Resources for a simple, location-independent life
Welcome to the Minimalist Journeys Life Resources page, a curated list of the websites, apps and tools we recommend so that you too can experience more by living with less. This list is designed to help you organise your life and finances, and give you more time and energy for the things that truly matter in your life. As we have Australian, German and New Zealand citizenship, some of the products and services we use and recommend are specific to our countries only and may not apply to everyone.
Many of the resources on this page were crucial in developing our lifestyle to what it is today. We have tried and tested many options, but only those resources that made the cut are listed here.
These are our preferences, and this is by no means an exhaustive list. Though, we do add and change this list as we find better resources that help us all. As such, we always look for organisations that are aligned with our values. So if you represent a business interested in working with us please get in touch.
How to be a conscious consumer
It’s hard work dodging all the advertisement and marketing techniques thrown at you these days. From an early age, we’re conditioned to buy things for a variety of reasons. But what happens if you don’t have the money or decided enough was enough?
While a UK-based publication, Ethical Consumer Magazine provides insights, tips and advice for a worldwide audience. Each issue features detailed product guides, news of ethical products and campaigns, in-depth features, opinions, comments, boycott updates, readers’ letters, and much more.
Discover the truth behind the products you buy and the companies you buy them from.
How to live paperless
Wonder what to do with your old photos and documents? Make space in your home and preserve your mementos with our step-by-step guide.
To digitise your life, you have the choice: get your most important documents and photos scanned by a professional company or do the scanning yourself.
We did the scanning ourselves with the help of the Epson Perfection V370 Photo Scanner. While this model is no longer available, the Epson Perfection V600 Scanner is the newer model that performs the same functions we needed. We used a different model initially but swapped to this one as it allowed us to scan documents, photos AND Sandra’s 35mm negatives, which the scanner turned into positive digital images of sufficient quality.
If you want one device to scan your paper documents, physical photos as well as negatives, the Epson Perfection V600 Scanner is the best (and most cost-effective) option.
Portable Document Scanning
To remain paperless after having digitised our most important photos and documents, we use and recommend the Genius Scan+ app and its in-built scanning feature. You can scan any receipt, invoice and other physical documents you may have and automatically store them as a PDF file.
- allows you to scan documents without annoying product watermarks
- corrects any perspective distortion in the captured output. Tilt your device to avoid shadows and the output will be re-aligned to appear flat.
- once opened, just focuses and takes the photo. Totally hands-free.
- scan multiple pages for the single file as required.
- creates multi-page PDF documents making it ideal for two or more page documents.
- offers OCR Text Recognition. The On-device text recognition adds a text layer to your PDFs, letting you search and index them easily.
- Exports to multiple cloud solutions including Dropbox, Box, Microsoft OneDrive, Evernote and Google Drive.
The app does not allow you to export to Microsoft SharePoint.
Where to (safely) store photos and documents
Once you have scanned your initial documents, photos and negatives, you need to put them somewhere. We do not recommend using USB sticks or external hard drives as they can get lost/stolen or otherwise compromised, and you don’t have access to your files unless you have the storage device with you.
Cloud storage providers allow you to store digital files (including photos and documents) safely as the storage and the transmission of files are encrypted, and access is protected by two-factor authentication. Storing your files in the cloud also enables you to access them anywhere, from any device, and at any time using an internet connection. Our favourite is OneDrive.
We use Microsoft OneDrive for all our documents and images, because
- changes we make to our files are automatically synchronized across all our devices; and
- we can access our files offline, which means we can be productive even when we don’t have an internet connection.
Microsoft OneDrive is encrypted, and you can share files and folders with friends and family. No more large email attachments or USB drives.
Avira Phantom VPN Pro
We have been using Avira products and services since 2012 and thoroughly recommend them. Avira is a German multinational security software company mainly known for its antivirus software Avira Internet Security. And while it is best known for its antivirus product, Avira launched a virtual private network solution in 2017 and has been enhancing the features and capability ever since. It is now available for the four main operating systems: Android, iOS, macOS and Windows in both a Free and Pro version.
To get technical, neither traffic nor IP addresses are logged on their VPN service, however, bandwidth is logged. And being a German company, they are bound by the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR).
As a critical application, it is one of the few we recommend you pay for – whichever solution you go with.
What to do with physical mail
Governments, financial institutions and other businesses require your physical or postal address before you access their services, which makes not having a fixed abode (like us) especially challenging.
You can select either a Post Office (PO) box or a street address. Given that all financial institutions and many businesses don’t accept PO box addresses for regulatory purposes, we chose the street address option.
The benefits are:
- Your mail will be received (and signed if required) and you will be notified via email, so you no longer miss important mail;
- You can (pre)select which mail you want to have scanned and emailed, shredded or forwarded based on the sender and the weight of the item;
- They provide bank-grade security and protect your privacy; and
- The company is New Zealand owned and operated.
Our recommended alternative to Private Box outside of New Zealand is Anytime Mailbox. It is a great budget virtual mailbox service with over 600 available street addresses worldwide. That said, if you go with the less expensive plan from Anytime Mailbox, your monthly mail quota is quite small. Their mobile app is great for digital nomads and like almost all of the mailbox services, they offer to recycle and shred your mail.
How to minimize expenses/maximize income
We only operate Australian, New Zealand and German bank accounts, so our tips and advice when it comes to personal finances are limited to those countries and the personal experience we’ve had with the accounts and companies we’ve used.
28 Degrees Mastercard
- No annual fee;
- No currency conversion fees; and
- No international transaction fees
(the other one is the Bankwest Zero Platinum Mastercard). The downside is that the card does not provide you with any rewards points, so if you think about using it to pay for your weekly groceries at home don’t get this card.
The card is perfect though for people who travel frequently internationally, as those sneaky fees add up to more than what any rewards points are worth – we calculated AUD800 in saved currency conversion and international transaction fees during our 3 month backpacking trip in 2012. If you pay off your credit card every month (as you should), this is a real money saver. The card also offers free Wi-Fi access at more than 1 million Boingo hotspots worldwide.
The 28 Degrees Mastercard was awarded a 2017 CANSTAR five star rating for Outstanding Value for Occasional Travelers. You must be at least 18 years of age and a permanent resident of Australia to apply.
If you want to know how credit cards work and how to select the right one for your needs, check out our post.
OFX is an Australian-based online foreign exchange and payments company with offices around the world. We started using OFX several years ago to transfer money between Australia and New Zealand, after finding that high street banks offered very bad exchange rates at exorbitantly high fees.
We have always been extremely pleased with the quality of service, the speed of transfer, the communication throughout each transfer and most importantly, the exchange rates offered.
OFX offers much better exchange rates than high street banks in 55+ currencies. Forward Contracts and Limit Orders help customers mitigate currency fluctuations. Payments are secure (OFX is regulated by over 50 global regulators).
Their smartphone app provides a currency converter with live exchange rates and enables you to transfer money and track your transfers on the go.
XE Money Transfer
As a viable alternative to OFX, we have been using XE Money Transfer to move funds from New Zealand to Australia and found we get a better exchange rate than from OFX up to a certain amount. The website functionality, speed of transfer and customer service are on par with OFX – so it really comes down to the exchange rate which one we use at any given point in time.
What to wear and how to pack light for all seasons
Obviously, this is a very personal decision, depending on where you live, your lifestyle, your job, age and gender.
We travel full-time with carry-on luggage only. We have prepared a list of the clothing and other personal items we own and where we purchased our gear from. All our packing lists are regularly updated: when we purchase a new item, it is added; likewise, when we donate/discard an item, we remove it from our packing list/s.
About 10 years ago, the team from Saint Basics embarked on a mission for cleaner underwear. Not to make a profit but to supply customers with basics to love and to change the textile industry from within.
Now they make the softest basics from natural materials like eucalyptus (tencel) which are about 95% more environmentally friendly than comparable products and 100% free from pesticides, sweatshops and child labor.
Sandra swapped from merino underwear to undies made from tencel about 2 years ago and swears by them. Her Macpac merino undies didn’t stand the test of time (and our lifestyle) but her Saint Basics undies are still going strong.
Unbound Merino was created by three travel-obsessed friends with a desire to create simple, high-performance clothing that is versatile enough for any occasion.
While we have been firm supporters of New Zealand companies Icebreaker and Macpac in the past and continue to support them as well as Mons Royale, the quality of the Unbound Merino products so far surpasses them.
How to stay in touch with loved ones
Staying in touch with loved ones has been made easier over the years with technology, but face to face is always best. That said, we share the common tools we use to connect with family and friends around the world.
Knowing our history and where we have come from makes it easier to know where we are headed. As an Ancestry member since 2012, Paul has managed to located relatives back to the Fourteenth Century – and connect with relatives he had not seen since childhood.
Ancestry provides all the tools you need to help you embark on your own journey of self-discovery. With the world’s largest collection of online family history records, and the number one selling consumer DNA test, Ancestry can provide you with the best insights into your family history and origins.
We all have our favourite when it comes to voice over internet (VoIP) and messaging services. Ours is Skype, as it allows us to
- have group video calls – it’s awesome to see everyone as if we were all together in the same room; and
- call mobile and landline numbers at very low rates.
On top of that, it’s super easy to use.
Users can make (encrypted) voice calls and send text messages, voice messages and files of any kind. Unlike the other messaging apps we use, you have to pay a one-off charge to install Threema.
Similar to Skype, WhatsApp uses the internet to send messages, images, and make audio or video calls.
We mainly use it so send text messages and images, because it is so widely used internationally, and its’ messaging capability is much like a smartphone text service. However, because WhatsApp uses the internet to send messages, the cost is significantly less than on a smartphone plan (unless you have a plan with unlimited text and multi media messages).
How to gift like a minimalist
When you live a simple life (and especially if you are or want to become location-independent) you gift differently. No more physical stuff that takes up room and gathers dust. Instead, its gifts that provide true value: something you can use every day or experiences that’ll stay with you (or the person you gift them to) for a long time.
To change your approach to gift giving and for gift ideas that don’t add clutter check out these posts:
- Could you gift differently these holidays?
- Gift like a minimalist: 17 meaningful gift ideas for any occasion
- How to have the most amazing wedding without breaking the bank.
And here are some more gift ideas…
Something useful for every day: NetZero Co
NetZero Co is one of the small companies that want to make a difference in the world and deserves support. They look for opportunities to make a positive impact on the environment.
Their products are carefully designed in Canada and manufactured across various countries, including China, Nepal, the USA and Canada. Their cotton products are GOTS certified, their compostable bags comply with BPI standards which ensures the packaging products compost completely and safely in municipal and commercial compost facilities.
Be The Change – with NetZero Co.
Experiences to treasure for a lifetime: Tinggly
Tinggly is aiming to change the way we gift – giving us the opportunity to gift experiences and life-enhancing moments rather than stuff that gathers dust, with a clean conscience.
All of Tinggly’s experiences are fully sustainable. For every Tinggly experience, they remove 33lbs of plastic from the environment, offset the carbon footprint by a massive 200% and support the creation of trash traps in the rivers of Bali.
Last Updated 29 April 2022