Travel Schooling Part 3: Small-Space LivingNovember 17, 2021
“I would love to travel school, but how do you survive living in such a small space? How do you keep from losing your cool? What do you do with all of your stuff?” These are the questions I hear from so many travel-loving families who desperately want to see the world with their kids but can’t quite figure out what it looks like without all of their stuff and the big indoor spaces to which they’ve grown accustomed.
And every time these questions come up, I give the same reply, “You have to simplify.”
It’s not something I say because it’s easy for me (oh, how I wish it was), and it’s also not something anyone can do just once and be done, but if you want to travel school in lots of different places, you’ll probably need to live in a few small spaces from time to time, and simplifying is the only way I know to make that happen.
Recently, I read a book called Simplicity Parenting by Kim John Payne. In it, he talks about the many benefits of simplifying everything from toys, clothes, and books to schedules, activities, and interests. As I read it, I couldn’t help but recognize how critical the practice of simplifying has become for so many traveling families I know, including my own. But even though simplifying might seem like a simple answer, I don’t know anyone who finds it easy.
So, here are five tips to help you simplify for small space living:
Regularly Give Away Things That Aren’t Your Favorite
Getting ready to live in a small space means you’ll only have room for your very favorite things, so you’ll have to let go of the rest. Sell the big items on Let Go, Craig’s List, or eBay. Find a family member or friend with kids younger than your own who could use your extra clothes. Find a local charity that you can feel good about contributing your items. Do some research online to find the best place to donate. If you can’t find anyone to take your items, lovingly box them up and take them to an area where you know many homeless people are staying and leave them by a garbage receptacle with a note or call Habitat for Humanity (they’ll pick up boxes of random items in many areas). No matter how you choose to get rid of your least favorite things, you can rest assured that living with less will make living in a small space so much more enjoyable.
Trade Out Your Favorite Supplies Regularly – Books, Art Supplies, Clothes, Décor, Toys…Everything
Even when you downsize your belongings, chances are you will still have too much stuff to live in a small space, especially if you’re downsizing from a traditional home to an Airbnb, camper, or tiny house. So, instead of trying to cram everything in drawers and closets like we tend to do in a large home, when you’re traveling a lot and living in a small space (like a 200-square-foot Airstream, for example), it’s essential that you leave some things in storage (hopefully free storage in the attic at Grandma’s) and trade things out once or twice a year. Not only will this save you heaps of time and money, but every single time you switch supplies and start pulling out toys, books, and art supplies you haven’t seen in a while, it can feel like Christmas for the whole family.
Declutter Daily to Make Your Small Space Homey
Once you’re living with only your favorite things, you will have more space in your tiny home, but you’ll still need to declutter daily to make sure you don’t lose your cool. This means daily clearing away papers, garbage, toys, books, and anything else you’ve used, finding a place for everything, and putting it in that place every day. While this is a natural way of life for some, most of us can get by without having to declutter daily in a large home, but if you’re going to live in a small space, it should become your daily habit quickly – for sanity’s sake. Besides, living with only a few great things means so much more when you can actually find them.
No matter how much you want to travel school or how much fun you’ll have seeing mountains, oceans, national parks, and famous landmarks with your family, someone in your home may start to feel put out from time to time without all of the comforts of home. One kid may want to display his 10 favorite Lego builds while the other wants to have a place for 15 baby dolls and all of their clothes, and all dad wants is a place to display his favorite chess set, all of which makes 200 square feet feel like a cluttered cage. In these moments, it’s essential that the whole family gets creative. Ask every family member what he or she needs and make a plan to make it happen in a new, creative way together. Take turns putting out the toys each kid wants, make a plan for that favorite chess set, and come up with unique hanging storage or cool under-the-bed options for easy access. The possibilities are endless.
Whatever you do, don’t forget why you’re travel schooling in the first place – to see things you’ve never seen before – so, get outdoors and see them! If you’re camping, don’t try to keep your kids happy inside the camper (unless it’s raining); open up the door and get them outside on their bikes, huddled around a campfire, or exploring in the woods. If you’re in a small apartment in a city, get out on your balcony or get to a nearby green space. Take a hike, have a tea outside with a friend, eat all of your meals on a picnic table, and if you work online, take your laptop out to the hammock and type away! Your living space increases exponentially when you consider how big your backyard is, and I don’t know anyone who has felt boxed in with so much outdoor living space.
Whatever your travel schooling dreams may be, I hope this travel schooling series has given you hope and a few good ideas to go after those dreams.
The truth is, whenever we go after new things, it might be hard at first, but the more we do it, the easier it gets. Take the first step, and I know you’ll find yourself becoming a pro in no time.
I hope to see you out there!
More About the Author:
Celeste Orr is a writer, reader, nonprofit guru, sociology nerd, hiker, sailor, full-time traveling Georgia-born mama to two boys. She has been homeschooling since 2009 and loves all things family travel and adventure-related. She is also passionate about helping families choose togetherness and outdoor adventure, even if it means bucking the system and going their own way sometimes. She shares tips and articles to help families in the areas of travel, relationships, and choosing their own path at togethernessredefined.com.
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