My journey into minimalism started a year before I departed. A chance holiday in Spain inspired me to sell all of my belongings so I could live out of a backpack. I figured that would allow me to travel easily because I wouldn’t have to worry about transporting all of my stuff or pay for an apartment to store everything back home.
My initial plan upon leaving the US was to travel indefinitely as long as I didn’t get tired of it. I’ve moved around my whole life, living all over the US (and briefly abroad as a child). To me, travelling nomadically didn’t seem like it would be much different from my life in the US when it came to being in perpetual motion. Once I sold everything I owned, I boarded a one-way flight to the UK with my bag full of possessions and stepped into the unknown. My first destination would be Glasgow, a city I had never visited before.
Two months into my stay in Scotland, I met Kuba at Edinburgh Waverley railway station. He also started his minimalist journey around the same time I did and surprisingly, he also had plans to start travelling full-time down the road. We dated for a few months and then I left the UK to start travelling around Europe by myself. Six months later, when I returned to Scotland, we got married and decided to embark on a journey together. He quit his job and we headed to Spain’s Costa del Sol, officially starting our nomadic adventure through Europe.
We travelled around for a year carrying everything we owned on our backs and then started our next project: converting a van!
Van Life Ends in Poland
A year after living in our van (and Airbnb’s—I wasn’t quite prepared for van life in the summer!) we moved to Kraków, Poland and rented an apartment. We wanted a break from van life and I wanted to apply for a Polish residency permit. The main requirement is that I have a permanent address in Poland (and that I actually live in the place) so we resided in Kraków for a year.
While based in Kraków, we were more conscious of our plastic waste when it came to food. Our kitchen wasn’t completely zero waste but we were able to buy the majority of our food without plastic packaging or any packaging at all. It felt good knowing we could minimise our trash and focus on healthier foods instead. It took some time to figure out where to shop but eventually we found plenty of food without plastic packaging.
This wasn’t so easy while living in the van. It was hard for us because we wouldn’t stay in one place long enough to sort out which shops had bulk bins. We also didn’t stock up on food because we couldn’t store much in the van. We still ate significant amounts of fresh produce but we also lived off of canned foods, bread, rice, and pasta.
Our Tiny House Dreams
We both enjoyed travelling full-time and living in the van, but that lifestyle is completely different from the lifestyle we seek now. Our goals simply have changed. Van life gave us the freedom to drive anywhere and visit new places. Building a tiny house, on the other hand, gives us something we can’t have while travelling 24/7. Staying put allows us to create a self-sustainable homestead.
Staying in one place also gave us the opportunity to adopt Ajka. While plenty of people travel with their dog (or dogs), we didn’t want to force Ajka into that kind of lifestyle. She’s happy living in the Polish countryside and she likes a daily routine just as much as we do.
Ultimately, our goal with our tiny house is to be as self-sustainable as we can and as close to zero-waste as possible. We are only two months into building the house so we still have a long way to go. Next year we will start a garden and figure out a rainwater collection system. These are just a few small steps in the right direction.
This doesn’t mean we won’t travel anymore, but we definitely won’t be flying across the world for a holiday anytime soon. We can just travel closer to home instead. 🙂