Minimalist Travel

Even if it’s unclear to what extent we can travel around to Lofoten islands, being forced to travel very “minimalistically” and light-weight was an interesting experience.

Here is what I packed for the next 15 days in Norway (in case the picture doesn’t load: it’s basically 3 shirts & undies, exchange pants & sweater, a raincoat, a towel, a small mat and a sleeping bag (I made a relaxing unboxing of it and my new backpack). We’ll also bring a light-weight tent, a kindle and a small gas cooker).

It’s not that easy to eliminate all “non-essentials”. Even my black fleece jacket that’s a little heavy had to stay home.

Total weight on our shoulders should be around 12kg per person, give or take. The less weight we have to carry around, the further we can walk and the more beautiful stuff we can see.

I think that’s a nice metaphor on how our possessions can drag us down.

It’s definitely the case for me. The idea of wearing a luxury watch or owning a fancy car makes me anxious. It would be super annoying to have it scratched or stolen, and the anxiety that comes with its possession might outweigh the potential enjoyment from that item.

I’m not sure if that’s a good thing, but I just don’t care that much about physical things. I don’t „love“ my shoes, my notebook or my phone, as many people do.

I talked to a friend and we had kind of an argument because she does buy quite a lot of stuff and her apartment is full of plants and small decor trinkets, and she owns around 10 different rain jackets. She said „I don’t love buying stuff – I like owning nice stuff“. Interesting.

For me, it might be the opposite: I think buying stuff can be kinda fun (not suuper fun à la I want to do it all day), but I enjoy the mental challenge of reading reviews and looking for the „best“ product for my needs. But owning nice stuff isn’t that important to me – I sometimes order something off of Amazon and leave it in the box for a month or so, and completely forget about it. And I don’t really decorate my room.

Now that I think of it, it would probably be a better strategy to buy fewer things, but then really use what I buy. A good technique to avoid “impulse purchases” is to write down what you feel like buying instead of buying it right away, for instance on a spreadsheet. Then I’ll look at the list from time to time, maybe once a month – if I still want to buy that thing a month later, I’ll go ahead (in many cases I don’t want it anymore).

The friend I talked about also has another thing which I call the I just need this one more thing syndrome. A year ago she just needed those plateau shoes and looked for them everywhere, now she just needs the right sunglasses, then on to the next thing. It’s a bottomless pit, obviously, and dissatisfaction with life and marketers keep you hungry for more and more.

I enjoy reading about minimalism and cleaning up, like Marie Kondo’s famous book, or Tynan’s blog (he lived in his RV for some years and travels a), or looking at tiny houses.

But I wouldn’t say that I’m a minimalist.
I don’t have OCD (the Type A and Marie Kondo’s of this world might have some of it, I suspect, after watching her on Netflix) and I don’t need everything to be perfectly tidy at all times. I actually enjoy a bit of space and chaos.

This is why I don’t say: You should become a minimalist. It’s probably a good idea to buy less in our consumerist society, all the more if you care for the environment and don’t want endless trash to pollute our oceans. Or at least practice living like a homeless person from time to time, kind of like I do – apparently that’s what the Stoics did, too. It’s great to get out of our comfort zone, and also makes us appreciate the luxuries we take for granted.

I would just invite you to observe what your relationship to material things is: Do you use shopping as an anxiety relief? Do you fall into the I just need this one more thing trap? Are you a hoarder, like my grandmother was? Or are you on the other side of the spectrum where you have to vacuum every day and move around your furniture on a weekly basis?

😴 What might help you find calm

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