So you consider yourself a minimalist? Welcome to the club! People understand different things when they hear the word “minimalist” and each one has their own interpretation of it. In this travel guide we will talk how it applies to travelling.
Im sure everyone knows people who go in vacation for 2 weeks and they take everything but the kitchen sink with them.
Well thats the opposite of minimalism and the advantages it has.
Travelling light means less things to worry about, less things that can go wrong so that can you to focus on what matters most, the experience.
In a nutshell the 4 tips to be a travel minimalist are:
- Save money on baggages when travelling via plane
- Pack more into less
- Decide what gear you should leave and what is really necessary
- Incorporate this way of thinking into your day to day life
In this guide, we’ll explore these 4 tips to inspire you for your next trip. Let’s start.
1. Save money on baggages when travelling via plane
Let’s presume you decided to book a flight to a sunny destination.
You might have a budget in mind and want to use the rest of your money to spoil yourself a bit with restaurants and other fun activities.
The rules of airline companies regarding baggages and more importantly how much you can take on board have changed dramatically.
In the past, even low cost airlines included a cabin baggage on board such as a trolley and a handbag. National carriers had even better options, allowing sometimes even larger baggage to be included in the original ticket price.
But those times have unfortunately passed. Rising cost of fuel, airport taxes, the competition from low cost airlines meant that even these carriers adjusted their baggage rules.
While for some larger companies like Lufthansa or KLM, it’s still normal on some routes to have your hand luggage such as a trolley included in the price, for others like LOT (Polish airways) or TAP (Portugal’s airline) it comes as an add-on the the ticket.
This leads to almost a low cost type of flying experience, not much different than what you would get with the likes of Ryanair.
A minimalist traveller will usually not need extra baggages. As this adds up cost and complicates to some extent the experience.
Now i have to note, that this depends from traveller to traveller and having an extra trolley if you decide to travel minimalist for 6 months is not breaking the rule.
But even so, there are other ways to tackle long travel.
Either you can make do with what you packed, or if needed you can buy the things you need from the destination. Thus not having to carry them with you.
Keep an eye on baggage costs
The extra cost of adding baggage to your trip will usually be one of the biggest costs, and it’s a trick that airlines use to gain more revenue, especially if they offer such low ticket prices.
This is actually the main reason they can offer such low prices. Prices that we will take advantage of.
Before your trip, make an inventory of the things you need to bring with you and what is nice to have, but not really necessary.
Things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, and various others can be found at the destination. Same things go for clothing that you forgot to pack or may realise you need because of the current situation, like for example an umbrella or raincoat.
Really take your time and shift through the items you want to bring and don’t be afraid to remove the “nice to have’s” as these things can take valuable luggage space and you might not even need them in the first place.
2. Pack more into less
Having referred to travelling light its usually not needed to pack your entire wardrobe.
Not that a minimalist would do that, or even have much of wardrobe to pack anyway.
But having said that there are multiple ways to fit a surprising amount of items into the small bag.
Rolling your clothes is probably one of the best and most popular ways to pack as many items as possible.
There are plenty of guides on Youtube how to do it, and i suggest you take your time to check them out and see which one works best you.
Personally when i started implementing this technique i was astonished by how much i could actually fit in my backpack.
Check out this Youtube clip!
3. Gear or no gear
Taking your DSLR, a few extra lenses, your Macbook and a few hard drives (to store all those photos), might look nice on paper but you have to ask yourself if that’s really necessary.
Again, this comes down to your personal situation.
Are you a professional photographer that wants or needs to capture amazing content for their job or blog? Then probably you would need a DSLR. For everyone else thou, the smartphone you already have in your pocket with most likely do a good enough job.
On a side note, in a lot of places in Europe, the US and some parts of Asia there are photography stores where you can rent a DSLR with the lenses that you need.
Financially its up to you to decide if bringing your own vs. renting one is the better decision for your specific situation.
For the rest of us who are not professional photographers, and that like to travel light but also capture beautiful pictures and memories, usually we already carry a pretty good camera with us, in our pockets.
Todays smartphones are good enough to take more that decent pictures of your vacation.
The likes of the iPhone and the Pixel phones in some scenarios can even rival the quality of a DSLR.
The same goes for laptops. The laptops sold today are usually thin and light enough to be able to be slipped into your travel bag without adding too much to it.
Sometimes a phone is all you need
But since we want to travel minimalist, most of the time, our phones can do more if not all of the tasks we would normally do on a laptop.
While it’s true that it’s not so comfortable to type on a small screen, tasks like sending emails, watching videos, and even editing pictures can be easily done on modern day smartphones.
If you really need a bigger screen but don’t want to carry a laptop with you, then consider a tablet.
While the hardcore minimalists out there might say that you wouldn’t even need those, as you can make do with just a map and a compass, and in theory it’s true, getting stranded without the being able to call for help is not so appealing.
Also the possibility of talking to friends and family is important, thus i recommend carrying at least your phone.
4. Staying minimalist
Choosing the right accommodation is very important.
While a hotel room with a jacuzzi and sauna is great, these things are not needed.
Minimalism while travelling doesn’t mean lack of comfort or amenities but rather having a realistic look of what you actually needed.
And what is actually needed is a roof over your head, a toilet (or bush if you go with a tent), and energy (preferably one or more power sockets).
Usually travelling in this way is very similar to travelling on a budget, and i suggest you check out my post on how to travel with just 25$ per day, here.
While there are plenty of hotels who fit the bill when it comes to this style of travelling, we should not limit ourselves to that. Airbnb’s are also a great solution. Hostels too.
If you are more the nature loving type and if the time of year and destination is right, then tents are a great way to connect with nature while keeping it as minimalist as possible.
When it comes to food, lavish 7 course dinners are usually not what we minimalist travellers are interested in.
Although its nice to spoil yourself and enjoy good food, this can be achieved also by doing your own groceries and cooking your own food.
One amazing service that is really popular in Europe is actually called TooGoodToGo, and it aims to prevent food waste.
I’ve talked about it a few times in my previous posts aimed at budget travel, in short it is a service that every minimalist should consider.
As for those of you who don’t like to cook(like me) they offer interesting meal options, meaning minimal effort from your side.
I personally love to travel minimalist, and it represents the waste majority of the travels that i had.
Being able to travel lite and fast, not having to wait for your baggage on the conveyer belt, and just having an overall simpler experience means i have less things to worry about and more time to concentrate on what really matter, enjoying my time and my vacation.
If you are like me and like to travel but also spend smart, then check out my guides on how to travel smart and 5 tips on how to travel with just 10$ per day, here.
See you soon!