Real Life Minimalists: Gigi

Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.

I think you’ll enjoy this story from Gigi, who pared down her belongings (and her dog’s!) in order to pursue life on the road. Check out her blog to read more about her experiences.

Gigi writes:

My name is Gigi and I’ve always had minimalist tendencies, but this year I took it to the next level and I am currently traveling through Europe with one hiking backpack and one carry-on backpack (oh, and my small dog, Luna!). This, of course, means that I’ve spent the past six months or so reducing, recycling, gifting, and selling my possessions.

The main ways I rid myself of unnecessary clutter were: selling things on Craigslist and Amazon, holding a giant yard sale one Saturday in May, gifting books and kitchen supplies to a newly married friend, and taking several trips to the local Goodwill. At the end of the day, I ended up keeping just eight boxes, five normal sized and three very small (for tax receipts, business files, and electronics). Plus, the things I am traveling with–which I carry from place to place on my back.

Whenever (if ever) I return to the U.S., I plan on minimizing even more by scanning my old photo album into the computer and getting rid of the hard copy, scanning all my receipts (okay, okay, hiring someone to scan my receipts), and reviewing my client files to toss old and outdated ones again.

At the end of the day, the goal is to own only things that contribute to my life and/or make me happy. Right now, that life is on the road. I rent furnished places, borrow extras that I need (like scissors), and re-pack with care each time I move onto a new destination. After all, the weight of what I own directly correlates with the weight I have to carry on my own back.

Even the dog, who is traveling with me, has become a minimalist, only owning two tupperware bowls (which double as airtight traveling containers for food or toiletries), one stuffed bunny, one small brush, one tennis ball, a baggie of dog food, another of treats, and one dog carrying case (which I call her “house”).

Living so simply is so freeing. Particularly on the road, where I find my day-to-day needs met often by the kindness of strangers or my own creativity (wine bottle openers make great jar openers and nobody minds lending you a cup of sugar or a pair of scissors). The creativity and community that minimalism creates around me on the road is something I plan on bringing home with me…wherever home may end up being.

You can find my blog at gigigriffis.com. I write about dating, writing, and everyday life on the road with a dog.

{If you’d like to learn more about minimalist living, please consider reading my book, The Joy of Less, A Minimalist Living Guide, or subscribing to my RSS feed.}

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27 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Gigi

  • Can I just say how much I love the dog’s name. I don’t know why but it has a real charm to it.
    I am not a travellor at heart, but will check out the blog

  • Thanks for sharing your stories Gigi and Luna! I started my journey into minimalism because I wanted to go on a trip with only a carry-on. It made me realize that we don’t need very much at all. And like you said, what we don’t have, can be easily borrowed. I love that your dog is a minimalist too!

  • Thanks Gigi and Luna, for sharing your great story! I like the details you gave about HOW you decluttered and minimized your possessions. Wishing great travels for you both!

  • Caroline

    What a fantastic story Gigi! I get so depressed hearing about people who dump their pets when they become minimalists, so am really pleased to hear Luna is sharing your amazing journey with you! Happy traveling!!

    • Great point, Caroline! This makes me even more happy that Luna is sharing in Gigi’s travels.

    • I totally agree. I can’t believe it when people say they are going to get rid of their dog/cat because they want to rent in a pet-free apartment complex or travel. There are compromises along the way sometimes (like having to search for dog-friendly accommodations or wait for dog paperwork to come through), but I can’t imagine not having Luna with me. She has enhanced my travels immensely.

  • Kathy

    Thanks for sharing! I’m sure it’s fun traveling with Luna. Question, will you have any feelings of regret discarding your photo album? I have all mine scanned (as well as all my receipts) but I can’t quite bring myself to let go of the hard copies of the albums. We are a family of 5 so the stack of albums/scrapbooks is substantial. It’s also one of the most difficult things to deal with because of the weight–we move frequently. I scanned them & stored online in case of disaster, but it would be nice to free the space. But I keep thinking, what if future great-grandkids would want some of the photos.

    • kris

      Kathy, my advice is to keep the albums! (Even though you’ve scanned them.) Unlike so much of what we get rid of, your albums are irreplaceable. If you eventually have grandchildren and great grandchildren, the odds are high that at least one of them will treasure those albums.

    • Hi Kathy,

      Sorry it took me a bit to respond! I thought I was subscribed to the comments over here, but I must not have been!

      If you love your albums, keep them! For me, minimalism is about having only what I need and what I love. For me, the photos are what I love (not the albums), so having them electronically wouldn’t decrease my happiness in any way. :)

  • Thanks for sharing! Traveling (in our case, sailing) has really helped us to pare down. We go back to land in a few weeks, and we wonder what that will be like, and what we’ll get rid of. Living simply is just so much less stressful.

    And, yay for bringing the dog along! We have two cats, and one sails with us (and loves it!). I think all pets are secretly minimalists. ;-)

  • Wow! What a great story! Thanks for sharing! Like Caroline, I don’t like to hear stories of people getting rid of their pets because they don’t fit their new minimalist lifestyle. I’m happy Luna is traveling with you! I have four cats and one dog and they are the most important things I own (although they really own me).
    I’m trying to show my 19 year-old nephew there are other options besides what society tells expects us to do. I will definitely share your story with him. All the best on your travels and I will check out your blog!

  • Gigi, I admire your lifestyle so much! I’m in the process of finding my own way in minimalism and the reoccurring theme is always freedom! I’m still struggling to find out what minimalism means to me though. It seems to be so different for so many. I will definitely check out your blog!

    • Thanks, Leslie! I know what you mean. It’s funny to talk to other minimalists about what they did and didn’t keep. For example, I travel with a curling iron, which lots of backpackers would forego…but I get so much joy out of dressing up for a night on the town and having my hair curled, so it’s worth it to keep carrying said curling iron around Europe.

  • Brian

    Dogs are definitely natural minimalists! Their needs – apart from food, water and shelter – are not material, simply emotional. We got a beautiful black Pug puppy two years ago and she inspires us to continue on our minimalist path. The pleasure she gets from walks on the beach and in the woods, playing, and being cuddled are all she really needs. In turn, that makes such excursions all the more pleasurable for us, watching her enjoying herself! Yes, she has a couple of toys and a ball (the toys are more for chewing on than anything else!), but will happily forgo those in favour of sitting on our laps and being cuddled!

    • Brian, I love your post! So very true! My pets give me such unconditional love and hours of entertainment. I think all that crap they sell at pet stores is marketed to humans. Although my pets also have a few toys, my cats are happy to play with a wad of paper or a paper bag and my dog is most happy at walk time or when her human gets home.

    • Exactly! Whether she has ten toys or two, Luna is happy as a clam as long as she gets to come with me.

  • Wow… Gigi your story is amazing. And I agree with Caroline. Aspiring minimalists with pets can learn a lot from your story. have happy traveling with luna. :-)

  • Thanks for your inspiring story Gigi. I too found it wonderful that you have included your pet in your travels. It sounds like you are travelling very lightly, and really getting to the heart of the places you are visiting. Also, being reliant on others to meet some of your needs as you travel would be great for starting new friendships – people usually love to help others and might feel that they are sharing part of the journey with you.

    • You hit the nail on the head, Kim. Having a dog with me and being a minimalist make it really easy to strike up conversations and start new friendships wherever I am.

  • I get you Gigi! We plan on sailing around the med for a year and as such when both of us sold our big homes, we sold them with all the furniture as well. Art, books, doubles (I mean who needs two toasters right?) all that got sorted out. Donated mostly to a women’s shelter (they often leave with nothing). And so now, our apartment is minimalist inspired. We have no end tables or coffee tables … we have … little. But what we have we loved. This will go into storage – but the end game was this. We bring nothing new in if nothing old has not left. Why? because we want to already be use to “living on a sailboat” when the time comes – a mere 3 years away. It has showed us how difficult it can be to keep things out. Having the “nomadic life” lens on … works like a charm. Great job on living your dream!! Kisses to Luna.

  • Thanks everyone for the kind words and for stopping by the blog!

  • [...] talking about the start of my minimalist journey : how I pared down my things to just 8 boxes and one hiking backpack and then hit the road with the [...]

  • Tina

    Love the idea of living with very little. Have more to get rid of and keep finding more. Another trip to Goodwill is coming up. Gave some things to my neighbor for her church’s rummage sale. Still much more. A few things every day.

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