Packing Lists

What travelling teaches you about minimalism

Image courtesy of @SarahDorweiler on Unsplash

As much as I love the idea of minimalism, I own way to many items to ever be considered anything resembling a minimalist. I do try to input some minimalist ideals in my day to day life but it can be tricky to actually put it into practice, especially when ASOS has a sale!

Something I love about travelling is that it is like a taste-tester for living minimally without having to actually commit. You have to spend days, weeks, sometimes months living out of a relatively small suitcase and you have to be very thoughtful about the items you chose to literally drag with you all over the globe.

I always come home from my adventures and think ‘wow there is a whole house full of stuff here I don’t need!’ but after a day or two it feels normal again.

Here are some things I think that travelling teaches you about minimalism, and some ideas you might like to weave into your every day life.

You can have amazing adventures with a small number of possessions

While you are travelling you have to get through each day while only having a small number of items with you. But not only do you just make it through the day, you can do some of the most amazing things with very little belongings.

I feel like it is very easy to get carried away these days and think that we need a 12-step cleansing routine and a brand new outfit before we can walk out the door. The truth is you don’t need any of this to go out and have an awesome day.

It helps to be selective about what you buy

When you have a strict baggage restriction on what you can take, you have to be really careful about what you buy while on the road. Every souvenir has to be worth the space and weight it will take up so you have to be a bit more considerate. I feel like we don’t think about what we fill our homes with as there is (almost) no limits but really it is still taking up space! Plus if you don’t buy it in the first place you don’t have to stress over whether to get rid of it or not later.

Quality vs quantity

When you so have such limited space in a suitcase the quality of the few items you own becomes a huge priority. It is much better to have one crinkle-free quick dry shirt that will last than 5 cheap cotton ones. The same approach applies with minimalism as one well made classic cut item can do the job of many other cheap and poorly made items. I also find the idea of capsule wardrobes really works here for both travel and everyday life.

Nobody notices what you are wearing

This was a big one for me! While travelling you learn very quickly that nobody cares if you have worn the same thing 10 times in a row, and as long as you are wearing clothes you can pretty much get into any venue. I always have so many outfits in my wardrobe for specific events but in reality anything smart causal will get you by for almost any situation.

I also challenge you to think about what your colleagues were wearing at work yesterday, or what your friends were wearing the last time you caught up.. I bet you have no idea! or at least only have a vague recollection. It proves my point that you can totally get away with less variety than you think.

If you do need something you can usually get it

One of the travel tips I constantly hear is ‘take half of what you think you need but twice as much money’. If you actually find you are missing something then you can buy it. If this kind of thinking applies when you are on the road or in a foreign country then it can definitely apply when you are in your home town with easy access to shops.

The Minimalists have a similar rule called “20 dollars, in 20 minutes”. Their thinking is that if you can replace the item in less than 20 minutes for less than 20 dollars then you don’t need to keep it. More often than not you will never need to replace it.

Having less items gives you freedom

Think of all the places you have been with only a backpack or suitcase! How much easier is it to travel with one lightweight bag rather than 3 huge suitcases? Same applies at home, if you have less things to clean, repair, put away then you have more time for everything else!

What are your thoughts on minimalism?

10 replies »

  1. Excellent blog! We really don’t know how much we don’t need till we start being mindful about it.

    That point about nobody noticing/ remembering what you wore is sooo on-point!

    I’m an aspiring minimalist. My shopping sprees have pared down to nonexistent. From the earlier emotions of guilt, I now feel free & at peace.

    I wrote about my minimalism journey too – https://priyaparulblog.wordpress.com/2018/12/25/minimalist/.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is actually so true! Whilst I have never backpacked or solo travelled etc… It is surprising how you can survive on things that only fit in your backpack for a couple days! I’ve also not heard of that 20 minutes, 20 dollars saying before! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is exactly what I learned in my recent experiments! I wrote about them in detail on my blog but it’s also so exhilarating reading well thought out, meaningful content that confirms my experience! Thank you for an amazing read

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Love this post and totally agree with all of it! I am like an anti-minimalist and even I’ve been changed by travel hahaha. I recently bought new clothes for the first time in OVER TWO YEARS. I’ve got into the mindset of just not buying things, which saves a lot of stress over where to put it, moving it around when we move (usually between trips lol) and whether to get rid of it in the end. So liberating! (And money saving……. more money for travel! Haha)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post! I was just putting together a post about a lost luggage nightmare we had on a recent trip. Since then we’ve been inspired to start travelling with carry on luggage only. Our travel lives are much less dramatic now. Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

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