So we did it. We jettisoned most of our personal possessions to start an open-ended adventure exploring the Pacific Northwest in a travel trailer. Part sightseeing tour and part existential journey, purposely shaking up our lives to see what falls out. We would pursue our passions while diving deeper into a minimalist lifestyle, looking for our own definition of what that might mean. And after ten months on the road, I am more convinced than ever that moving into a travel trailer does not make you a minimalist.
Bridget and I are often at odds on the subject, though admittedly I am the novice while she has been all in for years. My indoctrination into minimalism was not unlike when we first started dating and I learned that the relationship came with a dog – sometimes it’s a package deal. So by osmosis or association, I became a minimalist too, though it took some time before I called myself one.
But unlike owning a pet that took some period of adjustment, going minimalist seemed effortless and meant little more to me than living in a clutter-free, magically organized home. Simple, functional furnishings and a tchotchkes-free environment matched my aesthetic. Having cupboards, closets, and drawers that put nothing more than what you need where you need it was a bonus.
The differences in our perspectives became apparent when it came time to eliminate everything that wouldn’t fit into our new trailer. While Bridget was reveling in the challenge, I was concerned with how little personal storage space we had. And while she was gratified to see how well her thoughtfully curated wardrobe fit with room to spare, my belongings sprawled in comparison. I hadn’t spent years refining choices like Bridget had. The change to trailer living was not an opportunity to test my minimalist principles. It was simply a matter of necessity for me since I could only bring what would fit.
So we did the work. We put in the effort to further simplify and downsize our lives, even giving up on favored “sentimental” items that were slogged around for a lifetime. And with each step of selling, gifting or donating items away came a lesson in how little value they truly hold.
So moving into a travel trailer didn’t make me a minimalist. Doing the work, ridding myself of the attachment and shifting my values from what I wanted to what I needed did.