How to Travel Like a Minimalist
You’ve Kondo’d your living space and tossed everything that does not spark joy. You’ve read every article you can find on minimalist. Now it’s time to take your new habits to your packing strategy.
The first thing to understand is that minimalist travel isn’t just about packing less — although it’s important — it’s also about strategizing more. Getting it right requires thinking ahead. Ask yourself three crucial questions:
- How long will I be away?
- What will I be doing while away?
- Where am I going?
Length of Travel
Intuitively, you may think: the longer I’m away, the more I must pack. But in many instances, the opposite is true. After all, you can buy things when you get where you’re going instead of lugging stuff there.
Purpose of Travel
Why are you traveling? If you’re working or volunteering, you’ll need different attire than if you’re sightseeing or relaxing. A volunteer traveler needs sturdier clothing than someone who plans to spend their days sitting in the sunshine.
Your destination is also a primary consideration. The items you’ll need for a sub-arctic excursion in the Yukon are vastly different from those you’ll need for an equatorial adventure in the Maldives.
4 Ways to Pack Like a Minimalist
Packing like a minimalist is a key component to minimalist travel, but “what if” thinkers often struggle with the execution. Scenarios muddle their thinking: What if I finish my book halfway through the trip? What if I lose or gain weight while away and need different clothes? What if I meet the Queen of England, and she invites me to a ball?
Typically, these “what ifs” never materialize. So when packing, chuck those thoughts in the trash.
Which brings us to the question of the hour: What should you pack?
1. Eliminate the Bling
Do you really need a box full of bling? Unless you’ll be attending a state dinner at the request of Queen Elizabeth II, the answer is likely “no.” When serving as a volunteer sometimes excessive jewelry can actually create a cultural barrier. When in doubt, leave it out!
2. No Book Binging
Are you a reader who still opts for physical books over e-readers? If you’ll be away for a long time, you may want to reconsider. After all, hundreds of books can fit on a single device that’s smaller than a paperback.
If, however, you can’t bring yourself to go digital, only pack one book. Even if you’ll be away for an extended period, there’s no need to lug a library around the globe. One is enough! You can purchase reading material at your destination.
“But I’m going to a foreign country where they don’t speak English,” you protest! And to that we reply, “even in the most remote of locales, you can usually find English-language books.” Or, in the direst of circumstances, you can pick up a tome or two after landing at the airport.
3. Clothing Essentials
Your destination will dictate your wardrobe. Universally speaking, a water-proof windbreaker is never a bad choice. In hot-weather places, it serves as a raincoat. In cold locales, it’s a defense against the wind.
Next up is two pairs of pants. Some minimalist packing experts say black pants are the best. They can be worn casually and formally, plus they hide stains better. If you’re concerned about looking tidy, opt for non-wrinkle pants. You will definitely want a good pair of jeans if you are doing any physical labor!
As far as shirts go, most people can survive on three since most hotels have washing machines or laundry services. Pick shirts that can be can be mixed and matched with your pants to form different outfits.
One pair of shoes will normally suffice, but if you’re headed to a hot climate, also bring a pair of sandals or beach shoes. Are you concerned about being barefoot in a hotel? Grab a cheap pair of flip-flops to use for quick trips and even the shower if needed!
Next up is toiletries. Remember that you cannot bring bottles over 3.4 ounces (100 ml) in carry-on luggage. Moreover, TSA agents must be able to see the containers.
Before packing your grooming tools, consider if you’ll be able to buy supplies when you get to where you’re going. If so, weigh the cost. Will it be prohibitively expensive, or will you be able to pop into a local pharmacy or market and get what you need? If it makes more sense to bring stuff with you, look for toiletries that do double duty. For example, pick a product that can serve as both shampoo and body soap. If you feel naked without makeup, choose some that can work on both lips, cheeks, and eyes. As for moisturizers, many options also work as an eye makeup remover. And speaking of moisturizer: If you’re going on a short hop, consider filling a straw with your lotion of choice to save space.
Traveling the minimalist ways frees you to explore and enjoy your destination. Bon voyage!