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One of our readers asked how minimalism in packing has changed other areas of my life. Traveling for almost nine years has had a major impact on me in many ways. However, the most unexpected lessons I’ve learned have come from traveling carry-on only.
Find out how packing light has impacted my everyday life!
Lessons in Life through Packing
It’s a new year and a new chance to “start over” with a fresh slate and new life goals. January marked my nine-year anniversary of quitting my job and unknowingly embarking on a life of full-time travel. (Time flies!)
For four of those nine years, I traveled carry-on only. Now that I’ve settled down in England, there are so many lessons that are carrying over to my new life.
Lesson 1: Stuff
One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned is how much we really don’t need. Our lives are full of stuff.
As I previously mentioned, I’ve decided to stop traveling full-time and settle down, which means I now have a place for stuff. After purging myself of material items for nine years, I’m now finding myself extremely conflicted and uncomfortable about my new lifestyle. I’ve only been living here for two months and I already feel overwhelmed by stuff.
Christmas was the biggest reminder of this. I’m grateful for all the thoughtful gifts I received from friends and family, but when I stop to reflect, they weren’t things I actually needed. So now it’s just more stuff that I’m accumulating in my new home.
When we first arrived in England with our new life plan, we quickly bought all the essentials for our new place. But then I found myself with almost no adequate clothing for the English winter–so I started shopping.
And this is what took me back to the root of clothing issues that I hate: having too much and nothing at all.
Lesson 2: European Style
One of the biggest fashion lessons I learned while traveling and creating my packing course is that women tend to own a bunch of clothing but never have anything to wear.
This is particularly prevalent when you compare European vs. American fashion. Americans always wonder: what is the secret to French fashion? Why do Europeans always look so fashionable?
The reality is that many women in Europe buy clothes they actually like instead of impulse buying based on a bargain basement sales price.
Clothing in the U.S. is extremely cheap. It’s the opposite in Europe, so women tend to be more careful with their purchases, consequently buying less but making better clothing choices.
In order to avoid having a closet filled with stuff I don’t need, this weekend I’m going to donate anything that I don’t like, doesn’t fit well, or things that I have duplicates of, such as down winter jackets.
See more on this week’s Facebook Live, where I’ll show you how to choose a down jacket for cold weather travel!
It’s only been two months, but I already have too many clothes that aren’t perfect just because I made rash decisions due to not having anything for the cold weather.
Now I have too many quick buys I’m not in love with. I only want to own things I love–just like with creating the perfect travel wardrobe.
Lesson 3: Organization
Packing cubes changed the way I travel. They allowed me to travel carry-on only for nine years.
Now that I live somewhere permanently, I’m finding myself easily annoyed by clutter. I’ve purchased what feels like a million organizers for my home to organize loose items on kitchen shelves, in my closet, and office.
I use these inexpensive plastic baskets that I’ve bought at the local equivalent of Target. I also found these nicer looking baskets on Amazon which I’m now obsessed with. They make my cabinets and shelves look prettier, too!
Everything has to have a place.
I don’t want to live in a cluttered home; I don’t want to own more than I truly need and don’t want to see random things scattered around!
Lesson 4: Detachment
“Don’t buy things you can’t afford to lose.” That became part of my life mantra as a long-term traveler.
Because I was on the road for almost nine years, living out of a single carry-on suitcase, I knew that everything I owned had to be replaceable.
If I wasn’t comfortable giving it away, I didn’t buy it. This is a life lesson in itself because people tend to buy things that they can’t afford to lose, instead of buying things within their means.
I didn’t have the luxury of a closet to store clothes or shoes I didn’t feel like wearing anymore, so to continue traveling light, I gave away items to locals or travelers I met on the road.
As described in this blog post, I’d use a specific travel wardrobe for about four months or change out all the items when going to a vastly different destination.
If I stayed in destinations like Thailand or Mexico for more than six months, I’d buy some items there, but would then give them away when I left instead of accumulating things and dragging them around in an oversized suitcase.
By the end of it all, I was even able to pack all my scuba diving gear (minus wetsuit) and all of my belongings in a 45-liter duffle bag plus a personal item. (See a post about that feat here.) That was quite the accomplishment!
My Remote Islands capsule wardrobe
Lesson 5: Minimalism
Ultimately, I achieved the goal I set out to accomplish when I created Travel Fashion Girl. Not only did I finally figure out how to create my perfect capsule wardrobe, but I was also able to travel carry-on only for full-time travel.
So now it’s your turn! Head over to the TFG Facebook Group and share the biggest life lessons you’ve learned from traveling light!
What are your thoughts on traveling carry-on only? Comment with your tips below!
For more tips on how to pack light, please read the following:
- 75 Packing Tips that Will make Your Travels So Much Easier
- How to Fit Everything in a Carry-on (Video Tutorial)
- Ten-Step Packing Guide to Travel Anywhere in One Bag
- Confused About the Best Luggage Organizer? Read This
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