Thursday, October 17, 2013

How travel helps you want a minimalist lifestyle

Every single time I return home from a trip I have a burning desire to declutter my house. Yes, travelling makes me want to lead a much more minimalist life and I love it. In fact, given my tendencies otherwise to hoard and by untidy, I should probably travel every month and then my house would look fantastic!

I spent hours looking out the kitchen window of our temporary Inish Maan home in Ireland
There are lots of things about travelling that make me want to embrace a minimalist way of life, but the most obvious one you are probably already thinking about is the simple fact that you can only take a small number of your belongings with you when you travel. You get used to wearing a restricted selection of your clothes and it's really not such a bad thing, is it? I know it never bothers me - in fact, it's quite liberating to have very few choices of what to wear each day, and takes out a lot of the agony of fashion decisions. I still like to travel with a backpack I can carry myself and that means my clothing choice is necessarily limited, and I really rather like it.

Interestingly, it seemed to work the same for Mr3 on our recent Europe trip. By necessity we could only bring a very small number of toys but these turned out to be totally sufficient, along with a number of everyday items he found along the way which were coopted into being new, imagined kinds of toys. He never asked for more toys and never complained that we didn't have the other bigger toys with us. Although, of course, he was very excited to see them when we got home again!

But minimalism is not just about packing. Having a limited internet connection and simply not much time to look at a screen of any kind, as in our recent month in Europe since we were so busy seeing the world, I quickly developed a very harsh filtering system for what emails I would read. Virtually all newsletters and other kinds of mailing list mail got deleted immediately (sorry everyone!) and only truly essential work and personal email got answered (although most of the work emails got a reply something along the lines of having to wait until I returned to Australia - and nobody minded!). I still checked my email regularly and sent some each day but these were nearly exclusively to close family and friends and usually just featured a quick photo of where we were and what we were doing - especially photos of my son for the enjoyment of his grandmother back home. Similarly, I found it surprisingly easy to ignore a lot of social media feeds, even though that's the industry I work in, and since that trip I've been pleasantly surprised at how willing I've been to continue ignoring social media when I really don't have time to look at it.

Simplifying life while travelling goes right down to what you eat - for example, we spent four days based in an apartment in Dublin and were quite happy subsisting off a simple diet of basics that we bought at the local Tesco, knowing that we would need to eat everything we bought within a few days, or throw the leftovers away.

Pack light: when it's cold and windy nobody sees that you're wearing the same T-shirt again, anyway!
Life on the road is necessarily and wonderfully simple because you don't (usually) have to go to work, you can't carry all your possessions with you, you are able to avoid the household chores, and in many cases your choice of daily activity is completely up to you. If you're able to transfer a bit of this feeling back into your normal life at home. then I think you're all the richer for it. Yet another excellent reason to travel, just in case you needed one.

2 comments:

  1. It's very true that travel gives you a minimalist approach to life. Reading your blog just makes me want to travel again! Whats more, you make it sound less scary with a child and now I believe it can be done. Thanks.

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    Replies
    1. Ah, yes indeed, it can be done with a child! It is just a bit of a mindset shift but it's definitely possible. Sorry for giving you the travel bug again! It can be a real curse ;-)

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