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Travel Tips For The Minimalist Traveler

Travel Tips for the Minimalist Traveler

When you’re looking for travel tips online, what do you usually search for? Most likely it’s how to get the cheapest accommodation, which landmarks you should visit, what are the traditional foods you should try – that sort of stuff, right?

But consider the following. You’ve done all your research, you have the best itinerary, you’ve even planned out what to eat and how much everything will cost. Then you get to the hard part: packing for the trip. Some people just get the largest suitcase they have lying around, so they don’t need to worry about space.

They just have to carry around half their homes with them, or else something doesn’t feel right. Unfortunately, that’s not really an efficient solution. Not only are you hindered by a giant suitcase, but you most likely won’t use half of what you bring along.

You also make yourself a target for thieves and pickpockets who prey on obvious tourists. Plus, flights usually charge you extra for your luggage. Not to mention that you need to wait in line for it at airports, taking valuable time away from fun activities.

Travel Tips for the Minimalist Traveler
Leave the heavy stuff behind!

Knowing how much of a struggle lite packing can be, I’ve asked fellow travel bloggers – Agness and Cez of eTramping – to present you the travel tips that really matter. Ones that will save you time on dreaded packing decisions, and will allow you more freedom to bring home souvenirs.

Tip 1: Your Bag Choice

Unless your holiday consists of you taking pictures in your favorite dresses and shirts at various landmarks, you don’t need a suitcase. A small backpack should do just fine for all the things you will take along for the trip. The only other thing we recommend is to bring a smaller extra bag for when you wander around.

Travel Tips for the Minimalist Traveler
Packing light on a visit to Hobbitown in New Zealand

It’s useful to keep any items you buy, a water bottle, maybe a light snack, and any necessary documents. The most important aspect is that you don’t immediately identify yourself as a tourist to the locals – like you would with a backpack or suitcase. As for what you’ll be putting in those bags, refer to the next sections.

Tip 2: What to Pack

Nothing. Well, mostly nothing. Bet you didn’t expect to find this among the travel tips. You should only pack your wallet, documents, and any medicine you might be using. The reason for this is that you will be buying clothes and toiletries at your destination.

The bags you can use to hold the clothes you’ll be buying. It’s best to fit in with the locals anywhere you go, so having some “official” clothing will allow you to blend in nicely. Toiletries you will usually find at hotels and guest houses.

Otherwise, you can just buy them in local stores supporting the tourism locally and saving some money. In certain cases, you can even borrow useful things from generous locals. Prepare your best charming techniques and brush up on useful expressions in the local language.

Travel Tips for the Minimalist Traveler
You can still take cosmetics but keep them to a minimum

Tip 3: Do I Really Have To?

If you don’t want to go the “buy clothes locally” route, we suggest you bring along only a spare of each clothing item:

  • 1 T-shirt;
  • 1 pair of socks;
  • 1 pair of underwear;
  • 1 pair of light shoes (for hotels or guest houses);
  • 1 pair of convertible pants (for flexibility).

For colder climates, you can pack a long-sleeve shirt and a jacket. Make it two shirts if you’re visiting somewhere like Antarctica, Iceland, or the Himalayas.

Obviously, the shoes you bring along should be fitting of the climate. Some warm, waterproof boots are obviously going to be useless in the desert.

A great tip (if you’re visiting somewhere cold) is to wear the boots rather than keep them in your bag. These are all the clothes you will need, aside from what you’ll be wearing on the trip. One last thing: make sure your clothes are made of wool.

This is possibly one of the best insider tips for minimalists we’ve had the pleasure of seeing. Wool clothes dry incredibly fast, and the best part is that they don’t absorb body odors. No matter how intense your walks and hikes are, wool clothes will only need washing if they get dirty.

Travel Tips for the Minimalist Traveler
I have worn this merino wool shirt backpacking for 5 days straight and no smell!

Tip 4: Can I Save Even More Space?

Another way to save space is to not bring along any electronics, other than your cell phone. That means no laptops, large cameras, tablets, etc.

Unless you intend on working (why?), most smartphone cameras today are good enough for your holiday photo ops. They can also act as mini-computers and mp3 players, so don’t weigh yourself down with anything else.

You can also skip on any bulky travel guides. Instead, trust your exploration skills and the useful expressions you can learn to find your way around with the locals’ help.

If you really have to, you can load up some e-book versions on your phone, instead. Finding Wi-Fi is an even bigger advantage because you can just load up TripAdvisor or similar sites. Just don’t make the mistake of forgetting your charger. That’s some extra weight you can carry.

On the other hand, you might find yourself in areas where there are no electric outlets. As such, bringing along an extra battery would be a great idea.

Travel Tips for the Minimalist Traveler
Just think how much easier it would be without a giant backpack

Tip 5: Any Other Travel Tips I Should Be Aware Of?

Keeping everything at a minimum will teach you self-reliance. It will also prepare you for future trips to other mystical places such as North Korea.

Speaking of which, let’s say you’re headed towards a place where you are absolutely sure there will be no stores. You can bring along a toothbrush, a small tube of toothpaste, and some soap.

You can pretty much use the soap to wash both yourself and your clothes when you’re wearing spares. It’s one of the best space-saving travel tips one can offer. However, if you followed our advice and brought only woolen clothes, you will hardly need to change. Unless your main ones get dirty, that is.

Now here’s a challenge for you: try removing some stuff we’ve listed to make your luggage even more compact. Otherwise, tell us what other minimalist travel tips you’ve read or heard about in the comments!

Further reading on travel tips

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. Leigh, This is very enlightening (pun somewhat intended). Are the convertible pants made of wool too? If not can they be worn for several days? Approximately how many cubic inches is your backpack?

    1. Hi Peter,

      Many thanks for the comment. Yes, these convertible pants are made of wool. For the weight, the wool pants are easy to beat with other layers so we highly recommend them.

      About the backpack size, we would go for 30-50 liters (Weekend; 1-3 nights) and 50-80 liters (Multiday; 3-5 nights) where 10 liters = 610 cubic inches.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing tips for travel backpacking, After reading this blog its is very easy for new travelers to travel around the world without any problem.

  3. Great Tips! I’m always a serious over-packer. Only my toiletries have recently downgraded into one little bag, which I’m very proud of 😀 But yeah, mostly the electronics make everything bulky and heavy. Time to go offline 😀

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