2011 in 2011: un fait accompli

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Un fait accompli – noun, def: An accomplished fact, something that has already occurred; a done deal.  

Yes, it’s a done deal.  I’ve finished my decluttering project and have decluttered 6033 items from my home this year.  I didn’t manage to finish my “little project” before we left on our vacation in Puerto Vallarta, but I am finished in advance of the end of 2011.  This will allow me to focus less on decluttering and more about getting into the spirit of Christmas, which is coming up pretty fast this year.  My wish for Christmas this year is that we’re able to avoid a major influx of gifts and toys for the children, and the only way I know how to accomplish that is to not buy them anything myself.  So they’ll be getting one joint gift (a Lego set) from Santa that they can both play with.  No, I’m not a grinch.  I just don’t like seeing the wrapping flying off the presents on Christmas morning, only to see the same toys and gifts neglected within a week due to the fact that the kids got too much stuff.

We returned from Mexico this past Sunday and although I did not think once about decluttering anything while I was there (heaven!), I did have some time to reflect on how happy the people there were and how interesting that fact is given that they have a lot less materially than a lot of other people in North America.  It is definitely a powerful observation.  Here’s a few other things I learned while travelling this past week:

  • You can go on a week’s vacation and bring only one backpack with you.  For our family of four, we packed four small bags for our vacation – two small duffel bags and two day-size backpacks.  For future trips, I am going to aim for one backpack per person.  My six year old demonstrated that he is already big enough to carry a backpack with all his things in it, which is great news for any parent travellers out there.  I brought enough clothing with us that we didn’t have to do any laundry (just hand-washing a couple of items), but the good news is that if you have access to laundry, you don’t need to bring as many things with you which can lighten your travel load considerably.
  • You may not need more than ten items of clothing for a week long trip.  And, as a bonus, your back will thank you.  I brought only ten clothing items with me, and not only was I content with the size of my wardrobe for the week, I brought too much and didn’t get  a chance to wear everything.  The kids were more likely to wear all the clothes I brought for them, but I discovered halfway through our trip that there was laundry facilities in the lobby of our hotel and had I known, I would have packed only half the amount of what I took with us for them to wear. My husband, the pack mule of the family who ended up carrying three of our bags most of the way home, had a huge realization when we arrived home and he told me he brought five pair of shorts with him on our trip and he only ended up wearing one.  I know he’ll remember that point the next time we go somewhere.
  • If you pack lightly and opt to go for only carry-on baggage, people will look at you like you are a terrorist when you tell them this.  It happened a few times – in Vancouver as we prepared to leave, in Mexico at the check in counter on our way home, and again at Canada customs when we flew into Calgary on our way into Vancouver.  There were even announcements in the airport at Puerto Vallarta that recommended limiting carry-on luggage – the reasoning was that it was “for your own safety.”  As far as I know, there aren’t any dangers to taking only carry-on luggage, I guess as long as the security screening process is effective.

All in all, the trip was amazing and lots of fun was had by all members of our family.  Perhaps we won’t wait so long between travels next time – our last trip to Mexico was for our honeymoon eight years ago!  I don’t think I can wait that long for another pina colada.

How do you like to travel?  Do you travel light or do you like to take all the comforts from home including the kitchen sink?  If you have any good packing secrets for aspiring minimalist travellers, be sure to share them in the comments!

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6 responses »

  1. First, congratulations on reaching your declutter goal! What an awesome accomplishment.

    I’m getting better at traveling light. I remember a few years back traveling to Ecuador with a friend. We wanted to travel all over so we committed to just carry-ons. It was great.

  2. Congratulations Erin! I am so excited for you. Your place must be gloriously empty. I’m so glad I read your post before taking off for the holidays, it will help me re-think my packing strategy. I’m not a great minimalist packer but the one thing I do is only bring my absolute favourite clothes because if I don’t like something at home, it’s not going to look any better abroad.
    I think you are doing the best possible thing for your kids by not overdoing the toys at Christmas. Grinchy didn’t even come to mind. It’s really too bad that we feel like we have to defend against an influx that we feel we have no control over. I am in exactly the same boat as you!

    • I wish I could say that it is gloriously empty, but it looks like Christmas threw up in my living room. Perhaps in January when all the festivities are over I will get a chance to embrace some glorious emptiness. Looking forward to that.

      Safe travels to you and happy holidays! And good luck with the packing!

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