So, you’re about to relocate and want to start fresh, huh? Or maybe you’re just packing away for a year to live in Madrid as an English teacher . Or maybe you quit your job and you’re starting your travel journey? Whatever it is, here’s something I learned during my years of living abroad: less is more. If you are about to start a long trip around the world, this article will help you embrace minimalism, so you can start focusing on your experiences, not things.
See also: Why You Should Document Your Time Abroad
First lesson: Sell what you don’t need and start a savings account.
Back in 2013, I started critically looking at all the stuff in my wardrobe. I started selling my designers’ shoes, bags and clothes on eBay and putting everything I got from the sales into my “To Travel Is To Live” savings account.
So, if you are packing your life to move to another country, make sure to take the time to go through all the things you own and really ask yourself:
Do I Need This?
If the answer is ‘no’, throw it away. If the answer is ‘yes’, save it.
Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you. – Lao Tzu
Second lesson: Buy experiences, not things.
In a world where we are all accumulating stuff out of habit, unique experiences really stand out. I remember the face of my parents when I bought them a cruise ticket for their 40th wedding anniversary. They expected the usual material thing, but once they came back from the cruise, they told me it was the best experience of their life.
These experiences are things that you can’t keep in your house, but the memories you make and they are going to stay within you and your loved ones for a very long time. What’s more important that happy moments?
The best things in life aren’t things. – Joshua Becker
Third lesson: Digital minimalism!
Minimalism also applies to the digital world. Since I’ve been away, I’ve unsubscribed from most of the newsletters I once found interesting but actually never read (sorry bloggers!), I consciously cleaned my Facebook wall and Instagram feed from all the negative people, cat-lovers and toxic attitudes. I wanted to have my rare moments of connectivity only filled with joy, happy moments and real friends instead.
Your real life is more important than your social media persona and you should spend time living your life than presenting it.
Do something incredible. Don’t tweet about it. – Colin Wright
To wrap up this fascinating but tricky topic: while it’s easier to travel with a minimalist mindset than it is to live as a minimalist, it’s also true that travelling helps you become a better minimalist. After all this time, I’m dreading the moment I will have to go through all the stuff I left behind and I already know that I should have binned of most of it before leaving.
Travelling with less is less stressful. I’m no longer scared of losing things behind (well, except my camera gear, laptop, hard drive and passport) but I learnt that all other things are simply replaceable.
The moral of the story is: we don’t really need that much stuff. You may have been forced into thinking that you need that brand new car, that you need to upgrade your phone, or that gorgeous dress, but the truth is that you reallu don’t. Spend your money on living and experiencing the world instead.
Love people, use things. The opposite never works. – The Minimalists