Tuesday, September 28, 2010

The Vagabonding at Home Challenge

While it is important to know how to live an awesome life while in graduate school, it is just as important to have one after graduate school. I can hardly believe I am typing these words, but I will be done with school in less than a year (and hopefully much less). After school, I plan on taking a mini-retirement while travelling for at least a year full time.

If you have read previous posts of mine, you would know I value efficiency and simplicity. I do not just want to go out and see a few things while blazing from place to place, I want to give vagabonding, or long-term travel, a chance as a lifestyle. There are numerous ways to make money which are independent of location, and I plan to explore these while travelling. Nonetheless, with my extremely simple and inexpensive life as a grad student, I have managed to save a bit of money which will hopefully allow me to travel for a while even if I cannot successfully make money on the road.

I want to maintain a simple, yet highly connected and productive life while seeing the world. This will involve taking some steps to make sure I have the right gear. One thing that I absolutely require is that I must be travelling light, very light. However, I must still be very functional and not make any huge sacrifices of convenience, productivity, or connectivity.

Since I still have a bit of time left in my graduate career, I have decided it is important to get started on what I call "The Vagabonding at Home Challenge." I want to live in such a way that will closely mimic how my life will be when I am travelling. This will force me to start looking at the gear which I think will be useful on my travels, whether it is clothing, technology, or other things. Every ounce matters when aiming to travel very light, so this will force me to discover what I really need (and not just what someone else's travel blog says I will need).

In this initial state, I will primarily focus on clothing. Since where I live now is pretty warm all year, I will focus on clothing for moderate to hot weather. As far as clothes go, this is my plan:
  • 1 pair of shoes
  • 1 pair of convertible pants
  • 2 pairs of underwear
  • 2 shirts
This is it, at least for now. There are also a couple further rules. Once I have all of the items (at the moment, I am still waiting to get the shirts I plan to use), I can wear these items and only these items. On top of this, I can only wash these items in a sink, just like I would probably often have to do while travelling.

Now let's talk about the clothes I am testing. My ideas so far are very much inspired by people like Tynan and Tim Ferriss, but the point is I need to figure out if their recommendations are right for me. The current list is:
  • 1 pair of Vibram Five Fingers KSO shoes (Black/Gray Camo)
  • 1 pair of White Sierra Convertible Trail Pants (Stone)
  • 2 pairs of Ex Officio Men's Give-N-Go Boxers (1 Black and 1 Charcoal)
  • 2 Icebreaker Short Sleeve T-Shirts (haven't decided on exact models)
I have had an interest in the barefoot-style Five Fingers for a while now, and I have heard good things about them as a travel shoe. The pants are just the ones I already have, and I find them to be just fine. The quick drying Ex Officio boxers have the motto "17 countries. 6 weeks. One pair of underwear. Okay, maybe two." It seems like these are right up my alley. The Icebreaker shirts come recommended from many long term travellers and are made of Merino wool which is known to be extremely resistant to odors while being very durable and comfortable. I have a bunch on order from REI.com in various style and sizes, and I will be sure to report what I find.

I am very excited to see how my initial clothing challenge goes. Will my office mate say I smell? Will my friends get bored of my attire? It will be interesting to see, but this is exactly why I am doing this. If I can be comfortable with this lifestyle during my normal life, I am sure it will be good for my life after graduate school.


cspice said...

Sounds like a fun experiment! It will probably be good to pick a bag early on so you know how much space you have to work with.

mspice said...

@cspice Getting the right bag will definitely be important. I will obviously not be checking anything but I have not decided if I want to have a large carry-on with room for a small day bag for my laptop, DSLR, etc or just having one do-it-all bag. It really depends on figuring out how much stuff I will need which is the point of the challenge!