We survived 10 days using a mini fridge

We once stayed 10 days in an AirBnB studio apartment that had a dorm-size refrigerator. At first we worried it wouldn’t be sufficient to hold anything, but we quickly realized it actually offered more than enough space.

Two people staying 10 days doesn’t lend itself to a lot of food hoarding. Think of what’s typically consuming space in your fridge: the average person has an extensive condiment collection, one that has taken months to accumulate and maintain; then there’s a few gallons of milk, orange juice, and other beverages; they might have stocked up on bread and cheese, plus other bulk purchases or “two for one” deals that get you to buy more than you need. (Pro tip: when something is, let’s say, 3 for $5, you don’t actually have to buy 3 to get the deal. One will cost $1.67. (tweet that)) 

But, thanks to preservatives and extra space in the typical fridge, you can take your time and leave things in there awhile! And meanwhile, keep buying more!

When you’re only going to be somewhere for 10 days, you don’t stock up. You buy what you need and keep ingredient lists pretty simple.

Dinners usually consisted of rice, chicken, and vegetables. We’d buy the chicken the day of from a local shop, and bought only a few vegetables at a time which we kept in the fridge.

Another meal staple for us was sandwiches, which required sliced meat, mayo, and sprouts in the fridge, as well as any left over tomato and avocado. The lettuce we bought just happened to be hydroponic (it still had the roots on it) so we kept it in a bowl of water on the counter.

We bought a ton of fresh fruit because there were awesome farmer-owned fruit stands all over, and the fruit tasted amazing where we were visiting. This was a major part of our diets during our stay, and most of it didn’t need to be refrigerated. Also, eggs are perfectly fine outside the fridge, which blew my American mind.

Other miscellaneous refrigerated items included orange juice, apple sauce pouches, some butter, and a mini soy sauce.

Sometimes being forced into tight quarters shows you how little space you need. My boyfriend even remarked during our stay that he really doesn’t need his full-size fridge at home, and that he might switch to an efficiency-size (in between the dorm-size and the full-size).

One downside of that small fridge was that it was in a cabinet only a few inches off the floor. Bending down to get everything wasn’t as easy as standing up surveying your options. If I had a small fridge like that at home, I’d put it up higher!

I know for larger families, big refrigerators can be useful. Although how much of what’s in there actually needs to be refrigerated? Can your bread, butter, fruit, or eggs go on the counter/in the pantry? I know some people refrigerate everything, even apples, which is so strange to me! (Cold apples hurt my teeth biting into them.) But to each his own.

As for us, we learned on that trip that we can live with less than we have. Which is always an empowering feeling.

I’ve written before about buying groceries, and how stocking up can be tempting but can lead to way too much. I’ve realized that I prefer buying fresh foods more frequently, over buying frozen stuff that will last longer. Doing it this way lends itself to a smaller fridge, fresher food, and a more organized supply.

That’s what I’m trying these days. What about you?

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

What I’m packing for 2.5 months in South America

Awhile back I wrote a post on how to pack like a minimalist. This time, I’m sharing with you the specific things I’m bringing on an extended trip to South America.

My boyfriend and I are heading out from the USA to Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay, for a 10 week adventure. We’re staying in Air Bnbs and hostels, mostly in large coastal towns, with one inland city thrown in half way through.

I plan on spending the majority of my time on the beach, but anticipate lots and lots of walking around the city and some hiking outside the city. We are going in summer so the temperatures will be in the 70s-90s during our stay. We will have access to laundry at some of our apartments. We are each checking one large hiking pack on the flights, and each bringing a daypack as our carry-ons.

Here’s what I’m bringing for 70 days:

Clothes

  • dresses x4
  • short-sleeve tops x6 + long-sleeve top
  • sweatshirt
  • shorts
  • workout shorts + yoga leggings + workout top + sports bra
  • lightweight nightgown + bra + pasties
  • underwear x 20
  • socks x9
  • sunhat + swimsuits x3 + beach towel
  • scarf (functions as headwrap for dreads + beach sarong)
  • baseball cap
  • sneakers + sandals

Toiletries
  • Dailies contact lenses (30 pairs… monthlies would be better if I had any!)
  • sunscreen (spf 50 sport + oil-free x2 for my face — and I’m sure we’ll buy more there)

 

  • makeup bag (2 shades lipstain, under-eye concealer, eyelash curler, mascara, mineral foundation ( + small one in darker shade to mix in as I get more tan), mineral blush, foundation brush, blush brush, tweezers, nail file)

 

 

  • shampoo
  • face wash x2
  • St. Ives exfoliating scrub
  • razor
  • natural deodorant + himalayan salt deodorant bar (both being natural, neither is perfect so I often wear both at the same time)
  • toothbrush + toothpaste + floss
  • bar of soap
  • mineral bath (bit unnecessary but we might want to indulge after the long flights 😉 )
  • bandaids (waterproof and regular)
Gadgets
  • cell phone + charger
  • laptop + charger + case
  • headphones + headphone splitter
  • Spotify playlists + podcasts/audio books downloaded
  • outlet adapters
Documents
  • passport + driver’s license (and photocopies)
  • saved pdfs of hotel/flight confirmations (accessible without wifi)
  • saved Google maps (accessible without wifi)
  • credit card + debit card + cash
Odds and Ends

  • herbal tea (Air Bnb’s often only have caffeinated teas stocked)
  • cbd oil
  • melatonin
  • Dramamine
  • toilet paper
  • handkerchiefs x2
  • sunglasses + case ( + Rx sunglasses + case)
  • crossbody handbag + daypack

And that’s it!

Update: If anyone’s curious, when I checked the hiking bag at the airport check-in, it weighed 17-20 lbs (differed a bit from airport to airport). Not bad! That was with everything listed above inside, minus the daypack which I had taken out to be my carry on, and inside the daypack I had my electronics, crossbody handbag, handkerchiefs, and some snacks we bought for the flight. The daypack weighed 6.5lbs.

Did I forget anything? Let me know if I missed one of your must-haves in the comments!

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

How to pack like a minimalist

Any time I go on a trip, I try to pack lightly. But pretty much everyone says that, don’t they?

Well, let’s start by defining “lightly”. I define it similarly to how I define minimalism: everything you need and nothing more. Except with travel I would say to try and bring even a little less than what you might need. Think of it more as getting by.

At home, I might want to wear a different outfit every day this week. But on vacation, I can easily get by with a few repeats. At home, I prefer to read paperback books. But I can easily get by with ebooks, and so on.

Things to consider when packing
  • Trip duration (how few outfits can I get by with?)
  • Weather conditions (long sleeves, short sleeves, both?)
  • Anticipated activities (hiking boots, beach towel, nice outfit for dinner, modest outfit for visiting a temple?)
  • Storage space on the airplane (will I need to check this bag? how much will that cost?)
  • Risk of losing an item (is it worth bringing my favorite bracelet?)
  • Alternates to your current routine (can I buy coffee at a cafe this week instead of bringing my french press? can I wear my hair curly this week and leave my flat iron at home?)
  • Travel mates’ items (can we share one tube of toothpaste instead of bringing two?)
  • Downtime (will I even have time to read or work on my knitting project there?)
Type of luggage to bring

I do not need a whole luggage set. You do not need a whole luggage set. Luggage sets are for people who over-pack. (tweet that) You really only need one big bag and one small bag. (And just use one of them per trip.)

I used to always admire people in airports who effortlessly pulled along their single piece of small luggage. It looked so easy and manageable. And there I’d be with my huge, heavy bag weighing me down, double checking that I didn’t leave my handbag or smaller carry-on on the seat behind me.

The more bags you have, the more you have to keep track of. The easier it is to leave one behind or for it to get snagged by someone with bad intentions. Any smaller bag I have such as a laptop bag or handbag all fit inside my main bag, so when I’m moving around, I have only one thing to keep track of.

Clothes

All the clothes I bring follow these guidelines:

  • it’s comfortable
  • it doesn’t need ironing
  • it’s not too bulky or heavy
  • it can be paired with multiple outfits to get multiple wears on the trip
  • it’s not super valuable or special to me

Remember that you have many opportunities to wear something once you’re back home and conditions are different. Do you need to also wear it while on vacation?

Toiletries + Accessories

Again, think about what activities you’ll be doing. Do you really need makeup if you’ll be hiking or on the beach all day? If you’re having one fancy night out, can you get away with wearing your everyday makeup with maybe just one shade of eye shadow to add to it? What areas of your skincare routine can be skipped while you’re away?

Can you wear the same pair of earrings, the same bracelet, and carry the same handbag the whole trip? Wear the same watch, the same tie, the same belt? Usually the answer is yes. (And no one will notice.)

Shoes

Bring only your lightest pairs of shoes and avoid clunky wedges or boots. I like thin sandals for the beach and a basic pair of (comfy) sneakers for walking. The sandals I wear (similar) are casual, but clean and nice, so they pair perfectly with sundresses for both day and night.

Don’t bring new shoes unless you break them in first. I bought some zero-drop shoes because I knew I’d be doing a lot of walking and hiking on an upcoming trip, and wanted shoes that would be both versatile and healthy for my feet. I bought them about a month before I left and wore them around the house to break them in and also to get my feet and knees used to how barefoot shoes feel.

Books + Music

Do yourself a favor and download all the entertainment you’ll need for the plane and bus rides while you’re still at home and have wifi. Trying to do it on the go can be a hassle and take up precious vacation time, so I like to make myself a few playlists and “borrow” audio books from my local library’s app ahead of time. You can always do more of this on the trip but it’s nice to have at least a few things in case you’re unexpectedly caught without wifi at the last minute. If you go with a paperback book, borrowing from the library is a great option for a trip shorter than a few weeks.

Maintain perspective

Sometimes we start packing so many things and the fear sets in that we might be forgetting something crucial. To calm my nerves about forgetting something, I remind myself that the only thing I really need to be comfortable is a toothbrush. And then of course I remind myself that I can buy one of those anywhere. And then I really feel extra-comfortable with all the luxuries I know I’ve remembered to bring.

Scuba diving in Missouri? Good thing I brought my wet suit!

Being prepared allows you to be spontaneous on your trip. So it can be tempting to over-pack just in case an occasion arises. But really think about the likelihood of an activity before packing for it. And see if something you’re bringing already can double as usable for the activity (for example, bring full length yoga pants instead of shorts for working out, and they can double as an outfit that covers you for a more modest occasion.) And if you do find yourself completely unprepared, you can usually rent equipment or borrow from someone else once you’re there.

Leave your expenses behind

If you’re going to be gone for a month or longer in another country and you’re on a month-to-month cell phone plan, consider cancelling your service while you’re away. With so many other ways to stay in touch, I can easily get by without texting and phone calls (and their international charges!)

Consider pausing other monthly expenses like Netflix or music apps if you wont have time to get your money’s worth while on vacation.

 

Those are my tips for packing like a pro minimalist! If you have more tips, please share them in the comments below.

Safe travels!

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.