Living Simply: Minimalism in Traveling

Summer is a big time for traveling. Family reunions, summer camp, beach vacations, however you and yours decide to spend your summer months, odds are you’ll do some of it away from home.

My husband and I have done a bit of traveling ourselves this summer. We recently took a trip to New Jersey to visit my in-laws, and we had a wonderful time (thanks for asking! 😉 ) But even this minimalist discovered that she has some adjusting to do with regard to packing. So here are a few tips I’ve picked up (and some of these I learned the hard way!)


1. Only pack what you actually use on a daily basis.

I know this one sounds silly in its obviousness, but bear with me. I broke this rule when I went digging for some jewelry to take along. I packed a little case with a necklace, a pair of earrings, and a bracelet. Not so bad, right? But guess how often I wore them? About as often as I do when I’m at home, which is to say not at all! The little case didn’t take up much space in our suitcase, but I felt dumb toting it around for no reason. Chances are that you’ll be every bit as inclined to dress (and accessorize) normally when you’re on vaca. If you don’t use it at home, you’ll probably not use it away. either.

2. Don’t stress about duplicates.

If your destination includes a hotel, you probably won’t need a hair dryer, or any basic toiletries. Most hotels offer sundries such as toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, and razors. Think of how much less we would have to bring from your bathroom cabinet at home if we’d take advantage of these freebies! If you’re staying with family, you may find you don’t need to bring towels, hair appliances, or too many extra clothes (assuming your relatives have a washer and dryer). And for that matter…

3. Pack clothes you don’t mind wearing more than once between washes.

Are you the type to wear jeans twice before washing them? Do you have a cardigan you sport for a week before tossing in the hamper? Pack these sorts of items before the ones you feel the need to clean after every single wear. Additional tip: if you don’t know for sure you’ll need close-toed running shoes, stick with sandals. No socks to pack!

4. Relax.

Vacation is about recuperating from the day-to-day. If you find that your regular preening routine stresses you out, leave it at home! Rock a ponytail for a few days and use the time you’d spend with a hair straightener on a cat nap.  Bring only the barest makeup essentials and don’t worry about the heat or surf making your mascara run. Breaking from the high standards to which we hold ourselves can be the best kind of vacation.

5. Don’t over pack things to do.

One thick book (or an e-reader) can get you through an entire trip just as well as a bag full of DVDs. If you’re the type that likes options, fill up your iPod or tablet, and leave everything else at home. Your suitcase will thank you.


What other tips do you have for your fellow travelers this season?


Living Simply: Building a success journal

Simplifiers on the whole tend to be listmakers. Sometimes the lists are necessary to determine priorities. Sometimes they’re just helpful for seeing life in a new light. But the majority of the lists in my life have been to-do lists, or reminders. Every one of my post-its (both virtual and real) are filled with things I need to do, errands I need to run, or people I need to call.

One big idea I’ve been working on recently is that of a success journal. It’s important, as we organize and simplify, to be able to look back on our high points when the going gets tough. To that end, I’ve been keeping a list of all of my victories recently (even the accidental ones!)

Wrote a blog post today? Put it in the success journal!

Cleaned that one bathroom that never gets TLC? Success journal that bit of housekeeping awesomeness!

Snatched a fly from midair as it buzzed by your ear? Well, you get the picture.

Having a record of your amazingness can make all the difference on a day when the to-do lists are overwhelming, or you feel like you can’t get anything right.

Have you ever kept this kind of record? If you started one today, what would be your first entry?

Living Simply: Getting it “right”

We all go through life with a series of expectations hanging over our heads. Employers, parents, spouses, children, friends — everyone has an idea of what we should do, or how we should be. Expectations can be a great tool, if we know how to use them as motivators. But we all also have a set of self-imposed expectations: goals we wants to reach, accomplishments we pursue, projects or challenges we tackle.

June has been both a wonderful and (for some of us) an extremely difficult month. Jump Off the Ladder had our biggest participation to date in June! But we’ve also seen our fair share of struggles and and frustrations. In my own life, I’ve seen my carefully crafted plans come apart at the seams in the face of unexpected obstacles.

Part of Living Simply is learning to put our own expectations into perspective, so they become assets and not millstones around our necks. It’s wonderful to look in the mirror every morning and say “I can accomplish everything I need to accomplish today.” But what if we began to add, “But I’m not going to allow guilt and unnecessary pressure to cloud my life, because I am taking good steps, even if those steps don’t look how I hoped they would.” When the carefully-planned schedule breaks down, what if we congratulated ourselves on making it in the first place, instead of punishing ourselves for not being perfect? When we miss a day on the new workout plan, what if we used our previous successes as a ramp into tomorrow, instead of throwing in the towel?

We are capable of fantastic change. We can do what we set our minds to do. But we do not have to resign ourselves to feelings of disappointment and self-deprivation every time we mess up. How free would we feel if the person looking back at us in our mirror said that it was okay to fail, as long as we didn’t stop trying?

This coming week, let’s try to tell ourselves that life is a journey. Let’s try to remind that mirror twin that failure is an option, as long as they never stop moving forward, trying again, being creative. Let’s learn to grow without the pressure of unhealthy expectation.