Essential Lessons My Backpacking Taught Me To Do



Written by: Lindsay Sibson

Had you asked me a few years ago if I thought I would ever be primarily living out of a backpack and own less than 25 pieces of clothing… I may have looked at you like you were crazy.

Well guess what, I’m primarily living out of a backpack and my life possessions fit in 2 medium size boxes (most of which is sentimental stuff from my youth).

I didn’t always live this simply. At one point, I probably could have worn a different outfit every day for 6 months straight. Yet, even back then, I still thought that I had “nothing to wear.”

It wasn’t until I decided to go backpacking in Europe and only took a small bag with me, that I truly got a sense of my “stuff.”

Whether you are looking to organize your closet or want to reduce the amount of “stuff” in your life, here are 5 steps that you can start taking TODAY to help you simplify your STUFF:

1. Take Inventory: One thing that I realized was that I wasn’t using the majority of the stuff that I owned. I wore the same clothes over and over and used the same bag or purse over and over. Sound familiar? Here is what to do:

    • Do a “clean sweep” of your living spaces and collect items that you haven’t used in the past 3-6 months. Put them in a box or bag.
    • Make piles of what to keep (for now), donate, or sell – and DO it!

2. Pay It Forward: Do some research and find a local homeless shelter or organization in your community where you can donate the items you aren’t using. I used to just bag it up and drop it off at a clothes donation bin. However, speaking to someone directly in your community and knowing HOW they distribute the items makes it more personal.

Whenever you are on the fence about keeping something or not, ask yourself “Would this serve someone else better?” I like to visualize other people using the items and the joy they would feel from having something “new.”

3. Get Over It: Okay, so you spent X amount of money on such-and-such item, how could you just give it away? Yet, this item has been sitting around unnoticed, unused and untouched for months – ALL it is doing is cluttering your space!

I am totally guilty of this as well. However, if you aren’t consistently using the item, it doesn’t have much worth or value anyway – right? There are 3 actions you can take:

    • Attempt to sell the item – YES, simplifying success!
    • Donate it to charity- Yes, simplifying success!
    • Continue allowing it to clutter your life – No, just no.

4. Exercise Want Vs. Need: You and I both live in a highly consumeristic society. It is “normal” to frequently make purchases. You see a new shirt that you like and VOILA – your closet expands and you place that new shirt you “just had to have” next to the 20+ others you own. Been there, done that!

Once I started living out of a backpack and was on a meager traveler’s budget, I was forced to function from a place of NEED… versus things I simply wanted. If I bought something, something else HAD to go.

Even if you aren’t living out of a backpack, it is still important to become aware of everything that you are buying and if it is truly something that you need. What else could you use that money for? Vacation fund? A new book to continue learning about something you love? A special meal with a friend?

5. Surround Yourself With Happiness: Everything you see, hear, touch, smell and taste influences your life. Therefore, surround yourself with stuff that makes you feel GOOD. What I mean by this is your clothes, photos, etc. should produce positive thoughts and feelings when you encounter them.

For example, I was holding onto jewelry and other gifts that an ex-boyfriend gave me. My lasting memory of him is not a positive one. Therefore, when I saw the items and thought of him, it produced negative feelings – which are obviously not healthy!

Once these items were out of my life, I was able to focus on the things that made me happy. This can also ring true if you have clothes that are too small that you are saving for “one day.” If it is not making you HAPPY, it is best that you set it free.

Simplifying your life isn’t a one-time, overnight process. Only you can decide when and how to start. However, the important first step is STARTING – taking action and continuing to make an effort and working towards what you want.

Do you have a TIP that can help other people simplify their stuff? Please SHARE with us in the comments below!


Lindsay Sibson

Lindsay Sibson

Lindsay Sibson turned her lifelong dream of traveling the world into reality when she stepped on a plane to London, April 17, 2014. With the simple intention of learning more about this beautiful world, she stepped away from corporate America to explore an alternative lifestyle of long term international travel, volunteering, blogging and pursuing a blissfully happy and fulfilling way of life.

Through her blog, Lindsay documents her journey in hopes of empowering others to find their passion, reignite their spark and freshen their outlook on life.

Lindsay Sibson



Disclaimer: The techniques, strategies, and suggestions expressed here are intended to be used for educational purposes only. The author, Drew Canole, and the associated are not rendering medical advice, nor to diagnose, prescribe, or treat any disease, condition, illness, or injury.

It is imperative that before beginning any nutrition or exercise program you receive full medical clearance from a licensed physician.

Drew Canole and claim no responsibility to any person or entity for any liability, loss, or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application, or interpretation of the material presented here.

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