The Famous Five Boxes

You may be reading this site and wondering what the heck we mean with all our talk about five boxes. Or you may have heard us talk about our lofty goals of fitting our worldly goods into these alleged five boxes, and be reminded that you were wondering exactly how we are planning to do that.

Friends, we are wondering that too. And so this weekend, we started the official experiment of the Five Boxes.

A little history

Back in March of 2015, the seed of our current adventures was sown when two ideas converged: the idea that we wanted to spend a lot of time seeing the world, and the idea that we wanted WAY less stuff in our lives. To quote from a journal entry I wrote at the time: “A big sticking point for me with any move is the packing. Ugh, the packing. Why on earth do we have so much stuff?”

So Jim came up with the idea that in order to travel light, we would each get five boxes for whatever household goods and decorative items we feel we can’t live without (aside from personal effects and clothes). Everything else would get sold or stored. We would rent furnished homes as we go, and decorate with local items. Brilliant, right? Sure – except when you have a house full of stuff and one of you (ahem, *guilty as charged*) is a hoarder. We had a good laugh, and yet, the idea stayed with us.

Over the years, the Five Boxes idea became a touchpoint of sorts, to remind us of our two goals. We started clearing out our possessions in earnest right after that initial conversation. Five Boxes made it so much easier to reframe our decisions about whether to keep certain things. Would those things earn a spot in one of our five boxes? Over time, these decisions became clearer (if not necessarily easier). We keep only what we truly love, and love to use. The rest goes back out into the world, to serve someone else.

Fast forward 3 years

After much Zenification, selling, donating, gifting and recycling, to our great shock and delight, the Five Boxes travel plan actually appears to be viable. Of course, storing some items somewhere was always part of the original plan, but we’re trying to keep it to a minimum, so we don’t take over my mom’s entire basement. (So grateful to have that storage option – thanks, Mom!)

First question. What size are our boxes? We went to Target, and boy, are there a lot of choices. We got ten identical boxes, 70 gallons each, so we can test them to see exactly what will fit. (More to come in future posts on that topic…)

Second question. How much can the Subaru hold? We honestly weren’t sure, so we did a test.


Guess what? Our little Subaru CrossTrek holds…five boxes. (Plus some other random items like a suitcase, an air mattress, our computer bags, etc. We haven’t decided if we count those things as “boxes.”)

Wait…how many boxes is that?

Third question. The Subaru holds five boxes, but we EACH get five boxes (for us English majors, that’s a total of ten boxes). What do we do with the remaining five boxes? Well, we decided to give ourselves some leeway and store them temporarily with our other stuff at my mom’s. We did consider a trailer (expensive and unwieldy) or trading in the Subaru for a bigger car (not quite ready for a rockin’ Team Reed-style Suburban). Either or both of those options might happen in the future, but for now, while we’re at the beginning of this journey, we’re good with our little Subaru. And our five boxes.

Stay tuned…

#keepwhatyoulove #fiveboxes #zenification #gypsylife