Minimalist Student Holiday Challenge

It’s that time of year when thousands of students return home for the spring holidays. Most will take large suitcases, maybe even two, so that they can take home all of their old clothes to wash, books they’ll never get around to reading and a few ‘just in case’ outfits.

The other night, I finished watching Up in the Air, starring George Clooney. It’s become one of my favourite films of all time. Here is a brilliant extract of it:

The film is about a man that travels. A lot. In fact, he travels so much that he has become a pro at airport checking and at carrying as little as possible. The overall message of the film is that constant moving means that it was difficult for him to build lasting relationships. However, I am much more interested in the part about ‘fitting everything you own into a backpack’. If I had to move everything in my life at a moment’s notice, would I be able to do it? If I simply had to go home for the holidays, can I do it without breaking my back? Hell yes.

For this holiday, I will be going home for just over a month. I have quite a long way to travel to get home, and I will be using public transport, so I have decided to set myself the challenge of taking just a single suitcase and a shoulder bag, in which I will pack:

  • Laptop and charger
  • Two books
  • Mobile phone, purse.
  • A pair of jeans
  • A skirt
  • 4 tops
  • A pair of shoes
  • Make-up

I will already be wearing a pair of jeans and shoes, a shirt, a coat (and of course underwear ;)).

The books that I am taking home are for my course. They are very specialised and expensive, and aren’t available in my local library.

Because of my minimalist mindset, I didn’t take everything I owned with me when I came to university.  I left a few things that I can use when I go home, such as a pair of pyjamas and spare underwear. As for various toiletries, obviously they will be available when I go home.

The challenge is about thinking about what you really need. It’s about planning ahead; what will you be doing? What will you wear? Decide and commit, so you don’t have to take anything ‘just in case’. I’ve done all of my washing in advance, because there’s no way I’m going to drag it across the country.

A few months ago, I wrote a post ‘Can Minimalism be Measured?‘ in which I said that, in my opinion, minimalism is subjective. So, what if you need to take two suitcases? Well, I say that’s fine, there’s nothing stopping you, as long as you’ve decided that you are really likely to use almost everything in those suitcases. I still stick by what I said, it’s up to you how ‘minimalist’ you want to be. For me, in this case, the magic number is one suitcase.

It’s not until you make a temporary move like this you realise that you if you can survive a whole month without X, you probably don’t need it.

How much does your life weigh? Here’s the full trailer to Up in the Air: