By Mike Aux-Tinee…
My first experience with minimalism was not your ordinary run of the mill variety. I was not up to my neck with too many things that were encroaching into every aspect of my life. I did not need my friends and family to stage an intervention to shake me free from my obsession. Actually, it was quite the opposite and here is my story of my first experience with minimalism.
Four years ago, I set off on my first trip to Italy. I rented a villa for a week in a town called Spoletto in the state of Umbria. It’s about an hour and a half from Rome by train. To prepare for the trip, I checked weather reports, train schedules, restaurants and places of interest in both Spoletto and Rome. It was going to be a really cool vacation.
My plan was to have a suit case that I would check and a backpack that I was going to carry on.
Getting to the airline check-in counter, the girl checking in my suit case asked if I could take some things out of it to make it lighter. I took out an extra pair of socks, jeans, t-shirt, boxers (guess that secret is now out) and a shirt.
These new additions and what I was wearing would be the only clothes I had for an entire week abroad. What became a travel nightmare, became a crash course in minimalism nirvana!
I was to connect with the overnight flight in Chicago. I was on time, so was my first ride. Chicago was experiencing high winds and flights into and out of O’Hare were delayed. Sitting on the tarmac while things calmed down was no big deal. I eventually arrived in Chicago and I missed the connecting flight by mere minutes.
I was rushed to a ticket counter and rebooked on a flight to Poland… yes…I did say Poland. It was not exactly the direction I wanted to go, but at least I was heading out of the country.
While I was making my way to the rebooked flight, my suit case was sitting somewhere, waiting for someone to put it on a plane and escort it across the Atlantic.
Short and sweet of the story, it never arrived and ended up in ‘suit case’ never-never land.
Once the shock of losing the bag passed, I proceeded in having a really cool vacation.
Here is what I learned from this ordeal:
1. Forget traveling with a checked bag. Things can happen that are out of your control and you can lose everything. Now, I travel with a carry on bag and my back pack.
The places I travel have wash machines and dryers. So, I get to pack less and spend part of one day washing and drying clothes. It is not the end of the world and has become a part of my subsequent travels abroad.
2. If I could make it an entire week with just two sets of clothes, what could I do once I was back home? I started thinking and looking at my possessions differently. It occurred to me, I did not need so much to survive.
3. Remember why you are where you are. It is about the experiences, not about the things that matter.
Luckily, the camera survived and I was able to get some very cool photos! So what if I am wearing the same outfit in nearly every photo… there are only two people who know that little tid-bit and I have them well paid.
4. Hey, once off the plane, I am headed out the door and off on my adventure. I do not wait in any more lines than I need to. Hence, I start my adventure sooner than most people.
When I am out and about traveling, I see so many Americans with so much luggage. I am so thankful I am not like that anymore. I am much happier that I do not have to struggle with a heavy suit case et all… I wish they knew what I did.