I recently traveled via plane on a 6-day trip for pleasure. I gave my full effort to pack in minimalist style. I wanted a light suitcase and few things to keep track of so that I could focus on my vacation destination with a relaxed mind.
I wanted to be free of distractions so that I could be present.
Minimalism and Travel
I thought that having come so far on my minimalist path, packing would be a breeze. I found it odd that I struggled more with preparing to travel in a minimalist way than I do living day to day as a minimalist.
Why? What did I fear? After reflection, I realized that I was afraid of being unprepared. I felt vulnerable. I encouraged myself to be optimistic, expect the best of conditions, and pack accordingly.
While packing was actually a challenge, I am happy to report this was the first trip I can remember not checking a bag —during which I actually wore almost every item of clothing I packed. I had extra socks and workout clothing, but other than those items, everything was suitable and I wore them multiple times.
As I plan for another weeklong trip involving air travel, I challenge myself to be even more deliberate in my approach. I want to carry even less weight. I have done some research and found a wide array of advice, information and detailed instruction available: books, articles, even videos showing what and how to pack.
I am absorbing this information and meshing it with my comfort level and priorities. It is encouraging to know there are many people out there who value the application of minimalist principles to travel. Especially those who are adventurers, traveling far for long periods. Minimalism is a necessity for them.
How to Be a Minimalist Traveler
I look forward to a trip like this in a few years during which I will travel with my clothing and belongings in a backpack for several weeks and truly pare down to the essentials. For now, though, it feels great to lighten my load.
Here are a few tips from me, a fledgling minimalist traveler:
1. Pack for the weather.
Look at the weather forecast and think about the kind of activities in which you will engage; pack accordingly. Do not pack what you are not likely to need. Pack with the best-case scenario in mind. If you are visiting a warmer location, don’t lug along a heavy coat “just in case.”
2. Choose comfortable clothes.
Take comfortable clothing that coordinates in terms of color. Layer, mix and match your clothing and wear it multiple times. Take a scarf for flair and comfort. You can wash your workout clothes if needed, so it is not necessary to take a workout outfit for each day. Choose footwear wisely. Shoes take a lot of space, so wear the heaviest pair. Do you need more than one pair?
3. Do not check your luggage.
Packing in a carry-on saves time, money and worry. You are in control of your belongings at all times. You will make connecting flights quickly, and get to your destination promptly upon arrival.
4. Pack only the essentials.
I suggest that women in particular think about how much time you want to spend getting ready to get out there and enjoy your vacation. How much weight in product and equipment are you willing to carry?
Maybe a trip is a good time to experiment with a lighter routine. I got by on this trip with moisturizer, mascara and lip balm. I used the soap, shampoo and body lotion provided. I wore the same pair of earring for the entire trip and no other jewelry.
5. Identify your “must have” items.
I always need a pair of flip-flops, my travel journal and a book. Prioritize space for those few items and you will travel comfortably. I realize that two of my three items can be stored on my iPhone for future trips.
6. Consider the souvenirs.
Put thought into whether or not you or your loved ones will appreciate souvenirs. After having bought many t-shirts for my sons over the years and rarely seeing them worn, I passed on gifts for others. I bought one souvenir, which was a book that served as a helpful guide during the trip.
In terms of electronics, am iPhone is the only device I need for communication and photos. I took both my phone and a tablet, which was one more item to protect than necessary. Next trip I will take only my phone.
Traveling light is freeing. I enjoy the challenge of paring things down to essentials. It allows me to immerse myself in the present moment and the location I am exploring. I hope you find these tips helpful as you plan to pack for your next trip.