What I’ve Learned from Living Out of a Suitcase
Here’s what I’ve learned:
- I can live with a lot less than what I’ve become accustomed to. I packed 5 outfits and pajamas for myself and the kids and that is plenty for all of us. Because we are currently doing laundry daily, we never run out clean clothes. I simply mix and match tops and bottoms, boom. Done. I gave myself one pair of shoes…well, boots (it was snowing when we left Richmond). I will need to upgrade to spring and summer shoes*, but typically I find a favorite pair of shoes and wear them until they fall apart no matter how many other pairs of shoes I own. I’m thinking that this may be a lifestyle change. Minimalism isn’t that bad.
*It got so warm here that I had to eventually get some comfy, cooler walking shoes!
- My kids actually do well with sharing a room. I have a son and two daughters and because we are in temporary housing awaiting a more permanent situation, they are all sharing a room. So far, so good. The first two nights after we moved out of our house, we stayed in a hotel. The first night the baby slept with me in a double bed and my 8 and 4-year-old shared the other double bed. The baby was so excited to be in a new environment that she bounced, laughed and played for an hour until she wore herself out. The other two slept less than 4 feet away, unbothered. My husband was at our house finishing packing and prepping, so he slept at the house alone. Lucky him, huh? Haha! Night number two at the hotel was just like the night before: the baby bounced, laughed and played herself to sleep. The older two insisted that she sleeps with them despite her silliness. I was afraid that she was disturbing their sleep, but they became upset when I retrieved her from the bed to see if she would sleep better with me. Hubby joined us later that night at the hotel. We all missed him terribly.
- Upon our arrival to Las Vegas, we stayed in a 2-bedroom apartment from an Air bnb hostess. I wasn’t sure how the baby would do sharing a room with the older two. My mind was thinking that she would keep getting out of the bed all night, laughing and playing. But she didn’t. Here’s where team work comes into play: hubby puts her to bed first – always white noise and a dark room. We start her routine around 730-745pm, then the older two go to bed with her around 830pm.
- The girls share a bed, my son sleeps on a queen size air mattress next to their bed. They seem to love it. No one fights going to bed and they all fall asleep fairly easily. I’m not sure if it’s because they are adjusting to the time change or if it’s because they have the comfort of being in the same room together.
- Having a routine is absolutely key to transitioning to different environments and time changes. Despite the 3-hour time difference, they fell into their routine for bed and quiet time because it has been consistent their entire lives. Our bedtime routine consists of: bath, the older two have tablet time for about an hour before bed (it hasn’t affected their ability to fall asleep, although I do know that some people fall asleep better if they cut off their screens about 1-2 hours prior to bedtime. We will adjust this if it becomes an issue later), then the baby goes to bed and the older two follow.
- This was so helpful with the kids because they had some sense of normalcy and what to expect from one minute to the next. It also helped us as parents plan our days effectively.
- Being organized is key. I packed all of the kids’ daily outfits and pajamas into Ziploc bags with their names labeled on them. This helped me easily pick out their outfits daily. I don’t have to go digging around a suitcase for matching pairs or what belongs to who. I simply pick up a bag with their individual names written on it, which includes an outfit for the day, socks, undies and pajamas for that evening. Easy peasy.
- I’ve learned to be less wasteful. I always thought that I was good with reusing and using up what we have before buying more, but being on a budget is critical to our being able to maintain our existence while in transition. Food and supplies need to be consumed or it has to be left behind or tossed, and that’s not an option.
- Staying close to essential locations is important. We didn’t have a vehicle when we first arrived as it was still in transit. I knew up front that there would be a delay, but didn’t know that it would take so long. Being close to grocery stores and a local park were so helpful. We walked to every place we needed to go to and it made things so much easier.
- Having multiple streams of income is imperative. We put our house on the market a week after we left and there were major unexpected expenses connected to it. We budgeted for the expenses we were aware of, but then another cost for a couple thousand dollars came up and we had to pay it. We pride ourselves in living a debt-free lifestyle, so that meant that we wanted to pay for the expense in cash. Doing so really dug into the money that we had set aside for living expenses and it set us back quite a bit. Thankfully we had an emergency savings and I have some business funds that temporarily bridged the gap, but if we were without either of these we would have had to borrow the money to cover our living expenses in the interim.
But all in all, this has been fun! We’re learning more about the area, finding our way around, connecting with friends and family that live here and enjoying the sunny weather!
I also realize that this list is steeped in privilege. There are many families who have much less than what we have and they don’t complain. They may also have more children than we have with fewer rooms and that’s all they’ve ever known. I will use this experience to give thanks and gratitude, while recognizing that things could be worse and that I am truly blessed to be in this position.
What are your favorite travel tips? What have/did you learn about yourself when traveling short-term versus long-term?