Resources for a simple, minimalist lifestyle
Welcome to the Minimalist Journeys Life Resources page, a curated list of the apps, tools, websites and items we recommend so that you too can experience more by living with less. This list is designed to help you organise your home and finances, and give you more time for the stuff that truly matters in your life. As we have Australian, German and New Zealand citizenship, some of the products and services we use and recommend are related to ‘our’ countries and may not apply to everyone.
Many of the resources on this page were crucial to developing our lifestyle to where 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 more and better resources that help us all. As such, we always look for organisations that are aligned with our values, so if you represent a company interested in working with us please get in touch.
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 digitize 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. 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.
Portable Document Scanning
To remain paperless after having digitized your most important photos and documents, we recommend using Dropbox and its in-built scanning feature. You can scan any receipt, invoice and other physical document you may have and automatically store it as PDF file on the file storage platform.
The app allows you to
- Capture a photo of a document and convert it into a clean, rectangular PDF.
- Scan multiple pages and save them in the same PDF file.
- Take photos through the app and save them as JPG files.
- Save the file to a specific Dropbox folder or the default one.
- Rename the file as you save it or use the app suggested file name.
- Rearrange multiple pages into the correct order before you save them.
- Scan a document while offline. Once you get an internet connection, the document uploads to your Dropbox.
The smartphone app is free and if you have the Dropbox Personal account, you get 2GB free. If you require more storage, there is an additional cost depending on your specific plan. Dropbox Plus, Dropbox Professional, and Dropbox Business users can also do a full-text search of the scanned documents or copy text from within a PDF file.
The app does not allow you to scan multiple pages as PNG files and save them as a single file. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is only available for Dropbox Business users and only for PDF files.
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.
We use Dropbox Plus to
- back up the smartphone app folders and files, including data from our Password Managers and My Pain Diary;
- back up our photos, videos and scanned documents (including receipts) from our smartphones*;
- store all our photos and videos, including those scanned photos from decades ago; and
- share document files with our accountant, and photo and video files with loved ones.
Dropbox Basic comes with 2GB of space and is free. If you want more space or features, you can upgrade to Dropbox Plus, Dropbox Professional or Drobpox Business, which are priced at different price points.
Dropbox Plus comes with 2TB of storage (we haven’t even used 25%) and additional features and is a paid subscription. You can choose to subscribe monthly or annually.
* We don’t use iCloud as we prefer an agnostic solution in case we change our smartphone operating system at some point in the future.
- 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 without an internet connection.
As with Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive is encrypted, and you can share files and folders with friends and family. No more large email attachments or USB drives – just send a link via email, text, iMessage or Facebook.
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 the antivirus product, Avira launched the 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.
As a critical application, it is one of the ones we would 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.
28 Degrees Mastercard
The 28 Degrees Mastercard is one of only two credit cards available in Australia (that we know of) that has:
- No annual fee;
- No currency conversion fees; and
- No international transaction fees.
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. They also offer free Wi-Fi access at more than 1 million Boingo hotspots worldwide.
You may not think you need one, can’t afford one, or your personal finances aren’t complicated enough to warrant an Accountant. That’s absolutely fine.
However, if you
- are a digital nomad;
- have been in New Zealand for 183 days or more; and
- have bank accounts or personal investments (no matter where in the world)
then this advice may be for you.
Accounting and Taxation Centre in Stoke, New Zealand provide an excellent service for an affordable price. Our accountant has an excellent understanding of the nature and needs of New Zealand digital nomads and has provided us with sound taxation-related advice over the years. Although we have been to their office once, the majority of our interactions with them (due to our lifestyle) have been via email or telephone calls. Even complex taxation matters are explained in a way that they are easy to understand and make decisions accordingly.
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.
Whether it be new cargo pants, socks or underwear, we often find the products we researched way below RRP (recommended retail price) on Amazon. Delivery is usually fast, and packages are easy to track.
How to stay in touch with loved ones
Our third most used VoIP service is FaceTime. Similar to Skype and WhatsApp, it uses your WiFi or cellular data connection for audio and video calls.
It’s super easy to use, but its’ disadvantage is that only those with a device using the iOS operating system can make or receive calls.
FaceTime is a trademark of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries.
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.
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).
Where to find like-minded people
We started tuning into Amy’s podcasts before we even left our corporate careers. Many of the stories inspired us and helped shape what our Nomadtopia looks like today.
The Nomadtopia Collective gives you access to up-to-date, relevant resources for living a location-independent life and a small but supportive community for your journey. Especially when you’re on your own, having the backing of the community makes location-independent life less lonely and more sustainable.
Last Updated 25 January 2020