It’s the dream, right? You’re whole life in a backpack, living the minimalist nomad life, traveling around the world without a care.
That’s how it seems. And that’s my reality. And whenever – without fail – you explain this to someone new, their eyes light up and they think it’s incredible.
But here’s what they don’t tell you about minimalism. I promise you, it’s not all roses, butterflies, and rainbow-colored unicorn farts.
You are going to struggle to Marie Kondo the shit out of everything
You know Marie Kondo, right? The author of the bestselling The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up has injected the phrase “does it spark joy” into everyday speech.
The idea is a simple one. You look at your things, one by one, and ask that now-common, joy-sparking question. If it does, it stays. No joy? It’s time to ditch it faster than a bad date.
And while I was OK with going through every single item I owned, some people will find her practices overwhelming. I’ve had friends that tried the “Konmari method,” and had full-on anxiety attacks because of it.
It’s also hard to imagine a pair of underwear sparking joy, or underarm deodorant. Don’t take the rules too seriously – some things are essential, and there’s no joy to be had from them.
“It’s so freeing to own almost nothing”
Confession. Every time I reduced my load, I did feel freer, and it definitely saves time when you’re deciding what to wear in the morning.
But that’s also a problem because there comes a point – especially if you’re on stage/screen like me, or you’re an Instagram model (not like me), or anything else that might cause you to be in photos and videos regularly – when you realize that you’ve appeared in the same damn shirt/blouse/kimono a million times.
Now, I’m not a fan of fast fashion and those frankly inconsiderate people that think it’s cool to wear something once, then never wear it again. There’s a lot of reasons why we’re killing our planet, and this attitude is one of them.
I prefer to go to thrift and charity shops, buy something pre-loved, and wear that until it’s time to change things up again. As long as it’s still in good condition, it’ll go back to charity when I’m done with it, so everyone wins.
But it is exhausting and time-consuming finding thrift stores in different locations (and some towns don’t even have them), trying on clothes, and then working out what you need to get rid of to make space for what’s new (or nearly new, in this case).
Oh, and get used to another time-waster: washing those clothes. You’ll be doing that more often than ever before, and you will make timing errors, leading to the old “smell test” to figure out which piece of clothing is least vile that day.
You’re going to get your weather options damn wrong
I once walked for 25 minutes in Riga, at -20 degree Celsius, in a pair of hyperlight Nike sneakers, because I fucked up. I literally counted how many toes I had once I warmed up at the end of the journey – I was scared I’d lost one to frostbite.
And while that’s an extreme example, this is going to happen to you. A lot. Clothes that are too warm in Tulum. Shoes that are too slippery for Lisbon’s rain-soaked tiled streets (I’ve nearly broken my arse on three separate occasions). Trousers that are too see-through for Singapore.
And you will, without doubt, screw up what you’re allowed to wear in certain countries that have religious reasons for you dressing a particular way. Do your homework on that, and prepare accordingly. And be prepared to ditch something that truly sparks joy to make room for it.
Is it worth it?
Yes. Absolutely, and without any doubt. Having everything you own and need in one bag is badass. And it makes for a great story at parties.
But be warned – minimalism isn’t the dream everyone thinks it is, and you’re going to have to become an expert in weight management, planning, buying tiny/small things instead of the “full fat” version (especially toiletries, since you’ve gotta fit those all into a miniature plastic bag for airport security), and looking the same every fourth or fifth day.