How little we really need

Every time I go on a long vacation I am reminded of how little one really needs to live a comfortable and functional lifestyle. My husband and I often stay in Airbnb places when on vacation. These small apartments usually come supplied with a minimal, and varying, amount of crockery, cutlery, pots, pans, utensils etc to prepare and eat meals. They also have minimal linen, towels, bedding, furniture and appliances for you comfort and needs. And sometimes there are some extra items such as books, games, stationary and cooking ingredients etc. 

As an example, we stayed in one Airbnb place in Berlin for almost three months, a year or so back, and we not only managed to cook and eat lovely meals, be comfortable and function as normal, we also marvelled at how much we loved the minimalism of it all.

On every vacation we limit ourselves to carry on luggage only, which usually means a total of 7kg per person. Which includes clothing, shoes, toiletries, electronic equipment and any other accessories we think we will need.

As I type this I am sitting in an Airbnb apartment in Downtown Wellington in New Zealand. It is cold outside as winter is on its way but we are snug and warm after just enjoying a home cooked meal of Scotch fillet steak, broccoli, mashed pumpkin and fried onion and mushrooms. That was after doing our washing which is drying on an airer in front of the oil heater in the bedroom. Almost our entire wardrobe of clothing is on that airer except for the clothes we will wear tomorrow, as we only wash about every five days and only carry enough clothes with us for about a week. Which is more than enough.

In my downtime I have a book to read, a sudoku puzzle book to work on, my cell phone with games etc to amuse me with, and what I need to knit a pair of socks. My husband also brought two card games for us to play. So along with good food and creature comforts and clothing we also have plenty of entertainment.

In fact we enjoy the lifestyle so much that we are always a little sad to leave our homes away from home when we move on, or head home. But when we are away and living like this we often find ourselves discussing why we still own so much at home, which isn’t that much bigger. It is a good chance to reassess and there is often a bit of decluttering that goes on soon after our return.

The fact is that we do own more at home than we need and we choose to do so. But we could, if we chose, live with a whole lot less. At the same time we do own a vast quantity less than most people which just goes to show how much excess there is in todays Western Society. What many people don’t realise is that the excess usually does not enhance their lives but limits it in many ways. I am glad to have shed that kind of burden and will continue to limit what I acquire and most likely eliminate more and more from what I still have.

Just like a bird who can not fly free if it carries too much weight I do not wish to be held down by the burden of my stuff or what the cost of acquiring stuff limits how far I can afford to roam. Because getting out in the world broadens my horizons and my mind.

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. Good post Colleen. I think you are totally right. I would see living they way you vacation.

    • I don’t think I would like to go quite that far as I do get kind of tired of the same old few clothes for months on end. However I do love this simpler life we lead while away so less stuff at home is most certainly doable.

  2. Maybe have two weeks worth of clothes then. Grin.

  3. Hi Colleen,

    So glad you are enjoying your vacation and Sudoku (I love it!) 🙂

    You make many good points in this post. I am chomping at the bit until sometime next year, when I expect to be able to declutter in earnest. I believe I will have my husbands support, as he is equally frustrated by the mess we live with now. (For the benefit of other readers, our elder daughter & her toddlers -3&4yo- live with us. They are lovable but not at all neat.) Our daughter did straighten up quite a bit yesterday. Not sure she did any decluttering! Because she and her kids have so much stuff, it usually doesn’t stay “in order” more than a week or two.

    Excellent post 🙂 🙂 🙂

  4. Colleen, I loved this post. I created a lovely mental picture of you and your hubby in the small apt.
    I have dreamed my whole life of living in a small space. As it is, I have LOTS of space. And I am still working on emptying some of it. I have another box and some small pieces of furniture ready to go to the thrift very soon. Gotta borrow a truck.

    So glad you are enjoying your vacation!!!!

  5. Colleen, you will have to reintroduce yourself to all of us back here in Newcastle 😉 I’m glad to hear you are enjoying yourself .
    Holidays are good for a lot of reasons.
    I like to take the oldest or least worn clothes on a ‘ one way trip’. They don’t get packed for the return trip home.

  6. Another fantastic post Colleen. Reminds me of how much I too love travel and its minimal things – maximum experiences 🙂

  7. I could not agree more, traveling broadens horizons in inimaginable ways… I loved reading about your 3 month Berlin experience and wonder if I could do something like that.

  8. I’ve found the same to be so true. When we’ve traveled and stayed in vacation rentals, I always realize how much easier and simpler it is to have such a minimal amount. I come home and get rid of more stuff I just really don’t need.