Real Life Minimalists Update: 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.

Today, I’m happy to share an update from previous Real Life Minimalist Gigi. We first heard from her last July, while she was traveling through Europe with her little dog Luna. Read on to find out where she is now on her minimalist journey (for more details, surf on over to her blog).

Gigi writes:

After four months of full-time travel with just a backpack and a dog, I’ve become even more of a minimalist. So, when I returned to Colorado this fall to sell my car, re-pack my bag, and plan for my next adventures, I also took on an even more ambitious minimizing project.

What if I could take the eight or so boxes in my friend’s basement and reduce them to two?

I started with my clothes, trying everything on. The things that had gotten shabby during my first four months of travel, the things that were now too small, since I’d dropped a pants size on the road, the things that just weren’t me anymore…they all went to the consignment shop and/or Goodwill.

This eliminated at least one box. Maybe more.

Then I tackled my paperwork and electronics. For something like ten years I’ve been backing things up on CD—and, dear god, do I have a lot of those backup CDs. So I bought myself a high capacity removable hard drive and transferred all those backups onto one much smaller electronic backup device (and one that I can actually edit, even better!). I also took scans all of my photos and typed up my favorite recipes so that I can toss my photo album and recipe books, and still keep them electronically.

This eliminated at least two more boxes.

Next I tossed all the things I was keeping “just in case” my grand ideas of living and working on the road didn’t work out (because, after four months, I’m feeling braver…this thing really is working out!). This included blankets, spoons, towels, and electronics with American plugs. I rent furnished places and spend most of my time in Europe and/or other abroad locations, so I just don’t need these things. And if I do decide to come back to the states someday, I can always re-buy spoons and hair dryers. They don’t have sentimental value for me, so there’s no need to store them.

At the end of my five weeks back in Colorado, I’ve reduced eight boxes and a backpack to just one box (which I’ll keep in my friend’s basement), one small bag (which I’ll take with me to California for my two months there and then leave behind with a friend outside L.A.), and one backpack (which will go back on the road with me).

I’m more minimized than I’ve been…well, ever. And I feel amazing. Free. Excited for what comes next. Unhindered.

While not everyone can reduce their things to a single box, bag, and backpack (if you have a home, obviously you’ll need to keep your spoons), for me it was the right move. Now, when I get that visa for Italy or Switzerland, I can jaunt off unhindered. And if I ever want or need my things, they’re just one UPS shipment away.

{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.}

34 comments to Real Life Minimalists Update: Gigi

  • Gigi I can clearly remember enjoying reading your first Real Life Minimalists story as you told us of your plans to travel minimally. So inspiring to have seen this unfold and now with this update that you have taken your minimalism to another level. This is great encouragement and will help me to visualise paring my belongings down further – although I’m not a traveller I have downsized considerably. Love your sassy attitude to style too :)

  • […] today I’m being featured again over at Miss Minimalist – a blog I love about simple, minimalist living. If you are stopping by from the Miss Minimalist […]

  • Ahsha

    Hello Gigi. I am so very happy for you. As your travels build your self confidence, you are realizing more and more the importance of not being burdened by material possessions. Good for you. I still continue to remove clutter. I keep a box in my home and drop items in it on a regular basis. When it becomes full off it goes to the local thrift store. Enjoy your travels. Enjoy a glass of wine for me when you and Luna get to Italy!

  • Wow, Gigi–that is really impressive! I can’t even imagine. So awesome.

  • Loved the update! Gigi = Inspiring! :)

  • Lora

    Thanks for sharing such concrete information. It’s very helpful to me to hear exactly what you did, and I love the idea of getting rid of backup CD’s by using an external hard drive . . . I’m on it! :-)

  • Nicola B

    I’m not travelling the world, but I am scanning/digitising everything that I can get my hands on, and planning on getting a tiny (physically, at least) external hard drive that I can carry in my handbag as backup in case of home disaster. Doing the same at work so we can ditch some filing cabinets and lots of junk!

  • helen

    Hi I take it Luna did come back to the US with you?Just you didnt mention her at the end?How does she cope with the flying?Keep going with your travels,its the way to go! lots of love x

    • Hi Helen –

      Yes, Luna is still with me! :) We came back to the US for our minimizing project, voting, etc. and then returned to Europe on Christmas day. We’re currently in Italy and headed to Paris next. :)

      Luna does really well with flying. She seems to think it’s time for a big nap. The first time we flew, I had some sedatives, just in case, but I never needed them. She snuggled up and went to sleep straightaway.

  • DawnW

    well I’m curious about what’s in the 1 box!

    • Mostly things with sentimental value: book ends from my first trip to Africa, a mural from Asia, things I’ve collected along the way. I honestly don’t remember everything anymore (which will make it a fun box to open someday). Also, paperwork (hard copies of tax stuff – because that stuff makes me nervous to throw out).

  • Autarkeia

    Getting rid of digital clutter and consolidating everything is something every computer user should do. It is such a great idea.

    However, if you haven’t already, make sure to backup all of your data to a separate drive on top of the one you already have. Having all of your data in one place can be a liability. Better yet, use a cloud backup solution like Mozy or Crashplan.

    – IT guy

    • Excellent point. I actually have two drives now: one safely tucked in my box and one that travels with me in a separate bag from my laptop. I also store really important stuff (photos) online as well. :)

  • Miss Mini

    What an inspiring story, Gigi! Although I may never pare down my belongings to only one box, your story sure has made me believe that I can minimize even further. I hope you don’t mind if I ask, what kind of jobs do you do/look for when you’re on the road? :) Please give Luna a big hug!

    • I don’t mind at all! I own a small business doing content strategy and writing (mostly web writing) work for a variety of clients (mostly technology companies, mid-sized ad agencies, and travel companies). I do a little bit of everything as it relates to content–from creating a large-scale, organization-wide content strategy and set of editorial guidelines all the way down to writing a promotional video script or a blog post. This is me:

  • Marcia Louanne Midowitz

    Wonderful story! Dogs (and animals) are the ultimate minimalists! We can learn a lot from them!

  • Miss Mini

    How interesting! Thanks for your reply. :)

  • Beautiful. inspirational. Thoughtful. Thanks for updating us on your journey.

  • […] My Minimalist Update @ “After four months of full-time travel with just a backpack and a dog, I’ve become even more of a minimalist. So, when I returned to Colorado this fall to sell my car, re-pack my bag, and plan for my next adventures, I also took on an even more ambitious minimizing project…” Read more. […]

  • I love at the end how you clarify that your lifestyle choices may not be for everyone, but it is what works for you. I long to travel as you are with just a backpack, letting go of everything, but for now it is not what is meant to be in my life…I guess I will have to keep my spoons, lol. It is interesting though how time away from, or even just boxing up possessions makes us realize that we don’t really need or want them anymore. I continue to let go of more and more and each time I go back and open a box, I think to myself – “Why did I insist on keeping this?” I guess the most important lesson is to continue to question everything.


  • […] week, we have an update from previous Real Life Minimalist Gigi. We last heard from her in January, when she was decluttering and planning her next travels. Visit her blog to read more about her […]

  • […] explaining how, after four months on the road, I returned and turned eight boxes into just one box and one bag left behind in friends’ basements and […]

  • Tina

    My son turned 8 big boxes of pictures into a slide show by having the photos scanned. I think it’s a wonderful idea because we all get all the pictures. Even if the physical photos get wet or ruined, we still have good things.

  • Tina

    This idea of converting pictures is so great, I’ve been after my husband to go through his pictures. He has some that are 50 or 60 years old and I have no idea who the people are.

  • Tina

    I talked to a man today who said even though he and his wife have no children he is saving all sorts of dishes, glassware and linens for his nieces and nephews. I told him I wasn’t saving much unless my kids showed an interest.

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