Less Is More: The Freedom Of Not Having Much

Catalina Muñoz is a passionate world traveler, TNN community member, blogger, and photographer who has traveled to 54 countries and is always planning her next adventure. She enjoys experiencing other cultures and creating new memories with others along the way. You can see her presentation with TNN here and read about her adventures at cataintheworld.com.

travel community member catalina traveling with her backpacks at the nepal india boarder land crossing

Having just emptied out my apartment to get it ready for the ceiling removal, laying sick on my inflatable mattress, staring at the TV but not exactly watching or hearing it, I felt like my entire world had just collapsed.

It was just me, a mattress, a TV, and some kitchen stuff.  I was too sick to go to work and I didn’t want to see anyone.  I felt as if I no longer had control, and  I knew I was slowly losing my most precious possession… my health.

travel community member catalina in orange shirt in orange desert of wadi rum, jordan

I couldn’t get over feeling like I was in this constant state of anxiety. Anxiety in my case defined as “always living in the future, and very often in fear”. Constantly stuck on my planning mode, trying to control everything that was to happen, worried about what was to come, always worrying about the little things, and the big things – all of the things – and I was just utterly exhausted!

Before I could consciously realize what was happening, my body was trying to tell me to stop this madness.

travel community member catalina on a camel in sandy wadi rum, jordan desert

In that moment, I promised myself that if I get out of this one… I will live in the present. I will try as much as I can to accept the reality of the moment, just as it is, to see only what is in front of me. I will commit to being concerned only with what is taking place right here and now, not yesterday, not tomorrow, not even today, but now.

In that moment, I promised myself that I would take time out to do what I always wanted to do: travel the world.

Getting away would be my opportunity to practice being in the present. I mean, what better way to test yourself than when you are completely outside of your comfort zone?

travel community member catalina jumping for joy in the isolated desert sands

I would not plan, I would just go with the flow, and I would accept things as they came. It was a chance to truly break free from my bad habits, and to live fully in the moment. I would practice mindfulness, full awareness of my surroundings, enjoying and accepting reality just as it was.

travel community member catalina riding a camel with a local man helping her

I ended up quitting the career I had made for myself in the field of logistics. It was a respectable career and had afforded me a nice life, but it was time for a drastic change. After a lifetime of planning out my future, I was done. My only plan at that moment was to go. Not to plan, just to go.

The results were just as I expected them to be. The most meaningful and happiest moments during this two year trip around the world didn’t have to do with material things. The most memorable moments happened when I was learning something new, experiencing the beauty of nature, or sharing a simple connection with someone.

travel community member catalina walking through green rice paddies in Bali, Indonesia

On that journey, my life had become solely centered around the people I was meeting, the natural scenery surrounding me, and the experiences I got to partake in. It was the organic setting that was making those moments truly rewarding, not actual things.

During my trip, I didn’t miss my comfortable salary. Nor did I miss the car, apartment, clothes, and shoes that that salary afforded me. Those things did not matter so much anymore. Surprisingly, I didn’t miss them at all. I honestly felt more free and happy with less things.

travel community member catalina admiring rice terraces at sunset in Bali, Asia

I traveled with a 46-liter backpack containing a very basic wardrobe and a smaller backpack with some electronics that allowed me to take photos, write my blog posts, and keep connected to loved ones back at home. These things were tools for me to live in my world, but they were NOT my world.

As I traveled I never needed more than these small possessions that fit in my backpacks. As I changed countries and climates I would just get rid of stuff that no longer served me. Each time I would let something go, I felt even freer and light. If I needed to replace something – no problem – I would buy it from a local flea market.

I wasn’t such a strict minimalist that I restricted myself to not buying anything along the way, I was just more conscious of what I was accumulating. I bought the occasional trinket like a small painting or a bracelet to keep as souvenirs so I could always remember this pivotal time in my life.

travel community member catalina with a camel smiling

You probably won’t believe this, but one of the best things that actually happened during the trip was getting robbed of all of my electronics. It obviously hurt at the time because I thought the photos and videos that I had lost represented tangible proof of what I had lived, seen, and accomplished. It took a while for me to realize that what truly mattered were the experiences that I carried in my mind and in my heart. No one could ever take those away.

My best memories were of wonderful places and the people that were around me, and the most important thing was having my health to enjoy it all.

travel community member catalina on the beach in a sarong in vietnam beach

This two-year-long solo travel experience made me realize that the material things that I was buying throughout my life, weren’t actually adding value to my life. It was the people in my life and the moments that taught me valuable lessons.

I am fully aware that even the most spectacular moments of my travels will begin to fade away. They will stay in the past and lose their importance; as they say… out of sight, out of mind. Such is life. However, the lessons learned during those moments will stay with me forever. Those have left an imprint on me that can never be erased. I am a different person having traveled the world solo. I’ve learned what’s really important to me and what my values are.

I’ve learned to live in the present, to not plan everything, to leave somethings to chance, to accept people as they are, to not sweat the small stuff, and more.

travel community member catalina

I never felt freer and richer than when I had the least amount of possessions.

When I stopped being concerned about unimportant things, my heart opened up to enjoy the beauty of what was right in front of me.

travel community member catalina woman kneeling to admire the gobi desert in Mongolia

Catalina Muñoz is a passionate world traveler, blogger, and photographer who has traveled to 54 countries and is always planning her next adventure. She enjoys experiencing other cultures and creating new memories with others along the way. After traveling the world solo for two years, she transitioned from a career in Logistics to one in Travel.  When she is not guiding tours, you can find her traveling for pleasure, hiking, photographing landscapes, or writing. You can read about her adventures at cataintheworld.com.

Note: We love featuring our travel-loving members, if you’d like to be interviewed or write a guest post for this blog, send us an email at [email protected] com with the subject line “TNN Blog.”

5 thoughts on “Less Is More: The Freedom Of Not Having Much”

  1. It’s hard to put it into words and you did it well! I personally cant seem to find my groove back home as I feel like I’m always chasing the next road trip! Not sure if you all feel the same. But I guess the goal can’t be to live for the next, but find the joy in the now! Thanks for sharing🙏

  2. I read this because I’ve done the same thing though I did it when I was 55 years old.I hope this will inspire other older women to fulfill their dreams!
    I’d already been married, had children, owned homes. I must say, I was always a traveler, always made sure I had work that I could takes leaves from.
    Still, when I was 55 years old, this work life wasn’t serving me at all. I had a decent income and a house. I let them go and kept only what fit into a 5ft x 5ft storage locker.
    India.
    That’s where I was headed. I planned for 4 months. I was absolutely terrified! But actually I was more terrified of staying home listening to my colleagues discussing how long it was until they could retire.
    I let chance control my life. Chance put people and places in my path, and a smile on my face to this day seven years later. I’ve made four trips to India, I’ve done a couple of WWOOFs in my own province, and I have not spent a winter in Canada in the seven years. I’m always itching to go somewhere!

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