About nine years ago I started a little exercise in downsizing my life. Most of it was due to moving from Florida to North Carolina, to Arkansas, to Virginia, and finally Indiana – it was done out of necessity. Each step along the way I would get rid of more stuff. You’d think by the time I ended up in Indiana I’d have next to nothing left, and I am pretty close! As far as furniture goes, I only have one Queen Anne chair, ottoman, and a TV stand that are still with me from Florida. The rest is stuff I simply haven’t wanted to part with (some crystal and some other items I just love), plus I’ve purchased a few things in the nearly three years I’ve been in Indiana. In preparation for moving into an RV full-time, I find myself back in the process of downsizing once again! Woohoo!
Preparing to downsize
Even though we’re not planning to hit the road until Spring, 2019, I have full-time RV living on the brain. I’m keeping a mental inventory of what I will (hopefully) keep and what I’ll eventually dispose of one way or another. I do know that I don’t want to rent a storage unit – that gets expensive! Now I just have to keep at it and get it done.
Getting rid of the furniture I have won’t be a problem. Just put it up for sale on a local Facebook marketplace or have Goodwill pick it up. Simple enough.
Clothes won’t be a problem for me. I’ve never been a clothes horse, even when I was working. I’ll just keep shorts, t-shirts, a few pairs of chinos and jeans, a couple different weight jackets, a couple of sweaters & cardigans, and one winter coat (I’m freezing when most people aren’t!). Shoes won’t be a problem either – flip-flops, tennis shoes, and a couple pairs of boots (ankle and knee height) should do it.
What do I do about my paints, brushes, canvasses, and all my yarn for crochet? Will I have enough storage space in an RV for these things? I don’t think they’ll take up too much space, nor are they all that heavy. (Note to self: get an RV with storage under the bed and a pass-thru storage area!)
What to do about all those photographs!
I also have at least a gazillion photographs (a few of which I’ll keep in print & wall hangings) and negatives (yes, I’m that old!). The photographs have already been scanned (42 GB worth!), but it’s really hard to let go of those negatives for some reason! Strange, because unless you’re still using a film camera, negatives don’t exist anymore!
I need to scan all my important papers. I also have a box full of genealogy documentation. You can scan a lot of that stuff, but it’s best to hang onto original documents, such as birth/death certificates, etc. – especially since you paid for them – and for certain things copies won’t do.
Make sure to have copies of your passport, drivers license, and birth certificate. Also, a copy of all your insurance cards, credit cards, and Social Security card. Scan them and keep copies in a password protected place, like a local cloud drive or an online cloud, such as Google Drive. Consider giving copies to a family member.
I have a personal Western Digital cloud drive, and I also store copies on Google Drive. Additionally, I purchased the My LastPass Vault app, where all my online passwords are stored, along with copies of all my important documents.
I recently purchase a fire and waterproof safe for very important documents – birth certificate, passport, etc. It’s small but weighs 19 lbs.
What to do about all those things you can’t part with
How do you deal with the stuff (non-furniture) you really love) and have an emotional attachment too. I do have some items that I simply won’t part with, even though some of them are not so RV appropriate. There are items I would like to have when my RV’ing days are over – it’s not a lot – but they are irreplaceable in my mind. And since we plan to stay in one place for three to four months at a time, I can set them out (or hang them) and then re-pack them when we move.
There are several options here:
- See if any family members want the items (they usually won’t), or perhaps they will store them for you.
- Find an RV with enough storage to take them with you.
- Rent storage space (this gets expensive!)
- Reconsider how important those items actually are several times before you hit the road.
And, of course, there’s the laptop (two actually), small printer, and their associated supplies and gadgets. Those will have to live on the dinette, at least at first, unless I find an RV with a computer desk.
The Ongoing Process
I have already managed to unload a bunch of stuff. I throw things out all the time or set them aside to be sold or donated. This morning I cleaned out the yarn stash I have in my bedroom and threw away a lot of small leftover yarn balls that I’ll never use. There’s still a large storage box full of yarn and other arts & crafts items in the garage that I need to deal with. I use a Kindle for my reading library, but I still have a few books that I want to keep.
It’s an ongoing process – a great project to really get into this winter. I’m getting started now because Spring, 2019, will be here before I know it. With the downsizing I’ve already done over the years, and the fact that I live in a one bedroom apartment with a garage (really, there’s not much down there), it shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish.
My rule is this – If you haven’t touched it in over one year, lose it! That rule will most definitely help me with the kitchen. There’s a lot of stuff in there I haven’t touched in over a year!
To sum things up, here’s a little checklist of things you can do when downsizing your life in preparation for full-time RV living.
- Remember Rule #1 – If you haven’t touched it in over one year – lose it!
- Determine what can simply be thrown away.
- Determine what can be donated to Goodwill or sold. Schedule a garage sale or a Goodwill pickup. If you donate big-ticket items to Goodwill, be sure to get a receipt for your taxes.
- Determine what personal items (knick-knacks, crystal, wall-hangings, etc.) you feel you simply must keep (I feel ya!), and then rethink those items every month. Is there a family member who would love to have them?
- Scan all your photographs (even the ones you have framed) and important documents. Make sure to scan your drivers’ license, birth certificate, and passport. Back everything up onto one of the online Clouds, or buy your own. I use a Western Digital Cloud drive that holds 3 TB, which is far more than most people need – but I have an enormous amount of photographs.
- Determine what clothing you will need (you really won’t need much). Think about all the times you’ve packed for a trip and then wore only half of what you brought along. So decide what you’d like to take with you, then rethink your decision. You might find that you can cut more. Will you be spending any time at all in winter climates or mostly following the sun? Shoes? No, you probably don’t need 10 pairs of shoes!
- What type of RV you purchase will have a lot to do with how much onboard storage you’ll have, so take that into consideration.
I hope you’ll follow my blog as I prepare to hit the road and beyond! I’d love to hear how you dealt with downsizing in preparation for your new full-time RV lifestyle. What am I forgetting?
Safe travels everyone!