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Mobile Minimalists

How easy to move when everything you own fits in a dinghy!

By Cynthia Zvanut Hovey Mobile Traveler

From a two-bedroom, two-bath, grand piano-equipped condo on the shores of Windansea Beach in La Jolla, CA, to a grass hut with only six UPS boxes of “stuff,” that was our purge to minimalism.

To be factual, we weren’t the overstuffed couple who had every toy known to man and an entire bedroom just for “her” clothes, but we did have our share of things we couldn’t live without – or so we thought.

The grand piano was an antique 1920’s Knabe. It was complemented by original paintings, a vintage love seat and couch, carved walnut tables, a treasured Japanese glass fishing float we’d found in the middle of the Pacific, a huge television and surround-sound stereo system and my mother’s four poster bedroom set. On the other hand – as if to hint of our future minimalist lifestyle – a bright yellow, Mexican string hammock swung in the corner overlooking the Pacific.

Deciding to ditch it all “to get more out of life,” we sold everything our grown kids didn’t want (maybe you can relate!), packed six UPS boxes with what we considered necessities, and moved to a palm frond hut on a rock in the islands.

We never looked back.

That’s not so say we didn’t mutter, “Oh my God, what have we done?” a few dozen times. But, as many minimalists have found, life without stuff proved exhilarating.

Unlike some of you, we chose a mobile minimalist lifestyle. From downsizing to that hut on that rock, we morphed into being crew on mega yachts – where all we needed was a few

shorts and polos, boat shoes, foul weather gear plus flip flops for off-times. One no-iron summer dress, stowed under a mattress, accented my wardrobe. Hat and sunglasses, hygiene items and a book or two were all that would fit in our tiny crew quarters. We were able to change where we lived almost at a moment’s notice... which we had to do, on more than a few occasions, working on yachts. (How easy it is to move when everything you own can fit in a twelve-foot dinghy!)

We relished having no stuff.

After semi-retiring from twenty years living and working on yachts, we still didn’t want to go back to bricks and mortar anchors. We’re now fulltime RVers in a seventeen-foot travel trailer we call “Yacht Enough.” It’s enough of a yacht for us, and has all we need: a bed, table and two chairs, a sink, two- burner stove, small microwave, two small cabinets for dishware and pans, one drawer for utensils, and a bathroom complete with shower. We pull “Yacht Enough” with a small SUV – filling its trunk with BBQ pit, miniature ice maker, small fire pit and propane tank and our now miniature collection of memoirs – a few plastic flamingos, tropical fish wind vanes, an osprey kite, a small version of that glass fishing float and, yes, the yellow hammock.

I don’t know about you, but now when we’re around homes brimming with overstuffed closets and twenty almost-exploding kitchen cabinets, we feel the exact opposite of claustrophobic... and can’t wait to get tucked back in to our tiny, compact home. Give us the simple life over a dozen shades of lipstick any day. (I have three.)

Cynthia and Winston

One thing about this traveling lifestyle where we live and work together 24/7... we’ve become win/cyn instead of Winston and/or Cynthia. That, of course, has it’s good and bad benefits – but, for me, a day alone at the movie theater gives me the space I need. For Winston, it’s a day at the drags or an afternoon trading stories with fellow RVers.

We do have kids and grandkids, and we catch up to them several times each year (one’s in San Francisco, the other in Boston). What we hope we’re passing on to each of them is our mantra:

Don’t let making a living – or relentlessly collecting stuff -- get in the way of having an adventurous life. Minimalist living is the ultimate freedom, whether you do it in the same place or traveling the world. And it’s worth it.

Note: For more about our minimalist adventures, search Amazon for our book, There’s a Yacht More to Life, or for a free chapter.

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