“Choose a life of conscious simplicity and you’ll find more freedom.” -Amie Valpone
The minimalism movement has many iterations but, at its core, it is an exercise in intentionality. By understanding what you value, you are able to “minimize” the things in life that do not exist within said values. Traveling as a minimalist can be challenging; however, it can also be incredibly rewarding. By minimizing the amount of material things that you need to worry about on your trip you will, hopefully, be more in-tune with your new surroundings and all that you are experiencing. If you are interested in trying out a minimalist lifestyle while traveling, check out the five tips below.
1. PACK SMALL
There are many different types of travelers, all of whom have different needs, desires and goals; however, packing less is likely going to benefit every single one of them. Overpacking is all too common and can even be problematic due to its financial ramifications and the strain it can put on a travelers mobility. During the packing process, take time to reflect on what you will actually use on your trip. Strive to minimize your packing list so you only need to bring a carry on with you (which is actually a great time saver at the airport and helps lighten the load when you are making your way to your accommodation).
2. BUY LESS, EXPERIENCE MORE
While everyone travels for different reasons, the goal for many travelers is to acquire new experiences in a setting that is different from their daily life. While the temptation to purchase things at your destination may arise, it is important to reassess that compulsion and be mindful of what you are hoping to achieve during your travels. Purchasing items that you will never use or that you could have easily purchased at home is probably not one of your main motivations for traveling. Choosing to spend money on unique experiences will most likely be a better use of your funds; however, that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t spend money on material items — our next point covers that.
3. ONLY COLLECT THINGS YOU WILL LOVE & USE
Sometimes, while traveling, you may be tempted to purchase souvenirs, clothes or other knick knacks. While this in and of itself isn’t bad, make sure that you are only purchasing things that you really love and will actually use. Strive to make mindful purchases so anything that you bring home with you adds value to your life in some way.
4. BRING YOUR REUSABLES
A growing branch of minimalism is the zero waste movement. The goal of this movement is to produce the least amount of trash possible. If you are interested in practicing zero waste minimalism on your travels, you should strive to bring the appropriate reusables with you. If you plan to go grocery shopping, consider bringing a reusable bag. If you like to eat out, consider bringing a set of reusable utensils, a reusable cloth napkin, a reusable straw and potentially even a bento box to take your leftovers in. Toting around your reusable water bottle can also come in handy, especially if you are in a region like Zurich (Switzerland), which has 1,200 fountains — all of which produce safe drinking water and are commonly utilized by locals for just that.
5. DO NOT STRIVE FOR “PERFECT” MINIMALISM
Traveling is always a unique and vibrant experience. While traveling as a minimalist does not encourage indulgence in material items, you can still engage with communities, explore and even bring pieces of your trip back with you through meaningful purchases. Minimalism is simply an intentional way of living and practicing minimalism while traveling should, in no way, be rigid or restrict your experience to the point that it causes you unhappiness.
An unfortunate byproduct of the minimalist movement is the strive for perfectionism and the shame that can be felt at times for not living up to a perceived standard of what minimalism should be. It is okay to deviate from sterile minimalist standards, especially while traveling. If you really enjoy a particular candy that you can’t find in your home country, don’t feel ashamed to buy a large bag of it and bring it home with you. If you tend to practice zero waste minimalism but are only able to access safe drinking water through purchasing water that is bottled in plastic, it’s okay to buy it. If you happen to see unique coin purse and fall in love with it, don’t feel bad about purchasing it.
The goal of minimalism is to help you remain intentional with yourself, and your stuff, no matter where you are in hopes that you can fully enjoy and be present in your journey. Your travels should never feel deprived because of minimalism, but, rather, enhanced by it.