Real Life Minimalists: Veronica

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 we have a wonderful story from Veronica, who tells us how she embraced minimalism to live in a van. Read more about her experience on her blog.

Veronica writes:



My life as a minimalist began in an unconventional way. I was working my non-profit dream job, but it had become a nightmare. I knew I needed to make a change. Nonetheless, I had no idea how life altering of a change it would be.

That Easter, my partner Jordan surprised me with a big, green Dodge conversion van! He quickly explained his decision and I quickly put in my two weeks. However, there was nothing quick about deciding what to take with me.

Jordan was already a nomad, so he let me know we each had room for one large suitcase of personal stuff. As I looked around my well-stocked room, I knew minimizing would take some time.

I was an avid Sex and the City fan, so I knew the only way to decide what came with me was to drink alcohol and put things in piles. I divided everything I had into three categories: send home, throw away, and bring along. Unfortunately, not everything fit as neatly into the piles as it did on my favorite television show.

Minimizing for a long, unplanned journey is not easy, but over the two weeks I paired my gaggle of stuff down to what could fit in a large suitcase.

I was forced to choose between items that were comforting versus items that would be useful. Honestly, the most difficult part was sending home some books I always carried with me. Until I had to put a value on my stuff, I never realized how much of a hold inanimate objects had over me. My emotional attachment to things was obvious by the pain I felt segregating my stuff. However, it was not just pain. Behind the pain was guilt. I actually felt as if I was betraying my stuff! Although I had never thought of myself as materialistic before, I seemed to fit the definition quite well.

Throughout my time living in our van, I had no choice but to refrain from buying anything I did not need. We even bought our food on a need-based schedule. It was during this time my attitude toward “things” changed. As I focused on living one day at a time, I felt the mental load of material goods lighten.

I think what really helped me get out of my materialistic mindset was traveling in nature. A little background may help. I grew up in Southern Indiana, and all I had to look at were cornfields. Sure, I went fishing and hiking but every day life was the same. In a way I needed objects to give my life value, because I had nothing else.

Life was completely different traveling in the van. Every day there was something new to see or a new perspective to gain.

On the road, I experienced awe for the first time. In that moment, I had an epiphany that would change the way I lived the rest of my life forever: the cheap emotional fulfillment of stuff pales in comparison to the wealth of fulfillment in experiences.

Although I haven’t spent any time living in a van for a couple of years now, I have managed to stay true to the invaluable lessons I learned about life as a minimalist. I still use the majority of my money on experiences versus things, I focus on finding joy in nature, and I try to get active outside at least once a week. To top it all off, I’ve made an annual tradition of purging a la Sex and the City style!

If you want to learn more about life on the open road, check out my site, where I write about maximum life experiences and minimal gear related to van life.

Thanks for reading. :)

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

4 comments to Real Life Minimalists: Veronica

  • Thank you for sharing. I wish you a great van life. Sounds like a dream.

  • How adventurous! It sounds like your lifestyle change has made you very happy. Now I’m going to head on over to your blog and check out your travels!

  • Deann

    I like your comment about feeling guilt for your stuff. I’ve had similar feelings when decluttering or packing for a trip (I once apolized off hand to a dress I decided not to take on vacation and then laughed at the weird verbal tic). I think that’s one danger in minnimalism for me- I only keep the things that I truly love or are really useful so I get a little more attached to those things than I would if I had hundreds of little things.

    Thanks so much for your post!

  • Tina

    I have always sorted my stuff. We go on trips with carry-on suitcases or smaller ones. This time we went to Florida to visit family. I was given some clothes by a relative and gave away some of what I brought. I also collected some shells.Luckily my suitcase had a gusset I had never used so it became a little bigger.

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