Of all the new habits I’ve been recently been trying to establish, by far my most favorite one has become my minimalism habit: every day, I throw away one thing that I don’t need; or, if is too big or too valuable to just throw away, I put it on eBay.
I cannot start to describe how painful it felt at the beginning to throw away my stuff, even though most of it had been sitting around uselessly in my apartment for months. That George Foreman grill that I hadn’t used in 2 years – well, maybe I would feel like using it again in the future, who knows? That old Brazilian Jiu Jitsu gi that had several tears – but I really like the embroidery on it! And so on and so forth.
But really quick, I also started to feel the immense joy of just getting rid of stuff. No clutter anymore, no redundant things that distracted me. The less I owned, the freer I felt! It was like having a weight taken of my chest, no kidding – it simply felt liberating.
At this point of my minimalism experiment, I can walk through my apartment, open every drawer and tell you exactly when I last used that certain item and why I will most likely have to use it again pretty soon. So I’m pretty much down to the baseline that two of my favorite bloggers, Joshua and Ryan from The Minimalists describe: if you take a look at Joshua’s minimalist apartment, this is pretty close to what my apartment right now looks like (mine is not nearly as stylish though…).
But being the obsessive, let’s-take-this-to-the-extreme type of personality that I am, I’ve come up with a new idea: I want to fit everything I own in a somewhat small backpack. That desire is also strongly tied to my dream of becoming Location Independent (starting in April 2015). The less stuff I own, the easier it will be for me to just change locations at the blink of an eye: no material stuff tying you to one place, less packing, less weight to carry on the go. It only makes sense.
I suspect my arch enemy for this type of ultra-minimalism is going to be clothing. Many things can simply be left behind when you adapt a mobile lifestyle (who needs silverware on the go?). But how do you manage to pack your wardrobe into one tiny backpack? You can’t. So that means that you have to reduce further, basically leaving you with the stuff you wear on your body plus some spare clothing like underwear / socks in your backpack.
Mind you, there are other people who have done this before: Tynan comes to mind, as well as someone like Regev Elya. But, and this is the big BUT: if I look at pictures of the two of them in their travel wardrobe, I get the impression that they really put the “functional” over the “fashionable”… But for a metrosexual, European Pick Up Artist and decadent city-dweller like me, looking like I’m about to go hiking in the Himalayas or ready to explore the Amazonian rainforest is not really the goal – yours truly still likes to display his girly figure, you know?
So, the objective here can be summed up like this:
- Try to fit everything that I will take with me into my mobile lifestyle in one small backpack.
- Reduce my wardrobe accordingly, while STILL looking as fashionable as possible.
That’s it. Sounds easy enough, but I’m really curious to see if I’ll be able to go through with this. Just fitting my BJJ gi into a backpack should leave almost no room for anything else… So it WILL be difficult.
Turning ultra-minimalism into an experiment
In order to get started with this, even before my apartment lease is up (March 31st 2015), I have devised the following experiment. The idea here is to test out ultra-minimalism while still being at home, so I can get rid of most of the kinks before I even leave in April. Talk about Germans and obsessive planning…
Stage 1: get moving boxes and get rid of my furniture
There is a quite a bit of stuff that is useful to have when you stay in one location for an extended period of time, even if you are a minimalist. Examples that come to mind: Furniture. Silverware. Cleaning gear. Laptop Speakers. A printer, etc. But this is all stuff you would not take with you as a mobile ultra-minimalist. So in order to simulate a Location Independent lifestyle, I will get moving boxes for all the stuff that I still own but will not take on the road with me. This will also allow me to get rid of my furniture already. So I basically will store my whole apartment away, except for the future contents of my backpack… Should be a hit with the visiting ladies!
Stage 2: live out of my backpack at home
Pretty self-explanatory: decide on the absolute essentials I will need on the go and only use these for the upcoming two months.
Stage 3: optimize backpack items for size and weight
I already mentioned coming up with a travel wardrobe that is also still somewhat stylish. Another biggie is going to be getting scans of all the literature I need to work on my PhD, so I don’t have to carry tons of books around. There are other items I already own, but that I might have to optimize further, like getting an ultra-light BJJ gi or an ultra-light laptop. I’m sure I’ll come up with even more ideas as I go.
Oh, this should be a lot of fun! I already see myself taking showers in full clothing (way to do your laundry!), eating from paper plates and hanging out at co-working spaces – what to do if you have no desk anymore? I will post updates on lessons learned and maybe even some pictures.
Likewise, I would be extremely interested to learn from your hard-gained knowledge when it comes to ultra-minimalism and super-light travelling: what do you take with you, what do you leave behind? What was the one thing you thought you couldn’t live without that turned out to be completely redundant? How do you optimize for size and weight? Travel gear recommendations? If you have a moment, leave a comment, I’d really appreciate it!