Minimalist retirement
Travel Tips & Tricks

Minimalist Retirement

If you want to travel, being a minimalist in retirement is ideal. If you privileged to have hip millennials in your life you might have heard of the movement and lifestyle referred to as minimalism.

Minimalist have made the choice to live with less, focus on relationships and experiences, and not get caught up in the world of buying things that don’t add value to their lives. They just want to make an effort to be more thoughtful consumers, and they’ve developed a lifestyle of living with what they need and use and not buying things to try to make themselves happy. Their idea is that when you become less of a consumer and more thrifty, you can spend your time more purposefully doing the things that mean the most to you.

Organizing your home, life, wardrobe, and travels around this concept can make for a great retirement mindset. Just think, if you follow a budget, cut back on the spending in your life that doesn’t really get you to your goals, have more free time because you have less to manage, you might be able to fund a long term travel trip just in your daily savings.

Consider your home…

If you are like a lot of retirees, you probably have a home that you’ve lived in for many years and spent a life time paying for. I’m not advocating everyone up and sell their home, but if the upkeep is demanding or expensive or keeping it is hindering your ability to afford to travel and see the world, perhaps you should consider downsizing. If your dream is to travel for long periods of time, you might find that selling it and downsizing not only your house, but your life in general makes a lot of sense.

Our decision…

When John and I moved to Florida, we kept our home in Kentucky for three years. We went back and fourth with the idea that winters in Florida would be lovely. This seemed ideal at first, but then we realized we were wasting a lot of money trying to maintain two homes. We had a big home in Kentucky and at one time we needed a big house; after all, we had raised five children. We had multiple living rooms, a basement, a walk in attic, and five bedrooms. Every room was furnished and the attic and basement held a lot of stuff. 

Not only did we have too much stuff that we didn’t need, having two homes was expensive to maintain. In Kentucky, we had a lawn service, electric bills, HOA fees, security, taxes, and on and on. We were only living there less than half the year and on top of that, we were only using three rooms, the kitchen, the living room, and one bedroom. What a waste! Cleaning and maintaining something we hardly used was not worth it.

Knowing we were more active year around by living in Florida and we felt that this added to a healthier lifestyle. We have a huge group of friends and a great community of people with varied interests that we find fascinating. John is a top runner in the area, and we are both golfers. These are things we can do all winter. We are involved in our church, and we just have a great life in Florida. After careful consideration, we decided to live full time in there.

Beginning to downsize…

The downsizing began. It was a job! We gave away about 90% of our possessions and dispersed all the sentimental items to the kids. Turns out, half of the sentimental items weren’t sentimental to them, so we parted with our treasures and sent them back out into the world for someone else to discover and use. It was liberating! In the end, we feel so much lighter.

The main reason for downsizing was to make our life easier and more able to be in control of our time, money, and energy. I’ve asked John if he ever misses anything we gave away and the answer is a resounding, NO! I’d say we have had to go back and buy one or two small tools that we didn’t realize we parted with, but overall, we did a pretty good job of keeping only the things that really mattered. 

Our new home has two bedrooms and the third we use for an office, albeit with an upgraded sleeper sofa so our guests are comfortable when we need it for a bed. We do have a large kitchen because we like to entertain, and so I didn’t completely downsize. I love what we did, and I’m completely happy with our living situation. It’s not the big house I dreamed of when I was young, but I’ve been there, done that. Now I look at people with big houses and feel sorry for them. Unless you’re loaded, a big house can really hinder your ability to get out and experience the world.

The importance of being organized…

When you think about minimalism, an important component of the concept is organization. When you are unorganized, you tend to buy things you don’t need, don’t use the things you already have, and more than anything, live with clutter that stifles your creativity. I think people are naturally programmed to be hoarders, save it for a time when we might need it. I guess over eons of time, our ancestors knew that they had to save for hardship.

Now, we don’t save for hardship, but we save things to use on special occasions. I’m guilty of buying something special like olive oil and saving it for those special meals, only to find that it has spoiled or expired before I use it up, simply because I was saving it rather than using it like I should have. Minimalists know that if you see something you love, buy it and use it. Don’t let it sit and go bad. Being organized helps you know what you have so you use it. Here is my favorite organizational YouTuber. She’s really good.

I saw another YouTube video where this woman was going through her child’s closet and explaining what she had for her daughter to wear. She held every item up and spoke lovingly about it. It was just such a motivational video, not because I have a little girl’s closet to organize, but because the woman put so much thought into what her daughter owned. She didn’t have much in the closet, but she had simple clothes that the little girl and mom loved and items that worked well together. The little girl had pre-owned items and hand-me-downs and items that had been thoughtfully purchased. She had what she needed and not more than that. You might think it was a wasted 20 minutes for a woman like myself, but it taught me that I need to be more deliberate about the items I keep in my own wardrobe.

Travel and Minimalism

One of the best aspects of traveling the world is leaving behind all those things, mentally and physically, that hold you back. You must be willing to pack light. It’s really important! Having a minimalist mindset is crucial for longer trips. You just don’t need a bunch of stuff and if you truly need it, you can buy it there.

Carrying a backpack…

John and I carry a backpack when we travel because we are always on the move. We like to travel over the course of weeks or months. The concept is to carry what we need.

The only time carrying a backpack doesn’t work is when you load to much stuff in it. We’ve traveled the world and learned our lesson about pack size. It matters, a lot! During long distance travel, you must downsize your life on the road. Everything you put in your pack must be needed and used. I have thought through everything I carry and it turns out, I don’t need three different lotions. I need one! That’s right, the one I use on my arms goes on my face. The sunscreen I use on my face, goes on my legs. It’s the basics! And guess what, I am happy with that plan. It just works for me.

Being grateful…

The idea of living with less is magnified when you are on a long trip. I’ve learned from this experience that I don’t need much. When I’m on the road, I think back on my life back home, and I’m sorry that I have so much stuff. I want to live in the moment and I want to experience life, not own things. Sure, I love having a beautiful home, but if I had to choose, I’d choose to have less so I could be free to go.

Being free entails more than just doing what you want, it’s about having the time to do what you want, unencumbered by the stress of the life we create when our lives aren’t simple. Being a minimalist to the point where you’ve created a life to live your dreams is a fantastic retirement goal. Give this some thought as you plan your trip.

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  1. Love your article. My husband and I live nearby in Stuart. We are preparing for retirement and are on the bandwagon to downsize our lives and hopefully do more of what we want to do. This year we sold our house up north and our business of many years. Next is selling and giving away all the junk we have collected in FL and dragged down from the north. We can’t wait to feel the freedom of being “lightweight”. Thanks for your inspiration!

    • That’s so good to hear! Thanks for taking the time to respond. Our lives would not be full of adventure and fun if we had our stuff dragging us down. Good luck on your project! Bev

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