All 55 Things I Own

[flickr]set:72157624939631294[/flickr]

It’s that time again, time to figure out what I’ve got, what to get rid of and where I can be more efficient when it comes to the stuff I’m hauling around with me from place to place.

Last time I tallied in at 51 things, and the time before that was 72. This time I count 55, but there are some caveats on that number.

First, as always, I count the power cords and cases that go with the items as part of the item. This means that my Macbook Pro, its power cord and its sleeve all count as one item in my mind. I also don’t count anything that gets used up, like food or contact lenses and lens solution. This doesn’t upset my moving too much, since I generally just replace these things when I arrive anyway, and I go through them so fast keeping an accurate count would be a purposeless exercise in futility.

Second, I just bought a guitar at a local street market and I’ll be getting rid of it as soon as I take off, so I’m counting it for now, but it won’t be sticking around when I leave Bangkok in November.

Third, I’m also getting rid of one of the hard drives, one of the workout shirts, one pair of boxer briefs (Calvin Klein really let me down with this pair) and one of my v-neck undershirts, knocking the number down to 50 in November. But it’s not November yet, and for the time being I’m at 55, and that’ll have to do for now!

I’ve had a lot of people ask me about what products I use and which they should use when traveling, and as a result I decided to set up a new site just for reviews of products and services that make doing what I do possible. Head on over to Flashpack and check it out – it’s still just starting up, but it’s growing fast, and I’m adding a few new items every week.

I saw a lot of people posting their own photo galleries of possessions after the last update, and I’d love to see more this time around!

If you go through and take photos of everything you own (it makes reduction much easier, if that’s what you’re looking to do), post a link to the gallery below so everyone can get some inspiration!

76 comments

    • Nice! You should post a gallery when you’ve got it where you want it!

      Just read your interview at InTreehouses, by the way. Good stuff, and I can’t wait to see what you end up doing with your new business!

  1. Colin, I like the way how you treat your stuff. But I don’t think I can live with only 50 things! At the moment, reduction does not describe my life, my home, my stuff. But I find the light in that principle. As I read through, it made me think about the stuff I have that I don’t really need. Now, I’m beginning to think that I’m a hoarder – which I frantically don’t want to be. Sometimes I find myself buying things that I really don’t need, which is very impractical.

    So now, I’m planning of giving away those that aren’t useful to me, and only keep the ones I need. Thanks for reminding me not to be attached to objects, ‘coz after all, it’s the people around me that really matters.

    • Thanks Dahlia!

      Definitely no need to go so extreme as I have, but a little reduction can go a long way toward helping you focus on what’s really important in your life.

      I find that focusing on what you can do with your time, money and energy instead of using it to purchase more can help a lot, too. Knowing that the cash I save on some random doohicky I’ll use once for an amazing experience I’ll remember the rest of my life has kept me from overbuying more times than I can count.

  2. Thanks to Colin showing me the light, I have also embraced minimalism. Here are all 69 of the things I currently own: http://zorbadesign.net/all-69-of-my-possessions

    Getting rid of stuff is so invigorating. I almost want to buy a bunch of crap just so I can get rid of it. It sounds crazy I know, but honestly it is crazy how fun it is to get rid of stuff. Focus on having more experiences, not having more things.

    • AWESOME work, Mr. ZZ.

      Not sure about getting stuff just to get rid of it, but it’s important to remember that Minimalism is all about being to focus on what’s important to you, so if that WERE important to you, make it work for your philosophy and the world (buy something for an event, for example, and after you’ve used it, have a planned person to give it to, charity to donate it to, etc).

      Keep up the good work!

  3. Colin,

    It’s way inspiring to watch your stash of stuff dwindle. Sometimes I will be packing my suitcase and 2 visions come to mind: George Clooney’s master pack job from “Up in the Air”, and your “All X Things I Own” posts.

    Thanks for sharing your minimalist journey with us. It’s obviously sparking serious consideration. Helping us reexamine why we own what we do. Kudos!

    And good job on Flashpack. Your headlines keep getting better and better ;)

    Peace,

    Lauren

    • Thanks Lauren!

      Believe it or not, I still haven’t seen that movie, but I’ve heard that aspect of it referenced enough that I think I’d better.

      Glad you’re enjoying Flashpack, too! I’m enjoying using the slightly different and more whimsical writing style (the titles are a big part of the fun) and finally being able to review stuff without worrying that I’m bugging anyone over at this blog.

      Just checked out your site! Looks like you and Sean are up to some cool stuff!

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  5. We like following all of your adventures! All of our stuff fits in our Honda Civic. We should probably streamline our life.

    We love reading your blog! Just wanted to let you know!

  6. These posts always make me want to take everything out of our packs and count them. I’ve got way more than 55 items in total, that’s for sure.

    How are the jeans working out for you in Bangkok? I ask because I found my travel pants/jean skirt were so much cooler and more comfortable in the heat and humidity. I ended up ditching the jeans…and then wanted them again when we arrived in Europe.

    • I would actually LOVE to see what you and Dan have in your bags, seeing as how you two are some of the best-traveled people I know. The number’s not what’s important, it’s the value the possessions bring to your life!

      The jeans are hit or miss…thankfully two of them are very lightweight, so they’re fine. It’s also a little less humid/hot right before and after it rains, which is pretty much every day, so as long as I don’t go out in the full scorching sun, I’m pretty solid (though I HAVE gone out in the full scorching sun, and I always come back home dripping in sweat…ugh).

  7. Hi Collin. I’m glad to see more people online like you. I also started with several hundred things and now down to less than 100 things. I’ll add pictures soon. I hope to follow in your footsteps as soon as my online income streams takes off. I hope we inspire more minimalist, artists, and entrepreneurs out there.
    Kevin

    • Great to hear it, Kevin!

      Be sure to post a link when you’ve got that gallery of photos up! I’ll be interested to see it, as I’m sure many others will be, as well.

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  9. Woo hoo, love the list (or photos, more like it), Colin! Obviously, as minimalists, we understand the value and time/energy spent for each item in and each item out. It makes a huge difference when one actually photographs all of their things. You literally *see* all the stuff one owns, and how much of a headache it is to lug everything around! Better to reduce as much as possible (or radically chuck everything out and start over? hmm…. I think about this one a lot) while making sure our consumerism is in check.

    I recently photographed my things and want to have it up on my blog, and am trying to figure out how to do the photo collage thing you have in your post. Still learning. :)

    My list is here, 70 Things as of 9/6/10: http://castlesintheair.org/blog/2010/09/06/70-things/

    • Thanks!

      I find the same: it’s incredibly easy to identify the things that matter to you and the ones that don’t when you’ve got everything lain out for you in a gallery. Too difficult to remember everything at once, otherwise, and there’s not as much comparison-potential.

      Great list and photographs! Keep on kicking ass (literally and figuratively, miss Karate Kid), Nina!

  10. Next time I travel, I’m certainly posting a similar post because I love this idea. If nothing else, this is an inspiration and reminder to pack only what I truly need. I always end up packing too much, despite the fact that I always have less than those I’m traveling with. Minimalist is the way to be. Terrific post.

    • Awesome! I’d love to see that post when you put it together!

      Travel really is a million times more enjoyable when you’ve got less to lug around. I’ve got very little with me, and it all fits in a carry-on and my messenger bag, but I’m still formulating a plan to reduce down to just the messenger bag and a small, inverting-and-collapsing backpack. Slowly but surely :)

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      • Part of what keeps me owning a decent sized wardrobe is laundry. I tried for a while to actually do small things (t-shirts, socks, underwear) by hand in the sink every few days, and hang them up in the shower. It worked great, but pants become an issue…

        • Yeah, these days I have to be very careful about the clothing I buy. Certain materials last longer, retain less odor, are harder to stain, etc, not to mention wanting to find things that pack well, don’t hold wrinkles and, oh yeah, look good :)

          It’s an imperfect science right now, since I’m still very much learning, but it’s much better than it was when I left the States.

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  14. How can you call yourself a minimalist? All you’ve done is shifted your “possessions” online. All your blogs/facebook/twitter/ebay/etc are as much a part of you and require the same time/energy as physical possessions may require for someone else.

    • Easily: Minimalism is about streamlining your life so that the things that don’t matter to you take up little or no time and energy, while the things that DO matter to you take center stage.

      My online activities are important to me, and I enjoy them, so I spend less time and fewer resources on the physical stuff so that I can focus more attention on the online stuff (along with other things I enjoy, like travel, lifestyle experiments, etc).

      I actually wrote a post about this not too long ago, Minimalism Explained if you’re curious for a longer explanation.

      • It’s quite easy to take a word such as “minimalism” and give it a definition that suits you. To say that you have 55 objects is not meaningful currently, and will only become less so as more of the world is virtualized. To me, minimalism is about achieving a simple lifestyle and it seems evident that someone who owns an extra spoon has a more simple lifestyle than someone who has an entire online store, for instance.

        • Ah, but don’t you see? You’re guilty of the exact thing you’re accusing me of. ‘To me, minimalism is about…’ you say, followed by the definition that SUITS YOU.

          I don’t say this to throw your argument back in your face, but to bring up an important point.

          ALL lifestyle choices are completely subjective because the definitions of all of these things are not held hard and fast. This is a very human thing to do when dealing with the intangible; hell, even religious-folk have completely different ideas of how they are supposed to live, and they believe they will be PUNISHED if they get it wrong.

          So yeah, it’s great that you’ve found a version of Minimalism that works for you and it’s great that I’ve found one that works for me. To say that one or the other of us has it right, though, would be as disingenuous as it would be wrong. Be careful of such dogmatism, because unfortunately it usually leads down an ‘Us’ and ‘Them’ path, and history has far too many tales of that kind of movement going awry for me to want to take part in one.

          • I’m not a minimalist and I’m not trying to get “religious” on you, of course there is no right and no wrong. If it makes you happy to clean out your closet and blog about it, then that’s great.

            My point here: You have more than 55 items. 10 years ago you would have listed a photo album, the fact that it’s on a computer today does not mean you don’t have a photo album.

            • I take your point, but I still disagree.

              What stresses me out is owning physical things. Having to worry about said things, keep them from being broken or stolen, carrying them around with me, that’s the kind of stuff that led to me streamlining my possessions.

              For me, digital items don’t have that same mental weight that physical things have, so when I’m able to move something online, yes, it does remove the burden.

              Further, there are fewer resources consumed, less space occupied and less money spent investing in digital ‘property’ (if you’d like to call it that) than tangible, real-world stuff.

              I appreciate the fact that you’re thinking through the digital/physical gap, and bringing up a point that no doubt many people have to consider when moving anything online (‘is this really worth doing? will it just complicate my life in another way?’), but for me, and for many other people, trading atoms for bits is a great way to clear the way for the things that really matter in life.

              Collecting photos has never been a priority of mine, and therefore I’ve never had a physical photo album, but if I can have a free, online version that I never have to think about (except when I want to add to it) and that other people can enjoy if they want, I think that’s a solution that most people can agree on.

              Even the term ‘ownership’ is a bit more complicated now that things are moving online, as most ‘possessions’ are actually just borrowed or rented space, not actual ownership. I’m splitting hairs at this point, but I just wanted to make clear that this is not as simple as album = online album = possession.

              • Recent survey in the UK shows that the average person spends 45% of their time on TV/internet/mobile phone etc.

                I think the mass production/consumption of low quality information is amazing, not to meniton all the new tasks/obligations that come with the fact that we spend nearly half our time in this virtual world.

                Perhaps your readers (myself included) should focus just as keenly at minimizing these obligations because they can be much more wasteful then keeping an extra pair of shoes around.

                • Now there is a point that we can definitely agree on.

                  Passive, low-value activity is essentially escapism and definitely should only be undertaken in small doses, if at all.

                  When it comes to enjoying life to the fullest, seldom is a major component of the recipe ‘watch TV for 4 hours a day’ or ‘spend your whole night Tweeting about your cat.’

                  That being said, if your be-all, end-all IS doing these things, by all means, do them! Do them the best way you know how! But if you’re aiming for something else, than definitely, these activities detract rather than add to your life, and should definitely be minimized.

                  I appreciate your candor, XYZ! It’s tough to find people who can disagree, discuss, and live on to discuss again in the future. Far too much ego in most exchanges, so feelings are hurt and emotions overtake rational discussion. I’m thrilled to have you around!

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  20. Love it.

    While I might never (or desire) to be down to less than 100 items, our lives vary greatly in situation. With that, it is awesome to see other views of minimalism in practice across the world.

    I am going to be participating in Project 333 starting on January 1st, just to see if I can do 3 months wearing only 33 items (sans workout gear/underwear)

    Thanks again Colin, great posts, great comments. Good read.

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  27. Question: Do you use any kind of compression bags or packing cubes to fit everything into your bag? How large is your bag by the way?

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