How to Take a Carry-on Travel Mindset into Everyday Life

November 02, 2016 4 min read

This is a guest post from Barb McMahon, an artist, and writer at HappySimple

My husband and I love to travel. And when we do, we just bring a carry-on bag each. It’s such a great feeling to be able to skip past the baggage claim without having to wait and wonder and worry. Getting from the airport to our accommodations is so much easier with fewer, lighter bags.

Many years ago, after a really lovely trip to Paris, I thought, why can’t we live like that all the time?

Travel Essentials. Encircled creates versatile minimalist clothes with the everyday traveler in mind. Each piece is ethically made, out of sustainable and eco friendly materials.

Because it wasn’t just being in Paris that I adored, although Ireally adored that. It was also the lightness, the freedom of not needing to think about what to wear. With only two pairs of pants and a couple of shirts to choose from, I was dressed and ready to head out the door in no time flat.

We stayed in an apartment on that trip, and as a tourist rental, it was well, but minimally equipped. Doing the dishes and putting them away was easy because there was ample space in the cupboards for them. The floors were clear and open. I felt like I could breathe a little easier the whole time we were there.

When we got home, we started clearing out our stuff…

Simplifying + Making Room for Less

My wardrobe now fits in a third of a small closet and a couple of drawers. It’s more than would fit in a carry-on bag, but we live in a four-season climate and winter clothes take up a fair bit of space.

My wardrobe is versatile, with each piece serving multiple functions (hello, Encircled cardi!). Getting dressed in the morning is a breeze because everything fits and is a favourite.

Losing the excess clothing allowed us to sell off two armoires and a dresser, which made room for the desk I use to make my handcrafted cards and write my blog.

We also gave away several boxes of books, choosing to make use of our local library instead. Craft supplies, kitchen equipment and DIY projects, are all kept to the basic and are frequently culled. I like to knit, but my yarn stash is almost nil. This is practically unheard of in knitting circles!


Less, truly is more Freedom

And before all of this minimalism starts to sound like a life of grim deprivation, remember the image of skipping past the baggage claim?

That’s how I feel pretty much all the time.

Less stuff means a whole lot less responsibility.

Cleaning our place top to bottom takes about an hour. Laundry is an afterthought, rather than a massive chore. I can find what I need quickly and easily, even if I haven’t put it back where it belongs, because I never have to dig through mountains of stuff I don’t use.

Travel Essentials. Encircled creates versatile minimalist clothes with the everyday traveler in mind. Each piece is ethically made, out of sustainable and eco friendly materials.

Our house is actually starting to feel a bit too big for our needs (my husband and I live with our dog in just under 850 square feet), so we’re looking to sell up and move to a rented apartment soon.

This will give us more freedom, fewer responsibilities and make our finances a whole lot easier.

Experiences over Things

When you decide to own less, you spend a lot less time shopping, which frees up time and money for the things you would rather do. For us that includes everything from eating out more often to the really big adventures of running our own businesses. We opened a bakery a few years back and I make cards to sell at local galleries and markets and I write a blog. I’m also working on a novel.

The other bonus to travelling with carry-on is that we aren’t able to collect souvenirs. There’s just no room in our bags, which means we’re freed from the compulsion of having to bring back gifts for everyone at home.

So, instead of spending hours in museum gift shops, we spend our time viewing the actual exhibits before heading to a local café for a glass of wine and a ‘what was your favourite?’ moment.

Travel Essentials. Encircled creates versatile minimalist clothes with the everyday traveler in mind. Each piece is ethically made, out of sustainable and eco friendly materials.

I think with the shopping for and schlepping of stuff off the table, I’m able to enter more deeply into my experience of the trip. And isn’t that really the point of travel?

Bringing this mindset back home, I feel the same about my carry-on life.

Freed up from the shopping and the cleaning, organizing and all the rest of it here, I have time to head to a local café with my husband and talk about our day. I can actually notice and appreciate the way the sun moves across the bedroom (where I do my writing and creating) over the course of the day because there is open floor space for it to move across.

Because I don’t have a zillion of them, drinking my tea out of my locally-crafted, handmade mug feels like a celebration that I get to do every day.

Living this way allows me the freedom to say yes to so many more things.

Yes to opportunities, yes to adventures, yes to fun.

And sometimes those adventures take us away from home and sometimes they happen right here at home.

But they never involve waiting at the baggage claim, wondering what happened to our stuff.


Author Info: Barb McMahon is a writer and artist living in beautiful Stratford, Ontario where she and her husband have a bakery. She believes that life is a big adventure and that creativity is what makes us human. You can follow her adventures on HappySimple, be tempted by the goodness of the bakery Facebook page and see her creations on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.


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