Living with Less: How to Deal with Our Stuff When We Often Move & Travel

© 2018 YaninaTravels

My Life in 15 Bags

When I traveled to India in 2011 and lived there for a month, I got a chance to visit the universal town Auroville. In the heart of Auroville, in a big opened area called “Peace”, was built the Matrimandir. The Matrimandir is a building, which looks out of this world, a huge golden sphere, symbolizing the birth of a new consciousness. In order to enter in the Matrimandir, you must leave all your stuff, all your belongings outside. All you can bring inside is yourself since ALL YOU REALLY HAVE IS YOURSELF.


“Holding onto stuff imprisons us; letting go is freeing.” – The Minimalists

How many suitcases would you need to pack all stuff you have, if you need to move or travel long term tomorrow? Do you really use all stuff you have? I’ve been able to live with just 1 suitcase and 1 backpack for months.  I didn’t even miss much from my other suitcase, which I’ve been keeping in a storage unit. Isn’t it distrurbing how we collect tons of unnecessary stuff throughout our lives, misleading us into a false sense of comfort and security?

Until one day, due to various life circumstances, when we might suddenly need to move or travel long term, then we realize that THE REAL COMFORT AND FREEDOM IS IN LESS YOU HAVE. 

OUR STUFF ARE RESTRICTING US and cause us avoidable anxiety. Nowadays, I think couple of times before I buy something.

  • Do I really need it or I just want it?
  • Is it going to complicate my life in terms of weight and space?

In the past years, I’ve donated and sold on eBay and Craigslist many of my stuff. My goal is to get to a point where I have only stuff that I need, since LIVING WITH LESS IS A LIBERATING FEELING.


1. Clothes Get rid of clothes you don’t really wear. Sell them or donate them.

2. Decorations and Books Get rid of decorations and books that don’t hold personal value for you. Reduce them to just a few most important ones. MOVING WITH HEAVY BOOKS IS TERRIFYING and I’ve been there! Try to use ebooks (like Kindle or Nook), subscribe to Audible or simply borrow books from any library.

3. Furniture Buy only affordable and light furniture, which in case of moving, you can easily leave behind if you can’t sell it. Do you really need that heavy wooden dining table for $800 or you can still enjoy your life with the IKEA’s light dining table set that comes with 4 chairs and costs only $240? Some people might say, “But the IKEA one is not such a great quality, it’s not so stable and it might break easy!” So what? Why let your FEAR OF WHAT MIGHT HAPPEN TO A TABLE to control your life? If it wears off or gets broken after couple of years, you can get a new table! Meanwhile, you’ll have flexibility and freedom, which are more important than a table that might even outlive you. I’ve seen that too. DO NOT GET IMPRISONED BY YOUR STUFF since they serve you only temporary during your lifetime and your life is temporary too. Your life and how you live it, is more important than a table or any other material stuff.

4. Kitchen Get rid of every single item you haven’t used in your kitchen in the past year. You can still cook those amazing meals with less kitchen utensils!

5. Countertops Keep your countertops clear. Organize everything in baskets and boxes and keep them inside your cabinets.

Public Storage Units


Have you ever rented a self-storage unit, while moving or traveling? I’ve used the services of Public Storage to store my stuff in a climate-controlled 8×8 unit for $80/month with included insurance ($11). I’ve been using the insurance they offer and never really shopped around. If you are familiar and have ideas for storage insurance, write me a comment!


1. Rates The rates of the units are drastically different online than in person at the storage office. Make your reservation online in order to get the best deal!

2. Best Time to Rent The rates of the units change depending on season, day of the week the reservation is made and based on availability. Try to make your reservation earlier in the week (Monday is the best). There is no reservation fee so you can aways cancel or change it if you find a better offer on the next day.

3. Do Your Research The rates and conditions of the same size units, vary between the different Public Storage locations, even in the same zip code area. Find out online which one offers the best rate and conditions as well (older or newer building, number of the floor, cleanliness, neighborhood, etc.)

4. Getting Roller Suitcases Investing in roller suitcases, makes moving and storing so much easier – you don’t depend on hiring a moving company, you don’t have to lift heavy boxes, stores your stuff better and saves you tons of money in the long run! I store all my stuff in total of 15 roller suitcases.

5. Moving Pickup Rent On your moving day, rent a pickup truck from U-Haul. Their rate of $19.99/day + $1.09/mile is the best deal I found. Save some time by installing their app on your smartphone and make the reservation online. Moving my stuff in storage with U-Haul cost me only $30 total with gas included! I didn’t add insurance to my reservation since my insurance company (Geico) covers for pickup trucks rental.

6. Organizing Your Unit Before moving your belongings in your storage unit, place wooden pallets underneath to keep your stuff several inches of the floor. Additionally cover the pallets with a plastic sheet (you can get it from Home Depot) to protect from any possible leaks entering your unit. Once you put all your stuff in, cover them up with another layer of plastic to protect them from dust and potential leaks from above.

7. Rate Increase Expect unit rate increase every 6 months. How to deal with that? Once it happens, check online again and if you find a better rate, talk to the storage manager about transferring your stuff to the new unit you found with the better rate. This way you can avoid paying any rate increase. This is another advantage of investing in roller suitcases since they give you flexibility in switching units, due to rate increases. Everyone who has lots of stuff stored in heavy boxes, would be most likely stuck in the same unit, when they started renting. Who wants to deal with lifting heavy boxes all over again? This explains why so many people keep paying the rate increase for years. Until they get to a point when they already paid for unit storage rental more money than what all their stuff cost!

I started with 8×8 unit for $80/month with included insurance. After the first 6 months, my unit rate increased to $88. I checked online and saw a rate of $62 being offered for the same size unit. This happened in the month of January, when it’s low season for the storage companies. Who wants to deal with moving in the winter, right? I talked to the storage manager, moved my stuff right away to the new unit and the whole process took me about 30 minutes. 6 months later, I got another notification for rate increase to $74. This just happened now, in the month of June (high season) and the unit rates are unbeliavably high – $98 for the same unit as mine. As of now, I’m sticking to this unit since I have no other choice. After the high season is over, I will keep an eye for a better rate than my current one.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *