Practicing Minimalism through Camping
I think a lot of us have been attracted to the term "minimalism" lately. What's not to love about living a simpler lifestyle that reduces responsibilities and debt? With a minimalist mindset, your "starter" home can easily be a happy forever home. Getting dressed in the morning takes very little effort and no stress. Chores are simplified because, hey, you have a lot less stuff to keep clean and tidy. Even your life schedule can be made minimal when you allow yourself to say no to projects, actives, memberships and events that will surely overwhelm you.
The thing is, most of us aren't starting off from square one. We already have amassed all the sentimental and "still useful" stuff, the debt, and the habits that lead to becoming overwhelmed and overworked. Even the amount of social media we consume and contribute to counts towards our mental stuff pile. The process of living with less is daunting.
Here's a little story. Back in the summer of 2014, we took a roadtrip from Winnipeg to Yellowstone National Park in Montanta & Wyoming. Unfortunately, our van's engine died a quick and painful death near a rural town in Montana. For the next two weeks we would experience forced minimalism that changed my perspective forever.
During this time we lived out of 60 sq/ft of space in our vintage 1976 Boler trailer. As you can imagine, 4 people in that small of a space can provide a challenge. I had planned for a few nights of summer weather and very little time spent at camp, since there was so much to see and do. The challenge increased with unexpectedly cold and wet weather conditions that forced us to take shelter, rather than spending as much time outdoors. Here, we learned quickly how important it is to carefully plan what you need in a small living space, and what will eventually cause undue clutter and stress. That time, we were not prepared and it made a difficult situation even harder. Since then, I've been working toward building the most minimal, functional environment we can for our little Eggie.
The process is teaching me a lot. I've learned that spending more on an item doesn't always make it more functional. Sometimes the simplest solution is the best one. We are also working toward making the trailer itself more functional. This is where our money is better spent. As in any home, when it is well cared for, it's easier to keep running with less effort in the long term. Lastly, I've begun to compile a list of contents within the Boler. I'll share my findings when we're done, which will happen after the first few camps of the year. I always discover something I've missed (or in our new mindset, that we didn't really need or use). My goal is that by the end of this summer, we will have streamlined our "tiny home" environment to the point where we could enjoy a week or more living in 60 square feet without stress or sacrifice. By that I mean, no making-do, no compromise, no degradation of quality of life over the days. I mean happily being able to live and play, come what may, in our little minimalist home on wheels. Through this process, I plan on using my findings in our traditional house to create the best living environment I can for our family.
If you have any suggestions on what you do to make camping / trailer living simple and stress free, let me know in the comments!