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  • Caitrin McElroy

The Joy of Traveling as a Minimalist

Jonathan and I went on a trip to Chicago last weekend.

Before we left, we ran a few last minute errands, including a fresh haircut for Jonathan. We mentioned that we were leaving for Chicago as we were getting ready to leave the barbershop, and the receptionist said, “Oooh fun! Going up there to do some shopping?”

Both of us let out an awkward chuckle, and we must’ve had perplexed looks on our faces. The woman quickly followed up with, “that’s what’s on my mind at least!”

We’ve talked about it before, but we find the idea of shopping while on vacation so….bizarre. And yet, it is such a common activity for folks headed out of town.

Imagine a vacation—the planning and the going—that only entails consuming experiences. Visiting museums to learn and admire. Going to restaurants to try the locals’ favorite meals. Finding parks to take a relaxing stroll. Hopping on the train and figuring out where you’re going along the way. Stopping at a bench with a nice view to people watch because you have nowhere else to be.

Not sweating among droves of tourists in a fancy department store only to buy things you could buy online or at home. Not having to budget for shopping. Not spending time buying things when you could be out exploring a new place.

That’s the joy of minimalist travel for me and Jonathan.

More time for experiences.

More time for learning.

More time for exploration.

More time to relax.

By eliminating the material excess in our lives, we reap the rewards even in the places we least anticipate it. By eliminating the “stuff,” we earn all the more time to live.


While we are minimalists, there are some things that we do collect. Check in next week to learn more about the way we remember our trips—mementos included—while keeping consuming at bay!

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