The Key To Happiness in Travel and Life Is…?

by brian on July 24, 2011

This post is sponsored by

You know why you’re unhappy?

You have too much stuff. Seriously, it could be as simple as that.

Backed by Scientific Research – Less Things, More Travel Make You a Happier Person from Cornell University (GO Big Redl!)

Our possessions tie us down. We have to work to pay to possess them. We work to pay off the credit card bills and maintain our credit score. We struggle to keep up with what we think others think we should be.

We buy X thinking it will make us feel better, that it will be able to keep up with the Jones, Johnsons, Thompsons, and Smiths.

The research shows that EXPERIENCES are the most lasting and fulfilling things in our lives.

The most liberating time in my life was when I was on my round the world trip. I have my laptop in a shoulder bag. Everything I else I need for 4 months through 4 continents was on my back. Everything.

Oh yeah and I sold my house the year prior. No worrying about a mortgage payment or renting out.

Are you stressed out? Can’t figure out why you’re so tired, so grumpy, so angry?

How much crap is in your hourse, your apartment? Look through your closet. How many of those clothes have you worn in the last 6 months? How about those books that you’ve read once and are piling up under your bed? How about the books you promised yourself you would read and have a thin coat of dust on them?

This article and research struck me, because consciously or not, I have been downsizing the amount the stuff I have.

I gave away the stacks of books I had.
CDs and DVDs donated too.
Lots of gear going to clothing drives.
I’ve been digitizing all my pictures and then tossing aside the orginials.
Anything that I had not used, worn, looked at or needed in the last 6 months is going to the wayside, slowly but surely.

And funny thing. I feel lighter. I really do.

Is the clutter of your physical space an extension of the clutter of your mind? How can you expand your mind if there is no space to fill it with new experiences?

And that is the key, isn’t it? Experiences. The lasting memory of a great trip, of sharing a new meal, of meeting a great new friend or lover, haggling for the perfect gift, watching a gorgeous sunset far from home. There are an infinite amount of experiences you can have. Seeking out what you like is an individual issue. But getting to the point where you can look for those new experiences is that hard part for many of us.

And you can’t open yourself to them if you’re physically and mentally attached to the old.

In a rut? Unhappy with your lack of travel? Try dumping some things from your life. It will may free your mind and body and give your more options and opportunity to travel.

Recently sold some of your stuff? Unburdened yourself from your house and car? How did it make you feel? Tell us in the comments below.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

TJ July 25, 2011 at 12:32 PM

Wow, what a great and timely post. I just returned from a vacation and realized I could travel even more if I stopped spending on things that were not a necessity. I just packed up a suitcase full of clothes for a donation to the Salvation Army.

My goal for the rest of the year is to purge my apartment and life, and take a step back from spending on “stuff”. If I can accomplish that, I feel I can work on my travel bucket list now instead of waiting for retirement.

Oh, but since I live in Queens,,,,,,,I’m keeping my car…lol.

Thanks for a great thought provoking post!!!!


brian July 25, 2011 at 9:21 PM

I agree about keeping the car. When you got to go somewhere you don’t want to depend on friends or family, taxis or rentals. ZipCar? Not for me.


Kris Koeller July 25, 2011 at 8:49 PM

A great perspective. I recently rented my house and got rid of a bunch of long untouched stuff in the process. It was a great feeling, and the only regret was buying much of it in the first place.


brian July 25, 2011 at 9:27 PM

It does feel great doesn’t it. Like a burden lifted off your shoulders. I’ve got to search around and see if there has been research in the psychological aspects of “owning”. Why do we feel so much better when we give up the stuff we worked so hard to accumulate??


GlobetrotterGirls July 28, 2011 at 8:51 PM

It seems so obvious once you’ve gotten rid of all the extras, but when you are still in that must-have state of mind, you can’t imagine living without. I have never been happier than I am now with just a backpack, and neither of us ever miss all our ‘stuff’. We spend money now only on what we need – food, hotel, a bit of travel tech and transportation, and we feel more liberated than ever. Excellent post!


brian July 31, 2011 at 11:16 AM

I think that is a great word: liberated. We are tied down with stuff and can’t move as freely as we’d like. Important consideration even when you’re not traveling and you’re settled in one location. Minimalist lifestyle? Did I just coin a new buzz phrase or was that out there already??


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