Traveling as a Minimalist

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This is a message I woke up to recently:

Hey, I want to hear about your struggles to establish minimalism during the trip. For example, did you spend less time choosing the perfect outfit for the day (since you have not taken many)? Did that extra time and relatively clutter-free brain help you to connect more with nature and enjoy the surrounding? How did you stop yourself from buying everything and anything from India? They have sooooooo many things that I like. Also do you think if you went with your hubby, your packing list would be a bit different?”

Needless to say, I got out of the bed with a smile :). I am so grateful to have friends like these who have taken a genuine interest in my journey and encouraging me to move forward each day ❤ !

Moving on to the much-anticipated discussion:

How was it to travel as a Minimalist for the very first time?

Before I begin, please bear in mind, I am not a back-pack traveler like most (if not all) Minimalists that you read about. I don’t even see myself as a back-pack traveler, at least not anytime soon. However, I am striving to strike a balance of carrying just enough with me during my travels.

Before I embraced Minimalism, I use to be more like “take everything you can think of, in case you need them!” kind of girl. This is what I use to do :

  • I went shopping before every trip to ensure I had a different outfit everyday. I did not repeat my outfits during my travel. I always carried more clothes than the number of days I traveled.
  • Of course, with those outfits, I had matching accessories.
  • I carried different sized notebooks (which mostly came back empty!), books and as well as my kindle or tab.
  • I carried a considerable amount of make-up- different shades of lipsticks, eye-shadows, kajol, eyeliners, foundation, blush etc
  • There were significant amount of skin care products and toiletries too.

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Q. What I carried on my first trip as a Minimalist?

However, I have done some serious cut down when it came to packing for my travel this time around. For my 11 Day Trip around India, I carried:

  • Clothes: 2 jeans, 1 leggings, 7 tops including a long tee to sleep in, 2 tank-tops, 2 warm clothes (a hoodie and a sweater) and 3 set of undergarments + 3 pairs of socks which were washed and reused.

    Feedback: I could have cut down more on my clothes if  I was not traveling through both hot (New Delhi, Agra and Kolkata) and cold weather (Pahalgam and Srinagar). I made it a point to take bright coloured tops so that I looked good without much effort (bonus point= nice pictures!) The bright colours also compensated for the fact that I did not carry many accessories.

  • Bags: 1 luggage and 1 back-pack

    Feedback:  For my next trip, I might consider adding a small cross-body purse for the times I do not want to carry my back-pack, for example, while going out for dinner at night.

  • Footwear: 1 flip-flop, 1 sneakers

    Feedback: I don’t think I will make any changes in this, but maybe take a better looking flip-flop 😂

  • Jewelleries/Accessories: 1 watch, 2 neck-pieces, 1 chunky bracelet (yup, that’s it!), a couple of rubber bands and punch clips (my hair is cut short to a long bob, so didn’t have to bother much with it)

    Feedback: In the past while packing, I spent a considerable amount of time matching my outfits with my accessories.  Even then, I ended up confused about which one to wear with what during my trip. This time, there was no such debate. I only took two neck-pieces and wore them when I felt like. I don’t know, maybe I will drop them out altogether in my next trip or take one chunky neck-piece for the night-outs. I am not very fond of changing earrings, so I only had one that I wore all through my trip. For me, additional chunky rings are a bother during travel. Period.

  • Gadgets & Gears: phone, kindle, their chargers, battery bank and a  paper notebook

    Feedback: Perfect! No changes required.

  • Make-up:  2 lipsticks (red and nude), eyeliner, BB cream.

    Feedback: Ample for this trip.

  • Skin-care/Toiletries: moisturizer, srub,  dry shampoo, shampoo, mist  (all in travel size containers), tweezers

    Feedback: This is one list I am proud of and there is nothing that I would like to change in it 🙂

  • First Aid Kit:  band aids, antiseptic lotion, essential meds
  • Snacks:  dark chocolate, nuts
  • Miscellaneous Items: sanitizer, tissue papers etc

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Q. Would my packing list be different if I was traveling with my husband?

This question is actually quite important. Let me tell you why. You see, I sometimes wear sleeveless, short dresses and skirts when I travel with my hubster. These are clothes that I typically do not wear or would not wear if I was traveling with anyone else other than my hubster or friends. I made this trip with my mother and we were part of a larger elderly group. So let’s just say I wasn’t going to be adventurous in my wardrobe selection in this trip!

However, if I was traveling with my husband or/and friends, I think the kind of clothes I would take would have varied, but not the number; just maybe include the highlighter and mascara as well :D.

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Q. How did I behave when it came to shopping?

I bought the following for myself:

  • 3 books
  • Loads of nuts and dried fruits
  • Almond oil
  • Saffron

Does this list look a little extreme to you? Believe me, I wasn’t keeping myself in check. I simply bought whatever I felt would spark joy. With so many sharis, shawls and accessories clogging my closet, I did not feel drawn to shopping for those in India which is what typically most people buy. It just didn’t feel right. I simply had no interest. I was happy, in fact happier, to buy from their local produce, their nuts, oil and saffron! Books are my guilty pleasure!

It should be mentioned my loved ones aren’t suffering from my minimalistic lifestyle. I bought gifts for all my closed ones <3.

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When we are traveling, our trip is suppose to be about exploring the place, learning the culture, tasting the food and essentially discovering a new way of living. During our holiday, we should be able to dial down the tempo and relax; let go of all the mundane and perfunctory roles we have to play in our everyday life and be present in the present. 

However, if we focus our time, effort and energy on ourselves while traveling-what we wear and how we look- we are essentially stripping ourselves of an opportunity. An opportunity to be present in the moment, an opportunity to be more receptive to our surroundings.

When I  cut down on my clothes and accessories during this trip,  my focus and energy was directed more outwards than inwards. In this trip, I was more observant and curious than I ever was before.

I wasn’t the same Farhin taking the same picture for a thousand times in front of a monument. I wasn’t the Farhin waking up early to decide my look for the day. Thanks to poor internet services in Jammu & Kashmir, I was fortunately spared from the claws of social media too. So, all that energy that would have otherwise be spent in meaningless ways like those listed above, I ended up channeling them to be really  present in the present during my trip.

This trip is very close to my heart because it was an effort to reconnect with my mom. I feel that we had drifted apart after I got married. We live in the same city and my short stay over at her place are always dotted with mundane everyday talks, silly disagreements or past regrets. I am eternally grateful to my mom (and dad) for the the kind of life they have given us and feel guilty to realize how much they have lost and sacrificed during the process. So, this trip was chance to connect with my mom as a person, not as my mom and for my mom to connect with me as a person, not as a daughter. I can’t begin to say the wonders and joy it brought. The roles we take in our lives as mother, daughter, sister etc should not be defining our relationships entirely with others. Yet, mostly, this is exactly what it does. We simply forget that everyone is a person first.

I realize that to many, my list may look far away from “minimalistic” and that’s okay, I am just glad to face such a challenge so early into my Minimalism journey. I will probably learn more about carrying less in my future trips; but more than materialistic reduction, this time around, Minimalism played a significant impact in my perception during travels. That is something I will dearly cherish and hopefully continue to practice in my upcoming trips. There are some lined-up already! Stay tuned!

With Love,
Farhin*

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Image Details:
Title: Road Trip
Location: Somewhere between Delhi and Agra

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