Once someone told me that “we buy things we don’t need with money we don’t have to impress people we don’t like.” (a quote originally by Dave Ramsey). In this article, we’re going to discover the idea of minimalism. Minimalist living & minimalist travel may both help you to obtain a better mental health, and they can become a way of achieving a more green life. But before talking about advantages of respecting rules of minimalism, let’s explain what this term means.
Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus humorously wrote that “to be a minimalist you must live with less than 100 things, you can’t own a car or a home or television, you can’t have a career […]”. Of course, in reality, minimalism is an about entirely different thing, and the authors explain the sense of this trend well here.
First of all, minimalism does not force you to start a life full of abnegation – indeed, it’s associated with “living with less”, although you don’t have to throw away the majority of things that you possess. Minimalism is rather concerned with limiting unnecessary consumption to focus on things that are important to us as human beings. These things include, for instance, spending free time with relatives, maintaining friendships or caring about objects we possess. According to Courtney Carver, minimalism characterises “a desire to live with less” (source). There is no strict definition of minimalist travel that tells you that, e.g. you have to abandon your career. For me, it is associated with prioritising quality over quantity. So, how can you use minimalism in tourism?
To be honest, it is quite difficult to find some interesting resources about how you can apply minimalism to your travels regarding accommodation. However, from my own experience, I see many potential areas where you can “live with less” during the journey. The first advice would be to avoid mass tourism and large all-inclusive hotels in which water & food are wasted continuously. It does not mean that sleeping in a tent in the wildness is the only option. 😉 There are many small, sometimes family-run, hostels and hotels that care about the environment and offer clean, pleasant rooms with standards that fit even demanding people. You may also consider staying with the locals who earn on offering their private accommodation. Saved money can be used, for instance, for visiting more attractions like national parks.
I found many materials on how to pack for a tour like a minimalist. In his article, Regev Elya indicated many benefits of taking less for a journey. These include “flexibility and comfort, cheaper flight fares and better infusion with the local culture”. In this text (link) you can also find numerous tips on how to limit the number of items that you want to take for travel. From my own experience, as long as you have qualitative things, you don’t need a lot of them. For instance, two t-shirts made of proper material are better than ten made from synthetics. Anyway, you will find a full advice in the article linked above.
Regarding the UK, as stated on the site of the University of Birmingham, “20% of the population are now obese and the costs to the UK economy exceed £3 billion per year” (link). Also, according to the Guardian article (link), “waste and recycling advisory body says 4.4m tonnes of household food waste thrown away in 2015 could have been eaten”. Also, the quality of numerous products that we consume leaves a lot to be desired. Minimalism can be a remedy to all of these problems, and all the details are described in the “minimalism in your daily life” in the food subsection (just follow this article to read it).
In the case of minimalist travel, you can also make some changes regarding the way you eat so you will enjoy better health and additional savings. As I’ve already mentioned, try avoiding hotels in which you suspect that tonnes of foods are wasted. Instead, you can discover local restaurants in the area you stay or even cook for yourself. Also, if you go for a long trekking, try to prepare valuable meals/snacks that will not go bad quickly. I would suggest taking, for instance, a pack of nuts, dried fruits and sunflower seeds. Of course, you can take fresh food (e.g. vegetables) as long as you are sure that you’re going to consume everything during the walk. In South America, you can enjoy lots of valuable products of high quality. 🙂 If you want to find out some information about food specifically in Ecuador, then follow this article.
Why minimalist travel can support locals & environment?
During your travels, you can indeed support locals & environment by implementing some rules of minimalism. Firstly, if you visit developing countries, locals may be impressed if you live frugally. Don’t misunderstand it – it is not wrong to be rich! The point is to not waste valuable resources in front of people who do not possess much. Therefore, it is more about respect for these resources (like water, food) and for communities you visit. Travelers who care about such things are more attracting and welcomed for natives. The support can also come from eating in the local restaurants or buying products from the small markets. When you visit a particular country, instead of buying 4 Chinese souvenirs, buy just one but made in a place you visit by its inhabitants. It is a form of minimalism too.
In the case of the environment, minimalist travel is again about not wasting resources. Just because some of them are available, it does not mean that people must use them fully. Saving water is a good example here, and we will write a separate article about it.
Minimalism in your daily life – 3 areas that you can change
I agree with Tesco’s slogan that “every little helps”. If you implement this rule in your daily routine, you can quickly notice profitable changes. If you want to test whether minimalism is for you, start with changing just one area of your life. For instance, check how many unnecessary clothes you have in your wardrobe – if you didn’t wear some shirts for more than a year, maybe it is a good idea to give them to charities? Also, once you finished a selection, next time when you’re going for shopping, and you wanna buy a fantastic pair of trousers, ask yourself “is it a necessary thing?”. If you can prove yourself that indeed, you’re going for a long journey and you don’t have any trousers at all, then buying one pair is a good idea. Otherwise, if you already have three pairs of jeans, but this one is so special, it is just a whim, and the answer is that, in reality, you don’t need this thing. In the long run, minimalism in this aspect of life can help you saving money. You can gain a lot, especially if instead of possessing ten pairs of shoes, you decide to have just four but all of them are of high-quality that can serve for years.
Firstly, like in the case of clothes, buy less but of higher quality. This rule is beneficial for, both, your health and your wallet. In the beginning, you may struggle with implementing minimalism in this aspect of life, especially if you like to eat often and unhealthy. Also, people who work a lot often complain that they don’t have enough time to, e.g. check labels of each product. However, I can ensure you, that at some point of practising minimalism, you would feel healthier and less stressed & tired. How to start? I suggest following these tips.
- If you don’t have time to do a research involving what food is of high quality, start with checking out just a few key products with an extended expiration date. It can be, for instance, rice, groats or quinoa. Instead of buying three frozen pizzas, consider a purchase of, e.g. a millet.
- Try to buy products with short expiration dates like fruits or vegetables just for a given day. When shopping, some people automatically buy, for example, cucumbers, tomatoes, lettuce, onions et cetera, without asking themselves “is it necessary?”. Go for shopping (maybe at a local grocery) and buy these vegetables that you need for a given day. Of course, in the beginning, it is not easy to plan all the meals in advance but in the long run, you will get used to it. And with strategy, you will not throw so many products.
- The majority of people consider “junkie food” like pizza, chips and others. I often called “junkie food” a meal prepared from all the ingredients that must be used at a given moment or otherwise, I will be forced to throw them. 🙂 For instance, my “junkie soap” is prepared from all vegetables that I have in a fridge at the moment. You cannot imagine how many new recipes you can invent by making this kind of junkie meals from time to time.
- If you overeat, cook smaller portions. It also applies when you use to throw away the part of the meal you prepared because it was too large.
If you want to read more, I recommend this article (link).
Electronics, gadgets and others
Do you have a continuous desire for buying a new phone every year? Or maybe you feel exhausted because of the overtimes that you take to save for a stylish car? If you answered “no”, then you are one step closer to call yourself a minimalist. For me, minimalism regarding gadgets is characterised by the rule that “as long as something works, don’t throw it”. Of course, if you can prove that a particular thing is necessary for you – like a new laptop that you need for work, then go ahead and buy it. But if you treat electronics like toys that land in the attic after a month or two, then consider a change in this area of living. Remember that many companies artificially create demand by, e.g. regularly adding new features to the same product. This creation of market is how firms can earn more. But if you are aware of this “small innovations” trick, you will probably use your old gadgets unless they broke. Another thing is that before you will throw, e.g. your computer, maybe firstly, try to repair it? Same applies to cleaning or kitchen appliances.
Minimalist travel & minimalist living – Summary
To some extent, everyone can become a minimalist and, in many cases, it does not cost anything to implement some of its rules. 🙂 Once again, minimalism is not about condemnation of possessing money. For me, it’s simply about being a responsible person who cares about health & environment. I would say that it’s also a bit about being an aware consumer. What does minimalism mean for you? As it has many “faces”, maybe you understand something completely different by this term? Feel free to share your thoughts. Meanwhile, Tauri Travel invites you to study at Puerto Lopez Spanish School where you can live like a local and gain a new skill. An awesome place for practising minimalist travel. 😉