      Much better than going into the landfill!
      Bob

  20. wheelingit

    Another wonderfully inspiring post. I’m lucky in that I’ve never had much connection to “things” so getting rid of them was rather easy, but I do connect with your “starve the fear” line. That’s a wonderful way of putting it. Back in the 70’s there was a cheesy psychology book called “fear the fear, but do it anyway”. At the time I thought it was the silliest thing, and yet all these years later I still think about it and incorporate it into my daily life. So starve that fear, baby! Go forth and conquer!
    Nina

    • wheelingit

      That book title should say “FEEL the fear and do it anyway”….ooops

    • Bob

      Thanks Nina! You have to see a little irony in the person who has the easiest time getting rid of her stuff lives in the biggest rig! I struggle all the time with accumulating stuff and my trailer is probably much smaller then your bedroom! (JUST KIDDING!!)
      Bob

  21. Brad

    Great article once again Bob! Your timing is perfect for me as a prompt because I just gave a 30 day notice to my Landlord – I’m out by Oct 15th and will be living full-time in my Toyota RV. In the meantime, I get to detach and let go of a bunch of stuff I’ve accumulated – basically enough to fill a large one bedroom duplex & one car garage. Having lived on a sailboat in the past, as you know, I’ve been through this process before and now view it as trading stuff for freedom.
    After joining you and others at the last two RTR’s I’m convinced that I want to go full-time. Some people would think I’m nuts because they see that I’m giving up (selling at a big discount) my business – which is profitable and growing, giving up a decent and very affordable home in a great location near the ocean, and leaving a bunch of friends, etc (the list goes on).
    The short version is that I feel I’m being pushed away from many aspects of our frenetic society and pulled to being more connected with nature. I heartily agree with the quotes you have in this article as well as those on your other website. Here’s one from Thoreau that sums it up: “Most men, even in this comparatively free country, through mere ignorance and mistake, are so occupied with the factitious cares and superfluously coarse labors of life that its finer fruits cannot be plucked by them.”
    All the best!
    Brad

    • Bob

      Brad, I’m delighted to hear that!! But I am just being selfish because I will get a chance to see more of you!
      Bob

  22. Oldnavy

    The battleship is the USS Wisconsin (hull number 64). When I left the Navy after my first enlistment, everything I owned (seabag, radio, tools, cooler) fit in the bed of my little Chevy Luv pickup truck with enough room left over for me to sleep there, too. It’s time to start working myself back to the good ol’ days…Bob, what you wrote spoke to my soul, not just my mind. Thank you!
    Regarding photos, I am a computer idiot but I was able to scan several plastic tote boxes full of photos using a phenomenally easy photo scanner like the Pandigital Photolink One-Touch PANSCN05 4-Inch x6-Inches Photo and Slide and Negative Scanner (Amazon has them on sale for $28 now!), good for most of our 4X6 photos. And you don’t even have to hook it up to your computer, it uses a memory card just like a digital camera! And when you are done, it is so cheap you can give it away so you don’t accumulate more stuff!!!
    Another Bob

    • Bob

      OldNavy, thanks for that tip. it look like just what I need! And yes, now I remember, it was the Wisconsin.
      Bob

    • Naomi

      Thanks for the ship info Oldnavy, and thank you even more for your service.
      ~Naomi

  23. J Grit

    Excellent article Bob.
    My dilemma is that I have a lifetime and a half of incredible tools accumulated by my father and myself. They are the older, better tools…irreplaceable. Some may have seen Gran Torino with Clint Eastwood. The boy asked Clint about his tools and he answered that it takes a lifetime to collect as many tools as he has. If I decided after 3-6 months that the Van lifestyle is not for me I would forever regret letting go of the tools and things connected with my hobbies and so forth.
    I have always loved travel and adventure. I love nature. I see through the rat race. I love freedom and peace. I lived in a vehicle when I was very young but it was for several months and times were very different back then. If I pay to store this stuff it will cost a fortune.
    This issue is confounding me!
    Any thoughts or advice?

    • Bob

      J Grit, I’m sorry I don’t have any advice. My knee jerk reaction is to just get rid of it all and be free. It’s a nice prison, but it is still a prison. But it is such a personal decision that no one can make it but you and my advice may be 100% wrong.
      But for me it is as simple as freedom and a life of joy versus a bunch of stuff. I would choose freedom. Maybe try a middle path. Store it for 6 months while you try out vandwelling and then make a decision.
      Bob

  24. Fred

    Hi Bob,
    Seeing how seemingly tough is for us to get rid of stuff, myself included (my storage is finally getting to the end, YEA!!), I remember what my Dad told me a long time ago. He was a very laid back kind of man and he said that it took him a while to learn it(they were married 52 yrs), BUT, before he hastily spoke or argued with my Mom, he would always think, “Will this issue matter in a week?” Applied to your latest blog, we might miss it for a bit, but in a week will it really matter that much? Usually the answer would be, I surmise, not no, but hell NO.

    • Bob

      I agree totally Fred. I think everyone I know who kept a storage place ultimately regretted it and got rid of all of it. But there i nothing wrong with hedging your bets and knowing you love the mobile life before you cut your ties. After all, it is just money you are loosing by paying for storage. And in a few years it probably won’t matter either.
      Bob

  25. Robert

    Thanks for sharing our e-mail Bob.. Hope it helps others to know they’re not alone!!

    • Bob

      Thanks you for sharing your life Robert. I hope you get it all figured out and it works great for you!
      Bob

  26. Curtis

    Thanks Bob for the encouragement!
    If there ever was a blog that should win an award for inspiration it should be this one.:)
    No matter what type of day one has had if this place don’t cheer you up then you are dead!

    • Bob

      Thanks so much Curtis for your encouragement to me!I guess karma may be real.
      Bob

  27. Curtis

    Bob “It’s a nice prison, but it is still a prison.”
    Very wise words Bob. Makes me think of other things that are prisons, a rat race job, a house payment, property taxes, etc.:)
    Also reminds me what you quoted in your book. “Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age a great many of us are possessed by our possessions.” Peace Pilgrim

    • Bob

      Thanks Curtis!
      Bob

  28. Elizabeth

    WOW! Been away for 3 weeks and am just reading your posts. I soooo loved this one and many of the comments, esp. Peace Pilgrim. She is still close to my heart after decades.
    My goal for the year has been to get rid of my stuff! I’ve been giving away tons, participating in yard sales, calling relatives to take some family antiques, but, but, but…….so many little things have not made it out of the house. Your suggestions were superb! Sublime! Intoxicating! Your visuals resonate with my soul. I will definitely use your idea of holding an item in my left hand and the image of sitting around the campfire under the stars with all of the smells of the forest in my right: the nighttime sounds, crackling fire, cool night air, scent of fresh pine and wood smoke, quiet, my husband, friends, family. Why on earth would keep anything! Thank you, Bob. Truly………many warm thanks!

  29. Silvianne

    Great post–just catching up after a few weeks. I am a Taurus and I love beautiful things, but I am also an independent fire girl so for the most part, parting with things wasn’t all that hard. EXCEPT, of course, for things that have a real history, unusual quality or special meaning–like the tools J Grit mentioned. Strangely enough, what helped me with that in my final transition into the van last month, was finding someone to GIVE them to, instead of selling them. I was too lazy to take the time to find the right market and knew I probably wouldn’t get near what they were worth anyway. Once I opened up to the possibility of letting go, Spirit sent me just the right person. For instance, I hauled a van full of stuff to the local village-wide garage sale in the neighboring town (“coincidentally” scheduled for the weekend before I had to move out of my house). It’s true, people aren’t collecting stuff so much now (which I think in the larger picture is actually good)so I ended up hauling a lot of stuff to Goodwill the next day. But, the things it had been hard to throw in the van the night before because of sentimental reasons, all found a perfect home and that meant more to me than the $75 I made. I cried when one of my sweetest neighbors took the red felt covered Christmas books my Dad got from his work each year when I was a child. And I met a wonderful woman, even older than me, who whispered in my ear after I shared my story “I once lived in a horse trailer with 2 horses and a rotweiller, touring the horse show circuit, and I was never happier in my life”. She ended up stopping by my shop to see me the next day and my $2,000 custom cowboys boots that will only fit someone with a very, very, very narrow foot fit her perfectly… so I gave them away. They were too sacred to me to sell. Some of my friends were appalled but it was one of the special moments of my life–she looked so happy wearing them and the boots looked happy to have a new life with a real cowgirl! I’m keeping my plain, everyday pair of vintage boots which is all I really need in a van. We are connected to everything we own (or that owns us) by invisible threads of energy, even if it is in a storage area 100s of miles away, and when we cut those cords we are free!

    • Bob

      Silvianne, thanks for those wonderful stories! Very heartwarming!

      We are connected to everything we own (or that owns us) by invisible threads of energy, even if it is in a storage area 100s of miles away, and when we cut those cords we are free!


      I absolutely believe that!
      Bob