Living Lightly

Living Lightly

A couple days ago I took a small trip to Toronto, ON. I was there for a day course, learning the basics of React JS at HackerYou. It was awesome and I learned a ton, but that’s not why I’m writing this.

When planning how I would arrive at my destination, I struggled with finding a route that made sense. Normally I’d just drive and stay at a hotel, perhaps close by, then walk to my destination the next day. However, this was a weekday, and my destination was downtown Toronto. A perfect storm for cultivating frustration and wasting time and gas. I thought about getting a hotel on the outskirts of town, maybe driving in the next morning, but that still seemed nuts. After taking a day to let it sit, I came back to tackle the issue again. Then, it came to me. I’m not sure why, but I had a thought about taking a VIA train. I’d never been before, but I’ve always wanted to try it out. It also made sense as there’s a station right in my current town that goes directly to downtown Toronto, only blocks away from where the course was taking place. I checked the schedule, confirmed the ticket prices weren’t too bad, and booked my ride. I also got myself a hotel room for the night before the course, because who wants to take a 5am train anywhere?

I was set.

Stuff I had with me

What did I pack? Only what I needed; laptop, phone, a fresh set of socks, underwear, and a clean shirt for the next day. Oh, and toiletries for showering, but that’s a given. Navigating through train stations and walking around the big city to my various destinations, only with my few possessions strapped to my back, felt really great. Liberating. Freeing. I could go anywhere I wanted with ease and nothing would stop me.

I feel like I could do this. Live with just the essentials for what I need to survive. I believe I’m in a position now in my life where I could actually do it.

Current conditions

Here’s my current situation which I feel enables this potential lifestyle quite easily:

  • Single. No kids, no pets, just me. Making a snap decision to pick up and go to a new destination would be no problem whatsoever.
  • Work remote. The team of awesome people I work with is fully distributed. Everyone is everywhere. Meaning, I can work from anywhere in the world with a decent internet connection, at any point during the day/any time zone. All I need is my laptop.
  • Minimalist. I’ve been a minimalist for a few years now, so the few things I currently have in my apartment I could do away with easily and quickly. I own nothing that I don’t use daily or seasonally. Nor do I have any physical sentimental items weighing me down. Putting a few things up for sale online and a couple trips to the local donation centre should do it.
  • Zero debt. I’ve been living without debt only a short while, but it’s been totally freeing. I put away around 50% of my monthly income towards savings (TFSA and RRSP) so this helps with any future unknowns greatly.

Things I’d keep

What would I actually need to live lightly? Honestly not much at all. Here’s what I figure I’d have with me on my travels:

  • Backpack. To store all my stuff in.
  • Clothes. Including: 5x t-shirts, 5x underwear, 5x socks, 1x jeans, 2x shorts, 2x "nice" shirts, 1x hooded zip sweater, 1x light jacket, 1x winter coat (it gets dang cold in Canada), 1x shoes, 1x winter shoes. Probably some gloves and a tuque, too.
  • Toiletries. The usual: toothbrush, tooth paste, floss, shampoo, deodorant, clippers to shave my head and beard, nail clippers.
  • Electronics. To do my work and keep in touch with people, I’d just need my laptop and a phone. Also, headphones for listening to music on the plane/train and for meetings.
  • Money. This probably goes without saying, but I’d have one credit and debit card. I don’t think I’d carry cash, but who knows. This would likely depend on my location.
  • Other. There’s a few other things I’d need to keep on me like my passport, birth certificate, tax papers that I can’t shred just yet, etc.

I think that would be it.

Why do this at all?

For fun. For adventure. For doing something with my life other than the status quo: working the 9–5, eating and sleeping. Video games, movies, shopping in the evenings and weekends, seeing family only a few times a year. Is that any way to live? By not experiencing what’s out there?

Maybe I’m off my rocker, you tell me. I just think there's more to life than doing the same, expected thing each day (work — eat — sleep), month (live for the weekend), and year (birthdays, holidays, Christmas, new years…) Repeat.

I also want to see what I’m capable of. Get out of my comfort zone and have near-life experiences. Fully immerse myself in different cultures to see how other people live their daily lives. Share struggles and victories with people I might have never met otherwise.

Questions I haven’t considered fully

Travelling in this manner is great. I can easily pack my stuff and go. Although, where would I be when not travelling? Would I get hotels? Rent furnished apartments for short periods of time? What about food? Would I eat fast food and out in restaurants all the time? Also, what about my car? Do I keep it and use it to get around places that are within driving distance? Do I sell it and rely on other methods of transportation?

This all seems like it would be crazy expensive and I’d be broke in no time. I know there are alternatives for lodging, eating, and transportation, I just need to do some more research and figure out what would work for me.

This is all at an early stage concept. I’m sure there is a lot more I need to consider. Will I actually do this? Maybe, I’d sure like to try. I feel like I need to do it now, while I’m still relatively young and, mostly healthy. I just need to do some more research and talk to other folks who’ve gone before me. What was their experience like? How’d they get from place to place, and stay warm, dry, and not hungry?

We’ll see what happens. I’ll let you know.

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