What Travel Can Teach Us About Minimalism

Photo by Edward Crowe

By : Ashley Mingesz

While basking in warm December sun at the top of a pyramid in Uxmal, Mexico, I mused at a familiar feeling I have every time I find myself in a beautiful new place. I’m amazed by how few material possessions I require to be fulfilled when they aren’t available to me. A language barrier greatly reduces ones choices. I’m guilty of misusing my freedom while in my own environment. With this freedom I fill far too many of my thoughts and spend my time fulfilling utilitarian desires, instead of focusing on creativity and my center. When in a situation where I have no choice but to go with the flow, I’m inspired by how heightened my senses become. My ability to savor each smell, sound, person and moment isn’t interrupted by compulsion or availability of distraction.

Everything about travel enables us to reevaluate what is important to us. It  encourages introspection which can be hard to come by in our everyday lives. Packing light is essential to visiting remote places. I find a sense of peace in living with the bare essentials and am consistently surprised at what those essentials end up being. My mental load and my expectations become lighter as well when in a place where I can’t always ask for or access what I want.

Meal times are a favorite reprieve for me when traveling. In most instances there will be no menu and if there is, I generally can’t read it. The freedom and absence of needing so much control is something I always endeavor to implement into my life when I return home.

The ease of acceptance is what I crave while in my sanctuary, and is one of the things that creates such relaxation when traveling. I know I can live and thrive with fewer material things as well as less mental noise. The comforts of home and having every little thing I may need at my fingertips tends to create physical and mental clutter if I’m not selective.

I’m becoming more mindful of the importance attached to each possession big and small, because it shares my sanctuary and collectively creates it. Letting go of things I know I’ll need later is quite difficult. When the time comes where I do need that one thing I decided to purge, I feel joy. That thing and many other things haven’t taken up space in my life while I wouldn’t have even been thinking about them. These many small useful future comforts which i would have historically maneuvered around hadn’t cluttered my space in all this time. When someday inevitably comes, it feels completely worth it to acquire said useful item again.

Immersing myself in remote culture inspires me to appreciate my own privilege, while learning what can be accomplished with far less. In many cases, endless choices can burden our minds while seemingly uncomplicating our lives. I find minimalism benefits reach far beyond relieving myself of objects. Decluttering my mental space has proven to be one of the most helpful self care strategies. I didn’t realize the amount of emotional labor I was engaged in before removing myself from my routine.

Sometimes getting out of my comfort zone is all it takes to reset what the brain craves and attaches importance to. I’ve learned to place emphasis on what brings me into myself. The sun on my skin when I walk onto the patio to have my morning matcha, smelling the fresh morning air and taking in the sounds of the animals and plants living their lives, this centers my soul.

Travel is what inspires me to approach every day as though it’s a new and exciting sensory experience.

About the author: Ashley Mingesz is a lifestyle, travel and documentary writer, in collaboration with photographer and film maker Edward Crowe. Follow her on Instagram @Ashleymingmua.

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