You often hear about the frugality and practicality of New Englanders, and in many ways, those old traditions of making do have stood the test of time. I think this quality gives us New Englanders a distinct advantage over travelers from other parts of the world. We know how to get by on very little and enjoy what we have. That’s a great trait to have as a Part Time Vagabond.
The ability to travel more than you ever thought possible hinges on your ability to practice what I like to call “selective paring.” It’s 2013, a time in which we are inundated with information and electronics. Distractions abound, and it can be very difficult to just focus on one task at a time. I am no less guilty of this problem than anyone else. I am easily distracted and find it really difficult to focus on one project, seeing it through to its natural conclusion. But it doesn’t have to be that way, and I’ve begun some habits that help me focus. The most important of these is selective paring.
Selective paring means literally ridding yourself of things that only serve to distract, bringing little or no enrichment to your every day life. Whether you donate that pile of clothes that no longer fit you, or you toss out (well, recycle) that stack of magazines from the last 10 years, selective paring serves a few purposes: 1) Clears away clutter that hampers focus, 2) frees you from the responsibility of finding and paying for extra storage, and 3) allows you to take only what’s necessary with you when you travel.
What you selectively pare down depends on how you want to live your every day life and how you want to live your traveling life. First, get rid of any duplicate items you own. Who needs two blenders? Duplicates are a sign of wastefulness, and whether it was intentional or not, the clutter is likely hurting you.
Next—and this is the hard part—get rid of anything and everything you haven’t used in more than six months. Sure, you have trinkets and memorabilia that you’ll never give up, but for normal, every day items that have been gathering dust for more than six months, toss ‘em. You can live a perfectly fine life without them.
Finally, take a long, hard look at the things that hog most of your attention during the day. How often do you check your smartphone? Is that productive? You could save $30 a month by getting a “dumb” phone. Is that iPad serving the purpose you thought it would when you bought it? No? Sell it, and use the money to buy a fancy dinner or two in London. Do you really need the SuperDuperDeluxe Cable TV package? I actually bought an HD antenna & a subscription to Netflix. That’s $140 a month vs. $8 a month (plus the one time $40 for the antenna).
When you’ve completed your selective paring, you’ll notice that there is a definite weight lifted off your shoulders. The less ‘stuff’ you have, the less responsibility you feel for keeping track of and maintaining it. This is the first step in freeing up your life for the things that have been on your “someday” list.
Want me to go more in depth about selective paring? Or maybe you have some tips of your own. Let me know in the comments!