Yrene lives in the Okanagan, British Columbia, Canada, and is the founder of BackcountryCanadaTravel.com. She was born in Switzerland, lived and worked on different continents and has travelled the world. Yes, that's me, an Entrepreneur, wilderness nut and animal lover who prefers off-the-beaten-track places. I write about things I love. Mostely.
How to prepare for life on the road again
This time, getting ready for the big change and life on the road is much tougher for me than ever before. I have to admit, it’s partly due to my age. As you grow older things seem to get more complicated. Not only do I worry about the road ahead of me, but I also struggle with the getting ready process. Probably like most of the older folks out there, I have accumulated a lot of possessions which makes the transition to life on the road more difficult.
I remember how easy it was when I was twenty. I quit my job, sold my car and stored my meagre belongings at my parent’s place before I ventured to far off Australia. All I took along was in my red suitcase.
Nothing was a big deal then.
When I settled down again ten years later I started off with the contents of my worn, red backpack which I purchased in Australia shortly after I arrived.
This time around, changing my lifestyle seems to be more complicated. Not only emotionally, but also the actual efforts involved in closing a chapter of my life and prepare for the next one.
Why is it easier to travel when you’re twenty?
At twenty, most people are free from emotional and financial baggage, just like I was when I was twenty.
It was easy for me to board a ship and travel to a far-off land to work and travel and hitchhike around the country, just as I pleased. All I needed was a passport and visa, a small backpack for my belongings and some money.
As the saying goes, “you should travel when you’re young” and I agree with that. I did. I lived the life of a nomad for ten years from the time I boarded the big ship in Italy and headed for Australia.
The settling down period
Most of us travellers will settle down sooner or later. It’s mostly because we get tired of life on the road and living out of a backpack; tired of constantly moving around and sleeping in a different bed every night.
We suffer from exhaustion after visiting dozens of countries, marvelling at the sights of hundreds of temples and churches, swimming in another lake, climbing another mountain. When those feelings make themselves known to a traveller, we know that it’s time for a break.
Once we settle down we start accumulating things we were living without for so long. We may want to live one of our dreams and buy a ranch in Canada with horses and other farm animals as I did. Others start a family, have kids, buy new cars and all the gadgets we think we need for a great life.
Years go by before we start thinking about serious travel again and we remember the long bucket list of places we haven’t seen. And finally, we decide that we want to be on the road again. But how the heck can we do it?
What is the big challenge for life on the road again?
My biggest challenge to getting back on the road is being able to let go of everything I own; my home, my animals and everything I have put my heart and energy into for the past years. I never believed that it would be this tough.
In fact, it’s been a few years since I made the decision to travel again. I’ve been on many short adventure trips during those years; trips to Switzerland, a solo drive on the epic Dempster Highway to the Arctic Ocean, a shorter trip to the West-Kootenay and Canada’s Boundary Country to name a few.
These trips were fun, but they are not the same as living on the road for a few months at a time. That’s exactly what I want to do.
Once you own rural property in Canada it’s not just packing your backpack and leaving, it gets much more complicated. It often takes years until you’re ready to leave.
Being aware of my urge to travel, I have stopped buying new things quite some time ago and I’m glad I did. I’ve been decluttering and getting rid of things to slowly get my belongings down to the basics. It’s my way of becoming a minimalist and getting back to crap-free living.
How do we start decluttering?
- Most important, stop buying things if you want to travel long-term and become a minimalist. Before every attempted purchase ask yourself whether it is necessary and what you will do with it when you travel.
- Start early. As soon as you decide to take the leap start selling and decluttering your household.
- Try selling items online. This will be time-consuming but will bring some extra travel cash. Craigslist, Kijiji and Facebook groups are your best options for selling if you’re in Canada.
- If you own property, hire the best Real Estate Agent available or find a reliable renter or a long-term house sitter.
- Find new homes for your beloved horses and farm animals (if applicable like in my case).
- Sort out all of your belongings. Categorize the items you are sorting out into groups, books, clothing, kitchen items. With each category sort every item into three piles; stuff you want to keep, stuff you want to get rid of, and the stuff you’re not sure yet. Leave it for a couple of days and go through it again. You will be surprised how the piles shrink each time you go through this process.
- Take items to a thrift store or ask friends whether they want to poke through the bags and maybe find some treasures.
- Think about storage and what it will cost. Do you want to keep furniture and items that need lots of space? Furniture is easy to replace. Keeping only personal items and things of sentimental value will save you big storage dollars.
- Go digital and you can move many of your old items onto a hard drive. That’s just what I did with 1200 feet of old film and I’m doing with 2500 old slides that hold my early travel memories. You can do the same with photos and negatives. In Canada, Costco offers this service, but investing in your own scanner is cheaper if you have a large number of pictures and enough time for the task.
- Travelling with pets is a possibility if you have your own vehicle. Do your research.
- Children are no excuse, not to travel. My article Canada with Kids will tell you how.
- Think seriously about trip planning.
Think about your travel goals and write them down. This gives your plan for a life on the road more purpose.
My travel goals are clear. I’m giving up my home, my lifestyle and most of my material possessions to be free to travel and be on the road again.
I’m taking on the challenge to discover the most off the beaten track places in Canada and write about what I find along the way.
Apart from keeping you entertained with my travel stories, I’m hoping to inspire you. I will pass on tips and information about places I will visit and things I will learn along the way.
Maybe I can motivate you to plan your own adventure.
Are you planning a lifestyle change as well? What is your experience decluttering your household? Tell us about your emotions and struggles with it and leave a comment below!
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