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Am I a Fake Minimalist?

Having moved several times to smaller and smaller homes, I’ve become somewhat of an expert on downsizing and living with less stuff. But have I truly embraced minimalism? While I strive to extract extraneous things from my life, you won’t find me living in a stark white apartment eating ramen noodles every night. And I’m not about to sell everything I own and move into a 200-square-foot tiny house.

I think everyone can benefit from simplifying their lives and living with less things. But how you go about it, and to what extent, is a personal choice. Here are a few ways I’ve incorporated minimalism in my life and where I’ve chosen not to be as minimalistic.

Packing what you need

I admire those YouTubers who can pack for a three-week trip in one tote bag, but that’s not me. I have so many lotions and potions I can’t live without. Not to mention my umpteen vitamins and supplements, wrist braces, eye mask, exercise straps and more. The older I get, the more accoutrements I require. Especially when I’m traveling for six weeks to three months at a time.

I may never be carry-on only for an overseas flight like I was in my 30s. For one thing, I can’t bench press 40 pounds over my head to get a full-size carryon suitcase into the overhead bin. I do bring a rolling carry-on bag, but it’s small, light and not overstuffed. Note, my epic failure when I took only a 20-inch Carry-on Bag and Tote Bag for Six Weeks in the UK. However, packing light does make travel easier. For one-week, intercontinental trips from my home in France, I’ll strive to go carry-on only.

One thing that’s helped me pack lighter is creating a capsule travel wardrobe where everything mixes and matches. My travel wardrobe is a micro version of my larger capsule wardrobe.

Creating a capsule wardrobe

My clothes closet is the area of my life where I’ve done the most purging, having given away 70 percent of my wardrobe. It’s simplified my life and saved me money both now and in the future. My everyday wardrobe contains only six colors: caramel brown, warm pinks, moss green, grey, maroon and denim. I don’t buy anything that doesn’t work with what I already have — no matter how much I like it. You may be curious as to Why I Stopped Wearing Black.

A big mistake I made was not keeping clothes I loved because they were out of style. Now that I pay attention to the broader fashion trends, I realize everything comes back in style eventually. If you have a quality piece you love, it’s okay to pack it away and wait till it comes back into fashion.

Keeping what you love

From the overall appearance of my home, it may seem like I’m a minimalist, but you’re not seeing my cupboards stuffed with my teacup and teapot collections, and several sets of dishware. Being more of a minimalist doesn’t mean doing away with what brings you joy. You might be into collecting books or stamps or model airplanes. Keep them, use them and love them. If you have the space, find a way to incorporate collections into your décor.

Staying mindful of what you bring into your life

I believe this is the secret to true minimalism. Since buying a home in France that needs furnishings and new décor, I’ve made a conscious effort not to repeat the mistakes of the past. As I’ve learned, it’s easy to accumulate and it’s a whole lot of work to get rid of stuff.

Setting up a new household is a good opportunity to keep minimalism in mind. Whereas in the past I’ve purchased kitchen appliances and tools I rarely used, I only want to buy the essentials I need on a daily basis. I’m staying conscious and aware of what I’m bringing into my home. No matter how cute something is, or how great a deal it is, before anything enters my home, I ask myself if it’s something I need and/or want, and will I use it enough to justify the purchase price and the cost of maintaining it. Here’s more information on how to Practice Mindful Minimalism.


Simplifying your life and living with less are worthy goals with great benefits. But you don’t need to go to extremes. Find the level of minimalism that supports your lifestyle and is sustainable in the long run.

As I continue to let go of what no longer serves me and stay conscious of what I bring into my life, I am creating a consistent practice of minimalism. So perhaps I’m not a fake minimalist after all.

Let me know in the comments below how you have embraced minimalism.



Hi, I’m Lori Cronwell. As a writer and frequent traveler, I admire the values most Europeans embrace: choosing quality over quantity; residing in smaller, more sustainable homes; working less and spending more time with friends and family.

Those values were key in my decision to drastically downsize to a 700 sq. ft. accessory dwelling unit (ADU) with the goal of creating a simpler, more sumptuous life with time for travel.

Slow travel, that is. Spending more time in one place — even if it’s just a week. You'll not only spend less, you'll discover a deeper and more meaningful travel experience.

Please subscribe below and join me on a journey to find affordable ways to explore Europe in the slow lane and to live a more European lifestyle every day of our lives.

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