Interview: One Year, Two Suitcases

MeiMei Fox

MeiMei Fox

MeiMei Fox is a life coach, writer and recognized social media expert whose philosophy is “Love More, Fear Less”. She’s one of the most inspiring women I’ve met, combining these multiple roles with grace and incredible warmth toward others. In 2009 she traveled with Alexandra Cousteau’s Blue Planet Expedition to India, Botswana, the Middle East and beyond. I was curious how this experience changed her attitude to acquiring and owning possessions, so I persuaded MeiMei to share more:

Tell me how you came to live with so little, for so many months?
I was the writer for the Blue Planet Expedition, which spent 3 months exploring critical water issues around the globe. Following that, I did some personal travel and was also on the road for interviews for a book I was writing.  In total, I lived out of two suitcases and a backpack for a year.

What were your essentials during that year?
I relied heavily on technology: bill pay and financial records were all online. So, my laptop and smartphone were essential. The clothes and toiletries in those two suitcases were more than enough – I really didn’t need more. I’ve always been a bit of a minimalist.

You’ve spent some time in France. How are attitudes to clothing different there?
French women spend big on a few staple pieces of clothing: nice black pants, a black skirt, some black heels. They invest in those and plan to wear them for five years, changing things up with accessories or a one-season top. After all, do you really need more than one pair of jeans, if they’re a good pair? In France, it’s OK to repeat a piece of your outfit in the same week.

MeiMei in Botswana

MeiMei in Botswana

Have you acquired more stuff, since you came back?
I did have some furniture and my bicycle in storage, so obviously I needed those once I settled in San Francisco. Beyond that, I subscribe to the approach of getting rid of old things when I buy something new. The trip also made me more conscious of buying stuff: if I ask myself, “Do I really need this?”, the answer is often No. It’s environmentally responsible, too. I don’t believe in giving “things” to others, either. I’d rather create an experience for them, and it doesn’t have to cost a lot: pack a picnic and take a hike together, for instance.

If your home was on fire, what two things would you grab?
Without a doubt, my computer or backup drive, whichever was in reach. That has all my photos, music and most of my writing on it. Then, I have a box of journals going back 20 years – I’d save that if at all possible.

So, you still keep a paper journal?
I’ve recently switched to online journaling and a friend introduced me to  I had always thought I’m a pen and paper girl and that I’d never transition. But I didn’t want to accumulate more and more physical journals: now it’s all online, backed up, and searchable. And I type way faster than I write. I’m so happy I switched!

Yoga RetreatTo learn more about MeiMei, visit her website or find her on Twitter. You can also join her upcoming retreat in Costa Rica from March 5-12, for a wonderful blend of yoga and volunteering, to benefit the Surf for Life Foundation.


If you’re in the SF Bay Area and would like friendly, confidential Professional Organizing help to turn chaos into calm, contact me to take the first step toward a sorted, stylish space.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

6 Responses to Interview: One Year, Two Suitcases

  1. I think I’m probably fairly middle of the road when it comes to “things”, but I’ve definitely never tried to live on that little! Utmost admiration for her and those that have done it.

  2. Great interview! So true about French women’s fashion choices. When I was travelling last spring, I also noticed French women tend to buy a few, better quality pieces. And (this I love) messy hair was totally fine – even with a glam outfit or professional business attire. I am definitely on board with buying fewer clothes and leaving my hair a bit messier.

  3. Stitchfork says:

    That’s the definition of traveling light!

  4. Bromeliad says:

    We have way too much stuff.

  5. Sarah (Semi Expat) says:

    Really interesting interview…. Do hope your business is going well too, Pauline…x

  6. Sniff says:

    I did an around the world trip that saw me away from home for 14 months. I had one suitcase. My carrying capacity, or lack of it, made me learn how to live on very little stuff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Free Quarterly Newsletter

* indicates required

Get each blog post by email

Blog Categories