You know the phrase less is more? Incorporate this into every part of your daily life, especially when you travel. The idea of minimalist travel revolves around the removal of things that distract us from what’s important in life — what we value most.
Bring yourself back to the reason you are taking the trip in the first place. Maybe it’s to visit family or friends or to see a new country and immerse yourself in its culture. Perhaps you plan to be a tourist in New York or simply go on a business trip. Whatever the reason for your trip, remember that reason and let it guide you on your journey.
Understand what’s most important about the trip and what you plan to get out of it, then use a minimalist approach to get the most out of your trip. Read on for ways I’ve incorporated minimalism into my own travels.
It’s easy to pack too much, so get a smaller bag that forces you to pack only what you need. In the past I always over-packed, worried that I may need extra outfits and options. In fact I became so caught up with putting together the perfect outfits for each day, each activity, and each moment that I wasted lots of time that could have been better spent exploring my surroundings.
Let’s be real. No one really cares what you wear. However, I advise against walking around in your birthday suit, unless you are at a nude beach with strangers. Otherwise, this isn’t high-school. What you wear isn’t going to make or break your experience.
When you create your packing list, think in terms of comfort and climate, especially if you plan to explore and spend time outdoors. You aren’t going to wear high-heels and a short dress through the rainforest, so there’s no need to pack it.
As far as makeup, toiletries and other products you may use when at home — cut back, and only bring what you need. You don’t have to follow your full beauty routine when you travel. So, don’t bring your hair straighter and curling wand, two different body washes, your entire makeup case with all 40 eyeshadows and four different perfume options. What is it that you need?
It can be great to have a travel itinerary that guides you on your trip, but leave it at just that — a guide. Don’t create a step by step itinerary for your entire trip or you will be on autopilot. Once I learned this, it made my travels much simpler and more enjoyable because I was not so focused on what was next but was able to live in the moment more, and ultimately experience more.
A freer schedule will also allow for more spontaneity, which means more excitement. Your vacation will also feel longer. Who can say no to that?
Almost all of us are guilty of this — packing the just-in-case pair of shoes, extra handbags, and multiple sweater options. No Halloween costumes in case you get invited to a Halloween party, no floor length gowns in case you’re invited to a ball — only pack what you know you will use.
If you’re anything like me, I used to pack extra everything in case I was stuck somewhere longer than expected, in an accident, lost — you get the idea. Well guess what? You can’t live a life full of what ifs. Once I realized this, I was no longer overwhelmed or stressed.
Another thing to keep in mind — it’s ok to re-wear an item of clothing if it isn’t dirty. In fact, I wear pairs of jeans and certain sweaters at least a couple of times before washing them, and this is on a normal basis. I even outfit repeat. Once I started to apply this rule to traveling, it immediately simplified it. This will also increase room in your suitcase for souvenirs.
The travel portion of a trip does not have to be a rush or a burden. Yes, airports, hours flying and road trips can be boring, but make the best of your entire journey. This includes the there and back, a concept called slow travel. Walk instead of using Uber so you can see more along the way and stop at different tourist spots or local areas you may not otherwise discover. I also like to use public transportation if the option is safe because it will immerse you into the local scene.
Getting there can be just as fun if you set your mind to it and choose more minimalist modes of transportation.
I’m a visual person and like to look at things in front of me, like a packing list — I must check things off for them to truly be complete. However, I’ve implemented a paperless strategy into my travels and have ditched printed boarding passes, itineraries and other paper documents. Instead, keep important documents on your phone or iPad so they are easily accessible. This will also save space and minimize clutter.
Minimalist travel will not only simplify your life, but it will bring your focus back to what’s important —the journey. I think everyone should give it a try at least once to see the difference in the quality of your overall trip. I love to live in the moment as much as possible and this is a simple way to do just that.