How Simple Living Freed Me to Live Around the World

I used to think that having less would constrain me and limit my freedom, but not until I embraced minimalism did I realize just how freeing this a  simpler life is. Minimizing within my life has created a side effect that has changed everything: the freedom to become location independent. Now, I get to travel for most of the year and spend the rest of the time at my home base in the San Francisco Bay Area!

This type of life allows me to pick up and go whenever I choose, because I don’t have anything holding me down. It is a result of freeing up space in my life for the things that I really love, and letting go of the rest. When we learn to simplify and get rid of all the excess that we don’t need, we are left with our true desires and can focus on cherishing those items, people, and experiences!

Whether you’re hoping to be able to work remotely around the world, or simply un-complicate your life a bit, try these tips to create a freedom-based lifestyle:

Only surround yourselves with what “sparks joy”.

If you haven’t read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo , I definitely recommend it! It really did change my life. After reading it, I started looking at physical things in a different way. Material items are here for us to use and enjoy. So, if I own something that makes me feel happy, peaceful, or beautiful, then I’ll keep it. If not, out it goes!

This new outlook helped me create a capsule wardrobe of all my favorite clothes, and it finally allowed me to get rid of clothing that I was holding onto. Now I have a smaller wardrobe of pieces that I love, look good in, and that can be mixed and matched to create endless combinations. This is the beauty of simplifying - even just within your closet!

Getting rid of anything and everything that didn’t spark joy catapulted me on my journey to a freedom-based lifestyle. After bags and bags of clothing and objects were donated, I noticed that I had downsized over 50% of everything I owned. Being able to let go of and not depend on material things has given me so much freedom to enjoy other parts of life.

Along the same lines of carefully choosing the possessions I have in my life, I also started to be more selective with the people I spent time with and the activities I chose to do. I decided to focus my time on people that bring me joy and doing activities I love doing. Our time is precious, so let’s spend it where it matters most to us!


Don’t tie yourself down.

When you’re at your home base, think about renting month-to-month in a furnished place. This way, you don’t need to buy any furniture or store it when you move out. Plus, you have the freedom to move whenever you want without needing to find a sub-letter, worry about the landlord or maintenance, or pay rent while traveling. You can also rent the coolest places on AirBnB  for shorter stints, usually meeting interesting people along the way!

While traveling, put what you can on hold. Suspend your phone plan. Ask for a deferment on your student loans. Unsubscribe from your yoga membership or meal subscription boxes. Pay off your bills, or put everything on auto-payment so you don’t have to constantly check your accounts while abroad. Doing these can not only free you up financially, but keep you from being distracted from the present.

Take everything online.

My switch to a location-independent lifestyle involved shifting business models to take everything online. At the time, my social enterprise non-profit was heavily focused on revenue from handcrafted products to fund our social programs in Africa. If you have a product-based business, you know how it is: hours of marketing, photography, quality control, packaging, and order fulfillment. A model that is nearly impossible to do without having physical inventory to work with. Instead, my organization shifted its business model to focus on a monthly giving program and online donations. This way, I was able to work online from anywhere in the world. So far this year I’ve been able to run my non-profit from San Francisco, Brazil, South Africa, NYC, Peru, and Mozambique!

I also took inventory of all my skills and interests to see what other types of online work I could do. This inspired me to start a conscious travel and social impact blog, as well as launch a consulting company for world changers and impact makers! By looking deeper into what I already have, I’ve been able to make a living while both traveling and doing what I love. 

When I learned to say “yes” to the things, people, and experiences that light me up, and say “no” to all the others, I saw life become an incredible journey. One that didn’t involve feelings of obligation, guilt, or resentment. I was able to make space for what I truly cherished, and let go of the rest. To create not just a location independent lifestyle, but one filled with freedom. 

Photos by: Valerie Moreno

Elisabetta Colabianchi BIO

Elisabetta Colabianchi

Elisabetta is the founder of Kurandza, a non-profit that empowers women and girls in eastern Africa and around the world. She is also a social impact consultant and works with purpose-driven women who want to start or grow their non-profit or social enterprise initiatives. Elisabetta speaks 5 languages and enjoys traveling the world when she’s not at home in the San Francisco Bay Area. She loves making new friends, so come say hi to her on Instagram!