I have spent the last 7 months living out of a 35L backpack. Not literally: I’ve had access to dressers and closets in that time. The places I’ve been staying have been well stocked: beds, sheets, kitchenware, etc. But my possessions, the things I own, either fit in this backpack or have been in a storage unit.

What do I miss most? Most critically, a bicycle. I refer to the bicycles I’ve owned as the best “happiness-per-dollar” purchases I’ve ever made. So I’ve sought out bicycles to rent, buy and borrow everywhere I’ve been. Under lockdown this is maybe less important, there are fewer places to go, but being able to take a long ride, see the city, and just cover distance under my own power is one of the most fun and necessary capabilities in my life.

There’s also a large water bottle that I think about most days. I could easily buy another one, but I haven’t. It holds 1.5 liters of water, is covered in stickers, and is virtually indestructible.

Also, my travel backpack is pretty inconvenient as a day pack. I have a drawstring “backpack” that I can use for small trips but it would be so nice to have a real backpack for day trips as well.

I don’t love having to do laundry quite this often. If I stretch, I can go about 9 days between loads, but the “comfortable” cadence is probably 7 days. That’s more frequent than I’d like.

My relationship with clothes has changed too, of course. My wardrobe now is functional and a bit drab. Sometimes it’s nice to stand out, but I don’t really have that option at the moment. If you want, you can pack limited but lively; in the future I’d probably lean more in that direction. When I get dressed, I have fewer choices, which is reputed to ameliorate choice fatigue. I haven’t noticed this much, and it’s probably offset by some minor inconveniences of often not having the right gear for a situation.

Shoes are kind of a pain. They’re so bulky, especially men’s shoes. You can have one “big” pair of shoes if you can handle wearing them every time you need to travel. If you want to go running or hiking, you’ll need shoes for those, of course.

I’ve been in comfortable-to-hot climates the whole time: this would be much harder if I needed cold-weather gear as well.

I don’t feel particularly freer or less burdened, the way you might expect. Of course, I do still have some things in a small storage unit, but I think about them quite rarely.

Overall, I think a lot of the benefits of the minimal lifestyle are probably overhyped. I was probably on the more minimal side of the spectrum before this, so I may not be representative, but going to this extreme really hasn’t felt like a huge change. It’s enabled the things I wanted to do and the kind of flexibility I knew I needed during this period, but there haven’t really been psychological benefits. If you anticipate moving around or travelling a lot, this may be necessary, but for me it hasn’t really changed my life.