This week the Restless and Wandering Blog is being taken over by Tammy T from The Minimalist Journey! Tammy has a ton of great stories to tell but today has graciously agreed to talk about traveling like a minimalist.
I use to be just like everyone else. To be honest, I use to think I was better than everyone else. Busting my ass to get ahead in my career and getting my foot in the door where-ever a door swung open. Time off was for the weak and traveling was a later concern, for which I never had a plan for.
When I landed my dream job, I thought I’m finally successful! I got paid the big bucks and I got to do what most people my age only dreamed of getting the opportunity to do. I lived in a nicer place than I could have ever hoped. I had name brand clothes all the girls around me told me I should wear. Secretly, I liked most of all that people were starting to talk about me.
What more could a girl ask for?
Turns out a lot more.
As I made more money, I needed to worked harder I wanted more things; after all I “deserved” it. After a few years I found myself just like everyone else; buying things I couldn’t afford to impress people I didn’t care about. I worried about keeping up, checking list, and following the path everyone told me your suppose to. Eventually I was perfectly use to be perfectly miserable.
I wouldn’t say I found minimalism. No, it saw me drowning in the ocean of facades I had created and it tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I needed help. Four years later, it was the single best move I’ve ever made for myself.
I get asked why I choose to be a minimalist all the time. Although my answer is never quite the same it always boils down to the same questions I ask people back: What is everything you ever truly wanted out of life?
The best part of becoming a minimalist is indisputably, traveling light. Although the uncomfortable lingering feeling of forgetting something or being unprepared can certainly be nerve racking, it doesn’t have to be. My first few travels taught me a lot about what I thought I would need and what I actually used.
Here are a few things to think about when your trying to travel light:
Pack exactly (and only) what you will need. Lets me honest, most of us over pack. Even when we don’t pack much, we always find there is one article of clothing we didn’t end up wearing or something silly we never would have needed. Yet, there it is occupy that space in our backpacks being lugged around the airport.
Be realistic. If you don’t normally use mouthwash you certainly aren’t going to suddenly start on this trip. Remember to be honest and take inventory of the things you use everyday. Here are my categories I consider when backpack traveling.
- Adventure gear
- Travel/Emergency documents
- Daily/emergency medications
It is best to figure out the proper clothing you will need for where ever you are going and what you are doing. You wouldn’t want to be caught in Canada during the winter without a coat. Additionally, if your going to be doing any outdoor adventuring you’ll need the proper gear. It maybe beneficial to budget in renting certain gear when you arrive so you don’t have to carry it (For example you wouldn’t want to pack flippers, snorkel and mask if you’ve never actually snorkeled before).
When booking where I’m going to stay (usually an Airbnb) I’ll usually contact the host to see if they offer a washer/dry so that I can pack fewer clothes than days I will be there. Makes for a much lighter backpack.
*Packing tip: Bring clothes of neutral colors – they tend to match easier and look better in pictures.
*Packing tip: Zero waste options make airport security much easier. I try to stay away from plastic as much as possible so all my (traditionally liquid products) shampoo, soap or lotion I purchase in a solid form. That way I never have to pull them out of my backpack through security.
No matter how much you may plan and stew over the details, something doesn’t go to plan. Wither its forgetting to pack something or losing your wallet, it will happen. Learning to be resourceful is by far one of the best skills to have as a minimalist traveler. Often times I don’t have enough clothes to make it through the trip and no washer in site. So I simply hand wash clothes in the sink and hang them up to dry over night. Sometimes things happen and you learn to make the best of it.
*Packing tip: I always pack a pair of long socks. Not only have I needed them for when its colder than I anticipated, but it comes in handy on long camp trips in case I forget to bring a little toilet paper.
Making Things Easy
When you pack less things you tend to know where those things are. Now airport security is a breeze. Everything has a place and everything is in its place. So if I have to pull out my electronics at security– I make sure they are easily accessible. My passport and wallet are securely tucked away so someone can’t steal them without me noticing, but not so hard to find I can’t get to it in a jiffy. Think about what you will likely need when.
*Packing tip: Folding my clothes in the smallest form possible helps keep things organized so I don’t have to unpack when I take things out. I use the Kon Mari method for shrinking all my clothes down at the bottom of my bag.
A Minimalist Mindset
Traveling like a minimalist has altered the way I think altogether. I use to be quite stressed days leading up to traveling. I’d panic about what to pack and if I had everything. Then I’d be stressed lugging everything including the kitchen sink to the airport. I’d stand at the counter and hope and pray I wasn’t over the bag weight limit. Then stress about how long the wait would be at baggage claim. Worst of all was the thought of living out of suitcase when I finally checked into my hotel/house. Less things most definitely means less worries. Now that I backpack travel; I know exactly what I need to bring because I’ve done it a hundred times before. I don’t have to wait in long lines to check my bag or to pick it up. It takes me all of two minutes to fully unpack my backpack into one drawer at my stay, leaving me more time to enjoy my trips. After all isn’t that why we travel?
Want to worry less about the stress of traveling? Give traveling like a minimalist a try.