A Minimalist’s Guide to Traveling Light

A Minimalist’s Guide to Traveling Light

September 21, 2020 | By Nafeesah Allen

Nowadays it’s easy to find flight cheap flights, but most carriers make up the difference with surcharges for luggage. Some low-cost airlines even charge for carry-on bags! So, to get the most value out of these deals, you have to pack light. Traveling minimalists are quite sophisticated at rolling techniques and wearing layers, but if this is your first time traveling without a caravan of suitcases we suggest you master these 5 minimalist principles to travel as light as a feather.

Cellphone attachments: Your cellphone is the ultimate minimalist tool. That little rectangular box can help you call your mom, make hotel reservations, convert currency, check the weather, order a ride, translate greetings, watch a movie, read a book, and – of course – take photos for posterity. Invest in small but mighty upgrades to reap large rewards. We recommend camera lens attachments, submersible water-proof cases, wireless BlueTooth headphones, a tripod, and a pop wallet to maximize your device. After all, a well tricked out phone means you can leave your laptop, camera, and fanny pack behind, and stay hands-free in airports and behind the wheel.

ProTip: Download Audible and listen to your books hands-free. Reading a real book is wonderful, but it can be dead weight on a trip.

Capsule wardrobe: Courtney Carver’s 333 project is all about taking the guesswork out of what to wear. She advocates for having no more than 33 pieces in your wardrobe per season, which lasts about 3 months. Hence, the name: 333. Turns out a capsule wardrobe is the adult version of a uniform. Stick to interchangeable basics and it’s easy to pack light. If your closet is already threadbare you’re ahead of the game. If not, then create a capsule wardrobe for your trip. For a week-long vacay, try 3 shirts, 3 bottoms, a jacket, a versatile scarf, 3 pairs of comfy shoes, and all the undies you can stash (underwear doesn’t count in Carver’s tally). 

ProTip: If you’re heading to a place with a washing machine, pack EcoNuts so you’re prepared to take advantage of a fashion reset.

Waterproof and Expandable Backpack: The key to making the switch to lighter luggage is a bag that can grow with you and also stop you in your tracks when you’re teetering on the brink of souvenir excess. Tumi and Samsonite offer professional-looking options with wheels and a handle, but Longchamp, Jansport, and Landsend offer sturdy pops of color that don’t skimp on space. These bags are easy to fit in overhead compartments. And if yours is empty enough, they are great weekenders. After a few uses, you’ll realize that you have more than enough space for everything you need and no space left for the junk you don’t. 

Protip: Get an Anti-Theft Backpack for added safety and protection for valuables.

Send your souvenirs ahead: For some people travel is a guilty-pleasure met with family demands to bring back gifts to atone for absences. Others are so generous that the idea of coming back empty-handed just isn’t an option. To avoid bursting your baggage budget, mail your gifts ahead. Many cities and countries have perfectly functional mail systems that get your key chains and trinkets back to your hometown for a fraction of the cost of your excess baggage fees. If the costs for shipping seem too high for the cost of what you’d send, the best alternative is to go with postcards. Yes, old school postcards are nearly a thing of the past, which makes them wonderfully pleasant surprises to receive. An individualized, handwritten card definitely beats rushing through the airport duty-free buying overpriced, generic chocolates.

Protip: If possible, use local, public mail systems rather DHL, FedEx, and other private carriers that are known to carry hefty charges.

Pack to leave it all behind: You might have left home light, but if you can afford to go home empty-handed then leave it all behind. If you’re an adventure traveler, it is highly likely that you’ll vacation in places where people would appreciate the t-shirt off your back way more than you do. So, consider leaving clean, well-loved wardrobe essentials to local charities or families in need. This is especially true of liquids or gels in containers that will be too large to pass the security muster. Rather than throw away perfumes, body wash, liquid, and gel toiletries in airport trash cans, plan to leave it all behind with people who will put it to good use. 

Protip: Don’t be shy about asking service providers – tour guides, hotel concierge, shuttle drivers – if they’d like something you have to give. In many places, your offer will be well received and is more acceptable than taking cash tips, which may be restricted or divided among employees you’ll never meet.



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