Minimalism and nomadism have a lot in common. Six years ago we became a minimalist family. Almost three years ago we became a nomad family. Now we are a minimalist nomad family living in Tokyo, Japan.
I created this website and my coaching programs to help other families take a straighter path to their end goal. There were so many starts, stops, twists, and turns on our journey that could have been avoided if we knew more at the time.
Use my trial and errors as a guide to do things faster, cheaper, and easier than my family. Become a minimalist nomad family despite all the naysayers. This is your life and you should live the way you want to live.
What is a Minimalist?
A minimalist is someone who chooses to possess less stuff despite the cultural norms. There are varying degrees of minimalism, but the overall movement encompasses the idea that stuff doesn’t hold feelings, memories, or happiness.
When a family chooses to engage in a minimalist lifestyle they are rejecting the accumulation aspiration. Instead of being beholden to stuff they are focused on experiences, connections, and memories. A minimalist is free from the arbitrary conditions of social expectations.
This might all sound so foreign, because a person suck in the consumer hamster wheel believes they are free and happy and connected. But, your understanding of those concepts are all tethered to generally accepted definitions. You aren’t free if you are spending more time doing stuff you don’t want to do than you spend doing what you do want to do.
What is a Nomad?
A nomad is someone who moves from place to place. Historically nomads were commonly found to move based on seasonality of a region. They would move based on ability to find food or having access to safe shelter.
These days the idea of moving based on horrific weather is admonished as radical. The mere suggestion that people living in New Orleans or Florida consider alternative locations is shut down immediately. Instead the sentiment is to dig in and buckle down. People putting themselves up against mother nature is unlikely to end well.
Modern day nomads typically move by choice. Although, that is debatable.
Among full-time travel circles the nomads are people who live in locations for a more temporary time frame. While the term expat is used for people who are settled in one particular location outside their country of origin. The specific time frames are fuzzy and depend on that person’s understanding of the terms.
If you were to ask me, I refer to us as a slowmad family. In my opinion an expat is more integrated into the community through a job or local school and possibly even obtaining a passport or voting rights. However, the term nomad doesn’t feel right either since we intend to stay in locations for 1-3 years. Instead, I’ve settled on being a slowmad family. We slowly move to international destinations at our pleasure.
Can Parents Become a Minimalist Digital Nomad?
Of course you can be a parent and a minimalist digital nomad. Both lifestyles prioritize simplicity, freedom, and flexibility. I would argue that the only way you could become a nomad family is to also become a minimalist family.
Minimalism is all about downsizing your possessions and decluttering your life, while nomadism is about embracing a life on the move. When we started our nomad family adventure we had eight suitcases. Each person was supposed to lug two suitcases through airports, up stairs, and down random streets. Over time we continued optimizing our situation and now only bring six suitcases from place to place.
The silver lining of the pandemic has been the pivot toward remote income. Neither my husband or myself are the typical travel influencers that made Instagram so famous. We earn income remotely and our kids attend an in person international school.
Why Go from Minimalist to Nomadic?
One of the main benefits of minimalism is the freedom it provides. By decluttering your life, you free up space, time, money, and energy.
But what if you could take it a step further and embrace a life on the move? By becoming a minimalist nomad, you can travel the world, work from anywhere, and enjoy life to the fullest.
Minimalism is all about living with only the essentials. And when you’re a minimalist nomad, you take this idea to the extreme.
You pack your life into a suitcase, and you’re free to go wherever you want, whenever you want. So many of the manufactured problems of a “normal” life just disappear when you’re on the road.
You get to see new places, meet new people, and experience new cultures. People on their deathbed always express regret over the things they didn’t do. There is very rarely a mention of regretting what they did do.
When my kids look back on their life they will be filled with crazy memories. Remember the year we lived in a mansion in the Dominican Republic? What about the time we met Japanese kids in Thailand and spent the day at the trampoline park? Didn’t you love when the staff in Cairo would make you that orange and strawberry juice combo every morning? They will have all sorts of wild stories that will bring endless joy in their old age.
Oh, and for those of you wondering how I could rip my kids away from family. I convinced my parents to move with us! Our kids have family, friends, and freedom. And do you know what memory they will not be reflecting on as adults? Active shooter drills. My kids will not be doing any of those in any country we choose.
How to Start a Minimalist Nomadic Lifestyle
Summing up six years of my life into five bullet points is a little comical. It all sounds so easy looking back, but I recognize that lots of scary choices need to happen during this process.
It’s my intention to create a library of resources for aspiring nomad, slowmad, and expat families. If you have questions or need support, please reach out. The struggles you are feeling are valid and understandable on every level.
The first step in becoming a minimalist nomad is to declutter your life. Get rid of everything you don’t need, use, or love. Sell, donate, or recycle your possessions, and keep only the essentials.
Don’t set yourself up to need a storage unit, that will be a financial drain moving forward. Minimizing your house gives you the opportunity to use it as a full-time Airbnb as you travel the world.
Once you’ve decluttered your life, it’s time to plan your nomadic journey. Figure out where you want to go, how you want to get there, and what you need to bring with you.
However much planning you want to do, cut that by 75%. Very little of the planning that you are able to do remotely will have a direct effect on your end result once you arrive.
Staying in the planning phase is a fun middle ground to taking action. But, it can prevent you from ever moving forward. There will always be an article that says that country or city is too dangerous or expensive or rude to foreigners. Your experience will be so unique that you should take those opinions with a grain of salt.
Our family went from seeing a YouTube video in September of 2020 to living in the Dominican Republic by November of 2020. If everything is a disaster upon arrival, you can always come up with a new plan.
Once you’ve planned your journey, it’s time to pack. Make sure you have everything you need, and nothing you don’t. Pack light, and pack smart.
Remember, kids exist in the location you are traveling to. You don’t need to pack as if you are going to the moon with absolutely no resources. There will be replacement shoes or beanies if it’s cold. If it rains there, obviously they will sell umbrellas.
The beauty of nomadism is that you don’t know what’s going to happen next. Embrace the uncertainty, and let life take you on an adventure.
When we landed in Dominican Republic it was Thanksgiving. We stayed at a hotel for several days on the east coast of the island. Then we hired a car to drive us 4 hours to a small town on the north coast of the island. In that city we had a 2 day Airbnb reservation and a tour set up at the school I had seen on YouTube.
Everything just clicked. We loved the principal. The weather was perfect. Everyone was so nice. It was so safe that our kids could roam the streets anytime. Would that have been obvious based on the feedback we were getting from loved ones? Nope.
Finally, enjoy the journey. Travel the world, meet new people, and experience new cultures. And above all, enjoy life to the fullest. Be ready to pivot your ideas. I envisioned a walkable beach lifestyle so initially we didn’t get a car. A couple months down the road it became obvious a car would make our lives easier, so we got one.
By the end of our time in Dominican Republic our favorite restaurants knew us, we made lifelong friends, and our kids are begging to go back.
Nomadism for Families
Going from minimalist to nomadic is an exciting and rewarding journey for families. By combining the benefits of minimalism and nomadism, you can embrace a life on the move, and enjoy life to the fullest.
If you’re ready to take the leap, start decluttering your stuff, and start planning your nomadic journey today!