[Written in New Zealand]
The new trendy word being bandied about. Like Tumeric Lattes, Beard Jewellery, and Vintage Suspenders. I figured, like most fringe concepts, this one would be fleeting and only practiced by the hipsters in the world. [Don't get me wrong, I make my own tumeric lattes at home].
But this time, I hope it does stick, and spread to all corners of society.
We need it.
I first heard this word a few years ago, during a time in my life when I was moving from house to house with my obnoxious amount of possessions, always struggling with the ever growing number of boxes and making each transition more stressful than the last; yet I immediately brushed it off, as I wasn't in a place where I was ready to give them all up.
This trait makes me my father's daughter. You see, there are many qualities about my dad that I love and luckily inherited, but hoarding is not one of them. My dad is a 'just in case' kind of guy, keeping every little object for that potential use one day. He also holds onto sentimental items too; I'm pretty sure every art project I ever created since I learnt how to draw is still in his garage.
One year, when I was 13, I convinced him to clean out our entire garage so that my parents could use it to actually park their cars inside of it [crazy concept, I know]. There was old washing machines and couches and all kinds of bizarre things in there. We managed to sell some things and throw away others and organise enough space to fit one vehicle. I was so proud of myself that I was able to help him do this massive task. But a mere 4 weeks later, the car was shifted out and more stuff filled in the space.
You get the idea.
My mum, however, is a natural minimalist, able to fit all of her worldly belongings nicely organised into two small boxes. She doesn't even blink when she has to throw things away. I always envied her for this.
But last year, something finally shifted in me. I saw this quote, which struck a really loud and uncomfortable chord:
I felt uncomfortable because I knew it was right, and it was happening within me.
So, I made a change.
It started with creating this vision board. I stuck that quote on there, and looked at this board everyday for the last 8 months.
And recently, I have spent more time understanding what this 'minimalism' concept really means. I'm now completely enamoured.
So, who better to define this word than The Minimalists themselves?: "Minimalism is a lifestyle that helps people question what things add value to their lives. By clearing the clutter from life’s path, we can all make room for the most important aspects of life: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution. Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear... from worry... from overwhelm... from guilt... from depression... from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom."
So, maybe it's not about living as a monk in the Himalayans, or even living in an empty apartment in the city. Maybe it's just about filling your life with things (and people) that bring more value and joy, and then getting rid of, or moving away from, the rest.
So this year, I took my first steps as a 'minimalist millennial', and boy does it feel good!
In March 2017, I needed to move house again (surprise surprise), so that gave me a good opportunity to reduce my physical possessions.
Besides my bike, car, blender, juicer, and 2 boxes of books and old university files, everything I own is in the photo above: Clothes, toiletries, files, sentimental items, necessities for work, my kite-surfing equipment, 2 yoga mats, a tent, my travel backpack, and 2 bags that I use daily.
And now, I'm embarking on a 3 month solo trip to New Zealand, Cuba, Central America, and South America. So, how can I minimalise even more?
I like to think I'm fairly well traveled by now. I've been on over 100 flights to five different continents (soon to be six!) and have had my fair share of luggage/carry on dramas. So I've now developed a fail proof system for myself to avoid all airport hassles and make each flight not only tolerable, but enjoyable.
Everything I packed for this trip fits into a 60L backpack and a large purse. I'll take you through the tour now:
I have a travel Manduka yoga mat and a 1 litre stainless steel 'Onya' water bottle. [Traveller's Tip: ensure your yoga mat is securely fastened close to your bag like so, because if it sticks out too far while you're walking through the Duty Free section of the airport, you might knock over a few very expensive bottles of alcohol 😬].
I compartmentalise everything into different coloured packs or ziplock bags so I can easily locate any item I require in a jiffy. It's also useful for security, so they can see exactly what liquids you have when they scan your bag.
I have my kindle, glasses, sunnies, pen, pen torch, roll up silicone keyboard, multi-outlet plug, small change purse to store my headphones and iPhone charger, a portable device recharger (because a Gen Y like myself must have all smart phones fully charged at all times!), and a travel purse for my passport and credit card. [Not pictured is the iPhone for obvious reasons].
Then my toiletries include a roll of hair ties which I've hair pinned together, my Eco bamboo toothbrush, roll of medical tape, razor, vegan mascara (which is also the only make-up I ever wear), tooth flossers, tweezer, a bag of Q-tips and bandaids, various PRN medication, 1 x hydrolyte sachet, alcohol swabs, shampoo + conditioner, organic face wash, coconut oil, magnesium spray, essential oil antiseptic cream, organic face moisturiser, roll on essential oils, natural mosquito repellent spray, and a vegan deodorant (all in 100mL bottles or less. I purchased some of those travel bottles for very cheap at a chemists last year and have re-used them dozens of times now). [Not pictured is a pack of feminine products: I use a Juju cup and organic cotton liners].
For comfort, I have a travel sheet, eye mask, ear plugs, and various teas (I like to always have green, mint, and chamomile handy).
95% of my clothes are from second hand shops. I'm lucky to live in Fremantle, Western Australia, where there are so many great 'Op Shops'. You'll see some of my bargain finds below.
I packed 12 shirts/tank tops, which is quite a lot but I'll probably donate some along the way. I also have 4 long sleeved shirts, 1 cotton dress, 1 short and 1 long pair of black spandex, 2 pairs of denim shorts and 1 pair of denim pants, and a rain jacket.
Lastly, I packed 1 bathing suit, a small wash cloth, a travel towel, a sarong, a thera resistance band, a hat, a cotton purse, 7 pairs of underwear, 4 bras, 2 pairs of socks, a headband, a well loved tote bag for shopping [that's a picture of the state I lived in in America by the way], and 4 pairs of shoes.
In this trip, I want to prioritise what the essential items are in my life. When I return home, I would like to reduce my things down even more to what they are now and live more simply, in the hope that I can also reduce my mental clutter along with it.
I hope I can learn to live life with less, and to make better choices for myself, my loved ones, and the environment. We know that our planet cannot keep up with this overconsumption mentality of buying planned obsolete items and throwing them in the landfill the following year. As much as possible, I will purchase second hand, repair what I have already got, and responsibly discard what I no longer need.
I'm just one person, but hopefully I am a drop in the water, creating a ripple effect of change that eventually encompasses our precious Earth.
We've only got one afterall, and She's suffering.
What 'minimal travel' tips have you got to share ? I would love to learn how I can keep improving in this lifestyle.
[p.s. what goes around comes around... so let's be kind]