Downsizing for Travel: Designing Your Future Travel Lifestyle

by | Feb 24, 2021

JourneyWoman editor Carolyn standing in the back of a cube van after downsizing for travel.

Last updated on January 20th, 2023

Downsizing for Travel: What’s next?

by Carolyn Ray, Publisher, JourneyWoman

For the past two and a half years, I’ve been on a downsizing journey to get ready for travel. In 2018, I sold my three-bedroom house and auctioned and donated almost everything in it to prepare for travel.

At our recent ‘Downsizing for Travel’ event in February, Downsizing Diva Karen Shinn and I shared our tips on how to get started. You can watch that session here or read the full transcript for advice on how to get started. Karen has developed a fabulous Downsizing Wheel, which helps you pick one thing to start with: your kitchen, clothing, and of course the BIG one – Paper!

In 2018, my intention was to begin an around-the-world trip, and not to own anything that would slow down my travels. I rented a furnished two-bedroom apartment and started planning. Then, the pandemic changed everything. I needed a new strategy. This past December, I moved into a small 5oo- square foot apartment near a park and close to the airport, with the intention of renting it while I was away.

The pandemic has also changed my perspective on travel. While my dream has always been to travel full time, I now realize that there are more options than I thought that make travel more affordable and authentic. Designing a new kind of travel lifestyle means taking time to consider your travel vision, your values and the kind of life you want to have. (Our new Travel Vision workshops are a step forward in helping us all figure that out!)

Letting go feels good

Recently, after the death of my father, I decided it was time to spend time interrogating his boxes he had left with me in my storage unit. I also decided it was time to let go of some of my family heirlooms and thankfully found family willing to take them in. The rest I donated. This resulted in a third round of downsizing which allowed me to reduce my storage unit by almost half, to a size I’m comfortable with. My father’s passing also reminded me to review and update my will, power of attorney and travel insurance. These are topics we covered in our recent Travel Essentials webinar, which you can watch here.

Downsize your storage

You haven’t truly achieved superstar downsizing status until you’ve eliminated the dreaded (and expensive) storage unit. I took a big step forward in my journey toward this goal as I found a home for some beloved family furniture and downsized my storage unit by almost half, from 120 to 70 square feet.

Lesson Learned: You can let go. And damn, it feels good.

What’s Next?

Now that all the hard work is done preparing for travel, I’m thinking not just about where I will travel, but how.In addition to homestay services like Airbnb, VRBO, plus bed and breakfasts or small hotels, there are many other options available to us, including home exchanges, house and pet sitting, Servas, short-term rentals, volunteering and learning options like Semester at Sea. Many of us also want to give back and do something meaningful when we travel.

I’m also thinking about how to prepare my apartment for a home exchange or a homestay. I’ve been speaking with the CEOs of several homestay services for women to learn more about the options for solo travelers. If you have had experiences (good or bad), please let me know.

Meet Women Who Have Done it

Join me on March 11 for Downsizing for Travel Part 2: Designing Your Travel Lifestyle

In our next virtual event on March 11, we’ll be exploring travel lifestyle options with women who have perfected the art of long-term travel. The session will be recorded and shared on our website afterward.

We’ll also be discussing the results of our Travel Lifestyle Survey, completed by over 180 women, which said:

  • Women’s preferred way to travel: 60% – Slow Travel;  41% Luxury Travel;  30% Adventure / Active /Hiking, and  17%  Nomadic/Backpacking
  • The main barrier to your dream travel lifestyle is financial (52%), Receiving the vaccine (, 39% ) and Age (38% said it feels like I’m running out of time to do all the things I want to do!)
  • Preferred type of travel experience in the future:  64% – Homestay,  47% – Volunteer while travelling,  44% – Housesitting , 30% – Sea travel (eg Semester at Sea)

Other topics for discussion:

  • Resources and Tips
  • How will we define safe travel in the future?
  • What do we need the industry to do to help us feel safe?

Join us for travel tips and expert advice from Nora Dunn, The Professional Hobo

Meet Nora Dunn, the Professional Hobo

Nora’s Story: One of the original Lifestyle Travelers

Nora sold everything she owned in 2006 to travel full-time. She traveled full-time for 12 years, and while she now has a home base in Toronto, she continues to travel for about half of each year. She combines her expertise as a former Certified Financial Planner with her lifestyle travel experience, to teach people how to travel full-time/long-term in a financially sustainable way.

Specializing in slow travel, Nora has lived in and traveled through over 60 countries. Her travel experiences range from sublime to absurd to downright terrifying. She survived three natural disasters, three tropical diseases (apparently these things come in three’s), a near-fatal accident, passport theft, and more breakups than she’d care to admit to. She saved over $100,000 getting free accommodation around the world. She even apprenticed with a shaman for two years in Peru, and worked as a shaman’s assistant in Ecuador. Nora’s website is here.

We’ll also hear from two women who embraced alternative lifestyles, Kate and Christine

Meet Kate Diamond

Kate’s story: Sailing the Open Seas

After her divorce at age 50, Kate decided to reshape her life. She sold her house in Seattle and downsized the possessions that she had spent her life accumulating. “I felt lighter,” she said. “But it was bittersweet: I recognized that this was not my life anymore and I had to let go of it.”

Kate started her new life by looking for housesitting opportunities in places that appealed to her.  Her first housesitting was in Hawaii, followed by Mexico. She also pursued two of her passions: sailing and travel. She joined a group called the Seattle Singles Yacht Club and begin travelling with a group of people to places around the world for weeks at a time. In the past few years she has travelled to Italy, Belgium, Spain, Croatia, the British Virgin Islands and Thailand with her sailing club.

 “Don’t think about what you’ve given up, rather, challenge yourself to look ahead.” 

Meet Christine Pope

Christine’s story: Backpacking across Mexico

When she was in her early 50s, Christine dreamed of backpacking around the world. She told her friends in Toronto to ‘come and get it’ and put her remaining belongings in three or four boxes. Stopping briefly in Nova Scotia to see her sister, she took her backpack and headed for San Miguel, Mexico, a small town about four hours northwest of Mexico City. That was almost three years ago.

“My plan was always to go out the door with my backpack,” she said. “I wanted to live simply. I didn’t want to own anything I had to dust, like china or figurines.” Mexico was familiar to her; she had backpacked extensively there for about 10 years.


Has the pandemic changed how you will travel? In our #TravelReady survey in January, you said:

  • 33% said you are waiting until 2022 to travel internationally, 30% are planning to travel in the second half of this year and 29% are ‘not sure’
  • While many will travel solo (47%), 50% say they will travel with a partner or friend and 27% will travel with a group tour.
  • When you do travel again, the first trip will be to Europe (37%), followed by the UK and Ireland (13%)
  • 65% will stay in a small boutique hotel while 37% will use a homestay.

How can we best help you plan and prepare for the future of travel? Share your thoughts in the brief survey below.


A passionate traveller, Carolyn believes anything is possible when we follow our heart and trust our intuition. Raised in Florida, Carolyn loves all things Latin, margaritas, the ocean and music. She's a board member of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW), a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada (TMAC) and the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA).


  1. Christine

    When I decided to move to Mexico I did so with just my backpack. There is something so freeing to carrying everything you own on your back.


We always strive to use real photos from our own adventures, provided by the guest writer or from our personal travels. However, in some cases, due to photo quality, we must use stock photography. If you have any questions about the photography please let us know.

Disclaimer: We are so happy that you are checking out this page right now! We only recommend things that are suggested by our community, or through our own experience, that we believe will be helpful and practical for you. Some of our pages contain links, which means we’re part of an affiliate program for the product being mentioned. Should you decide to purchase a product using a link from on our site, JourneyWoman may earn a small commission from the retailer, which helps us maintain our beautiful website. JourneyWoman is an Amazon Associate and earns from qualifying purchases. Thank you!

We want to hear what you think about this article, and we welcome any updates or changes to improve it. You can comment below, or send an email to us at

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend