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What We Own … Now that we are Traveling

minimalist - organization - simple living - what we ownImage: Phaitoon

Just over a month ago I posted about what we owned as a minimalist (or simple living) family.

But a lot has changed in the last month.

Ever since we first started simplifying we dreamed of being able to live out of a backpack and travel…

…and just over 2 years since we started de-cluttering and making intentional changes it is now a reality!  We are in China and this post is about what we brought with us.

… we aren’t technically living out of backpacks… suitcases, but the idea is the same.

Here is what we brought with us and what we are storing…

My goal for this post was to have a cute little picture of our family at the airport with our bags.  However, the reality of traveling happened and the camera was never pulled out.

We decided we wanted to move to China late December and really jumped into the paper work.  … coming to China is not easy… all kinds of paperwork sent over the oceans and medical tests to be done and just general government delays (governments are so similar all over the world 🙂)

So, even though we knew we wanted to come to China we really couldn’t start packing or selling anything until we got our visa’s approved.

…. we finally got visa’s 12 days before we were scheduled to fly.

12 days turned us from minimalists in our 1-bedroom apartment to being officially ‘backpack’ travelers.

We sold all my husbands construction gear and both vehicles (we had to drive a rental car till we left).  We sold our table and some other pieces of furniture.  We packed up our China dishes and a few other memory things.  Then we donated the rest of our household goods 1 day before we left.

What we have with us:

  • 2 suitcases
  • 4 carry on (small) suitcases
  • computer bag
  • 2 kids backpacks
  • Bryon’s camera bag

We have current sized clothes for winter and spring and a few larger clothes for the kids for next winter.  We have homeschooling stuff, blogging stuff, photography equipment and some books for teaching English.  We have some kids toys and books.  We brought some medical stuff and vitamins.  We also brought the kids quilts that grandma made for them.  Since we were moving into a furnished apartment, here in China, we didn’t need anything else.

What we stored:

  • A few plastic tubs of memory items
  • Our china dishes
  • Camping tent and sleeping bags
  • Our electric piano
  • All our old paperwork for taxes we need to hang onto

I don’t remember when I have had so little belongings to my name.

This definitely would be considered extreme for minimalism but I have to say that we love it!.

This minimalist journey is personal to us and would be different for everyone.  But since this is me sharing our story, I tell you about how it works or us.

Going from ‘normal’ family belongings down to a few bags has been a journey but it has been incredibly freeing.  I do own things that I value, but it is nice to realize that it is only a few things.  I think things, even if they aren’t in sight, hold a place in our head and weigh us down.  We worry about them, even if we don’t realize it.

Are they safe? Are they insured? Are they organized? Can I find what I need? Do I still have that item?

Things are such a part of our life that it is hard to picture our life without them.  However, now that we own very little things (and lots of these things will probably not last past our year in China to come back with us) we still have very full lives.

We are a family, we love each other, we play together, the kids still fight, I still sit on Facebook in the evening and then talk to Bryon when the lights are out about fears and challenges.  We still struggle with thinking up things to cook for lunch… especially things the kids will eat.  We teach our kids to do chores and love watching them run through and explore the world around them.

We have goals, dreams, stress, struggles, humor, and plugged toilets.  … life is amazingly normal even without our things.

As far as the big things, life isn’t harder or easier –  the big things are still the same.

It is the small things that are less in the way – less shopping, less cleaning, less organizing, less worrying, less clinging to items of little value.

Thanks so much for reading!


  1. Good luck I can’t wait to here all about it ! I am still following your book, it is awesome ! I hope you will soon be sharing pictures of your adventures!


  2. Kathy Kathy

    Thanks so much for sharing!! I was wondering what you would take with you & store for your return. I can’t wait to follow all of your adventures!

  3. Lindsay Lindsay

    How very fun to read this!! I found your blog only a few days ago, and was so delighted to read about your adventure this morning because our family is just counting the weeks until we are so free! We can’t wait to be just us! We have four children (plus I’m in my second trimester with the fifth) and we have lived the last five years in a small two bedroom home with minimal things and on my husband’s very modest income. Now we are counting down to our new life in Thailand, where we will move with just our suitcases! My list of items almost exactly matches yours in what we will take, except that I have to dedicate space to cloth diapers as well. 😉 I very much look forward to hearing more about your China adventures. Thanks for including us!

    • so great to meet you! Excited for your plans, I have heard Thailand is beautiful!

    • Ali Ali

      Wow that sounds amazing.

      you need to start a blog aswell!!

  4. Emily Emily

    Congratulations on making your dreams a reality!! I look forward to hearing about your adventures. I wanted to share with you that a couple of months ago you posted a book recommendation, Mended: Pieces of a Life Made Whole by Angie Smith. I felt led to check it out, and asked a friend if she had read it–she hadn’t but suggested we start a book study. We got started, loved it, and felt led to share it. So, we are a week away from starting a new women’s group at our church! And, we learned that the author is local—–thank you for the suggestion!

    • Awesome! I really loved that book. I want to read some of her other books in the next few months as well. She just seems so real 🙂

  5. Wow! It is so exciting to actually see the benefits of minimalism and that your dreams have become reality in such a short time! I can’t wait to read about your adventures as extreme minimalists in a foreign country…with kids! It is all very exciting.


  6. anuradha anuradha

    Good Luck and May all your dreams come true! 🙂
    I can’t tell you how much I have simplified our home in the last 6 months with your posts, it is more simple and beautiful than ever for me, and my hus and I decided to direct our efforts towards a making a family dream come true, to move from Germany where we live to Maui for 6 months with our teenage boys and experience something totally new! We can’t wait and it’s really happening now. We have not just simplified our home, but our needs and our thinking too. Simple living, higher thinking, isn’t that what they say! Also, thank you for using your dryer for laundry so you could free up more time to inspire so many people like us around the whole world! 😉

  7. Michelle Diamond Michelle Diamond

    Wow – congrats. Looking forward to more insight on the universal theme of minimalism, family news, and photos as you immerse yourself in a new culture.

  8. You are so inspiring, Lorilee! I just love your blog and having been reading you for a while now. This is my first time to comment, though. I’ve also read your e-books and consider them an essential part of my “minimalism” library. I wish you and your family all the best on your adventure in China. God Bless!

  9. Lindsay Lindsay

    Thankful to find this blog! We’ve sold our house and are looking at townhouses and condos now…trying to figure out how small we can go. I have had a hard time finding minimalists who didn’t upsize once they had kids, so your blog and links are great. Our challenges to downsizing include having two (3 soon) kids, homeschooling, and running two home-based businesses. This is just what I needed to read before checking out a 1200 sq ft condo that I worried might be too small! Plenty of room, right!

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