I enjoy traveling to new places.  If there is one thing I have prioritized as a recent college graduate, it is to continue learning by exploring.  Whether it is a weekend away or a lengthy trip abroad, I am determined to find something new and continue my travels.

As a minimalist, I look for ways to plan stress-free trips.  I know it is rather difficult to set such a lofty goal, but I have a few strategies I would like to share.

Minimalist Travel Tips:

  1.  Less is more.  I thought I would start out with a standard minimalist response.  However, this is an important one to remember.  Bringing less stuff will not weigh you down (more on this later…).  Also, when planning a trip, narrow your list of “must-do’s/must-see’s” because chances are, you will probably start out too ambitious.  It is better to limit your list in order to leave room for surprises and to prevent burning out.
  2. Check for resources.  Unless your destination is extremely remote, chances are you will find things you need there, or at least, substitutes.  For example, if I am staying at a hotel, I double-check if my room supplies complimentary toiletries.  If I take a plane, I check to see if there are shops I can pick up personal items like shampoo/conditioner/shower gel to prevent exceeding PSA limits and space in my bag.
  3. Buy smaller luggage.  If you are planning a weekend getaway or just want to travel light, I suggest downsizing your luggage.  As with Tip #2, you can always make purchases if you find yourself in need of items at your destination.  The smaller the luggage, the less weight you need to tote around.  My choice:  I love the Osprey Porter 46 travel pack (see my review on it)!  It is just a few liters larger than a standard backpack, has multiple pouches, fits within most carry-on requirements, and has multiple ways to carry it.  I like to keep my hands as free as possible in case I need to grab a water bottle, hop on a bus quickly, or take some pictures.
  4. Try a capsule wardrobe.  See my post on the Capsule Wardrobe for a full explanation.  I love capsule wardrobes because you end up wearing what is comfortable and save luggage space by mix-matching pieces to create new looks.
  5. Keep travel information all in one place.  Keep a small ziploc or waterproof bag specifically for travel documents (passports, travel insurance, etc.) easily accessible.
  6. Create a traveling routine.  I like keeping to a routine in order to cover my bases when I embark on an excursion.  For example, when I arrive at my lodging, I organize my gear immediately.  I return items to their original places, make sure nothing is missing, and review my plans/itinerary.  Keeping to a routine helps prevent confusion, losing items, and maintain excitement.
  7. Critically assess what you bring. This is especially important to me when dealing with road trips.  It is equally important to be comfortable when spending long hours on the road and to maintain a clean travel environment.  My first step is to assess every item I bring for the ride in the car.  Whether I am driving or a passenger, I try to limit how much I bring to the following categories:
    1. Emergency equipment (blanket, map, extra water, snow shovel in the winter, etc.)
    2. Sustenance (basic snack and water)
    3. Garbage Management (trash bag for wrappers, etc.)
    4. Entertainment (usually limited to music and a book)
  8. Develop a calm perspective.  Without letting down your guard – it is important to remain vigilant wherever you go – develop a mindset that helps you react rationally to the unexpected.  Maybe it rains during a week you thought was forecasted to be sunny.  Maybe you run into a minor vehicle problem.  Or a major one.  Maybe you get sick.  As a first responder and frequent wilderness trip leader, I cannot say enough about how perspective can change a situation.  While your problem may end up just being a wrong turn, it is critical that you simplify, not magnify, the situation you find yourself in.  A rational mind leads to results.

While I do not have all the answers for traveling stress-free, these eight suggestions have led me all over the mid-west United States, Canada, the UK, and Eastern Europe.  I definitely suggest trying out all sorts of strategies to find what works best for you!  Pass it on!

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