Travel is booming. It seems as though most of us are happy to be able to move about, visit friends, revisit familiar destinations, and strike out to explore new locations. While the traveling is fun, it can also be tiring, especially when we are dragging around a lot of our belongings and responsibilities. This past week at Minimal Quest – a monthly virtual meetup to discuss organizing and minimalism – we talked about ideas for how to travel like a minimalist. Would you like to travel lighter this year? If so, here are a few ideas.
Use a Packing List
Start with a basic packing list. Download the template, and then customize the list for each type of trip you take (e.g., ski trip, beach vacation, weekend getaway, holiday trip, visit to the kids, etc.). Save each new list in a folder entitled “Packing Lists.”
Shoes add bulk, so select one color scheme (e.g., blue, black, or brown), and pack as few shoes as possible. For instance, one for sightseeing and one for restaurants. Another way to reduce bulk is to pack a few basic garments that can be worn repeatedly, such as blue or black pants. Use smaller, lightweight accessories to provide variety. Remember, you are there to travel, not put on a fashion show. The less you bring, the easier your trip will be.
Make Reservations in Advance
Nothing ruins a vacation like showing up only to discover that you can’t see or do what you planned because everything is booked, full, under construction, or otherwise unavailable. Secure spots for meals, activities, shows, childcare, etc. before you travel.
Additionally, start early arranging care for your home, plants, and pets. Kennels, pet sitters, and other similar suppliers are also very busy right now.
Manage Expectations Back Home
It is harder than ever to truly escape the demands of daily life. Smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other technology have led to many leading a life that is perpetually “on call.” To travel like a minimalist, you want to minimize these obligations so you can focus your attention on the trip.
Therefore, it is important to communicate with friends, family, and work regarding:
- when you will be gone
- if you will be reachable
- which communication tools you will be checking (i.e., emails, texts, voicemails, Whatsapp™, etc.)
- when/how often you will be checking messages
Setting an “away message” is another way to remind people that they shouldn’t expect to get a quick reply. If possible, add an extra day of blackout after you return to grocery shop, answer emails, do laundry, etc.
Carry a Few Small, Helpful Items
Minimalist travel isn’t only about bringing less, it is also about bringing what you need to minimize aggravation and stress. In addition to clothing and personal care items, remember:
- Small bills for tipping (don’t rely on being able to get change right away)
- A portable battery charger for electronics (this can be a lifesaver if you are out and about all day)
- A zip-top bag for receipts (offload receipts into this bag at the end of each day so you aren’t carrying around a lot of bulky paper)
- Printed copies of tickets and travel documents (in case you lose Wi-fi or the venue requires printed tickets)
- A refillable water bottle (it isn’t always easy to find a vendor, and staying hydrated will help you enjoy your trip)
Unpack When You First Arrive
It is tempting to hop right into fun activities when you arrive at a vacation destination, but your visit will be smoother if you take a few minutes up front to establish order. Establishing “homes” for the items you brought will enable you to find them quickly and reliably for the duration of your visit. Since you are in a new setting, it is easy to put things down and then be unable to remember where they are. You don’t want to waste precious vacation time trying to find what you need. In addition to clothing, choose locations for:
- Electronics & charging
- Important papers and travel documents
- Loose change
- Dirty Laundry
Be Mindful About Souvenirs
Buying souvenirs is optional. It is possible have a great vacation without buying anything at all! If you enjoy bringing souvenirs home, before purchasing, clarify how you will get items home, where you will store them upon your return, and how you will use them. Many items we buy while traveling are trinkets that end up collecting dust. Sometimes, we make an impulse purchase and then realize we cannot carry the item on an airplane or that it is going to cost a lot of money to get it shipped home.
As a general rule of thumb, select items that you will use.
Some examples of “useful” souvenirs include:
- Artwork, particularly for a location you determine in advance
- Holiday decorations that you take out and enjoy every year
- Clothing and accessories that you will wear
- Food items you can eat and enjoy (although be careful about transportation restrictions, especially if you are bringing items in from another country)
- Items for entertaining (e.g., coasters, platters, utensils, etc.)
- Pieces that will become part of a collection
Additionally, while gifts are lovely, be mindful about what you give to someone else. Remember that they were not on the trip and might not have the same emotional attachment to an item that you do.
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Do you have any travel plans in the upcoming months? Do you travel like a minimalist?