Embracing the nomadic life means having to leave things behind. That doesn’t necessarily translate into compromising it all or giving up on things. Decluttering your life can be extremely therapeutic. And I’m not talking only from a materialistic point of view; the minimalist approach can be applied to many aspects of life. Whether it’s about belongings, habits, mindsets, it’s no surprise that many digital nomads opt for the minimalist lifestyle. What does it mean and how can it be beneficial for us DNs? Here’s what I learned and what I’m still learning about the benefits of minimalism – hopefully, without sounding too preachy.
What does Minimalism really mean?
Minimalism is usually mentioned in relation to a simple life, deprived of unnecessary junk. It’s easy to imagine a ‘hipster’ guy living out of 2 shirts in an empty house. Many just think of the Netflix documentary Minimalism – which, by the way, it’s a great watch. And while minimalism has a lot to do with materialism, the whole philosophy behind it digs a little bit deeper.
Minimalism is about letting go of the unnecessary that burdens us, to make more space for what really matters. Hence, you don’t end up with less, but with much, much more!
Experiences over objects
Many decide to embrace digital nomadism because of an eerie feeling, as if something is missing in life. Capitalism has made of advertisement our trusty companion, invading every single moment of our day – hey Google, stop listening to my private conversation please! We’ve been suffering from a shopping fever for decades, developing an addictive, co-dependent relationship to the “2×1” deals. Yet, we feel emptier than ever. Consumerism only fills the void that much, and if you look into your closet, I bet that only a couple of items will actually make you smile inside.
But if you choose experiences over materialism, that feeling of being wasting your lifetime will haunt you less and less. That shiny car or the last iPhone will give you a fleeting shot of adrenaline. But a mesmerizing moment will stay with you until the last day – in your heart, in your memory, in your stories.
The perfect traveler is a minimalist traveler
The first obvious pro-point to be a minimalist DN is the reduced amount of luggage. All you really need and love will definitely fit into one backpack. The benefits of traveling light are actually multiple. First, you’ll be way more comfortable going around with one piece of luggage. Furthermore, you’ll look less like a tourist if you don’t drag two Louis Vuitton luggage around the city. You’ll save money, as you won’t have to check an extra bag at the airport. The list goes on, but it all comes down to one thing: comfort – physical, mental, financial.
A total cleanse
Compulsive consumerism is one of the addiction minimalism takes a stand against, sure. But it’s not the only addiction that this lifestyle helps you battle. Minimalism teaches you to give up on all that intoxicates your life. Begone, all those unnecessary habits that only drag your physical and mental health down! Smoking that cigarette, drinking a few too many, spending too much time on your phone, eating those Mc Nuggets – none of this contributes to building a fresh, hearty life. You’d be surprised at how much can fit into your time, into your wallet and into your inner balance once you cut on the ‘junk’.
Discover yourself – this time, for real
We receive so many inputs from the outside world that we can’t tell apart what we truly like and what they want us to like. So hooked up on the last trends, on that cigarette that makes us feel included, on that sweater that does not fit our personality but seems to get so many compliments. And once this ‘Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’ situation becomes apparent, how can we really tell who we are? It’s when you try to let go of this pressure that you make space for things that matter. Minimalism shows the way to a metaphorical quiet place, where you can listen to your inner voice once for all.
How to get started with a minimalist lifestyle
Marie-Kondo your stuff
Upon beginning your nomadic life, you’ll have to choose what to leave behind. The best way to do that is to apply the Marie-Kondo philosophy, especially when it comes to clothes and extra items. As she’d say, “does this thing spark joy? – well, if the answer is no, then leave it home! Apply this strategy to more and more circumstances, and you’ll end up surrounded only by what you truly love. Ain’t that the best feeling.
Taste every moment
Take a deep breath. Good. I know, there’s a million things to do, I can see your head swirling around. But to be sure you have what you need and want, you need to savor it. Anything you experience in life, any big or small events, random circumstance, steps of your routine, try to fully be there with your mind and body. You’ll perceive things from more angles, let go of your prejudgements and give yourself honest feedback.
While on the road, you’ll need food that actually fuels you. It doesn’t have to be a total change of diet. But how about an apple instead of that processed cookies pack as a snack? You’ll do a favor to yourself and to the environment – it’s a win-win situation. The more you choose to be healthy, the more you’ll free yourself from all the constraints of addictions.
Unload your thoughts
Minimalism takes you on a journey to find your true core. And sometimes, things are just too overwhelming – is it only me, or it feels like hearing a thousand voices in my head some days? Many DNs open blogs where they narrate their adventures and share their feelings on their uncommon lifestyle. Of course, you don’t have to make it a public deal. Journaling makes me always weigh thoughts and words: it’s a truly private conversation with myself, where I’m willing to be vulnerable and listen. Meditation also helps when you need to shut down any external inputs and feel your whole self.
It all sounds a bit too much!
Well, there’s not one specific lifestyle that suits everybody in the world, and no one is wishing for that. And it’s not even THE way to be a digital nomad, it’s just A way. Minimalism can be taken to its extremes, but it really doesn’t have to be an all-in choice of life. Personally, I believe that adopting a part of the minimalist philosophy can really help to put things into perspective.
It does feel like a natural transition if you opt for a nomadic life. Leaving things behind? Check. Traveling smart? Check. Prioritizing experiences over objects or money? Check. So yes, minimalism and digital nomadism are a bit of a match made in heaven, and work on similar principles.
And if you’re reading this but you’re not quite on board with the digital nomadism yet – a minimalist lifestyle can actually lead you to consider it as an alternative to your current life. At the end of the day, it’s up to you to find a way to your own, personal inner peace. Whatever you love, love it truly and love it deeply, if it benefits your mental health – well, more of a guru than a preacher, so I’m ok with that!