One thing I’m absolutely certain about is that traveling has made me become a minimalist.
It started when I packed up my bag and ventured out in the world. I knew that I could only own what I could carry in my backpack. Except for the two moving boxes in my mum’s house with some winter boots, some winter clothes and some personal items and ‘important’ documents, the stuff in my 11 kg heavy backpack is all I own. It’s all I have to my name.
What is minimalism?
There are many and different definitions and interpretations of the meaning of minimalism. But it all boils down to one thing: getting rid of all the stuff that you simply don’t need to be happy. Stuff you don’t need to live a great life.
It’s difficult in this day and age with our consumer culture, but it’s absolutely doable.
I was one of those people who were sucked in to the consumer culture. I had much more stuff than what I needed.
In England, supermarkets are now so much more than just a place where you buy your dinner. Most of them now have aisles full of kitchen utensils, decorative objects, toys, books, movies. You name it.
I used to be the kind of person who would go to the shops to buy a pint of milk and a loaf of bread, and I would come home with a new pair of shoes, 20 spare hangers for the clothes I never wore, a new night stand and a mass produced painting for a wall that wasn’t even bare. Did I need it? Hell no. But I was so sucked into the consumer culture and so blinded by what I saw on TV and what I read in the magazines that in my mind I thought I’d better buy it just in case. Often I made excuses such as: ‘it was such a bargain I’d be silly to pass it by.’
Traveling changed my perspective
It all changed when I left England and left all of my possessions behind (except for those two boxes). I realised I didn’t need all of that stuff. I didn’t need 3 different vases for flowers I never bought. I didn’t need two drawers full of kitchen utensils. I didn’t need a cupboard full of office supplies. I didn’t need five different kind of bed sheets to choose from. It was extra stuff that only hurt my bank account. Did it make me happier to own all of this stuff? No.
Being on the road has made me realize how little stuff I actually need to get by and to live a fulfilled life. It’s not about the stuff. It’s about the experiences. It’s about the adventures I go on every week.
I left my mum’s house with a very heavy backpack. Yes, of course I had over-packed, because I didn’t know any better. But I had only made it three weeks into my journey when I started leaving stuff behind in the hostels I was staying at. I began to give away my stuff to fellow travelers for free.
Truth is, I didn’t need 8 different changes of clothing. I didn’t need 3 pair of flip flops. I didn’t need endless kinds of accessories such as cheap bracelets and earrings. One pair of earrings was enough. So I left it behind and I can guarantee you this one thing: in the past 11 months I have not missed any of the stuff I got rid of. I didn’t even give it a second thought.
So now, I go through my stuff every couple of months to see if there’s more stuff I can part with.
It’s a false idea that we need all of these things to make us happy. It’s a false idea that we need the newest and the best. We don’t. But our mind tells us we do. I often joke that if my backpack is stolen I’ll be fine. As long as I have my daypack with my laptop, my purse, my passport, my phone and my charger I will be fine. And maybe a toothbrush would be nice as well.
I live as a minimalist on the road and when I one day return ‘home’ to settle down I will continue to live as one. It has changed my life for the better.
Has traveling made you become a minimalist? Let me know by leaving a comment.