Traveling with a Minimalist and a Frugalist

Guest post by Luke and Jill Matthews


My wife Jill and I have spent most of the last three years on the road either backpacking around the world or living in a different country.

Together we share a love for intentional and simple living while seeking adventures, challenges, and the thrill of exploring new lands. However, certain philosophies and ways of living have clashed while on the road, and it took us a while to learn how to coexist and allow each other to be ourselves.

To put it shortly: I am a minimalist. Jill is a frugalist. 



What is frugalism?

Frugalism is a way of life focused on being mindful of how you spend your time and money so as to not be wasteful in order to focus on the things that add value.

What is minimalism? 

Minimalism is living with less and eliminating excess, so you can focus on the things that add value. When you're a minimalist almost everything you choose to own is useful and serves a purpose, and that also applies to how you spend your time. 

Looking at it from the surface, these two ways of life have similar attributes. Both have intentional living and desire to focus on things that add value at the core.  Both value necessity and whether you’re buying less, or spending less the end goal is to live intentionally with what gives true value to life.

These are the shared similarities - where it gets different is how these foundational values are perceived and lived out.

So how do these differences affect our travel?


Packing like a minimalist


Packing like a minimalist


Something I often say is, "I believe life is best when everything I own fits in either my travel backpack or a little truck".

I grew up giving away possessions that I didn't need or want anymore. Besides my laptop and our expensive camera, there isn't anything I wouldn't give away in a heartbeat. I don't like having a lot of stuff and when I do, it gives me anxiety. So you can imagine that when it comes to travel, I love to pack light!



The Pakt Travel Backpack is ideal for my kind of trips. I can fit my laptop, clothes, shoes, and electronics neatly and easily with room to spare. This makes me happy. 

When I pack I prefer to err on the side of bringing less than I might need because I figure I can always buy whatever else I need on the road.

With a light backpack, I can easily put my belongings in the overhead bin or seat next to me, not have much to lug around and easily explore unique places with all my necessities on my back. It makes traveling so much more enjoyable that way (IMO)!


Packing like a frugalist


Packing like a frugalist


As a frugalist, I (Jill) have quite a different approach to what I like to bring on a trip.

I grew up with a dad who is a purebred frugalist. He values making things last, doing things himself, fixing things and saving money. Leftovers are a big hit in our household! Keeping things around the house was what we all did because "you never know when you might need it again.” 

For me, true value comes in the form of full travel experiences, quality possessions that last long, doing things myself to save money, and finding a bargain on a great product (including thrift goods).

When it comes to packing, I will pack with all scenarios in mind -  a pair of shoes for every situation, a bunch of toiletries, an emergency kit, and even spices and non-perishables. I will consider it all and research ahead of time to see whether certain items are harder to get (and more expensive) once out on the road. If they are, then I will bring them along, so I don't have to overpay on something I could have brought in the first place, even if that means packing a bigger bag!

My backpack is always significantly heavier and larger than Luke's, but it's been proven in past travels that the items I brought saved us money and were useful. 

Planning trips: Minimalist vs Frugalist

Luke will usually spend more money on a guided tour or on a route that gets us somewhere the quickest and with the least amount of worry and stress necessary. Money isn't the object.



For me (Jill), I would rather take the "scenic" route and figure it out myself, so we can save that money and spend it on nice food or more experiences down the road.

We approach plans differently and will often take turns with how we go about planning a specific experience.

One of the best examples of a "frugalist" adventure that we did was on Nusa Penida island near Bali. We ended up renting a terribly old scooter and used shotty cell service to google map ourselves to a beautiful lookout that so many others had paid a lot more to travel to via bus.


Minimalist travel styles


It took us hours to get there along very bumpy roads but it was an experience we both quite enjoyed and will never forget.

There are some clear differences between a minimalist and a frugalist that can be frustrating. However we both discovered over these past eight years of living together and traveling that the strengths of each do rub off. I am a little bit more frugal, and Jill is a little bit more minimal– together we've been able to experience some amazing adventures!


Which one of us do you identify with more, do you approach life from more of a frugalist or minimalist perspective?


Luke and Jill Matthews are the duo behind the conscious fashion and lifestyle blog Sutton + Grove. Follow along on their adventures on Instagram