Preparing to be Digital Nomads – Getting Rid of the Stuff

Becoming digital nomads was not a decision Lisa and I took lightly. Deciding to pursue our passion for travel full time was a process. But once that decision was made, we determined to take the transition seriously. We gave ourselves about one year to prepare to be digital nomads: from January 2018 to January 2019. The first thing we had to do is figure out what to do with all the stuff we had accumulated over the course of life.

The Condo and Furniture

One year before we made the decision to become digital nomads we had purchased our dream condo in the West End neighborhood of Washington, DC. It was a two-level flat on the sixth and seventh floors of a high rise. The location was awesome. The building was fantastic. We loved it. I REALLY loved it. I mean, I really, really, really LOVED it. But it had to go. 

The condo went on the market in the Spring. Lisa had furnished it in a fairly bespoke manner so, after some thought, we decided to include the furniture as part of the sale and it was all sold a few weeks later.

We signed a 5-month lease for a tiny furnished flat just off of Dupont Circle, walked out of my dream flat with nothing but a couple suitcases and a couple boxes of stuff and set our sites squarely on digital nomadism.

The Cars

We are very much experience people as opposed to ‘things’ people. Obviously. But we both always felt that driving a nice car is more of an experience than a thing. So we got into the habit of leasing BMW sedans.

As fate would have it, our 3-year car leases would expire in the Spring and the Fall leaving each of us car-less for part of the year. Lisa’s lease expired first, but she was easily able to become a subway commuter. 

My lease expired just around the time we moved in August, and while I was able to metro to work, it would mean an hour on the subway each way. So after some research and math I determined that my best bet was to subscribe to Zipcar for Commuter.  For $199/month plus 45 cents per mile I got a car from 5am Monday to 7pm Friday and that price included the car, parking, gas and insurance. Lisa was very nervous that my co-workers would get very suspicious that I would go from driving a BMW to a Zipcar Honda Fit, but I guess I am quirky enough that it didn’t really happen.

Zipcar for Commuter worked well for Matt

The Weight

When we decided to become digital nomads we knew we didn’t want to be chubby – and we were. In order to live light we had to get light. 

We started the year of preparation by getting back to the gym and running. Jogging would be something we could do just about anywhere in the world. We were dedicated and got in shape pretty quickly, losing 5 to 7 pounds.

But we both just get so BORED running. We knew it was not a long-term solution.

Lisa did her deep-dive research and reading thing and determined that best approach for our lifestyle would be to adopt something between a Dirty Keto and South Beach approach to eating. Basically high fat, low carb, low sugar.

I was, to put it politely, skeptical. No bread? No crispy french fries? Lots of olive oil and avocado? Seemed like a great way to be miserable AND get fat.

But we gave it a go and found that not only did the weight melt away, our relationship with food changed. When we taught our bodies to burn fat instead of sugar and carbs we were less hungry and less inclined to snack. At this point we haven’t had a piece of bread since June and are each down around 25 pounds. We eat out, still drink wine but never feel deprived. 

In the past we would come back from a week of travel having gained 5 pounds. Now when we travel we come back the same weight or lighter.

So we not only lost the weight, but feel we have found a way of eating that will keep it off even as we travel! Needless to say, I am a total convert from skeptic to apostle of low sugar, low carb, high fat eating. Lisa and I will blog about our way of eating (like vegetarianism, it’s not a ‘diet,’ but ‘a way of eating’) while traveling – not to preach and proselytize, but because it’s simply a part of our lives now. See for yourself:

The Clothes and Rest of the Stuff

As I say above, moving from our (DREAM) condo (that I loved!) to a tiny furnished flat –
going from 2 walk-in closets to one small closet – naturally forced us to downsize. 

Losing 25 pounds also moved us from our ‘fat clothes’ back to our ‘skinny clothes.’ So all the ‘fat clothes’ went to Goodwill.

But our plan was to become digital nomads with just one Opsrey Ozone 22 inch convertible wheelie backpack each.:

So even though we had only a fraction of the wardrobe we had when we decided on the digital nomad lifestyle a year before, we still had a ways to go. Ultimately we took our wardrobes down to about 30 to 35 pieces each….and that includes socks and underwear! Here’s a blog post describing exactly what I packed.

We also spent a couple months scanning old photos and important papers and made hard decisions about knickknacks and other accumulated ‘stuff.’ Things like dishes and glassware went to my kids. I gave away a lot of stuff to co-workers. The rest to Goodwill, a local women’s shelter and various other charities. 

In the end we had three plastic bins of stuff we couldn’t bear to part with but couldn’t take with us: a couple of Lisa’s beloved purses, some high school and college yearbooks and diplomas…things like that. Those 3 bins now live in Lisa’s parents’ basement.

In the end, we shed so much. At first it was hard. Maybe we are weird, but ultimately it was cathartic. Hey, it’s like Ryan Bingham said in the movie Up in the Air:


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