I just had to sell my drone last week… Okay, okay, I didn’t have to sell it because I was starving, it was a completely voluntary decision based on size, transport issues and the amount of use it was getting. At the same time, I helped Aisling move out of her Madrid room and that really made me think about the number of items I own, leading to this whole notion of whether we own stuff, or the stuff owns us. Originally, I intended to write a blogpost simply about selling my drone, but then it led me down a rabbit hole of thinking about downsizing, minimalism and a semi-mobile lifestyle. So, I just went with it, transforming this post into something hopefully way more interesting than what I first set out to write.
I am moving away from Granada in 1.5 months. First back to Hungary, then the plan is to end up in Ireland around September. Even before that, I’ll spend a large part of July living in a village near Granada running youth exchanges. Aisling moved out of her Madrid room on Monday and I helped her pack all of her stuff. We managed to fit everything into her backpack, a suitcase and part of my big 70L hiking backpack. That is quite a bit of stuff, but when you think about how much stuff you have in your room, it is probably many times more. It got me thinking a lot about how much stuff I have with me here in Granada.
While you could say that I am pretty minimalist when it comes to my clothes, I do hoard some stuff… Camera gear and gadgets are definitely one, although now that the drone is gone, my kit doesn’t take up too much space. However, this relatively low size is simply due to me not being able to afford a bunch of expensive equipment I want – If I had a stack of money waiting to be spent, I’d surely have a couple of extra lenses and accessories! The second big category is hiking gear: while it makes sense to have a good amount of quality gear to ensure that my adventures are safe, I do occasionally push it too far and I have a couple of items that I probably don’t need. The other issue is the volume of stuff: gear like sleeping bags and mattresses while they might not be too heavy, they take up a massive amount of real estate in a bag.
For quite a while now, I have been interested in elements of minimalism, the tiny house movement and the vanlife movement. I consume plenty of content related to these topics when it comes to YouTube and podcasts, as well as my Instagram feed. I do think that owning too many items ends up being a major headache down the road and it definitely doesn’t make you happier. However, at 23, moving around a lot, it is not like I have house full of useless items anyway. Okay, I may use my old room in Budapest as a bit of a storage space, but I don’t think it is too bad… I do know that I have a tendency to get into a new hobby or get excited about a topic and immediately start to hoard gear related to that, so that is something I do have to keep an eye on.
So, I guess with all the minimalism content I am consuming, I listen to and apply some of it, while in other areas of my life I occasionally continue collecting items… However, there is also a more practical aspect of this question that is really keeping my “hoarding” in check: moving around a lot. In England I lived in college accommodation which meant I had to pack up every single item in my room 3x a year and put it in a storage room for the breaks and unpack again at the end of breaks. Now I am in Granada, but I also know that I am only here for a total of 10 months and I’ll have to lug all my stuff first down to Malaga with public transport, then home on a plane, so that is also great motivation to keep things lean.
Stuff I Am Getting Rid Of
When I was in the UK I accumulated quite a bit of stuff… The biggest part of this was a well-stocked bookshelf, as the charity shops were full of gems for often as little as 50 pennies or 1 pound. I really enjoyed hunting for interesting used books and by the end of my 3 years, I had a pretty nice bookshelf with about 100 books. Luckily, I could easily transport that home thanks to a small company (Árva Trans) that runs super cheap shipping services between England and Hungary. This was clearly not something I had to worry about in Granada, as I didn’t really buy books here…
Overall, in Granada I accumulated very few items that I have to get rid of. Of course, the usual useless papers I accumulate have to go to the recycling and a few items of clothing will go to charity. Since the flat will be taken over by new EVS volunteers, most of the household items, leftover supplies, stationery, etc. can simply be passed on to them. I’ve already got rid of my drone and I am currently selling my bicycle (wanna buy it?) which I bought when I arrived to Granada. Finally, I will probably have to find a new home for a few pieces of hiking equipment, like my hammock.
Selling the Drone
I love taking landscape photos with a drone and just seeing my surroundings from perspectives that I am not able to otherwise see. I have owned a DJI Phantom 3 Standard drone for the last maybe 1.5 years. I’ve taken it on many adventures and it has even been the main component of my research for my undergraduate dissertation. So, I didn’t just use it to take fancy photos, but as an extremely detailed archaeological survey tool and I even helped out with another university department’s project, surveying some Norfolk salt marshes.
But getting that drone was always a compromise… It was basically the only non-toy drone that I could afford (used) at the time, because all the new compact options that have come out since were new and too expensive. The Phantom is a big drone, taking up a whole dedicated backpack, which means that if I go hiking, I can only carry the drone itself, plus maybe 1-2 sandwiches and a bottle of water. While it is fine if I travel around with Aisling and we split the carrying duties (one person takes the drone, one the food & other kit) or if I am going somewhere with a car, but it really limited my options of exploring alone. This led to the drone not being used nearly enough. It is also a pain to travel with, because many airports don’t allow it through carry-on luggage, and I’d be wary of putting it into hold luggage, so I had to ship it between countries which is very expensive.
After a lot of thinking, I decided it was time for it to go. When I had it with me, I loved using it and if I was doing more car-based travel, I’d certainly keep it. I still think getting a nice used Phantom 3 Standard is one of the best deals out there if you are looking for a beginner drone that produces quite good images. However, it just doesn’t fit my lifestyle of long-distance hiking and a lot of travelling. Ideally, I will eventually buy a used Mavic Pro or Mavic Air which would fit right into my camera bag in the place of a lens, however those are currently out of my price range. The compact drone I could afford is the DJI Spark, but after testing that, I can say that it is a piece of crap compared to my Phantom. It has a fraction of the range of the Phantom, especially after I installed a range extender, and much worse image quality and batteries.
It really just hit me last weekend how much crap I own… Compared to most people, it is not a lot, but with my fairly mobile lifestyle I really need to optimize my kit even more, with multifunctional and compact items. I am a big fan of buying and selling used gear, plus donating stuff, which is not only more environmentally friendly, but also way more cost effective than buying stuff new and selling it when you move. So, while in the next few weeks I’ll be getting rid of some more items, I will need to think even more about what I am going to keep, what to get rid of and what to buy in the future. Starting a new chapter of my life in September, I want to be more conscious of these things and keep the lessons learned here in mind… Well, except when it comes to books, because I will surely be looking for interesting finds in charity shops! The perks of living in an English-speaking country again!