Haley Gallerani runs The Vegan Abroad, a website about traveling sustainably and as a vegan. Visit it at theveganabroadblog.com.
Mollie: Have you ever significantly minimized your possessions? What led to the decision and what did you change?
Haley: I would say that I officially became a minimalist in 2018 when I moved to Chiang Mai, Thailand. I brought two suitcases with me and two suitcases back. I knew that I wouldn’t be living in Thailand forever so I didn’t want to purchase too many things while I was there. I did have to purchase a few things for my apartment, but it came furnished so my purchases were minimal.
The biggest way that I minimized my possessions was with my clothing. I used to own so many clothing pieces that I hardly ever wore. I now rotate among around ten different outfits. My biggest tip for simplifying your wardrobe is to only purchase neutral colors. This will allow you to mix and match more than if you own clothing with different colors and patterns.
Mollie: What is your life like now? How often do you travel and for how long? Do you still take only two suitcases?
Haley: I have been in the United States for the past few months, but I will be moving to Europe in January 2020. I am a big believer in slow travel. That means that I spend a long time in one location before moving onto the next. Europe is a bit more complicated than Thailand because of visa issues. I will start in Italy where I will stay for three months: one month in Rome, one month in Florence, and one month in Sicily. Then I will be going to Croatia for three months before finally settling in the Czech Republic where I will get a visa.
I am planning on only bringing one suitcase and a backpack with me to Europe because I will be moving around so much. I know that this is going to be even more challenging since Europe has four different seasons that I need to pack clothes for whereas it was almost always summer temperatures in Thailand. I am excited about the challenge, though, and I think that I will grow even more minimalist.
Mollie: What are your most prized beliefs regarding minimalist lifestyle—the ideas you most want to spread?
Haley: My most prized belief regarding a minimalist lifestyle is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all for minimalism. I think that you have to find what brings you joy in life and focus on that. Clothing doesn’t bring me joy, so that is a very easy area for me to be a minimalist in. I do love cooking, though, so someone could look at my kitchen and think that I am not a minimalist, but then look at my closet and think that I am. Ultimately, I think that minimalism is about focusing on the things that matter to you, and spending less time (and money) on the things that don’t. When you find the things that don’t bring you joy, get rid of them.
Also, try to find ways to simplify the things that do bring you joy. For example, I am an avid reader. I only purchased physical books prior to moving to Thailand. I decided to purchase a Kindle before moving to Thailand so I could easily purchase books in English while I was abroad. It ended up being one of the best purchases that I have ever made because I no longer have the clutter of books anymore, and I can fit hundreds of books on a very small device.
Mollie: Any final thoughts?
Haley: Becoming a minimalist can be scary at first as you are getting rid of a bunch of your possessions. The thought of “What if I need this in the future?” may show up. My advice would be to keep the item that you are questioning for six months to a year depending on what the item is. If you haven’t used it in that time then you should probably get rid of it.
The solution is almost always fewer things. Get The Naked House: Five Principles for a Minimalist Home.
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