The No Spend Vacation

 

Congratulations to Bettina who won the Versalette 2.0 and Carrie who won a copy of Minimalist Parenting.

A post from the archives today on how we shop less for and on vacations in recent years. Topical for families gearing up for summer getaways.

When you calculate the cost of your vacation do you add in all the things you buy for it and on it?

New outfits, luggage, swim suits, travel devices and that afternoon spent shopping at the outlet mall everyone told you to go to can drive up the cost of a family getaway.

Those costs used to be a given for me. If we were going on a trip I needed a new outfit, possibly a new laptop case and I definitely wanted an afternoon to peruse the shops in places like Florence, Paris and pretty much any big American city.

We were in Spain last week and I realized I don’t shop for and on vacations anymore. When we budget out how much the whole thing is going to cost us there is no need to add in some blow money for that French department store or the half dozen garments we’ll buy before we go.

Food. Shelter. Transport. Fun. Those are the only things we spend on. Fun is entry to a zoo or a tram ride up Tibidabo mountain. Not a dress that looks amazing on the hangar, okay on me and that I’ll probably wear once in two years. We will visit a local market to see and smell the sites, taste a pastry or purchase local fruit, while on vacation. That’s quite enjoyable to me. But I no longer scan stalls for something, anything, to bring home with me.

Downside to no shopping: our pool wear wasn’t that exciting.

Our son was wearing swim trunks, a t-shirt and hat in the pool instead of a fancy UV suit. There was no flotation vest on just a pair or two of watchful eyes nearby to keep him safe. His sandals have seen a lot of miles this summer and have a certain odour. I don’t have a maternity swim suit so just wore an old two piece. My husband wore a pair of black running shorts as swim trunks. We weren’t impressing anyone with our wardrobes.

My clothing for the 8 day trip consisted of two skirts, one dress, a pair of jeans for travel days and a small mix of tops, tanks and light cardigans. Nothing was new or purchased specifically for the vacation. The whole thing fit into a medium packing cube like this one.

Upside to no shopping: more time in the place we’re visiting, less luggage and no mystery holiday costs.

We had three days in Barcelona and to lose an afternoon to the mall would have been a shame. At one point we ducked into a mall to use the bathroom when we were lost or as my husband says, just not sure where we were. It was like a lot of other malls I have been to. Except everything was in Spanish.

I’d rather spend an afternoon lost in an interesting city than an afternoon in a mall in an interesting city.

After walking through that mall I remembered that that hasn’t always been the case. When I was an athlete I went to Europe for competitions and my teammates and I always looked forward to an afternoon of shopping in places like Hamburg, Lucerne and Milan. Later when I traveled with my husband I always carved out time to visit a big American or foreign mall. Shopping while on vacation was part of the to see and do list.

Things have changed a lot in the last two years.

Less shopping means more travel.

If I still wanted to go to the mall we wouldn’t have been able to afford the vacation. Actually, we probably would have gone but most of it would have been on credit. Credit holidays are a lot less enjoyable in my experience.

There were no souvenirs, no t-shirts, no mini Sagrada Familia replicas or Park Guell snowglobes brought back with us from Spain.

I’m fine with that. The pictures and memories are enough.

Do you factor in preholiday and holiday shopping costs when you vacation? Any reformed outlet mall shoppers like me out there?

Eating My Hat: Living In A Small Town

 

When you live in a 598 square foot condo in an urban area and are expecting your first child, many, many people tell you to move out of the city. They tell you it may not happen now but eventually you’ll want to leave the big smoke for the greener pastures of the suburbs: a bigger house and safer streets.

I scoffed at them.

We loved living in downtown Vancouver.

When our son arrived we loved it even more.

Community centers, the sea wall, parks and libraries were mere blocks away. I met a great group of women with children around my son’s age and my first year as a mom was filled with play dates, mom and baby bootcamp and long walks with other new moms that were just as tired, elated and confused by motherhood as I was.

I firmly thought I would never live in the suburbs or a small town for that matter.

Three years later we’re living in a small (for us) town on an island. No Starbucks. No skating rink. Nowhere near the amenities or conveniences of our old life in a big city.

The biggest surprise for me: I love living in a small town. So does my husband. We like the quiet. We like how slow it is. There are frustrations for sure but right now we’re enjoying all the perks of this quiet life and this small place.

I can say now that I was wrong. I thought the suburbs and small towns were boring and limiting. I identified what we valued with the area we lived in.

As many of you can tell me, and as I can see clearly now, it’s now where you live or what you have available to you there that defines your lifestyle and values. It’s how you live that matters most.

Many of your are living well, and simply, in big homes or small homes in the city or suburbs or off a windy country road in a rural area. The small urban home isn’t a necessity for simplifying.

Being in this small town is tied to my husband’s job so we don’t know how long we’ll be here. I do know that this experience has expanded the possibility of where we could live in the future. Big urban center is not a necessity anymore. We’re much more flexible on where we could live.

Do you think simplifying, living with less or slowing down is harder because of where you live?

 

A No Buy Vacation

When you calculate the cost of your vacation do you add in all the things you buy for it and on it?

New outfits, luggage, swim suits, travel devices and that afternoon spent shopping at the outlet mall everyone told you to go to can drive up the cost of a family getaway.

Those costs used to be a given for me. If we were going on a trip I needed a new outfit, possibly a new laptop case and I definitely wanted an afternoon to peruse the shops in places like Florence, Paris and pretty much any big American city.

We were in Spain last week and I realized I don’t shop for and on vacations anymore. When we budget out how much the whole thing is going to cost us there is no need to add in some blow money for that French department store or the half dozen garments we’ll buy before we go.

Food. Shelter. Transport. Fun. Those are the only things we spend on. Fun is entry to a zoo or a tram ride up Tibidabo mountain. Not a dress that looks amazing on the hangar, okay on me and that I’ll probably wear once in two years. We will visit a local market to see and smell the sites, taste a pastry or purchase local fruit, while on vacation. That’s quite enjoyable to me. But I no longer scan stalls for something, anything, to bring home with me.

Downside to no shopping: our pool wear wasn’t that exciting.

Our son was wearing swim trunks, a t-shirt and hat in the pool instead of a fancy UV suit. There was no flotation vest on just a pair or two of watchful eyes nearby to keep him safe. His sandals have seen a lot of miles this summer and have a certain odour. I don’t have a maternity swim suit so just wore an old two piece. My husband wore a pair of black running shorts as swim trunks. We weren’t impressing anyone with our wardrobes.

My clothing for the 8 day trip consisted of two skirts, one dress, a pair of jeans for travel days and a small mix of tops, tanks and light cardigans. Nothing was new or purchased specifically for the vacation. The whole thing fit into a medium packing cube like this one.

Upside to no shopping: more time in the place we’re visiting, less luggage and no mystery holiday costs.

We had three days in Barcelona and to lose an afternoon to the mall would have been a shame. At one point we ducked into a mall to use the bathroom when we were lost or as my husband says, just not sure where we were. It was like a lot of other malls I have been to. Except everything was in Spanish.

I’d rather spend an afternoon lost in an interesting city than an afternoon in a mall in an interesting city.

After walking through that mall I remembered that that hasn’t always been the case. When I was an athlete I went to Europe for competitions and my teammates and I always looked forward to an afternoon of shopping in places like Hamburg, Lucerne and Milan. Later when I traveled with my husband I always carved out time to visit a big American or foreign mall. Shipping while on vacation was part of the to see and do list.

Things have changed a lot in the last two years.

Less shopping means more travel.

If I still wanted to go to the mall we wouldn’t have been able to afford the vacation. Actually, we probably would have gone but most of it would have been on credit. Credit holidays are a lot less enjoyable in my experience.

There were no souvenirs, no t-shirts, no mini Sagrada Familia replicas or Park Guell snowglobes brought back with us from Spain.

I’m fine with that. The pictures and memories are enough.

Do you factor in preholiday and holiday shopping costs when you vacation? Any reformed outlet mall shoppers like me out there?

Leaving Minimalism

The title Minimalist Mom isn’t that accurate for me. If you’ve read a few posts here you’ll know that I aim for less and what we can live comfortably with rather than a rigid goal of a handful of possessions.

I chose the name while in a burst of zeal for the idea of what Minimalism could give me. I was excited, hopeful and had grand dreams of sparsely furnished rooms and a wardrobe that could fit in a small carry-on suitcase. After many rounds of decluttering I’ve found that the things my family want in our home, the things we use, is often in flux. I’ve found that I’m not interested in counting our possessions or living a nomadic lifestyle. I am interested in the space, time and money having less can give me and my family.

I’m not really a minimalist. We have a television, my son has a push bike he has yet to master and I recently bought a blender and a crock pot.

While I’m not a true minimalist I’m still fascinated by the idea of fewer possessions and the many returns from living with less. That’s why I keep writing here. That’s why I deliberate a lot longer on purchases than I used to. That’s why I have just two pairs of jeans, why we don’t have a car and why I keep a pretty sparse pantry. I like what having less gives me.

Friends Saying Goodbye to Minimalism.

Recently two of my blogging friends have discussed why minimalism is no longer right for them.

Rayna, a contributing writer to Frugal Mama, wrote about shutting down her blog The Suburban Minimalist almost a year ago. Embracing the movement had been positive at first and then lead her to a place she wasn’t comfortable or happy with.

 I’d learned the hard way that although there’s much to be said for living with (much) less than the average American, there are also quite a few things to be said for creature comforts and man-made beauty. Fluffy towels and familiar mugs sweeten our daily rituals. A closet with enough flattering choices makes me feel feminine and confident on the days I’m just not. – Rayna St. Pierre

Her new blog, Bright Copper Kettles, explores simplicity, design and the small things that make her life wonderful. It’s a nice read and I recommend popping in particularly for her links round up. Rayna has a great eye for articles and design that will inspire you to find more beauty in your life without making you feel bad about your living room that is covered in children’s toys or that you have yet to replace the glass on a picture frame that broke three months ago (guilty).

Faith started writing at MinimalistMoms around the same time I started this blog. Later she moved to MinimalistatHome and has written several e-books on minimalism and families. Recently she decided to move her writing away from minimalism.

… it became harder and harder to write a “minimalist” blog after two years. I’ve grown tired of wondering if what I have to say is minimalist enough or even if I am minimalist enough.. – Faith Janes

Faith’s new home online for living with less is a digital magazine called Simplify that launches October 1st. You can sign up to receive the first edition here.

Still Sticking With The M Word

I’ll still be here writing about my own brand of minimalism, the challenges of living counter-culturally and if I really needed that crock pot or blender.

While the term minimalism sounds extreme I think there is a lot to glean from the movement for even non-radical folk like myself. I like the discussion here about how to live with less, the benefits of it and how to go about it happily in a world that doesn’t support slow and simple living.

Real Simple magazine always told me that it was ‘life made easier, every day’ but I found that when I read it, I hated my home and felt the pressure to buy a lot of baskets and label makers and organize instead of truly simplify. I used to flip through those glossy pages and tell myself that I’d have a show worthy home if I just tried harder and made bread from scratch and a jar of lemon curd for an Amalfi Coast inspired luncheon replete with Limoncello ordered direct from Sorrento, Italy.

Life wasn’t made easier. Life was harder and the expectations bigger in ways that just made me tired. I had zero of the 20 must-have classic wardrobe staples for a woman in her 30’s. My vintage mason jar collection was nonexistent.

I wasn’t inspired by the supposed ease of this everyday beautiful simplicity. I was overwhelmed.

There is room in my life for beauty and minimalism. I keep fresh flowers on our kitchen window sill, not the dining room table, because that is where I enjoy them most. When I’m washing dishes I see my vase, sometimes it’s just a water glass, filled with the cheap and cheerful white carnations I buy myself or roses, a gift from a friend, and it’s enough for me.

Because I have less I appreciate what I do have more.

I’ll still be here writing about minimalism and how we’re making it work for us. With our roses on the window sill, our blender and even my expensive ballet flats that fell apart.

Your Clutter Coach

 

Sometimes you need more help than a book or a blog can give you.

Sometimes you need a friend to remind you to donate those bags of unworn clothing that are sitting in your basement.

Sometimes you need someone to make a plan for you, motivate you and keep you accountable.

Sometimes you need a Clutter Coach.

I get a lot of emails asking for help. I always respond (even it takes me a while) with advice, suggestion and encouragement.

And I always wonder, did they carve out a weekend to clean out that attic? Are they in the throes of home purging and feeling beaten by the process? Did they pull out some boxes from under their bed, lose a few hours looking through old junk, and then decide it was all too much work?

For some time I’ve wanted to help beyond the posts on this blog. Something very personal for paring down and living smaller.

A book wasn’t the answer. There are already some great books out there like Family-Sized Minimalism and Clutter Bootcamp for inspiration and how-to. A book can’t hold your hand, give you a kick in the butt or suggest another method for dealing with all that mail.

I want to do those things.

I want to see closets go from jam packed to roomy.

I want to help people get more sleep.

I want to find solutions for the mud room clutter that can be so hard to reign in.

So I’ve started something new.

Your Clutter Coach

This is for people that:

  • can’t make the time to declutter even after reading a lot of books and blogs on the subject
  • get sidetracked by old photos and trinkets every time they attempt to clean out the guest room
  • have pared down their stuff but it crept back quickly
  • need motivation and accountability to clear clutter for good

Your Clutter Coach is a personalized decluttering program. It’s tailored to your lifestyle, your needs and your schedule. It’s me kicking your butt and you kicking ass.

You can read more about the services here.

If you’re interested in the program I am currently giving away one free Four Week Clutter Coaching Program at Parenting with Crappy Pictures (if you haven’t visited this site before it is hilarious). The giveaway is open until Tuesday May 8th at 8pm PST. Head on over to read the details and enter.

PS. This will be the only time I mention Your Clutter Coach in a big post like this.

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