On the purge, and what you leave behind

With our time in Bogota coming to an end the day after this post goes live, the one sucky part of expat life must emerge:

The Purge.

(This post is the first in an ongoing series that aims to show the behind-the-scenes of our lives as nomadic expats.)

On one level I sort of envy the minimalists who can fit / cram everything they own into a backpack. We’re not quite there yet — during our flight into Bogota from Medellin, I was hit with the classic ‘heavy bag’ fee. (Laura would have had to pay it as well, had the lady at the check-in counter not been distracted.) Apparently my lifestyle (or luggage) just isn’t compatible with the realities of flying.

Each purge ends up being a bit different. Moving from Korea to Thailand was perhaps the most dramatic, having accumulated five years worth of stuff (a large Tupperware container of maps, brochures, and other papers accumulated over years of traveling was especially difficult to part with). Each time in Thailand was a bit different: a minivan from Bangkok to Chiang Mai, a pick-up truck from Chiang Mai to Khon Kaen, and even mailing our stuff from Khon Kaen to Krabi.

With plans to travel across Northern Africa and Europe, however, it was time to get things down to two suitcases. No furniture, no bikes, very few books, less tech, and a cutback on clothes. I again remain amazed at how much stuff a human can accumulate, rarely use, and think it important to take with them across the planet.

Coming from Medellin, Colombia to Bogota was straightforward enough, though that purge still had plenty left behind (a couple of office chairs, some curtains the apartment didn’t come with, etc.). Even so? Still overweight.

This purge will be different… I hope…

In many ways, Laura’s got me beat. I own (and have owned) a lot more tech, tools, and clothes than she has. Not a lot of redundancies, but then again when local department stores offer up most anything you need, you don’t need a whole lot of them.

This time, it’s not about what I should take. It’s about what I can’t leave behind.

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Wait, I thought you just got to Colombia! We arrived in July 2015, spent about 5 months in Medellin and about a month in Bogota. Medellin didn’t have as much weird stuff going on as we thought, and we didn’t want to leave the country without seeing at least a bit of the capital city. Last month, the focus was on editing, revamping, remaking covers, and republishing my travel guidebooks and itineraries — as a result there wasn’t much room to blog about Bogota! There are several posts in the pipeline about Bogota, though, and I’ll be working on some itineraries for Medellin and Bogota in the coming months.

What’s next? Quito, Ecuador for about 2–3 months.

Why Quito? It’s a South American country we haven’t yet been to yet, it’s relatively close, and it’s relatively stable and safe. Capital city, too, but we’ll definitely be taking a trip to Cuenca (what looks to be Ecuador’s second city) for museum dedicated to sombreros and shrunken heads.

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Expats / nomads: how do you pack / purge? How hard is it to get everything back into your bag(s) when it’s time to move on? Comments are open.

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Hope you’ve enjoyed this post, which first appeared at On the purge, and what you leave behind on One Weird Globe.

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