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Minimalist Travel Guide & Packing List

Minimalist Travel Guide & Packing List

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Your inner nomad called and wants its adventures back! Minimalist traveling will allow you to get further, faster — and look and feel better while doing it. Here’s the Minimalist Travel Guide & Packing List you’ve been searching for.

Traveling is not about what you bring with you, but what you absorb and bring back home with you. The lighter you travel, the further you can get — which is why we love minimalist travel. Whether you’re a traveler on a solo backpacking trip or with a large group of people, if you want to feel and look put together on each day of your trip, these tips are for how to maximize your travel with the minimum number of items.

No one wants to be the guy schlepping 3 tandem suitcases through the airport, or have more suitcases than floor space wherever you’re staying. The more items you bring with you, the more stressed you’ll be looking after them. When you travel like a minimalist, you are able to be more present in your surroundings and opportunities. If you’re leaving home, why bring half of it with you?

If you’re curious about how to travel like a practiced minimalist, what gear you’ll need, and essential items to fill it with, we’ve got you covered.

What Is Minimalist Travel?

Minimalist travel is when you, yes — you, pack only the material possessions that are absolutely necessary — and nothing more. You can *gasp* wear a shirt more than once before washing it. The challenge is to fit everything you need in one compact suitcase, and once you get really good at it, just a backpack. Minimalist travel is about packing smarter, more thoughtfully, and efficiently.  Keep reading as we break down how and what you need to pack for your minimalist travel:

Four Tips For Minimalist Travel

  • Find a Great Travel Backpack: If you don’t have a minimalist backpack for your daytime adventure, we can fill you in on the importance of those here. It’s the one item we recommend investing in, whether you’re an avid traveler or a first-time adventurer. An everyday carry bag is the best way to stay and feel put together and organized. You want a commuter backpack with a sleek interior, but plenty of space and pockets to keep your belongings organized.

  • Only Pack Essentials: No, you don’t need different pants for each day of your trip — and can probably get by just with one heavier sweatshirt. Layout everything you’d want to pack and look critically at what is redundant, or what you’re less likely to wear. Minimalist packing is a great time to pull your first-string lineup of clothes that can transition from day to night as well, so you spend less time getting ready and more time out and about. Minimalist traveling isn’t about filling a sleek-looking bag to the brim, but really reflecting about what will be most useful, versatile, and practical for your travels.

  • Bring Comfortable Travel Shoes: Get shoes that are made for walkin’, because that’s just what they’ll do! While it’s great to stay stylish (we love to!), practicality is more important than following a trend when it comes to what protects your feet from the ground while traveling with minimalism in mind. If you’re buying new shoes for your trip, wear them as often as you can beforehand to make sure they’re comfortable and broken in before you spend all day strolling around in them. Plus, choose shoes that are easy to clean and versatile (maybe leave the neon sneakers at home this time) so you can wear them with any outfit for any occasion on your trip.

  • Consolidate Electronics: Do you really need your phone, computer, AND tablet? Depending on how much work you need to get done, you may be able to just send and receive emails from your phone without bringing a laptop with you. While a tablet is a sleek alternative to packing a number of books, you shouldn’t bring it unless you’re planning on using it. Consider packing a second charger or phone charging wallet if you have one because they break or get lost easily. While we do recommend going on unexpected adventures, wandering a city without a phone to find a charger is one we’d skip!

Minimalist Packing List

We’ve made you a list, and checked it twice. Here is our essential list for traveling like a pro minimalist:

  • Travel backpack (with lots of internal pockets!): this should be big enough for all your belongings, but small enough to fit in an airplane overhead cabin compartment. Be sure to check your airline’s size requirements to make sure you’re within these guidelines.
  • Lightweight laptop or tablet: whether you’re working remotely or just staying in touch with family, keeping a backup electronic device guarantees you don’t lose touch with the people you keep in contact with each week. After all, it’s not like you’ve memorized most people’s phone numbers.
  • Smartphone and charger: if traveling internationally, call your provider to see if you can have service coverage where you go. If not, be sure to take advantage of WiFi hotspots wherever you go! Before you travel, make sure your software is updated, your charger is working, and your phone bill is paid! Plus, if you haven’t invested in a durable case and screen protector — this would be a great time to make sure you’re covered.
  • Water bottle: Stay thirsty, my friends. Staying hydrated, especially in different climates, will keep you energized more throughout the day. Hanging toiletry bag: When it comes to staying organized in your hostel or hotel, a hanging toiletry bag will save you from spreading out too much on any counter space — especially if it’s shared!
  • Universal travel adapter: Your electronics will thank you! Be sure to check the voltage limits before plugging any of your items in so you don’t fry your electronics.

Benefits of Minimalist Travel

  • Travel faster: With less holding you down, you can travel further and faster. Starting at the airport, rather than waiting for your checked bag to come onto the carousel, you can just grab it from your overhead compartment and take off. Consider how much time you spend unpacking and repacking a large suitcase, can you use that time instead to expand your adventure?

  • Minimalist travel costs less: Less shopping, cheaper total flight costs, fewer things you don’t need or won’t lose — the list goes on and on! You’ve heard of Mo Money Mo Problems and (am pretty sure) that song was written about the cost of going on vacation. Maybe. You’ll save money on bag fees, especially if they lose your luggage! (It happens more than they’d like to admit).

  • Minimalist travel is less stress: The more things you have to look after, the more likely you are to lose track of things! If you’re constantly worried about leaving items behind, having them stolen from your hotel, or if you’ll be able to close your suitcase on the way home — the less you bring, the less you have to worry about. A cluttered bag or room is a cluttered mind, and you should strive to open up as much room in your mind to absorb the highlights of your trip and be more present.

About the author
Evan Grimm, Writer
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About the author
Evan Grimm is a practical writer, blogger, editor, and knowledgeable up-and-coming authority in the outdoor realm. His best-known content is published on, The Alaska Frontier, and Exodus Outdoor Gear. He and his family reside in central Alaska, where daily common sense and practicality are necessary. His commercial pilot and aircraft technician certifications make him focus on what is relevant and solidly provable. You will find him writing or proving more content.
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