I’ve traveled for months at a time, and I’ve traveled on short excursions. The constant that runs between them both is the amount of items I pack that I realize I don’t need – even after scrutinizing each thing before placing it in my suitcase.

It’s so strange. Before a trip, I always spend days trying to decide what is “worth it” to bring: such as face wash, makeup, a hair straightener etc., and what I should keep at home. But each time, I have learned that when I don’t fill my suitcase with all of these items, I don’t miss them. Nor do I need these things in my “regular” life at home, because it’s all just clutter.

The Importance of Minimalism

Americans have too much stuff. Collectively, we spend $1.2 trillion annually on nonessential goods—in other words, items we do not need (The Wall Street Journal).

Minimalism isn’t just a trendy documentary on Netflix. It’s an incredible way to view your life and perspective. Trivial possessions have no value, nor should they control your life.

I find it especially difficult when I am visiting friends at their houses, with their shiny new *things* – each one matching the next and I know it makes them happy, but I don’t understand why. Why are people equating happiness with something that cannot return the favor? Guess what, we don’t need all this ‘stuff’ to make us happy. We barely even use it enough to justify packing it in our ever-precious suitcase weight limit.

A Lesson Learned in Southeast Asia

What Living Out of a Suitcase Taught Me About Life

I’ll never forget this: The first longterm trip I’ve ever planned was spending 3 months in Southeast Asia. I had never been on an excursion this far away from home and I had to figure out how to bring 4 month’s worth of “necessities” to accommodate me. Naturally, I packed 4 pairs of shoes. Silly me.

More experienced Chelse laughs at her former self. What was I thinking?! If anyone who has been to Southeast Asia knows, #1 you only need a sturdy pair of sandals to brave every month of the year and #2 it’s much more cost-effective to purchase any additional activewear shoes at a mall, and then donate them once you leave.

No really. Even if you decide to traverse the sticky waterfalls of Chiang Mai, you don’t need more than one solid pair of strap-on sandals. And if you reallllyyyyy decide you need sneakers, it’s worth your peace of mind to pay 600 baht (~$17 USD), for the adventures you participate in, and give them away to a local cause like the Thai Freedom House. If you’re in Chiang Mai, Free Bird is an incredible organization many of us Digital Nomad Girls frequent. Consider donating any items there which supports Thai Freedom House.

Pack for Who You Want to Be

The clothes I wear when traveling reflect who I want to be as a person. I can be anybody I want when I travel because nobody has preconceived notions of who I am. If I choose to wear a crop top and slinky high-waisted skirt, nobody knows that I would usually feel ridiculous wearing that outfit – they just see a confident solo female traveler painting the town red.

what packing taught me

I would normally never wear a trendy choker, but when in Rome… Uh, I mean when in Munich 😉 

Home Isn’t a Destination, It’s a Feeling

When I’m traveling, I have my moments of missing the comforts of home, but to be honest, when I am home I hate it. I would not trade all the comforts of home for traveling and seeing the world, no matter how stressful it is at times.

Without a bunch of stuff weighing me down, I feel light and agile – literally. I aim to be carefree and nimble and for me, I need nothing more than just my carry-on suitcase. Anything else it just too damn stressful to manage.

A Girl and Her Laptop

digital nomad blogMy office is wherever I am with my laptop and my community is whoever I make connections with in the moment. While working from remote corners of the world, you quickly realize how little you actually need. to operate a full-time job. All you need is a charger, adaptor, and your computer. It’s the best feeling when you start assembling all of your work files in digital form, instead of old school files and folder. Bonus points when you digitize – everything can be accessed from anywhere in the world!

Ultimately, travel can be the most enlightening aspect of life to show you how you can live life simply. With all the money you will save from not constantly purchasing items that don’t mean anything, you can invest your savings into future travel. And you know what they say, “travel is the only thing you can buy that makes you richer.”

By the end of your first month traveling, you’ll have mastered the art form of throwing shit out. Congratulations!

Author

Hi, I'm Chelse! I am a Digital Nomad obsessed with traveling the world and seeking adventure beyond the 9-5 office life. When I turned 25 I decided that I was going to stop making excuses and do what I've always dreamed. I went from having 0 stamps in my passport to 15+ countries in one year. I encourage anyone who wants to live a Digital Nomad lifestyle to buy the ticket first, and figure out the rest later!

2 Comments

  1. Great article. It is very relateble. I always realise once I am back from travelling that I do not need much of my stuff LOL.
    x

  2. I backpacked around Southeast Asia for a year when I decided to take a break from my corporate job. I packed 2 suitcases and a large backpack initially and needless to say, I defeated the whole purpose of backpacking. LOL Anyway, I ended up donating almost everything I brought with me just before I left my first destination!

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