Minimalism in Travel │ How to Travel as a Minimalist

You'd think by now, being a minimalist for about seven years, I'd figure out how to travel concisely.

Window boxes of flowers in Charleston, South Carolina

But, you'd be wrong. This is mostly because I have a fear of not having what I need. Which is ridiculously unwarranted and also a very common sentiment amongst those who travel.

Not once have I traveled and wished I'd brought more. I've always wished I'd brought less. 

In fact, the push - the impetus, if you will - that got me into minimalism was a trip to Italy with one of my best friends. We each had one small suitcase for about 10 days because we had to travel that way.

Let me tell you, that was the best trip of my life for many reasons. I was with a best friend, I was in Italy - one of the most beautiful places in the world, and I was living more freely than I had ever lived. We flitted about the country with a small bag and it was a burden off my shoulders I never realized I had placed on them.

As I said, this trip literally transformed my thinking about stuff. From my closet to all of my personal belongings in my home.

Having just gotten back from a trip to the Carolinas last week, a wonderful trip, (if you haven't been to Charleston, holy moly ... that place is magical... go!) I still overpacked. We stayed with my gracious sister-in-law. Her place is beautiful, as is the greater Charlotte area.

The weather was cold and warm so we had to pack for both seasons, yet, I still brought shirts pants, and jackets I didn't wear.

Here are a few things I muttered to myself (while  shaking my head in disappointment that I couldn't learn from my past) as I was repacking my bags to leave the Carolinas and head home:

1. One jacket is enough: I packed four. I can hear you right now. "You a minimalist, packed four jackets?" In my defense, one was a cardigan. A cardigan I might add that I've had for 27 years, that I had purchased as I was about to embark on my first trip to Europe as a young girl. It was officially a vintage cardigan. And I lost it. Why? Because I had too many jackets to keep track of! It's replaceable, but dang it. I was hoping to keep it for another 27 years. 

Anyway, one medium-weight jacket, instead of a lightweight one, a cardigan, a jean jacket, and another jacket would have sufficed. I was out of control. If you get cold, layer up on the shirts you brought, not the jackets. Plus, they take way less room. Don't do what I did. One jacket and be done.

2. I wore three pairs of jeans instead of five: I'm a jeans person. But, thinking I want to vary my wardrobe while on vacation is such a common mistake. Why am I varying things on vacation? Of all times, I should be bringing less and mixing and matching to vary things that way instead. I should be focusing on what I'm seeing out and about on my trip rather than on my wardrobe. 

For eight days of travel, three pairs of pants are plenty. My wonderful sister-in-law also gave us access to her laundry, so if I had partaken of a fiasco, saying spilling coffee all over me, then I could've easily thrown them in the wash, and voila. All is well. I still only needed three pairs of pants.

3. Too many toiletries: There is something about toiletries for a traveling woman that makes us want to tear our hair out. We have all of our normal toiletries, and then we have the makeup bag. There is so much to look after. And shuffle through. And complain about. 

I did all of that. And I still forgot to bring enough shampoo. My issue, as mentioned above, is that I have too many choices of one thing. Like three chapsticks, a lip gloss, and then a lipstick. It drives me mad because I think I'll want all of them, and then I only use one. Ladies, put one in the purse, and one in the travel bag, and be done with it! We don't need so many choices when we travel. We need to focus on what's around us, what we're sightseeing, rather than the personal effects in our bags.

And if we really need choices, then hop into a drugstore and get what we need. Which is what I did with the shampoo mishap.

I've pared down greatly in my toiletries at home, but there is something about traveling that makes me say, "Maybe I need this, and this, and this one..." Nope. Nope. Nope. One lotion, one lipgloss, one razor... one and done. 

While I'm always a work in progress to traveling minimally, I will say that I've gotten better. And there's always room for improvement. There's a huge learning curve with travel and what to pack for me, but I'm trending up on the curve! By golly, I think I'm learning what I really need when I travel and what I don't. (Even if most of the time, it's the stuff I don't need that I bring!) 

Hope this helps on your next travel. Remember, less is more. Even when you think you'll need more, you almost always (seriously) won't. And you can make do with what you have. Which is the whole concept behind minimalism.

Challenge yourself to pack as minimalist as possible on your next trip. I bet you'll love it and feel freer than ever. Let me know how it goes.


How to Bring Minimalism to Your Kitchen

10 Simple Ways to Declutter the Appearance of Your Kitchen.

I have a minimal kitchen and I love it more than ever. When the afternoon light comes through our bay window and hits just right, I'm staggered. I'm amazed at the simple beauty that shadows and light can play with one another.

It also reminds me that I've made my kitchen a respite. 

So if I want to go out for a cup of coffee, I can. But most of the time, I don't want to go out for coffee unless I'm out running errands. 

Why would I want to go out when I could stay here and look at this minimal happiness thing of beauty?

Instead, I want to stay right here, pour myself a cup of joe (heavy on the cream), and sit back and relax while I stare out the window watching the hummingbirds flit back and forth.

Here's the thing: Even though I've been minimalist since 2017, my kitchen didn't look as minimal as this just a year ago. I was hung up on a few things.

Here's what I did to change my kitchen to exactly how I wanted it and why it works perfectly now.

Eliminated a coffee machine.

For ten years - ten years!- I had both a regular coffee machine and a Keurig machine sitting on our counters. One takes up space, and the other takes up space.  But the both of them together take out a chunk of our counter and it's been silently driving me crazy. After all, all four of us in my household use both machines. How could we survive without them?

Well, we didn't have to go that far. I moved the Keurig to a kitchen cabinet that has an electrical outlet in the wall. The shelf rolls in and out and with it plugged in, it's now an invisible part of our kitchen that works well. I'm kicking myself for not thinking of it, oh say, ten years ago.

Took all but one plant out of the bay window.

I love plants. But, the amount that was accumulating in the kitchen was choking my freedom. I moved most of my plants to other rooms with adequate light and left one. It looks beautiful still.

Minimized the utensil bouquet.

As useful as those bouquets are, I didn't use half of the items in there. I sorted through it, kept what I used, discarded some, donated some, and put other items in drawers. It looks far less cluttered now. and is pleasant on the eyes.

Moved the napkin holder.

It's convenient to have the napkin holder out, but it took up precious counter space. I moved the napkin holder into a drawer just below where we used to keep it on the counter. Just as easy to use, and now hidden from view.

Decluttered the curio cabinet.

I have one cabinet, out of all of my kitchen cabinets, that has glass windows. I hold a vase and pottery bowl collection in it. But, it was far too crowded. I went through it, donated a few I didn't like, put some in the house in places that could use a bowl, and sold a few through my Etsy shop. Easy enough.

Took the key catch-all bowl off the counter.

This catch-all bowl we use daily to collect our loose change, keys, and the like. But it was on the counter. I moved it to a little side table adjacent to the kitchen counter instead, freeing up more space. The problem is solved and the counter is cleared.

Took the thermometer off the counter.

This too is something I love. Having a thermometer reader that tells me the inside and outside temperature. But, it was again just one more thing on the counter. I moved it also to the little side table next to the kitchen counter and it sits like it always should've been there.

Put fruit in a bowl on the table.

For the fruit we buy, instead of putting the bananas or apples on the counter, I use a bowl and place it on the kitchen table. It's off the counter and doubles as a pleasant centerpiece.

Put the butter back in the fridge.

We leave the butter on the counter to keep it softened throughout the year. But, it also clutters our kitchen. I've returned to putting it in the refrigerator and if necessary, leave it out only a few hours at a time for a meal or two I'm prepping.

Paper towels are off the counter.

This one is easy to displace counter space. But, they're just as easily removed and put under the kitchen sink cupboard, or for our kitchen, we installed a holder underneath one of our upper cabinets. The towels are off the counter, but still accessible.

Most everything on our counters has an equally simple place to live inside our cabinets and drawers. If you're looking for a streamlined and less cluttered kitchen, it's all about simply finding new places to put the things you use.

If this is too rigid for you, keep a few things on the counter. If it's still too busy for you, find cabinets and drawers that can house all of your things, but still remain convenient to get to. Minimal living is about living with less but also about living with what works for you.

If you're looking for more resources for decluttering your kitchen, minimalist Joshua Becker has a great book called, The Minimalist Home which goes over every room of the house, the kitchen included. I highly recommend it. It helped me pare down what I had and come to terms with what I truly used and what I didn't.

You might think that after this list I have nothing left on the counters. It's not true. We still have our coffee maker, we have our phone charger, our utensil bouquet is still there, and so are our water glasses. (There is a spot for each of us to have a water glass on the counter that we reuse throughout the day, then wash when the day is done - this cuts down on waste and is very convenient.)

So, it's not spartan, but it is sparse. And it's exactly the way I want it as a minimalist who loves drinking her coffee in her beautiful minimalist kitchen.

The Power of Ten for Your Minimal Wardrobe

How the Number Ten is my Go To Number for the Clothes in my Closet

In a previous post, I talked about the minimalist wardrobe strategy created by Courtney Carver called Project 333. She has a stellar book, of the same name, to go with it. I loved the book and it helped me focus on keeping what I wore (and eliminating what I wasn't) and getting rid of the excess.

A Painting Number 10

Project 333 is an incredible concept that allows (maybe forces) us to get to the root of what we love and hone in on just that: eradicating the excess to live a simple and joyful life.

Having a minimalist closet is enjoyable, beautiful, and effortlessly simple but mostly, it's a way to take stress off our shoulders that was never intended to be there. 

The truth is, we don't need as many choices as we think we do.

But this Herculean effort at a Spartan closet isn't for me. While I am a minimalist,  I can't do Project 333 because I need more than what it offers as a limit.

33 items for every three months sounds like torture. This isn't to say the concept isn't beautiful. I understand the creation and why it has tremendous appeal. Downsizing to bare bones is overwhelmingly freeing.

But, for me as a clothes lover, 33 items sounds horrendous.

And minimalism isn't intended to be torturous. It's supposed to be helpful! 

Since we all do minimalism at varying degrees, which is how it should be - we're all different -  I've found that to have a minimal but happy closet I need a little bit more. And it turns out that "a little bit more" comes in tens.

My closet is separated into sections of tens. Meaning, I have ten pairs of jeans, ten heavy long-sleeve tops, ten lightweight long-sleeve tops, ten short sleeves, ten dresses, ten jackets, etc.

Here's why ten works for me and why it may be just what you need for your closet too.

Ten Gives Me Freedom

Sometimes, I only wear one pair of jeans (out of the ten) once a week. And I wear the rest way more often. But being able to keep that lesser-worn pair allows me to feel like I'm not giving up something I love. I don't have to sacrifice those jeans because they get worn the least. Clothing is necessary, but it should also make us feel amazing. I love and wear all ten pairs of my jeans even if some get a little more worn than others. 

Ten Gives Me Options

While I could easily only wear seven short sleeves this summer - one for every day of the week - what if I could have a few more? What if I could add a few more options ("toptions," if you will) to add to my repertoire? That's what ten short-sleeved tops are for. I have an extra one for more formal days, and I have a couple more for variety. Variety is the spice of life, after all. Why not have fun with your options? Ten allows me to keep things pared down but also have a little fun.

Ten Gives Me Flexibility 

While the goal of minimalism is to get rid of the things that never get worn, sometimes, I feel like owning an item or two allows me the flexibility that a spartan closet doesn't offer. I have a few sweaters that are for winter and I have a few sweaters that are lighter weight and great for spring and fall. Even though I tend to not wear the latter as often as the former, I like the flexibility I have with its availability. 

If it's cold in the morning, but I know it will warm up later, I don't want to bring the heavy-duty wool sweater that I'd only wear in winter. I'd rather bring the lightweight cardigan I can shed when it gets warm, and then put it back on when the cold returns. That's the flexibility I wouldn't have available if I'd gotten rid of them because I don't wear them much.

While I tout ten items for each category of clothing, there are a few outliers to this plan. I only have five skirts. I don't need ten, and probably won't, so it's going to stay at five.

I have five pairs of (non-denim) pants or trousers. It will probably stay in that range, as well. Denim is my daily wear, so that's where the bulk of my pants lie.

My shoes are in the sky-high 25-27 range. I love shoes like I love coffee and I can tell you with certainty that I will always own that many. I used to have over 60 pairs of shoes (yeah, I love shoes), so paring down to 25 has been a challenge, but a great challenge.

No, the 25 pairs don't fit into the Power of 10 section, but I don't care. This is what works for me, I've minimized my shoes, and I'm calling it good. As for accessories, keep what you love and wear, and donate the rest. I love belts and most of them are vintage. I own about 20 belts, but I wear them all, so I don't feel bad holding onto them. Plus, I love wearing them. 

So the main theme of my closet is the Power of Ten, but outliers happen.

Maybe your closet is the power of seven? I actually thought that's where I was headed. The number seven is a perfect number after all. But, as I pared down to what I love over the years, I'm finding ten is my magic number and one that gives me flexibility, freedom, and options.

It also keeps my love for clothing both attainable and in check. 

Minimalism is an individual endeavor. What works for one, may not work for another. And it's alright! The goal is to minimize what you don't use or wear, get rid of the excess, and only keep what you love.

For my closet, ten items per clothing category is a perfect ten.