Category Archives: Travel

My Minimalist European Trip Packing List

by Jessica Dang
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By the time you read this, I might be wondering the streets of Old Town in Prague, admiring art in the museums of Vienna, or bathing in the spas of Budapest… checking cities off my List.

I’ll be mostly offline while I’m travelling, so for this month’s post we’ll take a break from the personal finance advice and go back to basics. Here’s a list of all of the things I’m taking for my minimalist trip to Europe. I’ll be carrying one backpack containing:

  1. One pair black jeans
  2. Two button shirts (that don’t need ironing)
  3. Two t-shirts
  4. Jacket
  5. Pyjamas
  6. Book (this month I’m reading Walden)
  7. Notebook and pencil (for diary entries, thoughts, ideas, sketches etc.)
  8. Sleeping eye mask and ear plugs
  9. Toothbrush and toothpaste
  10. Face wash and face cream
  11. Shampoo and bodywash
  12. Hand sanitiser
  13. Hair comb
  14. iPhone with battery and cable
  15. Power adapter

Not pictured: my iPhone which I was using to take the photo, my passport, flight/travel papers, wallet, and underwear for privacy, and the pair of shoes and socks I’ll be wearing.

That’s it! These are things I’m not taking:

  • Too many toiletries/makeup—I’m not planning to look/smell homeless, but as a tourist I doubt people will pay too much attention to what I look like. Also, coconut oil is a great multi-purpose skin moisturiser, lip balm, hair conditioner etc. which saves me having to take too many travel bottles.
  • Extra clothes—I would rather pay a few Euros for laundry/drying than carry too much around with me since I plan to do a lot of walking.
  • Gadgets/valuables—apart from my phone which I’ll be using for directions etc. I won’t be taking any other gadgets (including DSLR, see below), my watch, or jewellery or valuables that can get stolen.
  • A towel/hairdryer etc—too bulky, I’ll be staying in a mix of hostels and Airbnb which provide them.

I’ll fly with just carry on, so everything will fit in a medium sized backpack (about the size that would fit a 15 inch laptop) that weighs 6-8kg. Even though I’ll be taking very little for the trip, I’m not worried—I’ll mostly be in big cities so if I really need something, I can just buy it.

In a new exercise in mindfulness, I am deliberately not taking my DSLR so that I will spend my energy enjoying the sights in real life (gasp), rather than photographing them. If I like how something looks, instead of taking a photo and rushing off, I intend to spend an extra few minutes appreciating it in person. I might even sketch it into my notebook (I’ve been inspired lately by Leonardo da Vinci to write/draw more things down).

I could have packed more, or I could have packed less. Everyone is different, and everyone needs and likes to have different things. From my previous travels, I’ve learned what works for me and what I’m comfortable with.

Have I forgotten anything? Let me know what you think! In the meantime, check out the latest posts on Minimalist Meditations on Equanimity and on Expectations.

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Minimal Student is graduating

by Jessica Dang
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I started this blog seven years ago at the beginning of my minimalist journey.

It was 2009. I discovered a lifestyle movement that talked about the joy of having less. I learned about how being obsessed with buying and owning material possessions is a recipe for an unhappy life, and it resonated with me. I began to write about it.

At first, I was mainly concerned with stuff and how to get rid of it. I wrote about decluttering and one bag living. It suited my nomadic lifestyle at the time when I was living, working, and exploring several different cities and countries.

Eventually I returned to the UK. I was approaching my mid-20’s, and everyone around me was settling down. I moved into my own apartment with the single suitcase I had been living out of.

I got a corporate job and it was everything I ever wanted—or at least, I thought I wanted. I was paid well and got promoted, but the environment was so tough I began to change as a person. I struggled to find balance. I started buying more things to make up for the creeping unhappiness I felt doing a job which I realised, deep down, was ultimately meaningless. It took a long time, but in the end I found the courage to quit. I ended up starting my own business which gave me the freedom to do what I wanted. I took back control of my own life.

At every stage of my life, my perspective on things shifted. The more I experienced, the more convinced I was that many of the conventional ideas we’re supposed to follow—such as working in a soul sucking job in order to pay your bills and buy stuff until you’re either 65 or dead—didn’t really stand up to scrutiny.

In turn, the direction of Minimal Student has followed me on my quest, moving on from ‘how to declutter’ articles to ones about the tougher questions—what is important in life? What does success really mean? How can I be happy?

I still have more I want to share with the world that isn’t just limited to young people or students. By trying to keep things relevant to the blog name, some of the articles I’ve written have been held back from being able to reach a wider audience. As my readers have grown, the blog has to as well. The Minimal Student community is made of readers of all ages, and from all walks of life. I want to reach out to them too.

So I have decided to start afresh. Don’t worry, Minimal Student isn’t finished. I will always be a student of life and will continue to study what it means to live. However, I will be doing so under a new blog, Minimalist Meditations (www.minimalistmeditations.com) which I am working on expanding the ideas for my book that I’m hoping to finish and publish this year.

To make the transition easier, Minimal Student with continue to exist for a little while, before all of the links will redirect to the new blog URL. All of Minimal Student’s social media will also be renamed.

The good news is that I will be writing a lot more often, and you can keep up with new posts I write and publish by subscribing via RSS or email, or following me on Twitter or Facebook.

I don’t claim to have all of the answers, and in no way have I reached ‘the end’, but I can reflect on what I’ve learned in the past several years and what I, no doubt, will learn in the future. Feel free to join me at Minimalist Meditations on this path towards finding a life of happiness.

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I’m only passing through

by Jessica Dang
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View from my apartment

Two months into 2016, and I’ve made a lot of progress since quitting my corporate job. I have started my own business, which is going well, and have moved into a new home. It’s much brighter, and more spacious than the last one. The photo above is the beautiful view from the balcony.

Surrounded by a few bags and boxes, realising it’s is everything I own in the world, I’m reminded of a story about a wise man:

A travelling man visits a wise man’s house.

“Where is your furniture?” he asks the wise man.
“Where is yours?” the wise man replies.
“Mine? But I’m only passing through.”
“So am I,” the wise man said, “So am I.”

I’m only passing through

As always, minimalism has served me well. I don’t own as little as I did back when I used to travel a lot, but I still only have what I need. My expenditures are minimal, so I can pretty much afford to live wherever I want, living on my passive income and freelance work.

More importantly than just being easy to move house, minimalism has helped me keep my focus on the things that matter most to me—growing my business, my training (my next marathon is this April), and building a life with my partner. We don’t care about designer clothes, perfume brands or trying to get a good deal on a company car. In the end, none of these things will matter compared to what we’ve accomplished as people.

Moving again has reinforced what I’ve learned about the value of things—that is, they don’t really have value. Apart from loved ones (and sometimes not even them) you can’t physically touch the truly important things in life. You can’t buy it, borrow it, or exchange it for much else. They only matter to you, and that’s what makes them matter the most. 

I want to live my best life. I can do that by being grateful for everyday miracles, because I’ll only have them for a short while. And so do you. Some might think it’s a little sad, but it makes me happy to remember: we’re only passing through.

The winner from last month’s post for my copy of Living on Purpose: Straight Answers to Universal Questions is Josh (@joshisaurus). Please contact me via email/comments and I will post the book to you. Thank you everyone for sharing your stories, there will be more giveaways soon.

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The most important thing you need to know about completing your bucket list

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by Jessica Dang

Last year, I made a bucket list of some of the things I wanted to do in my life before I die. Usually, when I have an important goal to achieve, I would break down the goal – what do I have to accomplish by when? What do I have to do first in order to do second? Complex goals usually require complex planning.

However, I intentionally left my bucket list vague. Indeed, some of them are just one word long. Why? Because contrary to what it sounds like, the things on my bucket list are not goals. 

what a bucket list really is

My bucket list tells the story of an adventure – my adventure. A good story isn’t about the destination, but the journey there. No matter where you go or what you do, it’s what you learn, and how you grow on the way that matters.

Travel is about discovering yourself. The phrase ‘finding yourself’ usually conjures up the image of a mountaintop or some other glamorous destination. However, you won’t find out who you are by wading through the Amazon or meditating in a Zen temple. Everything you need to discover about yourself is already within you.

Knowing this is liberating. It means that you can find meaning in your own backyard. You don’t have to get on a plane – just going for a walk around the block, or taking a train to the next town, can be an adventure in itself. You can learn a lot just by being more mindful of the surroundings you’re in right now, and taking a moment to be grateful for what you already have.

However, if it’s possible for you, visiting other countries can also be worth your while. Going outside of your comfort zone, whether it’s in the same country, or within another culture, can open mind, and widen your perspective on the different ways of thinking by different people. It can challenge your beliefs – which is a good thing – and make you stronger as a person.

Wherever you choose to go, remember that there is a difference between travelling for the sake of travelling and going somewhere to enjoy the journey itself. In other words, are you just trying to get to ‘X’, or do you care about the road there? When people create bucket lists, are they really only thinking about reaching a destination? Or are they thinking about the journey too?

The real question is, which one are you thinking about?

real travel is about the journey, not the destination

by Jessica Dang

The Buddha’s story isn’t about reaching the goal of enlightenment itself, but about his pursuit of the rightful path

The concept is easier to understand when you look at the other things I have on my list. For example, ‘learn Japanese’ is so vague – how can one possibly know when they’ve ‘learned’ a language? The answer is that you can’t. I’m now living and working in Japan, and I could say that I’m fluent in Japanese, but I still haven’t crossed it off the list. I don’t think I’ll ever reach a place where I can say I’ve ‘completed’ this item, but that was never my intention. It was the process of learning that has given me so much. Because I’ve taken the time to learn a new language, a whole new world had opened up for me. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t made the effort.

In the same way, I didn’t run a marathon for the medal. After all, it’s just a piece of metal. A medal and a free T-shirt is merely a representation of my hard work. It was all of those hours I spent running that mattered. By training for it, my body became healthier, I learned to eat better, and I built my mental and physical endurance. The actual marathon itself didn’t matter nearly as much as the sweat and tears I had shed in all the runs I did before it. The strength I gained didn’t just happen to me suddenly when I crossed the finish line, I collected it slowly, step by step, along the journey that I had already made.

So yes, you and I may never complete our bucket lists, but that’s okay. This is not an excuse. It’s not supposed to merely be a list of stuff to be ticked off one by one – it can be so much more than that.

Your bucket list should tell your story. How it goes is up to you. 

 

Wing it for all you’re worth

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IMG_1317

A lot of changes have happened in my life over the past few months. I completed my final exams, graduated, worked in central London… and moved to Japan.

I’m here to start a new life. No, I don’t have a job waiting for me. No, I don’t have a clear-cut plan. No, I don’t know what will happen tomorrow.

But that’s the exciting part. If you’ve been reading for a while, you’ll know that I’ve always been up for a good adventure. My job in London was based in Whitehall, for central government. It was a great job and it paid well. I learned a lot, but it was too… safe. So instead of staying, I packed everything I owned into a suitcase and came to Japan.

Something irresistible pulled me back to this country. Maybe I left my heart behind when I lived here two years ago. Maybe it’s my intuition telling me that there is something important that I need to do. Whatever drew me back, I have a feeling I’ll find out the reason why soon.

tano river

From the bustling city, full of traffic and too many people, I am now living in a cosy countryside house with three tatami rooms. The view from my window is beautiful. Green mountains stand tall against the clear blue sky. Golden fields stretch far into the distance. The river by the house flows calmly towards the open sea.

Some might call my decision reckless, but I don’t care. After I find my bearings again, I might move to Tokyo or Osaka. And I can always go back to England if things don’t work out – not that I would give up that easily.

For now though, having peace to write, room to breathe and a reason to smile makes it all worth it.

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A beginner’s guide to one bag living

by Jessica Dang rss | t f | g+

For many aspiring minimalists, the golden grail is One Bag Living, or what I like to call ‘OBL’. It’s a lifestyle that comes from being able to reduce everything you have to only what you need and reaping all the rewards of not being weighed down by junky, excessive baggage.

If you’re interested in what it’s all about you’ve come to the right place.

what is OBL?

Firstly, I should mention that one bag living isn’t for everyone, just in case people start to think I’m advocating everybody and their grandmothers start throwing stuffed backpacks on their shoulders and hitting the road.

Nor am I saying it’s a permanent way to live – although I know it is possible to live long-term. Yes, the kind of OBL I’m talking about works best for single people but that’s not to say that downsizing for a couple or even just a little for a family isn’t possible.

For the last couple of months I’ve been living out of a suitcase… but I’m having the time of my life. I realize there’s something about the words ‘living out of a suitcase’ that scares people. It has bad connotations, as if one has no stability or adequate income or that someone is just unable to settle. But for me, these words have come to mean something completely different. They have come to mean freedom, fun, exploration and discovery.

‘One bag’ doesn’t necessarily mean a concrete measurement like ‘1x 30 inch suitcase’ or ‘1x carry on suitcase’. Essentially, it means reducing your stuff down to a level that’s right for you, which all depends on what you do for a living, how much you can handle, where you want to go and what you need for your interests or job and so on – as long as you get everything down to only. what. you. need.

It’s also not necessarily about fishing rolled up shirts from a zip-up suitcase or hotel-skipping, although it can be.

You can even do OBL from your own home. The point is to clear out anything irrelevant so that you can focus on what matters to you – whether that’s travel or family, school, hobby, art or even your business.

However, if you manage to reduce your things to about one (or maybe even two or three) suitcases, you can also just about live anywhere in the world. You don’t have to earn millions to be able to rent a small place in even the most expensive cities (believe me, I know). Or, if you’re not interested in travelling, clearing clutter can do wonders for your focus on your goals.

With OBL, the possibilities are endless. In fact, with all this freedom, you’ll be surprised to learn what was previously impossible is actually within reach. Things that ‘only happen in movies’ can become real life.

a clean slate

Imagine for a moment that you got to start again. For some reason you got a rare chance for a fresh start. You don’t own any clothes, shoes, bags, gadgets, books, toiletries or furniture.

Then somebody gave you one suitcase and you could put everything you needed in it for two or three weeks. How would you pack? What would you choose? How would your life be different?

5 steps on how to effectively live out of a suitcase

1. Eliminate. The first, most important step is to get rid of everything you don’t need. Things that you’ve kept ‘just in case’, extras, backups, things that don’t work or fit, things you don’t use or have forgotten about or simply don’t like – it’s all got to go. Most people have more things they don’t need than they do, so a sensible approach that might make it easier would be to mentally get rid of everything then bring back one by one things that are most essential to you. Be strict and firm and ask questions such as how often you actually use it and what reasons you’re really keeping it for.

2. Digitize. Whilst eliminating, you might find that a lot of the things you have can be replaced, so you won’t have to lose them forever. Paperwork, photos, CD’s and books are just a few of the many things you can keep if you can get them in digital format. My less-than-half-an-inch thick kindle has replaced dozens and dozens of my books (and made them instantly searchable!) and my external hard drive replaces boxes of lecture notes, shelves of CD’s and albums of photographs.

3. Minimalize your wardrobe. Clothing is usually the most difficult area to tackle when it comes to downsizing. When you have fewer garments, it’s important that most items can be worn in most kinds of weather and occasions. It also helps to choose neutral colours (which you can brighten up with one or two accessories) so that you can pretty much mix and match whatever tops and trousers you would like to wear.

4. One in one out. Just because you’re down to less stuff, it doesn’t mean that you have to stop buying altogether. There’s nothing wrong with getting something new if you swap it with something you already own (preferably by donating it away) since you’re not actually gaining in quantity. Think carefully before you buy – how long will it last? How useful will it be? Is it worth it?

5. Adapt. If you find yourself starting to accumulate stuff, try to remind yourself why you chose OBL in the first place. What are you doing it for? Has it benefited you so far? Sometimes people are too strict and allow themselves too little. Remember that minimalism isn’t about depriving yourself of things that you want, it’s about freeing yourself from the clutches of consumerism so that you can have the life you want.

Lastly, it’s important to remember that situations and people change, and that not many people can live a single kind of lifestyle forever, whether it’s OBL or living at home with one’s parents or a college, or corporate, or even country lifestyle. People crave excitement, and OBL can give it to you, but don’t be surprised if you see yourself looking for a change again – maybe a change of wardrobe or maybe a change of scenery.

I’m nearly finishing up with with my travels now, and I can’t believe some of the places I’ve been and things I’ve seen. I know I’ve made memories I’ll remember for a long, long time. It wasn’t always easy, but because of OBL, I managed to get through some rough times on the road and have the adventure of a lifetime. I wouldn’t trade that for all the possessions in the world.

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5 lessons learned from a year living in a foreign country

Today was my final day in Japan. By the time you read this, I would have probably already landed in Hong Kong, ready for my next adventure. It’s been almost a year of culture shock, ups and downs, exploring, learning, having fun and so much more. I’m grateful for how much I’ve discovered about myself, other people and about hard work, kindness and life itself. It’s hard to whittle down an entire life experience into a few lessons, but I’ll try my best. However, almost everything I learned doesn’t only apply to living in another country – but can also apply to anything you want to do.

1. Enjoy the honeymoon.

When you first arrive in a foreign country, everything is like a dream. You’re whisked here and there, taken to admire the cultural diversity, eat great food and talk to people who are always nice to you because they want to make a good impression. At the same time as being in a daze, your senses are on high alert and you notice every little thing that’s different from your country around you. It’s easy to get out of bed early in the morning even though you can hardly sleep all night from the anticipation of what the next day would bring.

But’s it’s not until you stay for at least a couple of weeks that you get a feel for what it’s really like. The transition from regular ‘tourist’ to ‘resident’ is like turning the heat of the bathwater up (yes, you can do this in Japanese baths) – you don’t notice it until it burns you. It’s not always necessarily bad, but eventually you start to accept that there are things that are different that are good, and then there are things that are different and not so good, but that’s okay, because that’s the way things are – like a best friend who have their own flaws but will always be there to comfort you in your time of need. Whenever you start something new, you’re likely to experience a these kinds of emotions. It’s easy to do things when you feel like doing them, but the real test of character comes when you challenge yourself to work on the marriage even when the honeymoon period is over.

2. Nothing compares to real life.

In the vain hope of reducing the chances of making cultural blunders, I read prolifically before I came to Japan – phrasebooks, history books, guidebooks, culture books, even cookbooks. Heck, I spent a year learning so much about Japan that I was basically eating, breathing and dreaming it. But when I got here, most of the things I’d learned either a) flew right out of my head (especially the language), b) were incorrect or c) never came up. I still haven’t had the chance to demonstrate that I memorised the names and locations of all 47 prefectures in Japan.

I’ve learned that you can read/watch/study all you want about something, but still not get a taste of how it really is until you get there. The same applies for anything from sushi-rolling to mountain-climbing to clearing out your closet. Sometimes it’s because people manage to make excuses to not do it, and sometimes it’s because people think they can substitute reading books and blog posts for the real thing, but nothing compares to really throwing yourself out there.

3. Jumping in the deep end is the quickest way to learn to swim.

On that note, I learned more Japanese and about Japanese people in a month than I did in an entire year of studying. There’s always going to be people who hide from actually doing amazing stuff because they’re too busy staying in their comfort zone. There’s really no method to learn quite like knowing that your life depends on it. After doing this year abroad, I’ve even realized that it’s perfectly reasonable to assume that you can gain daily-life fluency of almost any language (ie. making friends, working, ordering, going out etc) within a year or two of living in that country… which can add up to a whopping 2-3 languages in about a 5 year span! (Of course, one has to keep in mind the diminishing returns of trying to gain that last 5-10% of fluency). It all depends on how willing you are to swallow your pride, stick your neck out and make mistakes. I’ll be making my way to Hong Kong next. I haven’t decided how long I’ll stay there, but I’ll be interested to see how much Cantonese I can learn in that time…

4. You won’t get a good view just looking through the keyhole.

When I went to visit Tokyo, I felt kind of sorry for all the tourists that went there. Tokyo is a great city, and I had a fun time, but if it was all the exposure people got of Japan, and the only thing they could have based their impression on, I felt kind of bad for them. No offence if you’ve visited Tokyo, but Japan has so much more to offer than shopping and nightlife (living there is a different matter however!) In most other things, only doing it for a short while doesn’t mean you know what it’s like. You can’t just blitz through 5 countries in 10 days and expect to have gotten to know the people and culture. In the same way, only going for a run about once a month and deciding you hate it or having only read and analysed classical literature in school and deciding you don’t like reading in general is illogical. I’ve seen people start and quit things quicker than I can forget how to conjugate verbs, and it’s such a shame because people are definitely missing out on some amazing things that they might have been really good at too. Yes, you have to start somewhere, but you should also give it a fighting chance. Stick to it, persist, and you’ll never know, you might find someone, something or somewhere you’ll come to love.

5. Nobody lives in the same world as each other.

When you move to another country, your entire world changes. Things you thought ‘just are’ no longer apply. Not everybody thinks like you do, or does things the way you’ve always done it. Even rules or social practices you thought were blatantly obvious can be turned upside down. Yes, Japan isn’t a land of angels and rainbows, but I’ll miss living in a country where you don’t have to worry about leaving your bag on a park bench, or walking at home at night or even locking up your bike. I’ll miss living in a country that doesn’t tip because good service should be part of the experience and buses and trains actually run to the minute promised on the time table. I’ll even miss having to take my shoes off every time I enter the house, even if it’s annoying when I’ve forgotten my keys and I’m running late. Every thing that happens, good or bad, is part of the experience of living in a foreign country – that’s what makes it ‘foreign’. But as each of these little things occur you feel your mind begin to open up a little more and as you get used to it, you think of it less as as a foreign country, and more like a country… and eventually it becomes a home. rss twitter

My adventure in Asia begins

By the time you read this post, I’m going to be here:

This is Mt. Fuji, the tallest mountain in Japan.

To go there has always been a dream of mine, but due to various circumstances I haven’t been able to until now. Now that I’m finished with my studies, I’m taking this opportunity to do some more travelling.

I will be starting my mini tour of Asia from Tokyo, from which I will be flying to South Korea. I’ll spend a few days in Seoul, then I’ll be flying again from Japan to Thailand or Vietnam and then cruising a little while in Hong Kong before going back to England.

My plans are a bit complicated, and I’m going to be spending a lot of time laying back on various buses/planes/trains/boats, but I’m so excited. The journey towards these places are some of the best parts of travelling, and with my trusty camera, Kindle and some good music on me, there’s not much that can go wrong.

I’ve scheduled a couple of posts, so don’t worry! I won’t have internet connection most of the time, but I’ll log on when I can. Follow me on Twitter for updates of what I’m up to!

Wish me luck!

 

How I’m living a millionaire’s lifestyle and how you can too

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The breeze is running through your hair. It smells so sweet and fresh. The sound of the sea waves parting under the boat is regular and calming. The sun is setting over the mountains and the sky is tinged in a deep pink and orange. You take a deep breath and there is just one thought running through your mind “Ah, this is the life“.

That was my weekend. (Photo credit: me☺).

A few weeks before that I was watching the sunset from the top of a mountain in Shikoku, Japan, and who knows where I’ll be at the same time next weekend – an ancient town, a modern city, talking to locals, eating ramen or a thousand other things that the world has to offer.

But I’m no millionaire. In fact, I’m far from it. I don’t have a regular job and I don’t own a stick of furniture to my name. I’m living off a few tutoring gigs, a small scholarship and the generosity of the Japanese people.

So how can I afford to do all of these amazing things?

The answer is simple. It can be summarized as:

You don’t want to be a millionaire.

Sound ludicrous? “Of course I want to be a millionaire! What kinda crazy person doesn’t?!” It’s a bold statement, but hear me out.

I’ll repeat it because it’s very very important that you know this. Deep down, you don’t want to be a millionaire.

That’s because you want what you can do with a million bucks, not the cash itself.

There is a crucial difference. I’m going to be bold and just assume that if you’re reading this then you care more about experiences vs. stuff – you care more about living life, not working it, and you would rather do/go/see wonderful and amazing places or things with/to/for other people,  instead of owning material objects.

If you don’t, and you care more about accumulating expensive things you don’t need, stop reading now, pop over to minimalism 101 and if you’re still here then you can read on.

One day, (when I’m a millionaire) I’ll…

People literally spend their time, money, health, relationships, effort and lives burning themselves out trying to make a million dollars or something close to it, without realizing that the goal isn’t an arbitrary amount of cash.

It’s not much of a generalization to say that there are too many people stressing themselves out trying to do too much, just so that they can earn enough money to buy lot’s of stuff… but even worse than that, they doing it to save up for ‘one day’.

I’m all for saving up and being prepared for the future, but this meaning of ‘one day’ isn’t good enough for me. It implies that I slave over a job I don’t like right now, just so that I don’t have to do it later. It implies that I have to wait about sixty five precious years be able to do the kind of stuff I had really wanted to do all along.

These people don’t realize they want a lot of money precisely for the reason so that they can quit there jobs, fly to a beach and relax in the sunshine.

What they’re really saying to themselves is “If I had a million bucks, I would….” and so they work all there lives to get that million and they forget that they could just do whatever comes at the end of that sentence for a fraction of the cost. Common answers are:

  • quit my (soul-sucking) job
  • take lessons in… [insert dream hobby/skill]
  • sip cocktails on a beach
  • go on a cruise/mountain climbing etc.
  • go to x city (London, Tokyo etc.)
  • go backpacking

or even:

  • have everything I ever wanted

For me? Done. Done. Done.

Okay, so this plan won’t work if you’re goal is to roll around in a million one dollar bills, but for most reasonable or more importantly extraordinary goals, a couple thousand is more than enough. And this is not to say that everyone hates their job, just there are many people putting it first whilst forgetting what it is they’re working for in the first place.

Finally, I’m not saying we shouldn’t save up for when we’re too old to be able to work – just that we don’t know if we’ll even make it that far, so we should be prepared if we do, but live life whilst we know we have the chance.

Minimal Student’s guide to conquering the world

Making the realization that you don’t want the money, you want what you can do with it is the first step, next you just have to take the initiative. Let’s compare the costs of a few of the costs that we pay for just practically staying still:

  • a car, plus tax, insurance, gas for a year = from $2000+
  • rent of an apartment/shared house in a medium-big city = av $350 x 12 months
  • two seasons of av. Christmas presents expenditure =$500+
  • an smart-phone contract =$299 + av. $30 x 12 month contract (normally 24)
  • bi-monthly shopping trips expenditure per year = $120 x 6
  • gym membership = $20 x 12

Total cost per year = approx $8000+

(of course prices are approximate and vary from country to country and based on currency)

versus: skipping having a car/phone/gym contract, keeping only a small apartment (or storing stuff at parent’s house), and being forgiven for not buying a few presents – the cost to fly from America to London, then around Europe (Paris, Berlin, Rome etc.) for about 10 days:

  • approximate flight total* = $2000
  • hostel/hotel = av. $20-30 per night x 10 (free if staying with friends)
  • food = av. $15-25 per day x 10
  • other/travel/misc costs = $10-$25

Total cost of around  = approx $2500

*Not calculated but flights between European cities can be dirt cheap if booked last minute since airlines will take almost anything you can give them for left-over seats just before take-off, which can be as low as $25!

And that was calculated for an extensive (albeit quick) tour of Europe all the way from another continent!

I know this isn’t exactly a scientific analysis but you get the idea. Travel is much cheaper than most people expect and definitely cheaper than people are afraid of. If people just got rid of even one or two of the things from the above list, they would be putting themselves in the position to have a memory-creating adventure of a lifetime.

People who are paralyzed by ‘money troubles’ are using it as an excuse. If your dream is to travel around the world, you can do that for less than the cost of a year’s rent in a medium-big city.

If you look in the right places, plane fares are only a couple hundred at most to fly from one part of the world to the opposite side, but most people pay that in gas and insurance for their cars (in one year). Go on, I dare you right now to google flight prices from wherever you are right now to wherever in the world you want to go. Boat cruises and over-night buses are even cheaper.

As for accommodation, I’ve stayed in places ranging from semi-luxury hotels, to bed and breakfasts to an overnight Karaoke bar (in fact, in the latter was probably the most fun I’ve ever had). The trick is to save money by staying in ‘nice’ places in a cheaper city and then very cheap places in expensive cities. If you’re worried about ‘having a good night’s stay’, in my experience I’ve found that this trick balances it out because if you pay more in not-so-posh places you’ll get something adequate instead of gross and if you pay cheap in popular cities you’ll get something adequate, not overpriced.

It’s not about how much you make, but the life that you make with the money you have

If your excuse is that you ‘don’t have enough time’ well, that should be a good indication that should cut down a few commitments. Re-prioritize, say ‘no’ to a few hours of work or other extra responsibilities and put yourself first, at least for a few weeks. If your time is in that much demand that you can hardly break away, well, that’s more proof that you deserve a break.

And if you’re not really interested in travelling, there’s plenty of other options too. Go out and do something nice for yourself or with your friends or do something different, and memorable.

If helping people in need is what you want to do, you don’t have to be a millionaire for that either. You can change lives with just a few dollars or even just giving away some of your time. Figure out what you want and get creative!

I’m sorry if you were looking for a ‘get rich quick’ how-to post, but this isn’t an invitation to spend like a millionaire, it’s an invitation to live like one – which ultimately means to do all of the things you’ve only dreamed of doing. Of course, you might not get to stay in five star hotels or rent a penthouse suite, but you have to be open to compromises which are always better in the end than making excuses not to go at all.

So basically, this is what you will need:

  • guts  – it takes bravery to admit that you don’t really need a million bucks, or a massive flat-screen TV with cable subscription, or a fancy sports car, or massive house.Let other people do all the earning and waiting until they’re grey and old, waiting for life to happen to them, while you start enjoying your life right now.
  • a plan – it doesn’t have to be elaborate. Just spend 20 minutes doing a quick Google search of costs/prices of the things you want to do. Is it as bad as you thought it would be? If not, keep working on your plan, cut a few bits here and there, but even if it costs a lot, it’s worth not abandoning the idea if you can save enough to do it within 2-3 years, almost anything is better than waiting 40 years!
  • to reduce your current life overhead costs.

What you don’t need:

  • ‘one day’ disease
  • to be wasting money on dream-unrelated stuff
  • a million bucks

Get a piece of paper and write down the answers to these questions now:

  1. What would you do if you had a million dollars?
  2. Is there a way I can do it for less?

If the answer to question 2 is ‘Yes!’ or even a ‘maybe!’ then you’ve got a chance.

What’s stopping you? You only live once, go out and live your millionaire lifestyle now!

What is will your millionaire lifestyle be like? Leave a comment or hit me up on Twitter

 

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on minimalist motivations

A question that I often ask myself is why on earth am I leading a minimalist lifestyle? Why don’t I just settle down in a nice town, get my own apartment, a steady job and live like a normal person?

The answer is simple, I don’t want to be normal.

I want to travel. I want to see the world.  I want to go to places people don’t go, meet people that have stories to tell, see things with my own eyes, not from the other side of a TV screen.

I want to grab a backpack, climb mountains, hike through forests, camp under the stars, explore. I want to get on a bike and ride my way across highways, along rivers, through small towns and beside farmland as as far as the eye can see.

On my travels I want to help people who need real help, real action, not just cash thrown at them. I want to make a positive impact on every single soul I meet on the road.

Minimalism is my means of doing that, which is why it’s so important to me. Without it, I can’t do it.

Do you have to travel to have achieved something? Of course not, this is just my dream. You can fulfill your dreams right in your hometown if you want to, the point is that you do it. It sounds simple enough, but you’ll be surprised at how many dreams get pushed aside for mortgages, debt and nice shoes.

when fear is good

I thought my biggest motivation was the want to travel. But now I realize, travel is only the answer to my biggest fear. I’m afraid that I’ll grow old and waste my life. I’m afraid that I’ll look back and wonder why I didn’t do something worthwhile when I had the chance. I’m scared that I’ll miss great opportunities because I followed what people told me to do instead of deciding on my own.

I’m scared that I won’t make a real difference.

Travelling around the world might sound like a fantasy for some people, but to them I say it doesn’t sound possible because they’re too wrapped up in watching reruns on TV from being tired from working too much to fund all of their spending habits.

I’m not living to work or to buy things, I’m living to live. That’s my motivation.

What’s yours?

PS. I just wanted to personally thank everyone who donated, your kindness and support means so much to me! Also, if you still want to contribute, you can do so on the homepage. Thank you again!

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