I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist, as such – I have a house full of stuff and lead an incredibly busy life – but following some of the principles of minimalism in my life helps me to travel more often than the average person.
I’ve written before about how I afford to travel but have never really addressed the subject of minimalism and how it helps me to live a life I love.
To really explain how I became aware of the minimalist movement, I’ll need to go back to 2014 to explain how I first fell in love with travelling.
In February 2014, I embarked on what would become a life-changing trip to The Gambia, West Africa. But pre-2014, I lived for things – whether that be clothes, shoes, handbags, home décor, electronic devices or any other number of material possessions. I subconsciously believed that my ‘things’ were an accurate measure of my success.
How wrong I was!
On returning from Africa, I became aware of the fact that material things do not make me truly happy. I realised that far from delivering the fulfilling life so many people search for, material things were actually holding me back from living my best life.
Fortunately, I really enjoy my job but many people work jobs they hate, living lives they detest just to buy more stuff they don’t need or even want. We have houses full of crap we never use and we just keep adding to it because it’s what everyone else does.
But when I returned from Africa, I knew that I wanted to get off the treadmill that the world convinces us we need to be on. So I stopped buying stuff for the sake of buying stuff and I started spending my money on my terms.
I decided I was no longer going to buy things just to impress friends or feed myself with the instant rush that comes from a shiny, new purchase. Instead, I wanted to fill my life with amazing experiences.
Don’t get me wrong, I love a new pair of shoes as much as the next girl but seeing as I don’t have enough money to enjoy both expensive material possessions and amazing experiences in ample measures, I realised I would have to sacrifice one for the other.
And that’s when I discovered the idea of minimalism. I started reading blogs like Break the Twitch and Be More with Less and realised that the minimalist movement was a real thing. Thousands of people were opting to live simpler lives with less possessions in support of living a life of more – a life of empowerment.
The only problem with minimalism, though, is that people try to add restrictions to the label, trying to define what a ‘minimalist’ should be. But the truth is, you can be a minimalist on your own terms – you can use the principles of minimalism to live the life you want to live.
What’s more, minimalism doesn’t mean you have to live a life of denial or abstinence. You don’t need to live like an ascetic or live in a tiny house.
In fact, as one of my favourite blogs put it: ‘It’s not about giving things up. It’s about choosing the life you want the most.’ Basically, it’s about refusing to let this commercial system dictate the life you must live.
And for me, minimalism means spending less on material things so I can travel more often. Rather than spending my money buying things I don’t need, I spend my money on things that make my life meaningful – like flights, amazing food, time with friends and memorable experiences.
Unfortunately, living a simple life is countercultural in this world, so it’s not always easy to be so disciplined when surrounded by advertisements trying to make you believe you are incomplete without the latest and greatest gadgets. But what it comes down to is deciding what is most important to me.
Yes, I’d like a new car or the latest Apple product, but if buying those things means forfeiting travel, I’ll go without because seeing the world is my priority.
People often ask me how I afford to travel so frequently, passing comment on how much I must be earning to pay for all my holidays! I don’t have to justify myself to those people who think they have the right to judge how I spend my money but what I will say is this…
While I understand that not everyone can afford to travel, many people could if they just readjusted their mindset and shifted their priorities.
You could afford that flight if you hold back from buying that handbag you don’t need. And you could book that Airbnb in Paris if you stop spending a fortune every weekend out on the town.
If travel isn’t important to you, hell, buy the handbag. But if you’re still reading this post, I’m going to take a wild guess that you’re interested in travelling more often and want to know how you can afford it.
Well, there is no secret sauce. You just have to choose your priorities wisely. And the whole principle of minimalism, or living a simple life, is based on the idea that you spend your money on what is important to you.
I feel like this post has become one big rant about the commercial world but actually it can all be summed up by a sentence I read on one of my favourite blogs this week:
‘You won’t catch me trading away my hopes and dreams for the short-lived joy of buying something new.’ – Jennifer, Simply and Fiercely.
And that’s all I have to say on the subject.