Holiday living and minimalism

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How the other half live: the port at Bonifacio

I’m writing this from the beautiful French island of Corsica, which is situated close to its Italian neighbour, Sardinia.

It is very hot; the beach is full of young families enjoying the turquoise sea; and the summer season is well and truly open for business. Here, we are channelling previous trips to Greece and Spain, as bougainvillea lines the path to the shore and there are large cacti close by. Our 15 year old is working on her tan (in spite of me issuing her with SPF 50, of course!) and we are enjoying swimming in warm Mediterranean waters.

As I type, I’m enjoying some quiet time in the shade on the deck of the duplex apartment where we are self-catering for the week. We are very fortunate to be here: these lovely holiday lets are pretty upmarket, beautifully kept and – like the well-known Stella Artois advertisement – ‘reassuringly expensive’. That’ll be beans on toast for a while when we get back, then!

Interestingly, while we hear a few British voices here, this is a place where the French actually come for their summer holidays. The locals speak little English so I get to practice my rusty Français!

We all need relatively little to get by

As often when away, I am struck by how little you need to get by. Actually, we are not merely getting by; we are living well.

Of course, we don’t need the paraphernalia associated with everyday life whilst on vacation. Work ‘stuff’ is superfluous here, especially for our teenager who has been able to leave behind her school uniform, sports kit, text books, papers, flash cards and – thankfully – revision. School’s out for summer!

What we bring on holiday represents just a proportion of the life left behind at home, but the necessities we carry with us demonstrate how little we actually need on a day-to-day basis.

That includes clothes…

Colin Wright famously travels the world with only the items he needs inside a carry-on bag. The discipline of fitting everything into one small item of luggage forces you to prioritise: bring only what you will wear and only items that work with everything else.

This holiday, I packed light, knowing that we’d enjoy hot and sunny weather. Check out my Instagram post for the full list of what I brought. Everything mixes and matches and my little suitcase weighed just a modest 9kg against my 20kg allowance (inclusive of toiletries but without my books, which I carried with me).

I packed just 12 items of clothing (including shoes) and travelled in Reebok canvas trainers, lightweight jeans, t-shirt and navy jacket in a soft, jersey fabric.

For a week, you need little else. It follows, then, that we need far less on a day-to-day basis than we actually think.

Minimal make-up is just perfect

Stylist and colour expert Karen Blanc inspired me to try House of Colour’s 90 second make up. With a brush of mineral foundation, a sweep of blusher, a quick application of mascara and my ‘wow’ lippie, that’s really all I need.

So, maybe I can scale back a little back at home, too.

Habitual clock watching stops

Here’s a simple pleasure that really does add value to your day: leaving your watch at home. Not being driven by the clock is really lovely. If we want to enjoy the cooler part of the day and stay on the beach until almost 7 p.m., there’s nothing to stop us.

At home (and specifically at work), we are guided by the clock. There are signs of what time it is everywhere: wall clocks, personal hand-held devices, digital screens, personal computers and wrist watches.

Here, if we get hungry, we’ll walk back for something to eat. That brings me to simple eating.

Simple eating is the name of the game

Leaving behind cookbooks and shopping lists, here we buy whatever is in season. We combine locally-produced ingredients with whatever is available from the supermarket. As Jennifer of Simply Fiercely advocates, we enjoy ‘food assembly’ as opposed to following recipes. This is simple eating at its best and eating this way more frequently back at home seems appealing (and would save time when it comes to food preparation).

Holiday minimalism 

This kind of minimalism – ‘holiday minimalism’ – is a privilege that not everyone can afford. I know that.

But it reminds me that there’s so much in life that we hold onto, when we need little more than the items we carry with us on our EasyJet flight.

Simplifying our daily routines even further might just create more time and result in less expense. I’ve certainly been inspired to go back and give our home the final decluttering sweep I’ve been meaning to do.

What does holiday living teach you?


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