You know the feeling you get when you go to an airport and see someone with an excessive amount of luggage or souvenirs? It’s amazing to see your reaction to the overindulgence of another person and make a promise to yourself that you will never be ‘that person’ again.
We often get into “what if?” mode when we prepare for travel. “What if my socks fall off?” “What if my shampoo runs out?” “What if I don’t have my preferred brand of deodorant available in Nicaragua?”
There is a good chance that something will go wrong when you travel. Although no trip is perfect, you can pack minimally to ensure that everything is covered. You’ll find that your stress levels are reduced, your choices are more manageable, and you feel more free.
Find versatile clothes that can be worn with many outfits.
For almost 10 months, we have been traveling long-term. We were lucky to be able fly back to NJ where our “stuff” was located. However, depending on the climate in Asia, we discovered one thing: we packed far less when we returned home to visit family.
Dan had a 40L backpack by the seventh month and was carrying seven shirts. I only brought three dresses for our trip to Myanmar (Burma). They were washed when we did laundry every four to six days.
Laundry can be done wherever you are. You can pack less laundry and do it more often.
We had to choose between this or that by selecting a smaller selection of clothes (let’s be honest, everyone only wears 20%).
Dan wears most of his shirts in black so they match the bottoms. He also has one sweater that matches all his black tops.
A pair of DUER Fireside winter Jeans and a lightweight parka will be sufficient for trips to colder places like Chicago. To save space when we travel, we will pack our bulkiest items.
These minimalist clothes options were the best because you could choose any shirt or dress as well as any other. It was also easy to decide what to wear today.
Limit how many shoes you own
There are many options when it comes to choosing travel shoes. You have two options: you can make your shoes multi-functional and versatile, or you can decide your needs and pick a shoe that is well-suited for one purpose.
Dan and I chose shoes for specific purposes in this manner.
Dan’s favorite things are running shoes (Saucony for Men), gym shoes (Reebok CrossFit sneakers), and everyday Birkenstocks (unisex). It’s daily walking (Birkenstocks), running with New Balance sneakers, looking decent (black ballet slippers) and beach/shower in lightweight flip flops.
Avoid buying useful items
Because we want our memories to live on in our minds, we don’t like souvenirs. We can count the number of items we have bought while traveling.
We bought five sets of chopsticks in a package, including a cutting board, Tupperwares that are large enough to cut two bowls, a wooden rice pad, two Tupperwares that are medium-sized, and two metal spoons. Becca purchased a raincoat, Dan bought new Bluetooth headphones, and Becca got plastic sandals to use in the rainy season.
It is important to mention that the reason we had to purchase anything was because the Airbnb where we were staying did not have the kitchen items we purchased. The quality of life was improved by everything else (such as sandals and headphones) because we didn’t have these items.
Looking back, it seems like we could have taken our own snack containers on this trip, such as these containers from ECOlunchbox, which have stainless steel constructions and leak-proof silicone caps.
Lauren purchased a wallet in Taiwan when hers was damaged. We returned home with additional local currency and all of our photos back up in Google Photos and our photo backup methods.
You can only purchase useful items on trips. Unlike souvenirs that sit in collections.
After four weeks spent in Vietnam, I realized that I had a tank-top I hadn’t worn in a while. It was only small enough to fit in my suitcase, but I realized I didn’t really need it.
Check out our guide to learn more about the best packing boxes!
After a week, go back and look at everything you have packed.
If you plan to travel long-term and want to revisit all your belongings, you should assess your bag after one week and again after two weeks. This will allow you time to determine if you have touched or used everything that is in your luggage.
Is it possible to donate your item to the hostel where you’re staying or to someone in need?
Reduce snack bars and make more space in your bag.
We brought lots of healthy snacks, including protein bars, on our European trip. We started with quite a few of them in case we needed to take along, such as these, for when we were going by bus, or this.
We stopped using any type of emergency food from the seventh to ninth month and bought only local snacks when we needed them.
Although Vietnamese stale banana chips may not be as tasty or nutritious as GoMacro bars (YUM), the banana chips were no longer a problem after we had eaten them on a bus trip to Sapa.
To maximize your experience, adopt a minimalist mindset
Over-planning can cause you to cringe, just as over-packaging can lead you to be overweight. You should know that plans can be interrupted, broken, or re-planned. A planning skeleton is helpful, but a minute-by-60 plan is too stressful.
You should only plan the most important things, especially in high season.
You will need to bring only one personal item if you fly in basic economy class.
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Packing cubes are a great idea
Our packing cubes are a favorite of ours. They have been a great addition to how we pack and travel. The packing cubes can help you maximize your luggage space and save space.
Limit your electronics
It is easy to wish you had an iPad, two iPhones, a Kindle and spare batteries. This adds up. We brought too many lenses, cameras, and accessories on shorter trips, when we were trying to capture specific content. A great idea if your travelling to Europe is to get a Europe Travel Sim or eSIM Europe.
The average person travels to enjoy their destination. You may leave behind the conveniences you have at home and they will still be there when you return.
It doesn’t mean you have to do everything when traveling. Minimalism can mean minimizing your travel appetite. You can still enjoy a country or place and feel satisfied about your trip.
One example is my 2015 trip to Guatemala with a friend. I wanted to see all the important landmarks in case I didn’t get back to Guatemala.