Minimalist Traveler: What’s the hardest thing to give up?
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. This means, at no additional cost to you, we may earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. These links help us keep the site online.
A: There isn’t one item that’s the hardest to give up as a minimalist traveler; rather it’s the idea that you need so much stuff to travel successfully. Letting go of that mindset can be difficult, but it will allow you to travel with so much more freedom. Let’s take a deeper look at what this means.
Bring Only What You Need
Many people plan for every contingency when packing for a trip. They end up with a massive amount of luggage that they then have to haul around, stress about, and wait for at baggage claim. This used to be me. I would flip through everything in my closet and all the adventure gear that I own, and pack everything that might be remotely useful.
While you may not have a dedicated outfit for every occasion, ultimately you won’t remember what you were wearing on the vacation. However, you will remember the amazing experiences you had. Making a list, packing versatile basics, and planning ahead according to your destination and activities are all good ways to eliminate excess and avoid over-packing. If you aren’t sure where to start, check out our pre-made packing lists.
Honestly, I’ve never had a bad vacation because I left something behind. Minimalist travelers exercise planning, adapting, and overcoming. If there’s something I desperately need but didn’t pack, it’s usually available at the destination; either by purchasing, renting, or borrowing.
Hands-free Luggage: A Minimalist Traveler's Best Friend
We’re advocates for traveling only with what you can carry on your back. In fact, this is the This allows you to skip the baggage check and claim, eliminates the worry of lost luggage, and overall simplifies your trip! Traveling with a backpack instead of a roller bag also frees up your hands. This can make things like navigating, eating on the go, and taking pictures much easier.
It is definitely possible to pack for week-long or even multi-week trips in just a backpack; it just requires the right backpack and strategic packing – both tenets of the minimalist traveler. You can even use a bag that opens like a duffel for easy access. Some of these can still be strapped to your back while you’re on the move, keeping your hands free.
Really, the only downside to traveling light is more frequent laundry. But sacrificing a few minutes before bed to wash your clothes every couple days is nothing compared to the stress, hassle and time spent managing a fleet of luggage. Plus, hand-washing your clothes saves gallons of water. If you pack a multipurpose soap like Dr. Bronner’s, you can use it to wash not only your clothes, but also your body, hair, and dishes!
Save Money and Time
For me, the biggest hassle of traveling is standing in line to check baggage, waiting around to retrieve baggage, and the associated expenses. Costs can easily reach $50 per bag for a round trip flight, that’s a huge incentive to pack lighter!
Plus, we’ve all felt that sickening feeling when our luggage doesn’t quickly appear on the carousel. We fear the worst and we recall the horror stories from Aunt Joan’s trip where the airline lost her bags and she had to live out of a shopping bag with drug store finds for a week. In any case, it casts an air of negativity on the whole trip.
Bringing a carry-on that stays with you saves tons of time and money. You can travel with greater peace of mind, knowing that it’s very unlikely your luggage will get lost.
Focus on the Journey
Traveling with less also encourages you to focus on the journey, not just the destination. You can be more spontaneous with your travel and be content with the fact that you have exactly what you need, no more and no less.
You are forced to let go of your “safety net” of stuff. Without the distraction of excess belongings, you can enjoy the process of traveling, and more fully enjoy the destination once you arrive.
It might seem like a challenge to give up the idea that you need to bring bags and bags of stuff to travel comfortably. In actuality it’s much easier, cheaper, and less stressful. In fact, the easiest way to journey a minimalist traveler is to live as a minimalist in your everyday life; that way, you won’t be tempted to pack extra stuff because you won’t have extra stuff. Read more about this in our Minimalist Travel: A Beginner’s Guide to Traveling Lighter.
Pack light and travel freely!