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Living With Less Than 100 Things

Frank & Mai

You might think it’s unrealistic to live with so little or that we are depriving ourselves.

Don’t worry, we can and do indulge.  We are foodies and we have no problem indulging in the best tapas in Sevilla or tasting the best wines in France (‘cause we are also wine lovers).  This is the magic of cutting out mundane expenses for material things in order to create memorable experiences.

In a previous article, we promised to share with you how minimalism led us to move from a house with a garage to an apartment and to finally live with less than 100 items in a suitcase and a backpack, living the life we have imagined.

So, here we are.

(If you are new here, make sure to read that article as well.)

Before we tell you what it’s like to live out of a carry-on and backpack, let’s just go back to where it all started.

Our WHY – What matters the most in our life

When the pandemic hit in 2020, like most people, we did some major reflecting on our WHY.

Why we do what we do, what we want for the future, what motivates us and is most important to us.  What is our vision of life and work.

This reflection led us to identify the 3 things we are passionate about:




So, we made the decision to design our lives around these 3 things.

As you can imagine, this meant a lot of change.  Perhaps the most important change of all was Frank’s decision to retire early from the police, a job that was no longer aligned with his WHY.

Retiring from a 100K+ salaried job is, well, frightening, to be honest.  Not to mention all the perks you give up: insurance, retirement plan, paid holidays.

But during those hard, confined, somewhat boring periods of the pandemic, we also stumbled upon minimalism.  Living more intentionally.  Living with less.  More specifically, minimalism means that everything you own brings value to your life.  This was exactly aligned with our WHY.  By living with less, you become more mindful of your spending and make conscious decisions about where you put your money.  You also quickly realize you NEED less to live, so giving up that 100K+ job suddenly became less anxiety-inducing.  It became a possibility.

We would have loved to dive deeper into minimalism here, but we have so much more to cover in this article.  We will share how minimalism allows us to base our lives on experiences over things in another article, but don’t worry, we’re not cheap, we’re just experts at optimizing value!

Getting rid of the things we don’t need

The next step in aligning our lives with our WHY was our decision to sell our house, mostly because we intended to travel significantly and having a house simply no longer made sense.

We ended up moving from a house to a small apartment and had to make decisions regarding the things we owned.  And when you start going through all your “stuff”, you realize how many things you are no longer using or worse yet, you have never even used!

Frank was so excited to buy tools on sale at Canadian Tire: “These will be so useful now that we have a house!”.  Still in the box 5 years later…Mister Handyman 😉

More importantly, you ask yourself questions like:  Do I really need two laptop backpacks, a hiking backpack, a travelling backpack, a gym backpack and 2 casual backpacks?? 

 So, we gave away and sold everything (thanks, Facebook Marketplace) we no longer needed.

Eventually, we ended up buying an apartment in Quebec City in search of a new experience and as a home base that we could rent out when we go Roaming to blend travel and work (our real-estate investment journey is also the subject of a future article).  More here on why we love Quebec City.

Furbished apartment for rent in Quebec city

Feeling charmed by the idea of Roaming Québec City?  Quebec City is the oldest city in Canada.  Its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site recognized for its well-preserved architectural heritage and its European-style urban landscape. The Old Town is characterized by its narrow, winding streets, stone buildings, and historical landmarks, and is a popular tourist destination for its beautiful architecture and scenic views.  Quebec is a safe and welcoming city with several charming neighbourhoods, where you will be greeted with a smile and genuine conversation.  You can rent our apartments in Quebec city – click here to see availability.

The next thing on our list to manage was our car.  In today’s society, we are so conditioned to own a car, that the idea of not owning one has never crossed our minds.  Even though we were not really using our car, the thought of not having one was…strange.  But when you think about it, a car comes with incessant stresses.  You worry someone will damage “your precious”, you worry about something breaking, etc. Not to mention the costs of owning a car. (Hello, gas prices!)

Plus, we also had to think about what we would actually do with our car when we were away, especially during the wintertime.  You cannot leave a car parked, let alone unused, through a full Canadian winter.

We quickly realized not only that we didn’t need it, but that there was actually an emotional charge linked to having it.  You guessed it: owning a car was not adding value to our life and not aligned with our WHY.

So, we sold it.  And today we seriously wonder if we will ever own one again.  We are quite enjoying walking and biking anywhere we can, and using a private driver (Uber, Grab) when needed.  When we absolutely need a car, we just rent one.  Simple and no strings attached.

Packing up our life

Unattached to a house or car, it was then time to plan for our first Roamers experience, officially.  Which meant, time to pack!

What do you pack when you’re leaving for 5 months and heading to 6 different countries, including a winter in Portugal, the hot season in Asia and spring in France?

First of all, we decided to travel with only a backpack and a carry-on suitcase.  When you’re travelling to several different countries, having to check baggage every time (and wait for it on arrival) and lugging around a giant suitcase is not ideal.  Plus, there’s always the risk of checked baggage being lost (Air Canada, you hearing this?!)

Fitting 5 months of travel in one backpack and a carry-on may seem impossible, but it is actually not that difficult when you have downsized your belongings and needs to the essentials.  Thanks again, minimalism.

We won’t lie to you though, there are decisions to be made (some are tough).  We will discuss these and share our ideal packing list with you guys in a subsequent article (we know, we have lots more articles to write!)

At the time of writing this, we are in Thailand, just nearing the start of our 5th month of Roaming to blend travel and work.  So far, we can’t say we have missed anything.  What we mean is, there hasn’t been a time where we’ve said: “I wish I could have packed this or brought this”, or even “I wish I had this”.

We have also rented our apartment in Quebec City way beyond our return date to Canada.  This means we are without our home base and will need to continue living with less than 100 things.  And we’re ok with that.

Why?  Because for us, this means that we are living intentionally.  What we have is what we need…and it fits inside a carry-on suitcase and a backpack.

New to our blog?

We are the Mai & François Roamers. We share with you how to harness the power of Roaming to combine travel and work and create a life of freedom and fulfillment.

We would like to hear your comments on this blog: your questions, your ideas, your concerns, your advice, everything! We can’t wait to read you 👇

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