(from Eric McLaughlin, in an attempt at a little something different...)
I wish I knew how to live out of my car. I mean how to do it right. Because I'm sure there are some things we could do way better, and we learn as we go. We shared some of these thoughts before.
Nevertheless we are going on 9 months now of living out of our car. Thankfully, due to extremely gracious hospitality, we have never actually spent the night in our car, so really I mean that we have carried with us everything we "need" for the last nine months.
This kind of portable living is generally a feature true of missionary life. We're not always on the go. In fact, sometimes, we wouldn't leave our home in Kenya (even by so much as a mile) for a couple months at a time. That idea alone would have given me cabin fever before moving there, but travel can be pretty exhausting in Kenya, so we didn't really mind.
Despite this, we had limited luggage to take to Kenya, we have limitations now in our car. And we will go through this process again moving to France in a couple months, and again later in Burundi. And through this, we have found a few key items, and thought that they might be worth sharing.
1. The Dora Bed. One of our friends in Kenya recommended that we travel with our own pillows, so that wherever we were, we would be laying our heads on our own pillows. We didn't do that, and by now, I think our own pillows would be pretty worn and ragged. However, the first week we were home, we bought this Dora bed for $1 at a garage sale, and it has been Maggie's bed ever since. We have placed this is innumerable locations, oftentimes on top of another bed, but it has provided Maggie with a stable place to sleep. And it packs down super small, so it doesn't take up much space.
2. The High Chair. We bought this when Maggie was six months old, and we were living out on the Navajo for a couple months, before moving to Kenya. We were already living out of our car, and when Rachel said she had purchased a "high chair", I had my doubts as to the feasibility of traveling with this. But it worked awesome. It's lightweight, it attaches to any chair, and it's easy to wash. It packs down small, and we took it to Kenya, and now Ben is currently sitting in it, having a snack next to me. We visit with a lot of people who don't necessarily have a reason to own a high chair, so this greatly improves mealtimes for everyone, and is well worth the space in the car.
3. and 4. The Expandable File Folder and the Umbrella Stroller. When we were moving out of our house in Michigan in 2009, we had 2 file drawers full of papers. They all seemed important, and we wondered what we were going to do. We purchased this little blue file folder, which has about 15-20 pockets, and having been carting it around ever since, keeping track of all the important documents that we need in our lives. The Umbrella Stroller behind may be out of style, but it takes up little space, it costs $12, and no one ever raises an eyebrow when you want to gate-check it at an airport. Pure Gold.
5. Lastly, any discussion on space saving wouldn't be complete without a nod to the digital world. Our little disc wallet carries over 100 dvds. Our iPod has over 16 days of music (and backs up our laptop), and the kindle has over 70 books, and can carry a lot more. We don't need those things, but they sure are nice to have along, and our movies and music have been loaned out to more of our fellow travelers than I can remember.
Any addenda from the travel-savvy?