There was a period of time a little over a decade ago when I was preparing to move into a camper van.

I didn't own the van. I had no plans for how I'd get one. But I knew that was going to be my next step. I was a broke college student working on a degree in music with vague aspirations of writing a musical and knew that I'd never be more than a starving artist.

For a lot of reasons, that's not what happened, but during that period and for several years after I thought of myself as a minimalist. I read a lot of blogs with tips and tricks for getting by with less. I got rid of all kinds of stuff that I decided I didn't need anymore. I was quite happy with that lifestyle, and it persisted until I found myself in a relatively stable 9-to-5 job with a lot more disposable income than I ever would have had as a starving artist.

That skill set was incredibly useful when it came time to move into the RV. Having gotten rid of almost everything I own once, it was almost easier to do it a second time. Most of the things I got rid of, if I ever need them again, they won't be hard to find. The rest of it had either served its purpose or no longer "sparked joy" (to steal a phrase from Marie Kondo, with whom I was not familiar at the time but oh boy do I appreciate her worldview.)

Part of my collection of LaserDisc and toys before the RV.

I'm not sure I think of myself as a minimalist anymore. Maybe I am. There's no competition to be won by being more minimal than anyone else, but I think if I had less stuff I probably would be in a camper van now rather than this relatively large class A motorhome. The RV I ended up with was only a little bit bigger than the one I wanted, and I was driven more by layout than storage space, but I knew I needed to cross a certain threshold because there were some things I was not going to let go.

The most important thing I took away from my time as a minimalist is the idea that buying one nice thing that does its job well can replace an entire fleet of kinda-okay things that each did a part of the job kinda-okay. Usually that means a higher up-front cost. My experience, which does come from the place of privilege of being able to afford the nice thing in the first place, is that it's worth the upgrade to the one nice thing.

Kitchen tools are probably the easiest place for me to draw the analogy, but that might be because I'm a highly food-motivated person. I hated cooking for the longest time, and the point where that tide started to change was when I finally broke down and upgraded from a series of $30-40 chef's knives from whichever store I happened to be at to a top notch W├╝sthof which at the time cost me about $100.

If you've never used a top quality chef's knife, it's possible you think I'm talking crazy talk and the $30 special from Ikea is plenty good. Well. Okay. You're welcome to feel that way. It doesn't impact me none which chef's knife you use. But the ease and reliability of cutting that a nicer knife bought me totally redefined my relationship with the kitchen.

A proper sharpening stone for it (I recommend the Spyderco Sharpmaker) was a similarly game-changing tool. The TV chefs have probably mentioned that a sharp knife is important, but I don't think they say it loud enough. Prep work that used to take me 30-45 minutes now takes 5-10. Part of that, I'm sure, is better knife skills. But those better knife skills couldn't develop until I got a better knife.

When looking to buy things for the RV, this is the methodology I've used and thus far it's been working for me. I look for one really good high-quality thing that does its job well, and I invest for the future. I have one 2 quart sauce pot. I have one 10 inch fry pan. I don't have a lot of room to dedicate to a lot of different options, so the one I buy needs to work, reliably, in a lot of different situations. In my opinion, for whatever it's worth, it saves money in the long run and makes the daily process of living a little less frustrating.