Living Differently. Owning Less, Living More

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4 amazing years of seeing the world, somewhere between 35 and 50+ countries each, an amazing education for the kids and a new career for me. More family time, more fun, less work. But to some it must look crazy. How can we prefer backpacks to bedrooms, co-working spaces to steady jobs and challenging destinations to comfort? I know that most of you won’t want to do it our way, you’re more interested in shorter family travel breaks, we’ll talk about all that in coming posts, but first let me try to explain why we do what we do, and, to an extent, how.

We used to own a four bedroom detached home with pool and double garage set in tropical gardens producing fruit year-round. In the garage there was an almost new 4 wheel drive and a collection of lavish camping gear. The house had air conditioning and a bed for everyone plus spares. We had lots of books, DVDs, CDs, a flat screen TV and a gaming console. I had a walk-in wardrobe and an en suite bathroom, the second bathroom had a bath big enough for a family and a double shower. We lived within moments of a tropical beach on the Coral Sea. We had everything we could possibly need and if we wanted something we generally bought it. My husband had a prestigious job at one of the best 5 star hotels in town. We had family-of-head-chef hotel perks in spades. And yet we left to live out of backpacks. Why?


We’re different, yes, we didn’t fit with that lifestyle, but I think we were crazy to buy all that stuff in the first place and I wish we’d had the inspiration to live differently, with fewer needs and possessions years earlier than we did. While others bought boats and threw dinner parties I was dreaming of the freedom of riding the trains in South East Asia or no fixed duration trekking in the Himalayas. I needed to roam. I could see that my children needed a more varied environment in which to learn, so our plan was born.

OK, I lied. We still own the above home, although it’s about to be sold, just about everything in it has gone, we swapped our “stuff” for cash to fund our dreams in year 1. We have never missed house or possessions since the day we walked out the door. Particularly not the camping gear!

It’s really liberating. It’s freedom.

Crazy, maybe, but it’s a good crazy. We’re having a lot of fun with this new lifestyle, ever changing view and fewer material needs.

See what’s in our backpacks in this post.

How More Stuff = More Stress

The big house was lovely, nothing wrong with it at all, but possessions, property and gardens can be a chain around your neck. More space means more cleaning and buying more furniture and possessions to equip or fill that space. More space also needs heating or cooling. More garden brings more work and more tools and equipment, you’re never happy, always wanting and buying more plants, changing that layout, adding a new feature. More possessions bring more stress as they break, get damaged and get dirty, you then buy more furniture to store those possessions. It’s a never ending circle of consumption and spending.

All of the above give you less free time and less free money as we become physical and financial slaves to our homes.

How Earning Less = Living More

Now, with just our packs our lives are all-round lighter. We need to earn less to travel than we did to stay home, that basic fact gives us freedom to earn in more creative, less conventional ways on a timetable that suits our needs and our family time.

See how we make a living while we travel here.

Because we work less to maintain both home and income we have more free time to travel and be a family. Because we own only what we can carry we are never tempted to buy things we don’t need.

Back in 2012 when we sold all our possessions and walked out of that home, some people thought we were “throwing it all away.” We weren’t, we were gaining freedom.

Do we wish we still had all that space? No, not really, occasionally, if we need a bit more space we can rent a bigger apartment or stay in a more expensive hotel, but on the whole all we do in hotel rooms is sleep, we’re out all day and have no need of a larger home base. We certainly don’t miss the bills that come with running a large home nor the headaches. When you mostly live in hotels so much is taken care of for you, from laundering bed linen to cooking to internet connections, it’s wonderful and gives us all more time to do the things we enjoy.

We still buy things for the kids, of course we do, they have mountains of Lego, books, toys and their favourite bows and arrows. Their possessions stay at home bases these days, Romania or London. In the first 2 years we carried everything with us, right down to Harry Potter wands, 14 cuddly toys and Sonic Screwdrivers. If I want to treat myself it has to be something practical like a new camera or phone, maybe a small treat like a favourite shampoo bar, you appreciate treats more when you don’t take them for granted. I don’t care about clothes, neither does Chef and fancy or expensive clothes don’t impress me, sorry, they just need to do the job and earn their pack-space. We can wear our favourite clothes every day because that is all we own, when items wear out we replace them. Can you imagine how much money that saves?

Why Settle With One Reality When You Can Try them All?

I like cities, I love mountains, I enjoy walks in the woods and pavement cafes. I need to be near water sometimes, I enjoy museums, theme parks, street food and fine dining. I like temples, mosques cathedrals and palaces. It is possible to have all of that in one lifetime.

We’ve done it, we’ve lived it, for 4+ years now and we’re absolutely certain that owning less is more. A lot more, as we explore the world trying everything and everywhere on offer, a new experience every week. We are most certainly living more, on less. Are you tempted? How can we help you on your journey?

It doesn’t have to be a physical journey as ours is, if you think differently, live differently and consume less, we can all buy ourselves more freedom.

Freedom, that’s what Living Differently is all about. 

If you'd like to hire a car during your stay, use this car rental comparison tool to find the best deal!

We also suggest you take a look at this company to get a quote for all kinds of the more tricky adventure or extended travel insurance.

Try Stayz / VRBO for an alternative way to find rentals on homes/apartments/condos in any country!

About the author
Alyson Long
Alyson Long is a British medical scientist who jumped ship to chase dreams. A former Chief Biomedical Scientist at London's West Middlesex Hospital she started in website creation and travel writing in 2011. Alyson is a full-time blogger and travel writer, a published author, and owns several websites. World Travel Family is the biggest. A lifetime of wanderlust and over 6 years of full-time travel, plus a separate 12 month gap year, has given Alyson and the family some travel expert smarts to share with you on this world travel site. Today Alyson still travels extensively to update this site and continue her mission to visit every country, but she's often at home on her farm in Australia.

11 thoughts on “Living Differently. Owning Less, Living More”

  1. So refreshing to hear this. I’m loving the perspective you bring. Onwards and upwards to travelling.

  2. Hi there,
    We are an English family of 4 and have just made the decision to travel for a year in 2018, with our two gorgeous girls who will be 5 & 8. A friend recommended your blog. I already feel liberated and have stopped spending money on unnecessary things, as every penny saved means more adventures. We will be exploring Australia and New Zealand first. Cannot wait! xxx

  3. I recently found your blog. Hubby and I are trying to decide if we can have the traveling family life too. We have the house, the toys… too much STUFF and it’s giving me anxiety. I want out! My life dream is to be a traveling family. Hubby is about ready to make the change, but he’ll be walking away from a great job (you know, for living a great big american life…). My big struggle at the moment is – how do we decide what country to start in? We are in the US – Seattle area. We are first seeking somewhere warm, as we’ve noticed our health is much better in a sunnier area. So many questions on how to go about this. I think we just need to start down the path and we’ll figure it out, right?? 😀

    • Well it doesn’t really mtter where you start Shauna, because once you pick this life choice every and all countries will be a possibility, just keep on moving. You could pick the cheapest ( Asia) the closeset ( Central Americ) or the one you’re most interested in ( fill in the blank!) and just keep moving. We started in Malaysia because the flights were cheapest from Australia and once you’re in Asia onward travel by bus, train or plane is cheap and straightforward. If you’d like a chat we do a 1 hour Skype call or online Q&A thing for $30.You’d be the third this week! Full setails are in the side bar and footer of the site. The great big life is just not what we wanted, sounds like you’re coming to the same conclusions. Best of luck x

  4. I like having a home, but I’m a renter. I rent in a nice, safe suburban neighborhood within a terrible school district. I homeschool, so living in an area with bad schools, keeps the rent down and frees up money to travel. I’m also not sinking money into a home with repairs and whatnot. I feel I too, would be one of those people too attached to a home if I “owned” it.

    I’m not quite sure where I’d like my home base to be, I need to travel more until I find a place that really speaks to me. Traveling indefinitely seems great, but I’m not 100% sure it’s right for my family.

    • Well we found our base and then Brexit snatched it away Crystal. You’re right, you do find out what you truly need through trvel, for me/us it was winter with snow, autumn colours, changing seasons and being in touch with the land, having people around, being able to be inside/outside, connected. I love your take of finding a good didtrict too!

  5. I have to laugh when my parents ask us when we plan to move up from our “starter” home or upgrade our decor. It’s funny how it’s just a given for many that you’re supposed to just keep accumulating stuff as you go through life. I have to admit, I don’t see us giving up our home base in Canada, I love to garden and I have deep connections in my community. But…. by living in a house that’s small and shabby compared to almost everyone I know I’m able to free up income to travel as much as I want to at the moment. Now if only I could find a way to combine my two favourite hobbies: gardening and travel.

    I love hearing how others are rejecting consumer driven norms and living the lives they want to live!

  6. I wonder if I could ever bring up the nerve to actually sell everything and rent our house to strangers … it sounds so easy! Maybe when we retire?

    • Interestng that you used the word strangers there Talitha. It loks like you’re very emotionally attached to your home and would suffer if it was damaged in any way. I have zero attachment, it’s jut a box breeze black and plaster board,, temporarily owned by us. Someone owned it before us and somebody will own it after us.


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