“Minimalism is not about what you own. It's about why you own it.” - Brian Gardner
Minimalism is breaking things down to what is the most important to us and leaving the rest behind. It's a decluttering of sorts. So the things we value most, are front and center with no distractions of stuff or things that capitalism and classism and all the isms have told us that we want or that we need.
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When it comes to traveling long term, minimalism is pretty important for obvious reasons. You simply just can't take everything with you. I mean, I guess you could, but it's a lot of work and a lot of money. I generally pride myself on my minimalism. I travel with my backpack, a small rollie suitcase and a tote bag, and that's it.
My parents have been generously storing a few boxes for me that have some clothes, scrapbooks, old DVDs and books and random things that I couldn't quite bring myself to give away or to toss or to sell. Thanks again for doing that Mom and Dad.
I've also got various items around the world sitting at friends' houses waiting for me to pick them up again. But other than that, that's it. That's all I've got.
I've been in Bueno Aires for almost a year already, which is absolutely wild. I needed some time to slow down and I was just very tired from moving around so often. But I can already see that I've started to accumulate stuff again.
Why does that happen so easily?! I really don't know how that happens. And as I've been getting ready to get back on the road 've been thinking a lot about minimalism and balancing the two.
Because when you are on the move so often and living out of a backpack, there are a lot of, simple things that I don't carry around with me that I really miss.
Like having a bathrobe and small things like that.
I still don't have a bathrobe because I knew I would get too attached. But I did start to get a few things that I knew would make me happy for the time I was here. And while I'm here, I'm allowed to have them, and so I'm trying not to beat myself up too much for starting to accumulate things.
But anyway, to help me out and maybe, hopefully help some other people out there, I wanna talk a little bit about some tips on minimalism and also how to find the balance
Between not having a lot of stuff you don't need, but also, not feeling guilty for having stuff and enjoying having some stuff. I just said stuff so many times.
and this is something that applies to everybody
First things first
You have to get a bird's eye view of what you have so you can decide whether or not you need it.
When it comes to traveling, you might think the best time to do this is right before leaving because you'll already be packing and have all your stuff out, etc. but you'd be wrong.
Well, whatever. Maybe that works for you, but it definitely doesn't work for me. As a last minute packer, I am so focused on just getting it done that I do not have the time, the space, or the energy to declutter at the same time. I stuff things in air pockets inside my backpack and tell myself I'll figure it out when I get to the next place.
Spoiler alert. I do not do it when I get to the next place.
I find the best time to do this is about a week or so before you have to leave. You're already taking stuff out to prepare to pack so it's not a huge inconvenience. It allows you to take stock in anything you have, sort through the things you haven't used and don't think you're gonna need. And it also gives you the time to deal with it. So you can donate clothes and electronics, give things to friends, mail things home, etc.
When it comes to the stuff that I do send home, whenever I am back I go through everything. Anything that I've forgotten that was there, I get rid of. Unless it's clothes, because then I go on a "shopping" spree and do a big switch out. It's like a brand new wardrobe, but good for my wallet and good for the environment!
Speaking of clothes, I know that's like a hard thing to cut back on, so here are a few tips on that. You never need as many clothes as you think that you do. Never. Except underwear.
Now for vacation, you definitely never need as many underwear as you pack for vacation. But for long-term travel, I always have a ton of underwear because then I don't have to do laundry as often.
Stop packing aspirationally, just stop it. For example, when I go on shorter trips, I always think I'm gonna work out, so I bring a whole set of workout gear and I almost never use it.
Do you have like a dress or a romper or like something that looks better in the dressing room than it does in your room? If you don't wear it at home, you're not gonna suddenly love it on your trip.
Go big with your jewelry instead of your outfit. Have some simple items of clothing that can be mixed and matched for several different outfits. And to change things up even more, have a few pieces of like statement jewelry and that can show your personality and you know, up your outfit.
Also chasing summer is super helpful. Warm clothes are really, really bulky.
This next step kind of goes without saying, but go digital with anything and everything you can. Books, journals, planners and things like that, all that stuff takes up a ton of room and can get heavy.
Let go of emotions
This next one is tough. Don't place sentimental value in physical things. Instead, put them in photos. Obviously you'll have your memories as well, but specifically photos can be physical or digital, they can easily be shared, and they tell a really great story.
How many people have you shown a random object to and then told a story about it?
How many times have you told a story and then shown photos about it? Or seen a photo pop up in your memories or timeline and shared it with others in the photo and reminisced about it? how often do you share your memories on Instagram via a post or a story or a reel?
How many times have you shared the random trinket or the ticket stub you kept?
Practice decluttering regularly.
I try to do a digital cleanse about once a week or once a month. Regularly clean up your inboxes, photos, downloads folder, documents, and other things like that so it doesn't become massive overwhelming project.
Photo decluttering while listening to a nice podcast or a good playlist is a great non wifi activity for a plane or long haul bus ride. You're going to feel lighter as you start to whittle things down.
What makes the cut?
But yeah, it's hard. It's nice to feel like you've got some things to call your own. I bought some plants when I was here and having various kitchen items and utensils available to me because many times a apartments do not come equipped with the best cooking gear.
Cooking and baking is something that's really important to me. It's gonna be really hard for me to justify bringing measuring cups on the road with me but..... I NEED them, don't I? Don't I?!
I also personally have a really hard time with shoes. For instance, I travel with a minimum of five pairs. And more for cold weather. And I just don't know how to get it any smaller. I need every single one of them for different practical reasons.
I've come to be full blown, obsessed, in love, in a dependent relationship with my Soda Stream. I don't know what I'm gonna do without it.
And then there's the stuff that I don't need, but I've used enough times for it to be worth it for me to carry around, like bottle openers, scissors, stuff like that.
I've got first aid stuff that I have never used before and hopefully don't have to, but you want to have around.
I used to carry a sewing kit around with me for years and never used it. Once I got rid of it and within one week, I needed it. So, that was cool. I carry around replacements for my plastic-free toiletries and things that are hard to find or I wouldn't know where to look for them abroad.
There's always gonna be stuff that I feel like I could do better on and definitely things that I don't need.
But, I'm doing my best.
What's important is that you find what works for you and you just go with it. And then pivot as needed. Going minimal takes away distraction and allows you to focus on the things that are truly important to you.
When it comes to travel, it means that your shit is so much lighter and so much easier to lug around.
The question I'm gonna leave you with this week is, where is one area of your life or luggage that you can declutter? And make sure you let me know what it is and how it goes.
And since you're gonna be really busy doing that, you might not have the time or the energy to do your travel planning, and I got you covered. I'm a travel agent and own my own travel agency, and I'm now branching out to work with digital nomads.
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Use your time to run your business, declutter your life, and actually get to travel instead of having to sit around and research it.
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