Why you should embrace the minimalist travel mindset

Minimalist travel is less about packing lighter and smarter, and more about adopting the mindset "less is more" and sticking to it while on the road.


Ea3dc39ca0b2f6b5f17abddec1f0e9a4

Apr 29, 2019

I'm a traveler in search of those life-changing experiences. My goal is to learn as much as I can of the world in order to create the person I want...

Minimalist travel

To travel is to experience unique parts of the world that exist outside of our own little bubbles of comfort. 

Upon returning from your trip, you will find that you think a little differently, your mind is a little more open, and you walk away with new knowledge that you simply can't find in books.

Our baggage can be physical or mental. You might have something weighing heavily on your mind that you're more focused on during your trip, or maybe you're simply in a bad headspace when you finally board that plane. More physical baggage can lead to more mental baggage, which can become a real headache while you're on the go.

The less cluttered and more prepared you are for travel, the more knowledge and experience you will inevitably soak up. The same goes for your suitcase. Some travelers will pack everything they need in one backpack and live out of it for an entire year! 

Minimalist travel is about leaving your old self at home in order to create space for a different, better you. This is where packing light — literally and metaphorically — becomes essential.


Hiker enjoying a panoramic mountain view

First things first: how to pack like a minimalist

Separating what we want to bring from what we actually need can be a real challenge. Minimalist travel is about living simply and comfortably and is something that takes time to get used to. It requires a mindset shift toward a new lifestyle change. You'll be looking at your packing list with fresh eyes and renewed purpose as you set foot out into the world.

Minimalism frees you from so many burdens when it comes to travel! Packing smarter will make you more comfortable on the road, help you avoid lost baggage by keeping it carry-on only, and it eliminates the wait you'd normally spend at baggage claim. It may be hard not to overpack and include things you might need, but in the end, traveling light will make navigating your new destination much easier.

Leaving behind the unnecessary and embracing minimalist travel will add to the freedom you'll need to travel at your leisure. The best part is that there isn't a set of strict rules that everyone needs to follow to achieve minimalism when they pack! 

It's all about using guidelines to help you discover your own system that works best for you. Studying the goals of minimalist travel will teach you to become more decisive, which is the key to packing efficiently.

In today's world, material things take on much more meaning to us than they should. Shopping addictions and mass consumption are issues that the world faces regularly. 

Determining what items bring us joy and fulfillment can be a complicated process, and weeding out all the excess can be a healthy way to sever our dependence on material possessions. Minimalism closes the door of distraction and opens the door of focus. We can better appreciate the things that truly matter to us.


Female traveler planning a trip route on a map

Questions to ask yourself before your trip

There are a few key questions to ask yourself as you create your own minimalist travel packing list so that you can reduce the growing pile of stuff you decide to take with you. Take a look at everything and ask yourself:

  • Do I need it?
  • Will I use it?
  • What items can be multi-purposed?
  • What can I use over and over again?

Let your need for certain items outweigh the number of things you simply want to bring along

For example, you need walking shoes but you want to bring three pairs to give you more options. This one's a no-brainer. Consider bringing one pair of each type of shoe you'll be needing, rather than bringing multiple pairs that all serve the same purpose. The same rule applies for clothing and accessories. Choose what's practical, and consider designing a capsule wardrobe.

Capsule wardrobes are made up of a few pieces of clothing that can all be mixed, matched, and worn for any occasion. This not only frees up space in your bag, but it also phases out the hassle of planning each individual outfit. If you're worried about not having enough variety in your wardrobe while you travel, you can always donate your clothes and do your shopping in an exciting new city!

Considering bringing your journal, a few books to read, or ten extra camera batteries just in case? Minimalist travel takes every "what if" and "just in case" out of the packing process altogetherThese phrases may seem thoughtful and cautionary, but in reality, they generate more needless clutter and disorder than you’d think. 

Keep striving to eliminate these hypotheticals from your packing method and you'll eventually get pretty good at distinguishing between necessary and unnecessary.

Developing a more minimalist mindset toward toiletries can be a daunting task as well. Try packing only travel-sized containers of your shampoo, toothpaste, and other essentials. 

If you absolutely need something, you can always head to the store during your trip to pick it up. No big deal! Being in a new city can inspire you to try something new and maybe even find a new favorite product you can share with friends.

Finally, it's especially important for minimalist travel packing that you find the perfect travel backpack and travel bag for you. I recommend having both — a minimalist travel backpack for your clothes, gear, and accessories, and a minimalist travel bag for your wallet, identification, camera, laptop, etc.


Traveler gazing out at the horizon line

Living the minimalist lifestyle and mindset as you travel

Minimalist travel is not simply about finding the perfect packing system and curbing your appetite for accumulating stuff. It’s about adapting to the minimalist lifestyle and applying it to every aspect of how you travel. When we learn to value experiences more than things, we make an investment in our lives beyond compare. 

Let nothing come between you and the life you've always dreamed of living.

If you are on the road for long periods of time, you might pick up a few things along the way that add to your carefully curated bag of belongings. These additions are nice to have, such as souvenirs or other things of worth, but they may not serve a specific purpose on your trip. Consider mailing those items home for safekeeping to keep your packing light and down to the basics.

A little goes a long way

Living as a minimalist traveler comes with awesome perks. Not being attached to so many belongings means you have the freedom to do anything at the drop of a hat. Spontaneous adventures are the spice of life when it comes to travel, and they are often some of the most memorable experiences of any trip!

Immersing yourself in a new culture is paramount to any serious traveler's itinerary. Slow, mindful travel is how you embrace exploring the world like a true minimalist. The smallest of experiences can often be the most impactful, so be sure not to rule anything out, no matter how simple it seems! Find ways to make deep, meaningful connections with the people you meet and places you visit.  

Living a minimalist lifestyle while on the road will undoubtedly make you a more conscious traveler and inspire you in new ways — why not create a minimalist travel blog and share your experience? 

Forget counting the countries you've visited, the check marks on your ever-growing bucket list, and the countless stamps in your passport. Seek to discover unique, eye-opening experiences that force you out of your comfort zone and challenge you to think differently.


Female traveler enjoying the view at Horseshoe Bend, Arizona

Becoming one with your new surroundings, understanding them to the best of your abilities, and allowing yourself to walk away transformed are what constitute an authentic travel experience

Ultimately, these are minimalist travel experiences because they take up space within you, filling your soul instead of your bag or passport.  


Ea3dc39ca0b2f6b5f17abddec1f0e9a4

Apr 29, 2019

I'm a traveler in search of those life-changing experiences. My goal is to learn as much as I can of the world in order to create the person I want...


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