What We’ve Learnt to Live Without

I’ve joined a great Facebook group “Families on the Move” with other nomadic families. The group holds writing projects and today’s is about what we have learnt to live without. At the bottom of this post you can get to know some other traveling families and read about how they are living with less.

We’ve left behind so much stuff at home that was part of our regular lives. Here’s a sampling of things we have learnt to live without.

An alarm clock. Sandeep’s asleep by 9 and up at 5 to work. I blog at night, sleep at midnight and wake up at 8. I suppose what is said about humans needing eight hours of sleep is correct because we both wake up naturally to the cocks crowing in the morning rather than our rude alarms.

Cell phones. We’re nomads, not hermits. We still communicate with the world, but instead of being glued to our cell phones or running to the crackberry every time its red light goes off, we’re communicating at our own pace. We stay in touch through this blog and have purchased a Skype package so that we can make local and international calls. Being cell phone free has been a key factor in setting a slower pace of life.

Choice of shoes. This was a big point of contention while we were packing. Sandeep insisted that he needed a bag to himself because his shoes are bigger. He wanted to pack six pairs of shoes. In reality, we each only use two. One pair of walking shoes and another pair of casual flip-flop/sandals. To Sandeep’s credit, he has been running so he uses his running shoes as well. Mine are sitting idle at the bottom of the bag.

Wine. Food and non-alcoholic beverage is so cheap in Thailand, that it feels wrong to spend $30 for a bottle of wine. Ordinarily, we would order wine at dinners out, but we’ve become used to getting our anti-oxidants from fresh juices instead. Sandeep’s enjoying the local Chang beer, but since I avoid gluten, I’ve been dry for the past couple of weeks. I’m not sure this is something we’re going to live without for too long, though.

Children’s utensils. At home we had an entire cabinet in our micro-kitchen dedicated to children’s kitchen paraphernalia. Sippy cups, pacifiers, bottles, plastic forks and spoons, bowls and plates. We agonized over what to being from this assortment. In the end we brought a small Kleen Kanteen for each child, two plastic bowls with lids,  and two plastic cups. The Kleen Kanteens haven’t been used and the plastic cups have morphed into bath and pool toys.   We do use the bowls, but as food storage more than kiddie ware.The reality is that Kayan was forced to graduate to adult ware sooner than he would have at home. In the end we could have done without any of these.

Toys. Ava and Kayan will say that they want more toys, but they’ve certainly learnt to live without the scores of books, puzzles, dolls, bouncy balls, and blocks we had at home. Ava has even learnt to make do with just a handful of hair accessories. We spend a lot of time out together, so the kids are busy learning from the colors, noises and smells of our surroundings. We made a trip to  a toy stall here to buy a set of markers, coloring book in Thai and puzzles. These few toys, along with inventive uses of various household goods, have kept the kids entertained during down time.   I do confess that the iPad has also become a children’s toy, which I don’t mind too much since educational games such as Monkey Preschool to keep them entertained.

Here’s what other families are saying:

Windwalker Duo

Tripping Mom 

Living Outisde of the Box

A King’s Life

Globetrotting Mama 


Family on Bikes

Living Without the Norm 

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Filed under Thailand, Traveling Family Writing Projects

30 Responses to What We’ve Learnt to Live Without

  1. Pingback: Living with less: What can you ditch? | Family on Bikes

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  4. Pingback: Less stuff, more life

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  6. anjali

    Diya- just realized you guys have set off on this great adventure…i am caught up on your blog! so exciting and brave..given you have 2 toddlers….where all are you headed? will be following you guys! xx

  7. Pingback: Living Without | Living Outside of the Box

  8. how amazing that kids are able to adapt at what they can live without, and make toys from kitchen utensils!! Love that 🙂

    Its so good to be able to spend quality time together, instead of wasting money on things that we don’t need!


    • Diya

      Lisa – the kids are way more industrious than us… I am still addicted to the iPad and Internet. But yes, time together does make up for a lot.

  9. Ava and Kayan are so blessed to have parents who are not glued to their cell phones and are teaching them what it means like to ‘live without’. My kids, also on the road (now in Ecuador) also wish they had more stuff. I do hope we are teaching them to value ‘living without’ by the fact that they (like yours who has less hair do-dads) can be perfectly happy with less. They do talk about all the boxes and boxes of toys they can’t wait to open when we (one day) return to our home in Northern Israel.

    Thank you for a great post. In mine, “The Ying Yang of Living Without” I took such a different angle as to what we lived without to reach our world travel dream. I love it that you took the angle of what you live without today, while on the road. Such great food for thought.

    Thanks for a great post.


    • Diya

      Hey Gabi,
      The kids are really starting to bond with each other and slowly asking about home less. A good thing I guess. You’re lucky to be a family of 5. I think more company is better all set and done. And I loved how personal your post is.

  10. Larry

    Yup, we all carry a lot of baggage – both literal and figurative – which we could dump without missing. However, we do need the people in our lives and little else.

  11. Jordana

    So the question is can you do without most of the items cited once back home? When the journey comes to an end, will you all ready to get rid of the “baggage”? I’m guessing the cell phone will hard to dump due to work and other reasons.

    • Diya

      I am guessing for a while we’ll try to do without and then we’ll get back to same old…. Either out of necessity, habit or general pressure. Sad but likely true.

  12. Great post Diya. Love how easily kids adapt! I’m struggling with how the return to society will be for us on this issue too. Here’s hoping that once we get home we’re so used to being free of the stuff that we can leave them in the boxes they are in.

  13. Your post made me laugh because I nearly forgot about all the child-sized food containers/utensils, etc that nearly every US household with children has stashed in a cabinet. We have 1 set of child utensils that my 1 yr old uses and my 3 yr old uses regular utensils. Both use regular cups for drinking.
    I remember many years ago registering for my first baby at Babies R Us. I was standing in front of an aisle, so overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF that babies ‘come with’. I left because it was too much to take in.
    In reality, babies need so little. Having our second baby in Costa Rica was a blessing in so many ways, but partly because there was no baby shower ‘showering’ us with mostly useless baby things. All she needed was her Mama’s milk, to stay warm and be loved. It has been an amazing journey.
    I would urge those about to have babies to really re-consider what they ‘need’. Most of it will only be used once if not at all.

    • Diya

      Haha, I was so scared of babysrus that I never went back and did all our ordering online! I’ll say the one thing I do miss is diaper delivery, which we had in New York. The baby stuff always fascinated me – what’s with the diaper wipe warming machines? Anyway, yes, babies can and do live with close to nothing all over the world.

  14. Our list of things that we actually live without while on the road would be practically the same as yours, including the children’s utensils (love it that you included that!), except for the alarm clock. While we don’t actually have one, the iPod’s has been indispensible for early morning wake ups to catch planes/trains. Great post!

    • Diya

      Thanks! Thankfully we haven’t yet had to catch an early morning anything, yet… Sandeep has a freaky internal alarm anyway! I read your post and loved that you balanced it with the things you ‘found’.

  15. I have little stuff like you. I guess at first the harder to leave behind is the toys. Some of them are especially hard for us, the parents, to let go, like those that were special presents from special people.

    I was also happy without a cell phone until I decided to stay in one place and needed friends. I tried to meet with people without it, but unfortunately, people are now so used to calling at the last minute to confirm or cancel, that they simply don´t go without it. I still use it minimally and having spent a good time without it, I´m more aware of how it bothers.

    I think that once you settle down you get more stuff back, but it doesn´t go back to same old just like that, it´s now an option of less clutter, so you stick to it. Or I do 🙂

    • Diya

      You make a good point. The adults have a harder time letting go of the stuff because we attach sentimentality to things. I really don’t think the kids care about the toys that they have left behind. The cell phone will be a necessity when we return home. Until then, it’s nice to be relatively unreachable 🙂 I do hope that we are able to stick to less clutter as you have. You’ll have to coach me when we get back!

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