I watched a TED talk once by Jaime Lerner who was the major who transformed a city in Brazil called Curitiba.  He talked about downsizing and redesigning a city and how ‘creativity begins when you drop two zeroes from the budget’. I think the same applies to minimalist living. In fact, when you drop just one zero from the number of things you pack, you find yourself making do in the most fantastic and creative ways! I have always packed to anticipate everything from twisted ankles to earthquakes and as part of my downsizing journey, I am reassessing this philosophy!

Do You Have “Just in Case” Items in Your Home?

I have written about my travel packing style and how I always carry a “Just in Case” bag.  I have sworn by it for years. Like so many things we accumulate mindlessly, it became part of my life. But on my last short trip to Porto, I forgot to pack my just in case bag. And guess what? None of the “just in case” scenarios happened. I thankfully didn’t break my ankle or lose my glasses. I traveled lighter mentally and physically. I would like to propose that also applies to all those “just in case” items you have stored in your home.

It’s Good to Be Prepared but Creativity is the Key

Now there are admittedly some times when being prepared is a good thing. It’s hard to be a minimalist with a 2-year-old toddler for example. I learned this yesterday as I went out to buy shoes for my little grandson. The buggy was stuffed with things that just might be needed on our 4 hours trip into town. Even though paraphernalia that had been reduced to its simplest level, it did include extra clothes, including nappies, tops, trousers and socks, juice, wipes, towel, blanket, extra coat, lunchbox, biscuits, and his favorite teddy – you get the picture. Strangely enough, all we actually needed were the biscuits.

Exploring the “Just In Case” Mentality

There just always seems so much you need to bring ‘just in case’. And it is that mentality I think that then becomes the default in deciding how to pack, how to live. You pack everything except the proverbial ‘kitchen sink’ just in case you need them. Nine times out of ten you don’t actually end up needing most of what you thought would be absolutely essential. But nevertheless, the stress of knowing that you have that ankle brace, first aid kit, magnifying glass, nail polish remover, extra batteries of all sizes, small screwdriver, pair of spare eyeglasses. 

Traveling with the “All I Need” Instead of “All I Might Need”

I used to worry too much about being prepared when traveling. I always felt the need to pack for the “just in case” instead of being comfortable with the ‘all I need’. Everyone has their own list of must have’s but I’ve now boiled it down to 21 items. They fit in one carry on suitcase and one backpack for laptop and technology items. Generously, I am letting myself include chargers with all technology items.

So in addition to the outfit I am wearing for travel (long sleeve top, pants, boots, jacket, shawl and hat) my passport, meds, phone and charger are the only things in my crossover bag. In addition, I carry a universal plug converter, extra phone battery, 2 pairs of trousers, 2 tops, 4 undies, 1 dress, 1 pair of tights, 1 pair of shoes, pearl necklace, funky necklace, sparkly evening top, and one makeup palette.

First aid kit including and medicines are essential, not just in case. That’s my travel kit. Any city on earth will have any other item.  I’ve pushed this pretty hard in India and Eastern Europe. I can’t think of a single item, not on this list that I could not improvise or do without. What have I missed?

So, my advice to myself on this challenging downsizing journey is to just relax and let go of the need for those ‘just in case’ items. It’s unlikely the thing you want to be prepared for will happen. My teeth won’t fall out if i miss brushing them one night. Reading glasses can be found in drug stores around the world. Batteries are miraculously in every street corner kiosk!

For many people, holding on to things with a just in case mentality reflects a fear of not having enough. It is infused with worry that being unprepared is a flaw to be addressed with the purchase of more stuff “just in case”. Downsizing takes us to a place where we have the opportunity to embrace the wonderful serendipity and unpredictable nature of life with a smile and trust in our own creativity.

Do you have items in your house or life that you purchased “just in case”.  What things are they and are you ready to let them go?    



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