Minimalism, as a lifestyle concept, first came to my attention earlier this year through the various blogs, web personalities and lifestyle design gurus floating around on the web.
It’s message: that it’s all about shedding the unnecessary things from life, disengaging from the importance of external objects and living a freer, less stressful existence, is something that certainly struck a chord with me.
But does minimalism work abroad? And am I truly a minimalist?
Until now I’ve been rather uncomfortable to come out and tell people about my attempts at becoming a minimalist. I’ve always been a bit wary of jumping on any particular bandwagon, joining up with those who commit, unwaveringly, to any particular philosophy.
The competitive edge of this relatively new meme (yet in practice it’s been around since the dawn of time), the petty squabbles over owning less and the holier-than-thou attitude of certain minimalist bloggers hasn’t really helped either.
But it was only after putting certain things into practice, after I first began reading about it while still living in London, that it’s benefits became more apparent. I started getting to grips with it by selling a lot of stuff I no longer needed (clothes, instruments, furniture) and attempted to limit distractions from my life (things like social media, TV and news). The results? I liked them so much that I decided, after only a few months, to try and undergo this project of minimalism abroad.
Packing for Spain
Committing to minimalism and having to make those changes wasn’t exactly ball breaking. I’ve never been an overly sentimental person. Especially when it comes to clothes, furniture or other physical objects – except for maybe my computer, which I’ve been known to sniff and lovingly caress from time to time (does that make me a pervert?). Packing for Spain, therefore, wasn’t ever really going to be that big of a deal.
Minimalism certainly made it more interesting. I found myself engaged in an interior debate on the eve of my travels, challenging myself to give up more, take less and travel as light as possible. I undoubtedly abandoned a lot of stuff that I would have packed in the past.
Yet, despite all this, there’s still a worrying murmur that perhaps I’ve packed too light in homage to my favoured philosophy – especially given the dropping climate. Is one coat going to be sufficient? I can’t say I’ve missed anything thus far.
For the sake of transparency though, and to readdress my main concern, the question still lingers. Am I actually a minimalist? Or am I just comfortable appropriating the label?
At this point I must explain that all I have here with me in Spain isn’t the sum of everything I own in the world. I still have a bag of clothes back home. I still have personal belongings. Whether these are scattered in friends houses, parents houses or wherever, I still count them as mine.
Perhaps the debate on whether or not I am a true minimalist is beside the point. Despite what hardcore followers may say, I’ll go on calling defining myself as a minimalist regardless. Yes, I’d probably like to lose more stuff, especially the stuff back home, but my location doesn’t really make that an issue at the moment.
However, what I would like to show you, and that which can be measured, is the sum-total of everything I packed with me for my grand Spanish adventure. Check it all out below.
Everything I Have
Take into the account that I had to take this photo with my Panasonic Lumix camera – and, rather disappointingly for my hot-blooded audience – I was wearing two of the listed items of clothes when I took this photo.
Oh and things like toiletries and cables I’ve grouped together as one. I’ll try to be specific where I can.
5 X T-shirts – My wardrobe has made me notice just how much of a Topman and H&M whore I am. Philip Green? Go pay your taxes.
2 X Jerseys – Cotton long-sleeve jerseys, black and purple.
2 X Formal Shirts – Black and white chequered (Uniqlo), white long-sleeve (H&M).
1 X Casual Shirt – Lovely little pink number from H&M. Apparently quite gay. Perhaps why I like it?
2 X Cardigans – Both H&M, beige and blue.
5 X Socks – I’d like to point out they are pairs, not just five random socks.
5 X Underwear – Whether they are clean or not is a different story.
1 X Towel - What else am I going to dry my bones with?
1 X Adidas Samba Trainers – For the exercise.
1 X Coat – A Primark special, Beige Mac-type thing.
2 X Jeans – Black and blue. Like my soul.
1 X Trousers – H&M, formal grey pair.
Belt – This carnivorous paradise is rapidly shrinking my vegetarian waistline. Essential.
Electricals and Accessories
13” Macbook Pro and Carry Bag – The single, greatest purchase I ever made. Miss you Steve.
1 X Screen Cleaning Kit – To keep the phone and the computer nice and shiny.
iPhone – Lifesaver of which I’ve already extolled virtues.
Cables – Power cables for phone, camera, computer and adapter plug.
Lumix DMC-T76 and 4GB SanDisk SDHC card – Used to take the videos you see on this site.
Lomography Analogue Film X 3 – Because the coolest girl gifted me them and I like taking pictures.
Olympus Trip 35 – A halfway decent analogue camera that I’ve never paid for.
Lomography La Sardina – A really funky wide-angle Lomo.
Logitech Headphones – For listening to rocking podcasts like The Lifestyle Business Podcast on the go
Passport – Pretty essential I’d say.
Wallet – I’m not the contents of it.
Toiletries – Razors, shaving foam, deodorant, toothbrush, scissors. Yes I wet shave. I’m a real man.
Pens and pencils – For planning, writing down ideas and such.
North Face day bag – Bought this in Vietnam, surprised how long it’s lasted. Could it be the real?
4 X Books – Practice Makes Perfect Complete Spanish Grammar, La Sombra del Viento by Carlos Luis Zafon, Ir y Venir Cuentos Breves and a notebook.
Total Items = 47
And that, my friends, is the entire contents of my person for the next year. Of course, I’ll have to replace some items, yet that total number, I hope, will remain roughly the same.
Perhaps the most important item of all is the bag. Check out my one below, but if you interested in saving weight like me, then click here for lightweight suitcases.
A Final Word
So now you’ve seen how I’m applying this lifestyle let me allow myself to tell you why I’ve made this choice. It all really boils down to one thing:
Clarity of mind.
That, for me, is the greatest benefit this lifestyle facilitates. It gives focus to the most important things and helps me to fully realise my passions.
So despite not knowing whether I’m a minimalist or not, for that, at least, I’d like to thank the mountain of bloggers who’ve shown me the way.
Minimalism might well, in time, prove to be just another one of those short-lived fads, but right here, right now, in my mid-twenties and living in Spain, it’s doing the trick for me.
Why don’t you give it a try?
If you’re interested in minimalism I’d recommend getting started with Minimalism Essential Essays (which I helped proof), a brilliant and cheap resource for anyone wanting to find out more about what living a minimalist life entails.
Some of my other favourite minimalist bloggers and their posts:
The Minimalists – Everything I Own: My 288 Things
Colin Wright – Minimalism Explained
Leo Babauta – On minimalism