Living With Less, But Having More

Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

As we packed up our lives in Grenada to set off on our next adventure, we became very aware of just how few possessions we actually own. Normally when packing up a home and moving on, it would take days, even months to sort through everything, purge, pack and clean. But leaving our beachfront cottage was simple.

Why? Because our whole lives fit into 102 litres of space. Nick’s Osprey backpack is 40L, with his day pack being 15L. My Osprey backpack is 32L with a day bag of 15L.

living with less but having more
Our whole lives fit into 102 Litres!

That’s it, that’s all the space we have. Everything we need fits nicely into those four backpacks!

And the interesting thing is – those items packed aren’t just for a trip, they’re everything in life that we own (except for our tent and sleeping bags, which are in Canada). Many people commented on Twitter and Facebook when they saw our whole lives laid out on the floor when we were packing our bags. Questions started coming in about how we are able to fit everything into such small backpacks, and how is it possible to travel so lightly?

The truth is, we just simply do not need a lot of things in life. Possessions and material items don’t bring us joy.

For us, what makes us happy is travelling, working online, laying on the beach, meeting new people, going fishing, doing yoga, reading, drinking wine and eating delicious foods. In order to enjoy this type of lifestyle, all we actually need are our computers, bathing suits, a fishing rod, a yoga mat, a book, a wine opener and some extra clothes and shoes to wear each day.

fishing in kyrgyzstan
Fishing in Kyrgyzstan with a 70 year old local

All of those items fit nicely into our backpacks. What more could we possibly need?

Sure there are things that we all want, but if you really think about it, there’s not actually a whole lot that humans need. By living with fewer material possessions, we feel like we’ve created a lifestyle that allows us to have more!

Here’s what clothing I own:

2 bathing suits

4 pairs of long pants

3 pairs of capri pants

3 pairs of shorts

3 skirts

3 dresses

12 short sleeve tops

2 loose-fitting, 3/4 sleeve tops

1 fleece top

1 thermal top

1 rain jacket

bras, underwear, socks

2 pairs of flip-flops

1 wedge sandal

1 pair of hiking shoes

1 pair of water shoes

I definitely have more than enough clothing, and the funny thing is, even though that’s all that I own, I purged some items when we left Grenada! As far as “other” items go, I own a yoga mat, some jewelry, a hat, a sarong, a towel, a game of cribbage, a Kindle, a laptop, toiletries and that’s about it!

travel packing list
A beach outfit: skirt, t-shirt, sunglasses and flip-flops. Good to go.

Nick owns even less clothing than I do:

5 long pants

4 shorts

6 t-shirts

1 thermal top

1 rain jacket

underwear, socks

1 pair of hiking shoes

2 pair of flip-flops

1 pair of water shoes

He also carries a fly-fishing rod, a hat, a belt, an iPod, a basic cell phone, a laptop, travel-sized speakers, a Leatherman knife, a mosquito net, a frisbee, a towel, toiletries, and that’s about it!

This minimalistic list of possessions means that it’s very easy for us to just pack up and go to a new destination and a new adventure. If we had a permanent home filled with furniture, electronics, supplies, housewares, and everything else that most of us own, life would be completely different.

We love being able to just throw everything into 102 litres quickly and be on our way!

On a more practical level, this is how we actually pack all of our gear into our backpacks:

– We roll all of our clothing. Not folded, rolled.

– We then take all of those rolled clothes and put them into packing cubes (polyester, mesh, zip cubes). These cubes enable us to really condense our items, you would be surprised at how many pieces of clothing we can get into each of the squares.

– We have three sizes of cubes:

h= 5cm l= 35cm and w= 23cm

h = 5cm l= 25cm and w= 18cm

h= 5cm l= 19cm and w= 10cm

travel packing list
Mesh packing cubes – also known as an indispensable travel item.

– The yoga mat straps to the side of my backpack.

– We wear our hiking shoes on travel days and strap the extra shoes on the front of Nick’s backpack.

– Nick’s fly-fishing rod attaches to the side of my bag

– We have our medical kit and toiletries in one of the zip squares as well

And that’s it! Simple. Easy.

We honestly believe that by living with less, we have more. We never feel as though we’re missing out on anything by just having the possessions that we do. We don’t wish that we had a huge house packed with furniture, or that we wore the latest fashions. To us, that’s not what this life is all about. It’s about being debt-free, care-free and stress-free, and by packing light and living the location independent lifestyle that we do, we’re able to be happy and free each and every day.

What do you think of this minimalistic lifestyle? 

Like it? Pin it! 🙂

Living With Less, But Having More

Nick Wharton Author Bio Picture

Written by

Nick Wharton

Nick is the co-founder, editor and author of Goats On The Road. He contributes to numerous other media sites regularly and shares his expert knowledge of travel, online entrepreneurship and blogging with the world whenever he can. He has been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and has more than 10 years of experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship.

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34 thoughts on “Living With Less, But Having More”

  1. Nice. I think it’s so easy to just accumulate stuff you don’t really need when you’re living in one place, but the beauty of backpacking is that you are limited in how much you can and want to carry around with you, so you end up whittling your stuff down to just what you actually use.

  2. It’s actually awesome in the sense that you might wanna think extra carefully before you buy souvenirs and stuff because you only have this limited space to put things on.
    It gets you to thinking,”What is really important?”, what is necessary? Things like that 🙂

  3. As ever I`ve read your newsletter, looked at the pictures, watched the video and have to think “whats the catch!”

    The catch is the belief in ones self to take the jump, and build some life adventures…

    I`m getting there slowly..
    Inspirational as ever..

    All the best

  4. That’s the really great part about travel, it is an exercise in forced minimalism. You learn, by virtue of the circumstances, that it doesn’t really matter what you possess in terms of having a fun time and an enjoyable life–it’s about what you do and who you share it with. Notice WHO, not WHAT you share it with. That iPhone might help you record memories, but you can’t sit down with it over a beer and laugh about that time you slept on the train station floor after missing the last run of the night.

  5. A 72 year old, I am able to travel once or twice a year: in 2014, that meant a week watching the grey whales in Mexico and five weeks spent in Spain, Morocco, and Portugal.

    I go with just a carry-on and a medium sized purse and managed a five week trip through SE Asia with the same minimal baggage. May have to try a back pack next!

  6. I love the title to this post. I also gave up most of my stuff to travel and now only have two backpacks. It’s so freeing and has really taught me what matters and what I really need. And the funny thing is, now I’m trying to get rid of even more and reduce my backpack size from a Osprey 55 to a 40. The more space I have, the more I fill it up, but not necessarily because I need to.

  7. Totally agree! Dan and I travel with only a carry-on and a backpack each, which holds more than enough for what we need. What most people can’t understand is that it’s actually liberating to NOT have stuff.

  8. Hi guys.

    It’s refreshing. I’ll give you that.

    To not care about materialistic things, possessions, the latest fashions and all the rest must be completely

    In the UK, ‘Black Friday’ has only just caught up with us here in the UK. In the news, they reported of scuffles, fights, hair pulling, screaming, shouting as hordes of people made a mad dash to special bargains as soon as retail premises opened their doors.

    And although it was comical seeing people bash each other over the head with the packaging of a 32 inch flatscreen TV, there was an undertone of sadness for me. Really, people got that worked up over a discount on a TV?

    Seriously, they were like vultures. Police were called to several stores, arrests were made and people went to hospital.

    And then you guys. WHo couldn’t give 2 hoots about a discounted TV, hairdryer or bargain Ted Baker suit.

    Kudos my friends, kudos.

    The majority of us live based on strict societal constructions that are ingrained from an early age. i.e, get an education, get a job, get married, have kids, retire. To have snapped out of all that and turned your back on it all takes some doing as well as a lot of nerve. I applaud you.

    One question though, and maybe I am getting too personal here so there’s no need to answer if it is.

    But have you made any plans for, lets say a few years time, when let’s say, you guys would like to start a family?

  9. Hey Sam!

    So true! It’s all about necessities rather than luxuries….but we truly don’t feel like we’re limiting ourselves in anyway. All we need is on our backs 🙂

    Thank you for commenting, I hope all is well!

  10. Hey Darren,

    My 32L bag could be brought on the plane, but I pack a knife, tweezers, liquids, etc. etc. that I just check the bag and don’t have to worry about what to pack.

    Cheers and happy travels!

  11. Hi Vince,

    Wow, thank you for the kind words! We aim to inspire people to follow their dreams and “jump” and I’m glad we’ve inspired you 🙂 Thank you for reading and for commenting, we really appreciate it.

    Cheers from Mexico!

  12. haha, it’s true, iPods aren’t the best company, are they?! It’s all about the experiences had and the personal growth, not about the possessions. We truly believe that our minimalist lifestyle has enabled us to have better moments than we would have had if we were tied down by material items.

    Thanks for the comment Ryan!

  13. Wow Peggy!! How impressive is that? I love how you’re able to travel with so little…and I bet you don’t feel like you needed to pack more in order to have better experiences. Love that you’re 72 and still hitting the road, so inspirational 🙂

    Thank you for the comment and happy trails!

  14. That’s very inspiring to hear. We’re the same way, always ditching things and feeling like we have too much! haha. Good for you for living out of your backpack, I’m sure you feel like you have everything you need…and then some 🙂

    Thank you for the comment and happy travels!

  15. Well put Linda, it’s very liberating to not have loads of useless possessions! It feels great to just pick up and go and not have to worry about anything. Even if people aren’t living full time on the road, I think many of us travel with too many things for a trip.

    Thanks for the comment and happy (and light) travels 🙂

  16. Hi Richard!

    Thank you for such an awesome comment 🙂

    The whole Black Friday thing and people going mental over bargains, material items, Christmas, etc. is completely crazy and very sad in my opinion. I also watched something recently on Jimmy Kimmel when parents told their kids that they ate all of their Halloween candy – the kids lost their minds, hitting their parents and screaming, over some sugar. There are many things in our world that I just can’t believe, and don’t agree with, which is why we have chosen to disconnect from certain aspects.

    It’s true too what you said about us all having these ideas ingrained in our minds from an early age – there is a typical life plan that we’re all “supposed” to follow 🙂 To answer your question, we don’t plan on having a family. But if we did decide that we all of the sudden wanted kids, we’d still be travelling and they’d have little backpacks too.


  17. Hi Emily,

    We don’t often return to Canada. In 5 years, we’ve been back 3 times, for one month each time. It’s weird, hectic and expensive when we go back!! We love Canada, but we really enjoy living abroad right now 🙂

    Thanks for the comment!

  18. Thanks for the guide on what you travel with, it’s interesting to see what different people travel with! I’m going to be heading off travelling long-term this year, but will probably “cheat” by firstly just heading to South East Asia for 6 months then returning to Australia for Christmas, meaning we don’t need any cold weather clothing and can easily pack carry-on only.

  19. I wish I’d got this when I was younger! I get it and, indeed, am doing it now but I’ve missed out on a few years. The longer you are without ‘stuff’ the easier it gets. Except that we have stopped for a while to earn some money and I needed some work clothes…..and I’ve forgotten how to shop. I used to be fabulous at shopping. The key things you mention are what stop me; I’ve got to carry this if I buy it and do I really need it? Great way to save money too.
    Really interesting to read your blogs, advice, information etc. And to check out some of the links and people that are reading too.

  20. I always take too much with me on the road (and then I can’t part with it, so I keep carrying that heavy bag – not all clothes, but also some veggie food just in case…). After getting robbed in South America, I had nothing left but my valuables – e.g. passport and credit card – (minus watch, photocamera, …) and the clothes I was wearing with one more month to go. Just bought the bare necessities: tooth brush/paste, towel, soap, comb, washing powder, a T-shirt, one piece of spare underwear. I bought a colourful blanket and wore it with all the stuff inside just like the local (indigenous) people do. Funny to see the puzzled faces when I checked in somewhere: ‘where is your luggage?’.

  21. Just curious what type of jobs everyone does who lives on the road traveling? I know some have blogs, books, etc. How much money does say a couple bring in in order to do this? Even being frugal & living minimal still cost some money. How does everyone afford to be road warriors? Thank you.

  22. Hello Angie,

    There are a wide variety of ways that people make money on the road. We have this travel website and we write for other sites. Some people bartend, are nannies, scuba dive instructors, work on yachts / cruise ships, masseuse, teaching english, house sitting etc.

    Wages vary, many make 6 figures a year.

    You can learn about making money on the road here:

  23. Hey, i am really interested in this kind of lifestyle but i have one question that a little bit bothers me changing to this lifestyle. What kind of work you do and where you get money on the road to continue travelling ? (:

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