13 Reasons it’s Better to Travel like a Minimalist

13 Reasons it’s Better to Travel like a Minimalist

Minimalism: It’s a fad, a lifestyle, a way to design spaces, and even a fashion statement. Traveling like a minimalist was natural before today’s minimalist trends came into the picture. Minimalist travel has to do with the stuff you bring with you, the speed you travel and your attitude while on the road.

It’s hard to say whether traveling has made me more of a minimalist or if I became inspired as I spent more time abroad. Every trip I take it seems like I bring less and less stuff with me. Because less stuff  = more seamless and more meaningful adventures.

To travel is to be on a journey. And why would you want to go on a journey when you’re physically and mentally bogged down with lots of stuff?

Traveling like a minimalist means having less stuff. It doesn’t mean letting go of the comforts of the modern world or limiting your possessions to a ridiculously low number. It is not a set of rules; it’s about letting go of things you can do without. It’s about feeling free to live your best life at your fullest potential.

The concept of minimalism means different things for different people. For some it’s about decluttering physical possessions, and for other’s it might be about focusing their career or letting go of activities or relationships. For me it’s about simplifying my external and internal world, and being conscious about the impacts of consuming more than I need.

Minimalism challenges me to be a more conscious traveler and just a better human being. It has also changed a few things about the way I travel.

1. Pack Less, Carry Less

train station at sunset in melbourne, australia with a blue and pink ominous sky

Packing less stuff means that it is MUCH easier to get around. When I have just one or two bags with me, packing, transportation, and mobility are more seamless and less stressful. I can also find everything I need much more quickly when I know where everything is. 

LEARN MORE: HOW TO PACK A MINIMALIST CARRY-ON

2. Buy Less Souvenirs

hanging dreamcatchers that are pink, beige, and yellow with a dimly lit background

When I have a smaller backpack there simply isn’t enough space to carry trinkets from the places I visit. And honestly, friends and family back home appreciate foods and photos more than plastic knick-knacks made in China anyway.

3. Be Environmentally Friendly

square plant pot with a cacti and three books on the left side of michael jackson, madonna, and whitney houston

I invest in fewer pieces that are of good quality, last longer, and that I really enjoy. I also try to avoid buying ‘disposable’ clothing from fast-fashion companies like H&M because of their ecological and social impact on workers and the environment. 

LEARN MORE: HOW TO BE A SUSTAINABLE TRAVELER

4. Save Money on Checked Baggage

a woman sitting on a twin bed with a map and orange backpack on the hardwood floors below

 

Having less baggage = spending less money. Most airlines allow you to bring one checked bag on long-haul flights which means that having one backpack fits these parameters at no extra cost. By packing light I avoid airport hassle, overweight fees,  and long lines at baggage claim. It’s a win-win!

5. Feel Lighter

I feel lighter mentally and physically when I have less stuff. My shoulders don’t hurt (as much) from trekking around a city for 4 hours waiting for hostel check-in time. Having to do laundry a little more often doesn’t compare to the feeling of walking around and not being bogged down by a 30-kilo pack. 

6. Be More in the Moment

two women walking with backpacks on a dirt, grassy path towards a mountain range

Let me explain – owning less stuff and removing unneeded possessions make my head feel clearer. Getting rid of items associated with past memories frees up mental space to start living in the present. Another way to be more present is to travel without phone.

7. Have Better Experiences

I’m far more focused now on what experiences or foods I could try instead of the clothes or trinkets I could purchase. I’d much rather keep the same clothes until they are unwearable than buy an “I Love New York” t-shirt!

8. Be More Resourceful

Unfortunately by having less stuff I sometimes don’t have the little things I need. This means that I have to be a bit more resourceful to get things done, like borrowing an umbrella or some scotch tape from a new friend. Instead of buying new books that suck to carry around, I might get something to read from a free book exchange. 

9. Feel Less Stressed Out

Someone once said that the more stuff you own, the more your stuff owns you. I couldn’t agree more. Having more items is like a mental burden. When the things I think I need (but don’t) are gone, it’s like a cloud is lifted from my brain.

10. Be More Spontaneous

orange and pink sunset between two mountains, with leaves, grasses and branches closeby

The temptation to buy and have more things can stand in the way of exploration. Owning less makes it easier to change plans on the fly or to be more flexible when flights are delayed. With less possessions t’s so much easier to pack up and get going as well.

11. Blend in Better

By having a smaller backpack it less obvious that I am a tourist. I feel less susceptible to theft because I’m less likely to be pegged as someone who doesn’t know where they’re going. I am more comfortable walking around in a new city, and feel more like I blend in with the local culture.

12. Travel More

aerial view of prague in the czech republic with the city dimly lit along the pale blue river

 

Do more, with less. Traveling like a minimalist leads me to spend less money on souvenirs and things I don’t need. This means I have more money to travel again, sooner.   

13. Embrace the Challenge of Downsizing Even More

decrepit black backpack on a slotted brown park bench with a camera, notebook, map, and sunglasses on the right

I try to think about my stuff as belonging to two categories: function or joy. If they have a specific function (like a toothbrush) then I need it. If a t-shirt brings me joy when I wear it, then I need it. When I buy a new piece of clothing, I think of what piece in my closet I can exchange for the new one so that my amount of things doesn’t get out of hand. 

 

Traveling like a minimalist has given me more mental clarity, less stress, and the freedom to have more meaningful adventures. It has also made me more present and willing to try new things. 

Next time you pack for a trip, unpack your backpack one last time and take out 1/3 of the items inside. Chances are you won’t need half the things inside anyway! And you’ll thank yourself later when you’re carrying it around.

Check out more minimalist travel tips here.

Keep exploring,

Jessie

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. A friend and I want to start travelling a bit and I saw a link to this site, which I followed, and its so inspiring and helpful! Thank you!

    1. I’m so glad you enjoyed it and found it inspiring!

  2. I definitely need to learn how to pack less. I am not a carry-on girl unless my husband takes part of my load lol! It’s terrible.

    Thankfully, we already don’t like to buy stuff and bring it home–I think I’ve been watching too much Marie Kondo. Sometimes we will take a tiny ornament home as a souvenir but even then.

    Great advice. We try not to stand out and deplete water bottles too.

    1. Packing less makes everything better in my opinion. And I agree, buying lots of souvenirs is overrated. Unless they bring you joy, as Marie Kondo would say!

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