Travel bloggers often post photos of themselves laying on a tropical beach and working on their MacBook while sipping a cocktail. This image always amuses me because I can’t imagine a more unproductive setup for work than sitting on a beach chair in the tropical heat. Traveling is sexy, but the truth is that beforehand you have to handle a lot of boring and tedious bullshit to streamline your life for travel. Fewer people talk about this topic because it’s less sexy than tropical beaches.
Before you do something, you have to ask yourself why you are doing it. Autonomy is one of my core values and being able to live wherever I want is an important goal in this stage of my life. Long-term contracts and clutter stand in the way of this goal and therefore I avoid them.
Over time we unconsciously take on more and more obligations in our everyday life. By themselves, they seem insignificant, but in aggregate they become a problem. These responsibilities take up mental space and distract us from more important things like doing meaningful work. We accumulate this enormous pile of responsibilities until we reach a point where we feel paralyzed without knowing why.
Before I moved to Medellín for four months last August, I had to take care of a long checklist of organizational tasks in Germany. The first item on the list was to terminate my lease in Cologne. Terminating the lease was the easy part. The contracts with service providers were more complicated to sort out. I was the main tenant and therefore I had signed all contracts (internet, gas, electricity, radio license fee, etc.) and some of them had ridiculously long cancelation periods. With the help of my flatmate, I was able to figure the mess out and I felt relieved when I was free of any obligations for the flat.
Before I canceled the lease and all the associated contracts, I wasn’t even aware of the burden of these obligations. I am not going to sign up as a main tenant any time soon. It’s much more convenient to be a subtenant with limited responsibility. I also sign short term contracts whenever possible. For example, I have a monthly cell phone plan instead of a yearly plan.
Every move is an excellent opportunity to declutter. I had lived only three and a half years in Cologne, but I had managed to accumulate a bunch of shit during this time. I got rid of everything non-essential and moved the rest to my parents’ house. I also got rid of several subscriptions (Amazon Prime, Dropbox, Spotify, etc.) and I challenged myself to buy only three things in 2019 to avoid more clutter. Decluttering is on everyone’s to-do-list, but nobody ends up doing it. In everyday life it doesn’t seem urgent enough and traveling gives you a good reason to declutter.
Most people wait for the perfect opportunity to travel the world, but this magical moment unfortunately never comes. You have to take matters into your hand and create a situation where you have enough freedom to travel. You need time and money to travel, but you also need to reduce your obligations at home. Don’t use these obligations as an excuse to stay home. Now you know everything you need to know about streamlining your life for travel. The rest is up to you,