…It’s What You Do

So if you read last Thursday’s post I left off with the simple statement that experiences trump possessions hands down when it comes to leading a happier, more fulfilling life. Now to delve into the how and why.


As I mentioned before, the intense happiness I got from my iphone purchase was fleeting at best. Once it wore off, it was gone. For another example, think of how Christmas time went when you were a kid. That first day was magical, all those new toys to play with and the anticipation of how much fun you’ll have when you saw how much fun the kids on the TV were having when they played with them.

But inevitably those toys never seemed as fun as they had appeared on TV. Just like with my iphone, after that initial day or two the new and shininess started wearing off, and before the end of winter break it’s a sure bet I’d be complaining to my parents that I was bored.

On the other hand when you go somewhere and do something new, not only do you get enjoyment while you’re actually engaged in the activity, but you gain memories that can be reflected upon later and give you further happiness.


There are some experiences that you will never forget. When my grandmother was nearing the end of her time, she was no longer very aware of what was going on around her, but she remembered a lot of memories from her past and would bring them up frequently. Things she had done when she was a child, life with her husband, and also how proud she was of her children.

In the end, it wasn’t about how much my grandmother owned, it was about how full of a life she had lived, all the things she had done, and what she had accomplished. Experiences give a sense of accomplishment that cannot be achieved by simply owning something. No one on their death bed ever wishes they’d bought more clothes or had a better car, they wish they’d gone out and done more.


Buying a new, fun toy will not get you closer to your ideal vision of who you want to be, and in a way that’s a good thing because it means the reverse is also true. In the event that you should lose your possessions due to an unfortunate accident, or if you choose to give them up to do something like RVing, you are still the same person with the same capabilities. Our belongings do not define who we are. Our beliefs and experiences do. If you want to be amazing, go out and do something amazing.

New experiences pull us out of the ruts and routines that we all fall into given time, and give us a different point of view on life. We become more aware and present in the moment, and that awareness can be a great catalyst for growth and change.

We’ve all heard stories about people who had a life-changing experience, some event that pushed them out of their normal routine to do something big and great. It doesn’t have to be as epic as that, but the more you challenge yourself to try and experience new things, the more you learn and the more confidence you gain in yourself.

There are other benefits to be had from choosing experiences as well.

  • It is said that doing new things keeps us young. I believe this saying to be true because it engages both the mind and the body, and it’s a well known fact that when you don’t use something, you lose it.
  • Choosing experiences also gives you more stories to tell, which can make social situations easier when you’re just getting to know someone and aren’t sure what to talk about. You’ll come across as a much more interesting person when you can tell them about all the things you have done.

And those are some reasons why, when you have a limited amount of money, choosing experiences over possessions is the better option. I’m sure you can you think of a time in your own life when choosing to do something rather than buy something lead to a good outcome, and I’d be pleased as punch if you decided to share one of those stories below.

Image courtesy of james.thompson

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At IO I teach people how to ditch the status quo and travel full-time before retirement, and share stories of my adventures (and misadventures) to inspire future nomads and armchair travelers alike. Included at no additional charge: seizing your dreams, living boldly, and making a difference.


  1. Joe McGerald on August 27, 2016 at 10:24 am

    This is a great post. I’ve been trying to put into concrete thought why I enjoy CG hosting so much (That’s my way of full time RVing )

    This post says it all!

    • Becky on August 27, 2016 at 2:49 pm

      Glad you enjoyed this Joe. Safe travels and happy trails to you!

      • Joe McGerald on August 27, 2016 at 9:03 pm

        Shared it on FB Becky.

  2. Becky on July 27, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Yep, I’ve written about enjoying the moment and being present in daily life as well. Experiences does not automatically equate to travel, but travel is one very good way to go about it.

  3. Ross Macintosh on July 26, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    I really enjoyed Hazel’s story too.

    When we were in Indiana to pick up our trailer, my son & I visited a Amish cultural center designed to help the rest of us understand the Amish lifestyle. It was a very interesting education. Living without electricity or motor vehicles, they of course still have fulfilling lives. I find it interesting that many of us think of travel as important to collect experiences. The Amish hardly travel at all. (It is too hard on the horses). I suppose they get their human need for ‘experiences’ from their interaction with family and neighbors. Their lives have laughter and enjoyment. In that there might be a life lesson. We can pick up the experiences that enrich us just by finding those experiences wherever we are. Travel of course is good but stopping to smell the roses in our own backyards is a valuable experience many of us overlook.
    Ross Macintosh recently posted..on trend…My Profile

  4. Hazel on July 26, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Yes! Simple and frugal and rich in adventures! I have a little story of a time in our lives when we made a wise choice. We lived in a tiny cottage (renovated by us) with our 3 teenage children and a dog. It only had one bathroom and it was always a juggle to work out shower times. Finally we had enough money to add another bathroom (doing the work ourselves of course) but my hubby had a bright idea: what if we took a trip with that money instead?

    Long story short, we packed up our little tent trailer, drove across Canada up to the North West Territories, and spent 2 weeks on a guided canoe trip down the Nahanni River; we were flown in on a Cessna to the river and out again from a First Nations’ village. We camped on sandbars, saw black bear, wolves, and Dall sheep, canoed through rapids past 2000ft cliffs, portaged around the spectacular Victoria Falls, stayed up late playing cards by the fire in the land of the midnight sun, and made friends with like-minded people. It was an experience of a lifetime!

    So now we all look back on those amazing memories rather than thinking about the convenience of having a 2nd bathroom. LOL

    • Becky on July 26, 2012 at 7:05 pm

      Wow that sounds like it was an amazing experience! You know me, I would have chosen the same. I’d like to get up to canada or Alaska in the Casita, but that would be a ways off. I’ve lived in a couple aparents with only 1 bathroom but at least that was only 2-3 of us, must be harder with 5.

  5. Bruce on July 24, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    I’ve been enjoying your blog for a while now and decided to comment. My wife and I have always lived a little below our means and we’re glad we did. My parents always lived a little above their means and what a difference in the stress levels between their finances and ours. We never wanted to be on the wrong side of the interest equation and have maintained that standard through over 30 years of marriage (other than our home purchase). Being in debt. to have the latest toy is generally not worth it. I also doubt that many people on deathbeds ever wished they would have worked more (maybe Steve Jobs is the exception). On a different note we also own a motorhome and hope to travel full-time in about 2 years. Stay safe out there and have fun, we only go around once.

    Regards, Bruce

    • Becky on July 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm

      Hello Bruce, thanks for commenting. 🙂

      Like you I’ve always lived below my means, even before I knew what I wanted to do with my life, and I’m very glad I did. In doing so I had most of what I needed for the truck and RV by the time I seriously started considering RVing and I didn’t have to spend a lot of time dreaming and saving. Although to be honest even if I hadn’t had as much money as I did I still think I would have found a way to make it work, I likely would have opted for just truck camping or tent camping or cheap overseas travel (yes, it’s possible) instead.

      Best of luck on your own journey to full-timing and keep us updated on your progress!

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