Vacation minimalism – keeping it light packing and souvenir shopping?

I used my phone to pack for a multi-week trip to Europe. It wasn’t until shortly before departure day that I finally buckled down and pulled out everything I would need for the big trip to Italy and Greece.

Using my Stylebook closet app and my travel agenda, I packed carefully, coordinating my outfits with the amount of walking I’d be doing. I checked the 10 day forecast and anticipated potential rain and other outfit hazards. After packing, I nervously looked at my suitcase, which appeared to be mostly empty, and wondered what I was forgetting. On the other hand, my travel partner appeared concerned by her over stuffed, over weight suitcase.

She swore she’d removed excess outfits and minimized her shoes. She swore she’d mixed and matched, bringing outfits that could be changed up and reworn. Still, at the end of the trip, she shocked herself by having three outfits that she’d never worn. Lugging her suitcase through Rome’s train station as we attempted (and failed) to make our train, she probably regretted that extra weight.

The moral of the above story is something like, “On vacation pack half of what you think you need and bring twice as much money.” However, minimizing your money doesn’t hurt either.

The money is ostensibly for souvenirs and experiences. Yet, at the end of my trip, when I updated my budget, I found I’d spent hardly anything on souvenirs for myself. A bottle of Ouzo shaped like the Colossus of Rhodes appealed to my love of kitsch. A new Italy snowglobe and a Greece snowglobe were essential additions to my collection. Two pairs of earrings and two necklaces from vendors on the streets of Mykonos rounded out my take-home. For the two-week trip, I’d spent under $80 on souvenirs.

Like the classic camping motto, “Take only pictures, leave only footsteps,” I had trudged across two countries and for the first time in my life, not over purchased ridiculous t-shirts I only wear when I work out, extra salt and pepper shakers, oven mitts, coffee cups, magnets, etc.

And at the end of the trip, I had no regrets about not buying the adorable ceramic tiles that I adored but would never fit into my decorating aesthetic or any number of super cute, but super kitschy items. (Why are there so many penis-shaped bottle openers anyway?)

I wish I could attribute the slow decline of my consumption habits to some great, easy rule. But it’s simply practice.

Categorizing all of my clothes in the Stylebook app showed me how much I have. Their “total cost of your wardrobe” stat blows my mind a little bit. When you acquire all the pieces slowly over time, you don’t realize how much you’ve spent on clothing.

Since reading Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy, I have come to appreciate everything I have. But I’ve also come to evaluate my purchases more carefully. In a world where distractions are plentiful, something new and interesting is definitely intriguing. But too often we stash aside that new, exciting thing and never use it again.

This inspiration worked perfectly for souvenir shopping. Now if only I could get the inspiration to minimize my growing makeup collection.

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