I recently underwent a minor minimalism challenge: 2 months of living out of a suitcase. Though not quite as ambitious as Petri Luukkainen’s project, in which he moved all of his things into a storage unit and was only allowed to take out one item every day (he started completely naked!), this was certainly an interesting experience. I have described the whole process and my reasons for doing it in this blog post.
Why live out of a suitcase?
I set this challenge more for practical reasons rather than experimental. See, the issue was that I was about to move back to the Netherlands, but with extremely unclear Brexit implications in sight, I had to work strategically. If the UK were to leave the EU on 29 March, this would have had serious(ly expensive) consequences for me personally. It was expected that overseas postage prices would rise rapidly as custom charges would too, due to the borders closing.
So, in order to try and avoid such costs, I had to ship off the majority of my possessions before the Brexit date. I piled all of my things on my bed and selected what I needed most, and what I could do without for the time being. Then I tried to fit all necessary things into my suitcase as a test run for the final trip home.
Things I shipped off
I got rid of basically everything with no direct or important function, such as room decorations, books I would have no time to read, and make-up I didn’t wear on a daily basis. I was a bit hesitant with seasonal clothes, as this was just around that awkward time of the year when you’re not quite sure it’s the end of winter yet. This is why I kept some of my winter clothes around for a while before eventually shipping those off too.
As I mentioned, my biggest worry was definitely the weather. I had no idea if spring would come along, or if we were going to get another belated winter like last year (when we had snow in April!). I mostly kept just the basics in my closet, but made sure to keep some “just-in-case” items too, like a warm raincoat.
I also postponed taking down my room decorations for a while. Not so much because I would miss them, but because I was worried my room wouldn’t feel like “me” anymore, or I would no longer feel at home.
Other than that, I didn’t have that many concerns. I was mainly just curious about the challenge.
The 2 months without
In the end, I had very little trouble with my clothing options (except for a few extremely sunny days). The lack of room decorations also did not affect me in any way. Honestly, I can’t recall truly missing anything at all!
In fact, it was kind of nice just to deal with the basics. Laundry was tricky sometimes, but most of the time I enjoyed the simplicity of picking out clothes for the day. I barely had to think about what I wanted to wear. I was a little worried people were picking up on the fact that I was wearing the same outfits over and over again, but nobody actually mentioned it. Truthfully, I’m not sure I would have actually cared if they had.
Living out of a suitcase proved to be quite practical. I always knew where everything was and I had a perfect overview of all my things. I think it cleared some space in my head, and it saved me a lot of time in the mornings!
Reunited with my things
After coming back home, I was soon reunited with (most of) my items. Though I enjoyed the two months of practical minimalism, it was quite a relief to have my things back again.
I noticed straight away how much I valued some of my clothes and make-up products, for example. These were the things I had initially regarded as luxury products, but now I realised that they made me feel like “me”.
Living off just the basics for two months was in a way quite nice and straightforward, but I also did not feel entirely myself during that time. When I got back, I was able to wear my favourite velvet clothing pieces again, and brighten up my look with a nice shade of lipstick. These matters may seem small, but felt much bigger and more important to me than I thought they would. Now I know that even the smallest items can cause so much joy!
Was living out of a suitcase a success? I would say yes and no:
- Was it practical? Yes, definitely. I had a clear overview of where everything was, and I barely had to think about what to wear.
- Was it fun? No, not really. Though I didn’t necessarily miss anything during the challenge, I did feel a lot better once I was reunited with my more “luxurious” products.
This process has taught me what things I value and which items give me joy. I found out that some items do in fact strengthen my sense of identity, and that is totally okay! As long as I am mindful and appreciative of the things I own.
Post-challenge: Remi checking out my things after everything was back in place.
You may also like…
- (book) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying by Marie Kondo
- (Treading My Own Path blog) 3 Outfits for 30 Days
- (Lauren Hannah blog) Book review: Goodbye, Things
- Last week’s blog post: my thoughts on coming home.