Tips for Traveling With Less

I’d like to share with you a few tips that will make your life easier as a traveler, whether it is for a trip around the world or only visiting family in Tucson.

There are many blogs on the topic, and you can find a ton of ideas if you browse a little, so I’m going to be as accurate as possible to make it easier for you. The goal is not to become a truly “minimalist” traveler but merely get by with less stuff that you have to carry around and remove some of the hassle out of traveling.

Clothing — Most people bring way too much. The goal is to bring as little clothing as possible and not have to do laundry very often. Here are a few tips:

Pants – If traveling to a warm country, you only need one pair of pants, and that’s what you’re going to wear on your travel days. So choose one that’s light. If you go to a cold country, two pairs of pants are probably necessary. Outlier makes the best clothing (for men). Otherwise, any favorite pairs of pants are okay!

Shirts – I bring a maximum of 4-5 shirts on any trip, even very long trips. You don’t have to spend a lot of tech clothing, but make sure you’re not bringing cotton shirts, which require washing after a day or two. Here’s an example of a good travel shirt to bring for women and men.

Shoes – Again the mistake is to bring too much. Bring multi-purpose shoes! Two pairs, including sandals, is enough. I like minimalist shoes such as these ones. They’re not very fashion-friendly, though. You can bring two pairs: one that looks “normal” and one that’s more multi-purpose. I also like the Keen Newport as my favorite warm-weather shoes.

Think in layers – The key to bringing as little clothing as possible is to think in layers. Do you need to bring a winter jacket “just in case it gets cold”? No, just bring a great sweater AND a soft shell, such as this one. If it’s frigid, add a third layer. If you suspect that the weather might be worst, then choose warmer layers inside, which can be worn on their own on milder days! No need to bring an entirely separate piece of clothing such as a winter jacket.

Books — Just don’t bring paper books. If you read a lot, bring something like a Kindle. But otherwise, your smartphone or tablet is probably good enough. I will often get a paper novel, but only once I get to my destination.

Laptops, Smartphones, Tablets, etc. — Don’t bring one of each. It’s too much. First, do you need a laptop on a trip? Only if you need it for business. Otherwise, a tablet like an iPad works as your sole “computer.” But consider bringing only your smartphone instead. I have done it on many trips and it’s liberating only to carry one “gadget.” That’s why I like the “Phablet” phones, such as the iPhone Plus. It’s small enough to carry anywhere but large enough to temporarily replace all other devices. If I travel with a laptop, I never bring a tablet as well.

Ask yourself: Do I need this “just in case”?

Most of the stuff that fills huge suitcases for traveling is “just in case” material. Some people bring an entire medicine cabinet “just in case.” But in reality, usually, this stuff is available at your destination at a local pharmacy. Bring what you think you’ll probably use. Get the rest at your destination.

Ask yourself: What’s the worst case scenario? 

Does it make sense to bring antibiotic ointment on a trip where you’ll be staying at a hotel? Worst case scenario: something happens, and you don’t have the medicine. Then how hard will it be to obtain at your destination?

Try to Live Without “Essentials.”

I’ve known some raw foodists who traveled with their Vita-Mix! To me, that’s overkill. It’s great to have a Vita-Mix, but it’s not necessary to travel with one.

For a while, I was traveling with a little rice cooker. It was fun, but now I prefer to figure out how to cook vegetables or rice creatively once I get to my destination. Worst-case scenario, I’ll be forced to improvise. Is that so bad? Preparing for every eventuality takes the adventure out of traveling.

When You Get Back, Inventory the Unused Stuff

Invariably you’ll bring some items on a trip that you won’t use. When you get back, put all of those items in one place and inventory them. On the next trip, you probably won’t need to bring them!

Don’t Sweat It

The goal is not to only travel with the absolutely necessary. Having a few extra items is fine and won’t ruin your trip! But if you can manage to fit everything in an international carry-on such as my beloved Briggs and Riley along with a backpack, you’ll be ahead of the crowd!

Enjoy your trip 🙂