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RV Companion Magazine
Jan/Feb 2000 issue

Planning to full time in an RV many times smaller than your residence?

If you are a first class, award winning pack rat... like I am... you are about to discover the fullest meaning of 'frustration'. Ahead is soul-searching and decision-making about possessions you have spent a lifetime accumulating... souvenirs, photographs, paperwork, mementos from your youngster's childhood and your own, knicknacks ...and way too many shoes.

I even have stuff from my parents' home. Guess I thought if it was important to them I owed it to them to keep it! They're probably having a big chuckle over that.

I have always loved to travel. Travel used to mean taking a trip ...and returning home where 'everything' was. One day I realized the boys had grown and gone; my pets had departed earth and I was shouldered with a house and yard that I no longer needed.

The plan to sell the house and buy a fifth wheel to full-time in was only the beginning of the decision making. Sorting began. It took me awhile, and it took constantly reminding myself that the past is gone... GONE forever. The future is where I am headed. It's hard to let go.

Here are some hints for getting started:


  • Keep meaningful things that are small and lightweight ...and photographs of family and friends.
  • Video tape or photograph other stuff ...bigger things that initiate fond memories. Art objects, a favorite chair or table, an entire room that you decorated and love or the garden you planted. When you're out in the middle of nowhere someday you can crank up the generator and view your past 'til your heart's content!
  • Think, seriously, what your kids, your family, your friends might want. What would they do with your stuff if you died today? If there's something special they want, give it to them. Tell them it's their inheritance... YOU plan to spend all the cash! And remember it is theirs now. You can still visit it, admire it, touch it... but it is their responsibility to protect or do with as they please. Let it go.
  • The stuff your heirs don't want or wouldn't know what to do with ...pitch ...sell ...give to charity. Have an estate sale (you never get what you think things are worth at a garage sale). People who do estate sales are more objective about prices. If you only get what you would have at a garage sale, you didn't have all the work!
  • Tools and books are tough to eliminate. Ask yourself of each book ...can I find this information on the internet? If yes, get rid of it. Donate your books... art and craft books to the library or arts council, etc. You can probably access them if you need the information. Keep quick reference books ...first aid, flower and tree identification, dictionary, etc. Paperbacks take less space and are lighter. Anywhere you travel you'll find libraries and new/used bookstores to donate, trade/sell books you have finished.
  • Keep telling yourself... "the kids don't want this stuff." They are busy collecting their own memories... 'cool, modern' stuff.
  • After spending hours, or days, sorting and decision making you find yourself 'needing to save' more than you discard... STOP! Rest awhile! Tomorrow's another day.
  • At the point where you just can't part with anything else and nothing more will fit into your RV, rent a mini storage ...or better yet ...get a utility trailer to store stuff. We found a nice used one and parked it in a storage lot for $25 a month. A mini-storage compartment will cost from $50 to $85 for the same amount of storage. Whenever you finally get rid of your excess stuff you can sell the trailer to recoup some storage costs.

The prize for downsizing is the feeling of great freedom you get. It's true. If you are a full timer with hitch-itch, and you no longer own property and have cut your possessions to a minimum, you will have such an incredible feeling of FREEDOM.

This concept may be difficult to understand until it happens to you. If you possess something, you are responsible for it... if you just savor the memories you are free!

A late 1960s song goes: "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

Feelin' good is easy when you aren't responsible for dragging your entire life's baggage along. The past may have been great it in your heart. The future can be greater as you head down the road unencumbered.

Copywrite 1999 -- Fran Crawford

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