53 items found for ""
- Fair Weather Travel
Please note: This post is a work in progress.. just like my life. I fully admit it, I'm a fair-weather, tropical-paradise-hopping, sun-seeking addict.. I pretty much exclusively follow the seasons when I'm traveling long-term.. And why not? If you're lucky enough to be able to travel long-term.. and you have all the freedom in the world... why go somewhere cold?? That is, of course, an over-simplification and (for many) an unrealistic approach to travel; we take the vacation time we get and we go where our friends/partners/families want to go; or we're promised perfect weather and we still end up in a shit-storm. But for those of you who are traveling alone, and who do get to choose when and where you go... these are my arguments for chasing the summer sun. 1) First and foremost, Summer is just better.. I don't know that I have to belabor this point too much... but the sun is shining, the days are longer, people are happier, it's just better. The only downside to summer travel, as far as I can tell, is that everything is busier... and that can be good or bad, depending on who you ask.. 2) Perhaps an obvious one, given the theme of this site, but you can pack SO much less.. I'll never forget visiting California for the first time (as a Minnesota native)... I looked in my buddy's closet and saw, what was in my opinion.. almost no clothes.. just shirts and shorts.. a few pairs of pants.. and wait? What? No jacket?!? It had never crossed my mind before, but it makes sense, when you live in an ocean-moderated, sunny-year-round climate, you only need summer clothes.. Of course, you might have hundreds of variations of summer gear, but it's all summer gear. Our family kept our winter stuff in storage during the summer, and then rotated out our summer clothes for winter clothes when the temps started dropping, usually around mid-summer (kidding). But the point is, packing for a single season, or even two seasons, is infinitely easier than packing for every conceivable location/climate/temperature, etc. And if you're travel plans are flexible, and the simplicity of minimalist travel is on your radar, it makes sense to do yourself the favor of single-season packing. 3) Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a real thing, and maximizing your time in the sun can do wonders.. This may not apply to everyone, but if you do suffer from seasonal depression, then your winter may be a great time to visit the other side of the world's summer. I use my longish trips to get away during the coldest months of winter; maximizing my time in the sun, while still getting to enjoy spring, fall and summer in a city I love. 4) The tropics are beautiful... There's no denying it, some of the most beautiful places in the world are also, conveniently, located along the equator, with beautiful to moderate weather all-year-round. Of course, you don't want to limit yourself to the tropics, but wouldn't they be a great place to visit while the rest of your friends are suffering through winter?? 5) It may be necessary to keep your pack small If you're using minimalist travel as a way to disconnect and get back to a simpler life, then, by nature, summer travel allows you to carry less stuff.. If you're really getting into minimalism, there's no better way than to go to a place where you can wear the same shirt and shorts every day. What better way to disconnect than by leaving most of your stuff at home?? 6) People are happier, and you'll meet more people.. There are simply more travelers and more people out and about over the summer. Again, this may or may not be your thing, but there are noticeably fewer people traveling during the heart of winter, and if part of your journey is the excitement that comes from meeting new people; you may want to consider timing your trip to coincide with your priorities. Reason's not to chase the sun: fewer tourists; some destinations are meant to be visited in the winter; some activities can only be done in the winter; it makes more sense financially/logistically to start or end in cooler climates; you don't have a choice; you don't like the summer, or you simply don't care. In summary, there are many benefits to fair weather travel, and it's something I wish I'd given more thought to before spending two months in Eastern Europe during their winter; perhaps you wouldn't be as miserable as I was, but hopefully this at least gets you thinking about the pros and cons of seasonal-travel. Warm or cold, your trip will be amazing - and maybe slightly more amazing if you're not caught cold-handed. :P
- Realities and Limitations
A comprehensive list of limitations with minimalist travel. As much as I'm a proponent of minimalist travel and all it's benefits, there are some negatives that need to be acknowledged. I'm assuming, if you're reading this, that you have at least a basic idea of my definition of minimalist travel; but if you stumbled upon this article and haven't read anything else yet, check out A True Minimalist (the inspiration for this site) and The Bare Essentials (an opinion piece on how little you actually need to travel). With that out of the way, here are the obvious and perhaps some non-obvious limitations of minimalist travel.. You must be willing to pack just a few sets of clothes, and do laundry every day, or worst-case, every couple days; it's not as bad as it sounds, but it's not for everyone. I liken it to hand-washing dishes in the sink; but if you can get over this mental hurdle, the benefits can be great; check out Laundry on the Road and/or Washing Clothes in the Shower for more thoughts around this simple, daily ritual. By nature of the above, you must be okay with wearing the same few clothes every day.. if you can't get over that concept, minimalist travel likely isn't for you; but if you want to hear an argument for why it doesn't matter, check out No One Cares (Expect Maybe You). I pack just three black shirts, one pair of hiking shorts or convertible pants, one swimsuit and maybe a pair of actual pants; depending on my destination; you can see my full packing list here. Ideally, you should be okay with packing just one or two pairs of shoes; I pack just one pair of black hiking/trail-running shoes and a pair of barefoot sandals; check out Oh My God, Shoes! for more detail. Given all the above, you likely won't be able to get into the fanciest clubs, bars or restaurants; perhaps this is a non-starter for some of you, but if you're reading about minimalist travel, you probably don't care. In all of my travels, I've never once felt like I couldn't go somewhere based on my simplistic shirts and shorts (it's a pretty American concept); but once you're on the road, most people either don't care how you look, or, more likely, the people you meet will be on a budget and not trying to go to fancy places anyway... check out Bars and Nightclubs for a more thorough discussion around nightlife on the road. You might have to wear damp or dirty clothes - on occasion - if your clothes didn't have enough time to dry, or if you haven't had the time to wash your clothes in a couple days; it's rare, once you get in the habit of daily washing, but it definitely will happen at some point. At the end of the day, minimalist travel requires some planning ahead, or a willingness to look a little grungy on a hangover travel day; check out Laundry on the Road Part II (Drying) and Dry Times for thoughts and opinions around this extremely annoying aspect of minimalist travel. You may have to adjust your travel plans to match summer seasons and/or warm climates; this isn't exactly ideal (or even feasible) for short trips, but if you're traveling long-term, it's definitely worth considering; check out Fair Weather Travel for my take on chasing the sun. Note: if you can't travel with the seasons, that doesn't mean minimalist travel isn't an option; check out Cold Weather Travel for more thoughts and opinions around minimalist winter travel. You may have to buy some stuff on the road, rent the gear you need, and/or leave some things behind as you move around the world; but one of the main benefits of minimalist travel is realizing how little we need and detaching from the weight of our things; it may feel foreign at first (pun intended), but once you stop caring about your stuff, the freedom you'll feel is palpable. Your work setup may not be ideal.. especially if you're going as minimalist as possible, but still have to work / pack your laptop - with a laptop comes power cables, USB dongles, a wireless mouse and possibly even a second screen and/or larger keyboard; and that stuff sucks to pack. The best advice I can give is to 1) get used to working on just your laptop, with no toys or extras, to keep the bulk to a minimum, or 2) consider these laptop alternatives. You can also check out World's Smallest Laptop Accessories (coming soon!) and Space Saving Electronics for some ideas to help minimize your pack. Lastly, for you "Buy Now" trigger-happy maniacs (myself included).. there's always the mental hump of admitting that you don't actually need to buy anything for your next trip; and I fully admit, half the fun of planning a trip is going to the nearest REI and buying new, "absolutely necessary" gear; just like the grocery store stop is half the fun before a road-trip or mountain house weekend; but the truth is, especially if you're traveling long-term; you'll have a lot more peace of mind if you don't drop $500 on new stuff that could get lost, stolen, broken or forgotten on the first leg of your multi-month trip. Don't let the advertising gods and AI-marketing machines suck you in, or, at the very least, try to remember that you probably already have everything you need for long-term travel, it's just easy to forget. In summary, minimalist travel gives you a ton of flexibility, but it requires a little bit of planning and flexibility on your part as well; and while it's not for everyone, it's definitely worth considering or even giving it a trial run on your next trip. I've never met a long-term traveler who said, "I didn't bring enough stuff," it's almost always the opposite, as I'm sure most of readers of this site can attest to. Whether or not minimalist travel will work for you is completely up to you, but hopefully this gives you an idea of what to expect and how it might look. Keep Reading: Is Minimalist Travel Right For Me? //
- Oh My God, Shoes!
The number one problem people seem to run into when trying to pack, for short or long-term travel, is shoes. And rightfully so.. there is no "one shoe" for every occasion, and it's extremely frustrating trying to match shoes with outfits, comfort with style, functionality with taste, etc. The absolute best and only advice I can give you is.. quite simply, a reminder that no one cares what you're wearing when you travel. I go into this concept extensively in No One Cares, Except Maybe You.. but in short, at least in terms of style.. you don't need to worry about your shoes; if you stick to simple, neutral colors and don't get too fancy with your outfits, you can wear the same pair every day. This is where having just 2-3 outfits will actually simplify your shoe selection; just pick a style, for example.. "stylish hiker," and go with it, every day. Remember, when you're in a different country, whether it's by the clothes on your back, your hair color, your skin tone, or the constant look of confusion on your face... you already stand out... so stop worrying about having the right outfit for every occasion, and that will free you up to pack just one or maybe two pairs of shoes. Now in terms of functionality, that's a different story; at the very least, you'll likely want sandals for the beach, comfortable walking shoes for daily use and shoes or boots for hiking.. Personally, since I pack the absolute minimum, I pack just one pair of black trail-running shoes, which work fine for trails, long walks, working out and general, daily use. Yes, they look horrible with pants, but I have to remind myself that I'm literally the only person who notices or cares; and if you're really doing travel right, you shouldn't be wearing pants at all. Now I realize it can't or won't be that simple for everyone.. so this is where you may want to get a little creative; for example.. if you're a serious hiker and like to have ankle support, consider packing ankle braces instead of a full pair of hiking boots, you get the same support just in less space; or if you see yourself doing a lot of boating or water sports, consider water shoes, and then leave the sandals at home, remember, you can always buy a super cheap pair of sandals wherever you are, and tie them to your bag or leave them behind if you're heading to cooler climates. I also highly recommend shoe inserts that can be replaced as you wear through them - these can be found literally anywhere in the world and they give your shoes a bit more life. I do pack and recommend a pair of barefoot sandals for beach days and hostel hangs, they take up almost zero space and can be attached to the outside of your bag when traveling (or inside, whatever works). I have a pair of Xero sandals that I've been using for years, they are extremely thin (by design) and very durable; although you could argue not the most comfortable until you get used to them. Lastly, I highly recommend not skimping on this one aspect of your attire, they're low-risk in terms of losing them, and the right (or wrong) shoes can make or break your trip; your best bet is to find the most comfortable, neutral looking, multi-functional shoes available; because you'll be wearing them all day, every day, and for every occasion; remember, comfort is king, and style is just a dirty, forgotten step-child. Last lastly... for those of you who get the reference in the title of this post, I love you. :)
- Laundry EVERY Day
The good, the bad and the ugly... I know it sounds crazy, coming from the convenience of wearing two or three outfits every day, throwing stuff in a laundry basket and then magically, or with a tiny bit of effort, having everything come out squeaky clean. I'd be lying if I said it was convenient.. it's not... *at least, not always. I'd also be lying if I said I wasn't trying to convince you to try it.. because I am.. But for those of you who can get over the conceptual hump of hand-washing your clothes every day; the benefits can quickly outweigh the negatives.. In any case, here's the good, the bad and the ugly in regards to daily laundry. The Good... You can pack far fewer clothes, which makes your pack infinitely smaller; the benefits of which I've outlined extensively in The Benefits of Minimalist Travel. Your choice of clothing is limited to one or two outfits, effectively eliminating the question of "what do I wear today.." thus simplifying your life. It forces consistency.. knowing you have to wash your clothes at some point in the day; this may be good or bad, depending on how you look at it, but as a long-term traveler, one of the biggest issues you run into is a messed up schedule; whether due to time changes, not knowing where you're going, what you're doing, or how long things take.. jumping cities takes a toll on your mind and body, whether you're aware of it or not.. and sticking to a daily schedule can help mitigate those issues. It's a perfect excuse to take a break, like the classic, "no, sorry, I have to wash my hair tonight," you can use your laundry as an excuse to take a break from people; and yes, you will meet people you don't like while traveling.. it's impossible to avoid.. It's therapeutic.. like hand-washing dishes, brushing your teeth or taking a hot shower, it's mindless and relaxing; and it reconnects us to how simple life can (and used to) be. The Bad... If you don't do laundry every day, or fall behind a few days, you WILL find yourself wearing stinky shirts and shorts.. Yes, it's great that daily laundry can help you keep a routine, but that's just it.. it actually forces you into a schedule if you ignore it for too long. You gain all the freedom in the world by keeping your pack small, at the expense of having to do a few extra chores on a daily basis. However, this is also why packing three days' worth of clothes is so beneficial; you won't always need three shirts.. but it buys you a little extra stink protection for when you get off-track. You may find yourself lugging around laundry detergent, or, worst-case, using only a little bit and wasting or leaving the rest behind; if the hostel doesn't provide soap (many do).. or if the nearest super market doesn't have travel-sized laundry detergent (most do).. you may find yourself buying a medium-sized container and using it for just a few sets of laundry before moving on... but you don't want to waste it... so you end up carrying it around like a crazy person on the streets of Sau Paulo.. (not that I have experience or anything). The Ugly... Washing your clothes is the easy part.. it's the drying that gets most people... drying is a pain in the butt, no matter how you approach it.. I go into the details in Laundry on the Road Part II (Drying), but the very short gist of it is that drying is a much bigger problem than washing.. The only advice I can give you is to pack all quick-dry clothing, pack some type of clothes hanger, and hope or plan for warm/hot/dry weather.. Check out my post Dry Times to get a feel for how long it takes to dry different types of clothes based on temp/material. Hand-washing or shower-washing clothes is the biggest hurdle to overcome when it comes to minimalist travel; and it's definitely not for everyone, or every type of traveler.. but if you're planning for a long trip and are looking for ways to minimize your pack; getting over this hump is the single biggest space-saving move you can make. If you're not fully convinced, check out the FAQs page for more Q&As around laundry, drying clothes on the road and ideas to make travel/packing easier. And as always, happy travels. :)
- Top 10 Ways to Minimize Your Pack
These are the Top 10 ways to reduce your pack, specifically for long-term travel, although you short-timers may find a few useful tips as well! Please note, this post is under construction, which will become super obvious when the list ends abruptly; it's either that, or I can't count to ten; but there are some useful links to start so I'm posting it anyway.. :) Check back later for more updates! 1) Consider Bringing Less Clothes, Like... Wayyyy Less.. This is the most obvious of travel hacks, but not exactly the easiest.. because taken to the extreme, it requires the willingness to wash your clothes on a fairly (i.e. very) regular basis; but even if that concept sounds extreme to you; you're still probably packing way more than you need. Most people, at least when they first start traveling, are tempted to pack one or two weeks' worth of clothes, packing everything they can think of for every possible situation - and it's almost always overkill; even if you have zero interest in the minimalist approach to travel; you still only need, at most, one week's worth of clothes; or even less if you're sticking to warmer climates (#8). I pack just one pair of pants, two pairs of shorts and three shirts; but I also do laundry every day and am fine with wearing the same clothes all the time - you can see my full packing list here. If you're hesitant that you can get away with wearing just a few different outfits, check out No One Cares (Expect Maybe You) for my take on why it doesn't matter what you wear. If you are okay with minimizing your wardrobe, you've already won half the battle, and you can massively reduce your pack by bringing just one or two pairs of convertible pants, two or three shirts and a few pairs of socks/underwear. If you're not okay with wearing the same clothes every day, try to consolidate as much as you can. Look in your closet and note the different "types" of clothes you have. For example, I have gym clothes, hiking clothes, casual warm weather clothes (nice shorts and button-down, short-sleeves), casual cold weather clothes (jeans and button-down, long-sleeves), dressy work clothes (khakis and button-down shirts) and comfy, lounge-around-the-house wear (sweatpants, hoodies, etc.). It's relatively easy to consolidate workout gear and hiking clothes, the same quick-dry shirts and shorts work for both, and if you're really careful, the same shorts and shirts can triple as lounge-wear; check out Shorts, Shirts and Trunks for my recommendations for consolidating gym, swim and hiking gear. From there you can consolidate casual pants/long-sleeve shirts with dressy/work pants and shirts; a pair of stretchy chinos and the right button-down shirt can work great for both office-wear or when you're out on the town. Lastly, ask yourself if you can consolidate your workout/hiking clothes with your casual "going out" shorts and shirts.. this one is a bit tougher, I've yet to find "nice" shorts that you can get sweaty in, or shirts that are hike-worthy and going-out-worthy, you may have to cave and bring a few different shirts. Sticking to black or neutral colors will make it easy to mix'n'match your outfits, there's a term for it but I can't remember; but as an example, I pack black shoes, gray shorts/pants and black shirts, those are the only colors in my arsenal, and it makes looking decent extremely easy. Once you've consolidated your wardrobe, decide how many outfits of each "type" you need; an easy rule of thumb for the minimalist traveler is be just one set of each "outfit"; one pair of workout/hiking clothes, one dressy shirt, one pair of dressy pants, one set of lounge-wear, etc. Consider the true minimalist's approach of doing laundry every day, it's not as bad as you might think, and you may actually love the therapeutic nature of hand-washing your clothes. Check my post Laundry EVERY Day to see how easy it is, and Laundry on the Road for a pros and cons list of different washing methods while traveling. 2) Bring the Right Clothes Once you've figured out all the "outfits" you need, you can start getting smart about laundry, detergent, fabric-types and stain-resistant or stain-proof clothing. There are hundreds of travel brands promoting travel-specific clothing, featuring anti-microbial, anti-bacterial, sweat-proof, stain-proof, stain-resistant, stain-fighting, quick-drying, 4-way stretch, 8-way stretch, 8791234897-way stretch.. or in other words, "the only shirt/pant/short you'll ever need.." The truth is... 1) your clothes will wear out, 2) your clothes will get lost, 3) your clothes will get dirty, 4) your clothes will change (because you get sick of them), 5) you'll feel compelled to change your clothes (because style demands it), or 6) you'll want new clothes because new fabric types, smart fabrics and integrated technology will change the very definition of travel clothes. In short, don't get too hung up (pun intended) on clothes. That being said, if you're planning for a big trip today, you can reduce your pack by wearing the latest and greatest in travel-wear. I've tested hundreds of travel-specific brands, fabric types, detergents and stain-proofing substances, (and will continue to do so), for the sake of science (and for minimizing my pack, and because I believe in Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime). Check out Travel Clothes (What To Look For) for a high-level overview of what to pack; Material Sciences Primer for a deep-dive into fabric types, stretch and wear; The Wash Test for detergent options and detergent alternatives; Dry Times for a real-world comparison of fabric drying times; and Stain-Proof Clothing to see how well "stain-proof" clothing and "spray-on" stain-repellent really work. 3) Pack ONE Pair of Do-It-All Shoes Check out Oh My God, Shoes! for thoughts on one-shoe travel.. (and kudos if you get the reference!) 4) Pack Using Portable Wash-Bags I hit two birds with one stone by using the same portable wash-bag (Scrubba) to both wash and pack my clothes; it's not rocket science, and it's a million times better than using compression bags for reasons I detail in How and What I Pack. You might also want to consider this vacuum bag from Nomatic, it does the same thing, only not technically designed for washing clothes (although I'm sure you could!), the only caveat for me personally is that their vacuum bag is too large for my backpack. 5) Consolidate Your Electronics (or leave them at home) Check out Laptop Accessories and Alternatives for a review of the different options for staying productive while traveling, and check out But I NEED My Laptop for an alternative/futurist approach to working remotely (hint: it's early-stages and definitely not feasible for everyone, but it will get there!) You may also want to check out Space Saving Electronics (coming soon!) 6) Consolidate Your Toiletries Check out Space Saving Toiletries to help minimize your pamper pouch. 7) Consolidate The Things You Didn't Know Could Be Consolidated Check out Space Saving Extras for a few travel-friendly versions of popular/useful items. 8) Follow the Seasons If you're flexible with your travel plans, one of the easiest (and most enjoyable) ways to reduce your pack is to simply stick to warmer climates and summer seasons.. This may not be an option unless you're a long-term traveler, but if you've ever moved from northern Minnesota to the beaches of California, you'll understand the difference; you simply don't need nearly as much clothing in mild/warm climates.
- Advice for Long-Term Travel
A few things I've learned traveling long-term... 1. Don’t Sweat the Small Things.. (perishable or otherwise).. Charging cables, universal plugs, portable chargers, headphones, toiletries, etc.. the smaller it is, the more likely you are to lose it.. so don't sweat the small things.. Keep in mind that you can always buy whatever you need while traveling. When I first started traveling, I obsessed over everything.. what's the best portable charger, what clothes do I bring, what type of power adapters will I need.. and on and on and on.. but the truth is, (and I feel stupid for not thinking it through).. is that if you're going where people live, you can buy anything you need to survive; even in a worst-case "my laptop fell in the pool again" scenario, you can order it online and have it shipped to you, or, you for literally anything less painful, you can buy it at the local supermarket. And by the way, if you are traveling long-term.. 3 months or more.. you WILL lose things, shirts will get stains, cables will get lost, headphones will get left at coffee shops and towels will get destroyed at the beach.. but it's okay, because you can buy a super cheap backup of anything you need, whenever you need it. This is also why I recommend not spending a lot of money on travel-specific gear, unless you 1) know you can't find it anywhere else, and/or 2) know you won't lose it or forget it. 2. Treat Yo Self.. If you're traveling long-term, put down roots for two weeks to a month to really get a feel for the place; but more importantly.. it enables you to make each new place your "home.. It takes anywhere from 3 days to 2 weeks for your mind to become accustomed to new places, habits, routines, people, etc.. and if you're constantly hoping around, you'll be putting a massive strain on your body and mind, whether you realize it or not.. So relax.. stay put for a month, and try to think of each new place as your home, even if it is just temporary. 3. Identify Your "Spaces".. Similar to the above, but to be a bit more specific.. with everything changing so fast, people coming and going, trying to find where to get groceries, where to relax, how to get around in addition to trying to absorb and/or DO all the fun activities that a new place has to offer, it can get extremely overwhelming. One way to mitigate this is to identify your "spaces," immediately when checking in to a new place.. and by "spaces" I mean... take the things you know you do regularly.. cooking, eating, reading, working out, sleeping, etc.. and pick or find a spot that accommodates those activities.. this will help you relax in a new place. You actually do this naturally, whether you're aware of it or not.. but by doing it consciously, and becoming aware of the "spaces" your body needs, you can drastically speed up the process of getting comfortable. I wish I'd known this when I first started traveling long-term, as I frequently found myself feeling out-of-sorts, but I couldn't figure out why... "the weather is great, the people are friendly.. why am I feeling.. weird..?" And often times it was because I hadn't identified a place to just relax, away from people and chaos; or because I wanted to work out but didn't know where or how... So if you're traveling long-term and want to maintain your sanity, become conscious of the "spaces" you need, and identify them as soon as possible. This is also a great way to help pick your next hostel... does it have a kitchen, a workout facility, a coworking space, a library, etc... Once you're aware of your body's expectations, it's much easier to keep it happy. 4. Book for a Day, Stay for a Month.. In addition to committing to a new location for a few weeks to a month and identifying your "spaces," it's equally important to stay flexible.. at least to start... No matter how much research you do ahead of time, you will eventually checkin to a hostel and immediately hate it.. or at least, not love it.. so I recommend booking for just 2-3 days at a time, at least to start.. and if you love it, extend your stay for a week or two... but don't commit to a full month at a place you've never been.. Not only does this allow you to "test the waters," but it also provides a ton of flexibility.. You'll meet lots of people while traveling (whether you want to or not - add link).. and you'll get tons of recommendations for off-the-beaten-path cities, hidden gems, neighborhoods, etc.. use that knowledge to maximize your experience, or at the very least, minimize the chances of hating a particular location because, deep down, you just hated where you were staying. 5. Get Away from the Main Drags.. Get away from the main street (but keep your eyes open!).. This may be obvious if you're already considering long-term travel, but if you walk three blocks away from the main tourist drags, prices will drop drastically.. and you'll get a more authentic feel for wherever you're staying. But I do have to warn you, unfortunately.. it does come with risks.. as you might expect. Check for travel advisories before you start wandering around and if anything makes you nervous, trust your gut and stick to where the people are.. I remember walking around downtown San Jose, Costa Rica, taking a wide loop around the main roads and suddenly, after turning a corner.. it was like a scene straight out of a movie, groups of men huddled at various points along the block.. they all stopped.. looked up at me.. and I knew I was in the wrong place.. And it didn't stop there... I immediately turned around and starting walking back towards society.. but two of the guys started following me.. yelling at me.. (of course, I didn't understand the language, but you know the tone of voice..).. and I just kept walking... speed walking actually.. They followed me for THREE blocks until I was maybe half a block from the main drag.. it was terrifying.. and I later found out I wandered into a well-known bad part of town.. It's crazy to think how close it was to the nonchalant, happy-go-lucky trinket shoppers just 200 yards away.. So yes, 99% of the time it's completely safe and worth it to wander off the beaten path.. but please do some neighborhood research before you start walking, and save yourself the trouble. 6. Hit the Super Market :D This is frequently my first and favorite stop in a new city or country.. and it's fun for a million reasons.. 1) You get to interact with the locals, 2) you get to see real/expected prices for basics like water, snacks, booze, etc.. as baseline before you go spending three times as much at a local convenience store, 3) they always have funny names, 4) you can stock up on anything you may need for your stay and know you're getting the best prices, 5) they usually have working ATMs (!) and 6) they (frequently) have the weirdest stuff... you can have just as much fun wandering around a supermarket as you can hitting the nearest tourist attraction, if not more.. So make the super market your first stop in any new country, and let the adventures begin. 7. Stick to Warm or Hot Climates (if possible) This will either sound super obvious or super inconvenient to start.. depending on when/where you're starting.. but I bring it up because it's sometimes difficult to wrap our heads around how much freedom we have when we first start traveling.. we're SO excited to see a million places, so we start arbitrarily choosing our "hops" without considering the weather/climate/temperature... but I would highly recommend planning your trip around the seasons... Europe in the summer, Southeast Asia in the winter, the Caribbean during dry season, etc.. (add link to cheat sheet).. Yes, you may have to backtrack and take multiple long-distance flights, but trust me, you will enjoy your year-round summer vacation much, much more than trying to pack all-weather/four-season gear for any type of weather.. 8. Download WhatsApp I knowwww, you have an iPhone.. but 90% of the world uses WhatsApp, only Americans are obsessed with iMessage and iPhone phones... WhatsApp is where it's at if you're traveling; businesses use it, travelers use it, it is THE method for communicating, especially when you don't know the local language... (does it have built-in translation services??). So save yourself the trouble and download it before you leave, and don't be surprised when you end up using it to make reservations, order taxis, communicate with the front-desk at whatever hostel you're staying at, etc.. It's a must-have. Also consider using Google Maps offline, some type of VPN.. and any country specific apps; you'll have to do some research before you go on this, but for example.. ADO for bus tickets in Mexico, Didi (the Uber of China), etc. 9. LOOK Like a Tourist Yes... it's okay.. I know you'll constantly read blogs about how to blend in at different locations.. but why? Who cares? You'll rarely, if ever, actually blend in.. I'm not saying you need to go out of your way to look like a tourist.. but certainly don't worry about blending in either.. it simply doesn't matter.. EVERYONE looks different, especially other travelers... accept it... go with it.. forget about it.. It can also help you connect with other travelers.. I've met many travelers just by noticing a city, sports team or brand on their clothes.. and it makes for an easy conversation piece if you're looking to make new friends. 10. Journal! Traveling is one of the best ways to disconnect and give yourself space to think.. use the time wisely to write and reflect on anything that happens or anything that's been troubling you.. If you're not already journaling, this is the perfect time to start. :) 11. Consider International Shipping This may sound crazy.. but consider shipping a package home every couple months... This is especially true/useful if you're embracing minimalist travel and looking to keep your pack small.. it may cost a bit.. but you get your shopping fix, you can save the things you love and you can send home gifts for loved ones.. all while not having to worry about how you're going to fit that tiny hand-carved elephant gift in your backpack without breaking it. It also makes for a fun, albeit hard/confusing/scary, travel experience. :) 12. And Lastly, Leave it at Home If you’re unsure on if you should bring something, LEAVE IT…always remember.. if you’re traveling somewhere where people live, you can purchase anything people need... makes sense doesn't it? The only things you should pack are things that can't be commonly found.. which automatically removes toiletries, clothes, shoes, sandals, sunglasses, power cables, headphones and a million other things as "non-essential"... leaving you with just the things that might be difficult to find while traveling.. things like specialized travel gear, waterproof bags, laptop accessories, etc. Ask yourself first, could I find this while traveling if I absolutely needed it? Note: This post is a work in progress, check back later for more tips and advice, or share your tips in the comments, thank you!
- Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime
Anyone, anywhere, anytime. That is my ultimate goal, to give people the ability to travel anywhere, at anytime, with just the the clothes on their back and whatever is in their pockets.. Idealistic? Maybe.. But possible..? Definitely. Imagine you're walking down the street and you get a phone call that your brother got into a serious car accident.. he's in the hospital and stable, but your family needs you there right away... (bear with me on how depressing this may sound).. the point is, you have to run home, pack up your clothes and laptop, and catch the earliest flight home. Or on a lighter note, imagine your buddy from college calls and says "HEY, I just scored two VIP backstage tickets to , and we get to meet them!! You just have to get to Vegas by 9pm, I know it sounds insane, but can you make it??" Or... let's take a worst-case scenario, there's a disaster in your city making it effectively uninhabitable (I'll leave the disaster up to your imagination).. maybe your home is destroyed, or you only have a few minutes to grab your most precious belongings before you have to leave... You have no idea where you're going, what the temperate is, what language is spoken, how long you'll be gone for or if you'll ever even make it home.. all you know is that you're being evacuated immediately.. and suddenly, you're a refugee. Now granted, these are extreme situations, and maybe not the most fun to think about, but the picture I'm trying to paint is this; wouldn't it be great if you knew that everything you needed to live, work, move or travel, was on you at all times? Your phone is your laptop, and all your important documents are digitized and available if necessary; your slim profile glasses double as a display when you connect them to your phone; your haptic gloves make any solid surface a working keyboard and mouse; your job is fully remote, so long as you have an internet connection; your smart-fabric clothes adjust to whatever climate you find yourself in; your headphones, stored in your smart-watch, come with in-ear language translation; I could go on, but I think you get the idea. "Movement is life" - yes, I am quoting World War Z - and the ability to move quickly and easily lends itself to any number of situations, good or bad. Personally, I like to imagine this level of freedom applying to fun, spur-of-the-moment events, but in truth, it ranges from hopping on a plane to the nearest beach to hopping on a bus to the nearest "safe zone." And while there's still a ways to go before all of this become a reality... a lot of progress is being made, and it should (assuming the world doesn't devour itself) get better and better. If you were too engrossed in my epic story of doom and gloom to check out the embedded links.. here's the latest and great in each of the categories mentioned.. Your Phone As Your Laptop Augmented Reality and HUD Glasses Haptic Keyboard Gloves/Mouse Temperature Controlled Smart-Fabrics In-Ear Language Translators You might also be interested in some of these articles.. The Future of Work The Future of Travel The Future of Work and Travel Wireless Power (coming soon!) As always, thanks for reading and (hopefully) happy travels.
- Top Laptop Accessories 2022
External Portable Monitor - Bluetooth Mouse (rechargeable lithium battery, no USB plug) Bluetooth Keyboard (rechargeable lithium battery, no USB plug) Micro-Projector - Note: This post is under construction, check back later for more recs and tech!
- Top Phone Accessories 2022
Portable Chargers The smallest charger currently available.. Charmast (10000mAh), or search "small portable travel chargers" on Amazon. This low-profile, magnetic Speedy Mag Wireless Charger looks useful and promising, but I can't seem to find the specs or charge capacity, so check it out at your own risk! Durable, high-capacity, solar charging.. Tometc Solar Charger (33800mAh), or search "solar power bank charger" on Amazon. Nomad Base Station Pro.. if you have lots of toys that need charging. Foldable Phone Stand There are a bunch of options for foldable phone stands, and they are extremely useful; for an inexpensive option, check out the iMangoo kickstand; or for a more durable, flexible and long-lasting option, the Pocket Tripod Pro; or search "minimalist folding phone stand" on Amazon. Portable Chargers The smallest charger currently available.. Charmast (10000mAh), or search "small portable travel chargers" on Amazon. This low-profile, magnetic Speedy Mag Wireless Charger looks useful and promising, but I can't seem to find the specs or charge capacity, so check it out at your own risk! Durable, high-capacity, solar charging.. Tometc Solar Charger (33800mAh), or search "solar power bank charger" on Amazon. Nomad Base Station Pro.. if you have lots of toys that need charging. Lightening Charger + Multi-Port Cable This is an absolute must-have when you're always on the move, you can charge your phone from dead to 100% in about 45 minutes, coupled with a multi-port cable, you can recharge all your devices while you wait for the hostel bar crawl host to arrive. There are many options, such as a dual port (20W usb and usb-c ports), a multi-port (100W usb and multiple usb-c ports), or the original Anker USB-C single-port (20W usb-c port); just be sure they provide 20Watts of power (per port) and that you have the proper cables to power your devices! Note: This post is under construction, check back later for more recs and tech!
- What is Long-Term Travel?
Let's start by defining a few different types of travel.. completely made-up and 100% accurate. Short-Term - aka Short-Hauler aka Weekender - traveling for a week or a weekend, usually domestically (unless you live in a one of those cities that are actually countries.. or states(?).. it's confusing).. but in short.... you don't have to do laundry. Shmedium - just like the shirts I wear, it's traveling for just long enough to explore a new city (or tiny country) .. but not long-enough to be considered "traveling" by people who "travel." Medio Travel - traveling for two to four weeks, long enough to forget about work, short enough to maybe keep your job, if you even have one. 3Mo Life - Traveling for one to three months, popular among travel nurses and the homeless with remote-work jobs, this is a beautiful life and your friends will be jealous. Long-term Travel - Traveling for a month or more.. maybe three months, maybe six, maybe a year.. who knows.. who cares.. you're living in a fantasy world (er.. land..? hmmm).. Anyway, it's traveling for a long time.. and it's fucking sweet. I know it's not realistic, but I wish everyone could travel "long-term" at some point in their life.. especially us sheltered Americans who think Mexico is dangerous and kittens have claws*.. *UPDATE - kittens do have claws! My world-view has been shattered. Anyway, here's a lighthouse.
- Laptop Accessories and Alternatives
Everybody has their ideal way of way of working remote, the best I can do is go through all the variations I've tried in the hopes that one or some combination of the methods will help you decide what you need and don't need, and what works best for you. A quick overview of the options.. Option 1 - A traditional laptop with no accessories; the bare-bones version of minimalist travel while still being able to work; if you're lucky enough to have mastered the tiny keyboard, touchpad mouse and the eye-straining screen, you are truly blessed. Option 2 - A traditional laptop with one or two external monitors, and a wireless mouse and/or keyboard to round out your setup; this is about as close as you can get to a work-from-home setup while maintaining a high level of mobility and productivity. Option 3 - An iPad or Windows Surface Pro as a laptop alternative; just a step down from a full-on laptop, you get much of the functionality of a traditional laptop, in exchange for a slimmer profile and footprint. Option 4 - The phone-as-a-laptop "dream" setup; instead of lugging around a laptop, why not use the one in your pocket? There are a number of early-stage options for phone-as-a-laptop setups, and I'll go into the details of each below; in short, it's a work in progress. Option 5 - Work from your phone; if you've mastered the art of working from your phone, you're already on another level, and I am jealous; for those who haven't, check out some of the tips and tricks below. Option 1 - Laptop with No Accessories You're ahead of the game and there's not much I can help with here, other than perhaps a few honorable mentions such as a dry sack or waterproof laptop bag. (add links) Option 2- Laptop with External Mouse, Keyboard and/or Screen Check out SideTrack for a number of attached or detached external monitors, or search "portable travel monitors" on Amazon for various options; you may also want to consider a protective case for whatever monitor you go with. If you are going for an external screen that doesn't come with a built-in stand, check out the low-profile Easel Display Stand or the OTTOPT Portable Screen Stand. Option 3 - iPad or Windows Surface Pro Option 4 - Phone-as-a-Laptop Setup Where others have tried and failed... I have... also failed.. and it is extremely frustrating.. The best I can do is suggest checking out a few YouTube videos on the topic; if you're rocking an iPhone (as roughly half of the US does), you'll definitely need/want a Lightening-to-HDMI Adapter, and if you're constantly being ridiculed for your green Android texts, perhaps the Samsung DeX interface will eventually help turn the tide. If you decide to take the phone-as-a-laptop approach, you'll need an HDMI-compatible monitor, a wireless/Bluetooth keyboard and (most likely) a wireless mouse. Lastly, there are a few other options for using your phone as a laptop that I haven't researched or gone into specifics on; if you're tech-savvy and willing to do some additional leg-work, check out https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/ways-turn-smartphone-into-pc/ for additional options. Samsung DeX As an alternative to Samsung DeX, consider packing a Google Chromecast Note: This post is a work in progress, check back later for more updates and details.
- Choosing a Backpack
Please note: I do NOT get paid to review or advertise products, I'm just sharing what I've learned and experimented with in regards to bag size, style, type, etc., in the hopes that it will help you decide what's right for you. In addition to that, these recommendations are geared towards minimizing your footprint for long-term, international travel; and while the same tools and methods will work for short-term or domestic travel, they may not be nearly as applicable, beneficial or realistic. Your backpack will always be a personal choice, but my recommendation is to keep it as small, simple and cheap as possible - your "backpack" will get a lot of wear and tear, and the cheaper it is, the less you'll worry about losing it or replacing it as it wears out (and it will wear out!) For each bag type/size, I'll tell you what I loved and didn't love, and why I settled on a small hiking backpack. For a quick overview, I've traveled with the "traditional" 55-65L backpacks (REI if you're curious), a 33L Aer Travel Pack 2 "digital nomad" laptop bag, a 25L Skog Waterproof backpack, a 20L Gregory Day Hiking Backpack, and my current backpack, a 21L Mystery Ranch Urban Assault bag. But before we get into that, ask yourself the following questions.. What's the minimum size bag you need to fit everything you need? If you're attempting to follow the Minimalist Method and wash your clothes every day, you can drastically reduce the size of your bag; for advice on what to bring or not bring, check out What YOU Should Pack, and then look through the Gear and Clothes section for tools and gadgets that can significantly reduce your need for space. Once you've figured out how many clothes you'll be bringing, you can then narrow down your bag search based on other factors such as... Will you be hiking or walking a lot? - Consider a hydration or hydration-compatible backpack Will you be spending a lot of time on or near water? - Consider water-resistant bags/backpacks, waterproof electronics bags or waterproof laptop sleeves Will you have your laptop? - Consider laptop sleeves, dry sacks or laptop-specific bags And now, onto the various types of bags and backpacks you're probably considering.. "Traditional" 55-65L Backpacks I won't go into the details here, I think it's obvious I'm a proponent of packing the bare minimum, but to give you an idea of what I hate about large bags.. Pros of large (45-70L) backpacks.. They give you ample space for everything you could possibly need; two weeks worth of clothes, multiple pairs of shoes, hiking, camping and cooking gear, space for gifts for friends and family. Cons of large backpacks They're expensive; and the more you spend on your bag, the more time you'll spend worrying about whether or not it's safe at your hotel or hostel. They're bulky - you'll constantly struggle to find places to store your luggage, since you can't take it with you on day trips or half days, and you may struggle to fit that big bag in the limited storage space provided by hostels. They're heavy and limit your flexibility - the second you start moving, that bag becomes a burden, even if it's just a "travel day" - lugging it around is annoying at best and painful at worst. They effectively invite you to pack more than you need, it's no secret I'm a proponent of packing the bare minimum, but it's hard to imagine even filling a 40L bag with useful things. Laptop Bags If you're the digital nomad type, you may like and prefer the professional look and built-in protection of a laptop bag, but I've found myself regretting the purchase for a few reasons. They're expensive, and the last thing I want on a long-term trip is to constantly be worried about my nice, new $200 laptop bag. They scream "laptop" by design - if and when I bring my laptop on long trips, I actually don't want people to know I have a laptop, I'd rather not invite unwanted attention, even if it's safely locked up in a storage locker.. and when I'm on the move, a low profile bag is always preferred. On the plus side, laptop bags are designed to protect your money-maker and keep your things well-organized; they look amazing and frequently come with well-thought-out design considerations like RFID protected pockets, adjustable/hidden straps, expansion pockets, and water-resistant materials, etc. If your laptop is your life, and the above considerations don't concern you, there are a lot of options.. I'm a fan of Aer, Nomatic, Peak Design, and Gravel bags; or do the typical google search thing and find something you love. Also feel free to check out my post But I NEED My Laptop to determine if bringing your laptop is absolutely required. Lastly, if you decide on any other bag type, but still want extra protection for your laptop, consider a waterproof laptop sleeve like the Aqua Quest Storm. Waterproof Bags I started researching waterproof bags as my go-to for long-term travel, but I'm not sure if the reasons are completely obvious, so I'll give you a couple examples.. I once rented a motorcycle in Costa Rica, and while riding back to San Jose to return the bike, got caught in a tropical downpour, I had to ride to get "home," but was completely soaked head to toe, bag and all. Our boat broke down off the coast of Cozumel in massive winds and waves, everything we brought had to be transferred to another boat, only there was no way to keep the boats close, so we had to jump in and swim to the rescue boat - again, everything soaked. After checking out of a hostel near Iguazu Falls, Brazil, we took an unplanned boat ride near the falls, I had everything with me, but didn't realize we'd be going into (i.e. under) the falls, if there was ever a time for a waterproof bag, this was it. I could keep going, but I think you get the picture... on the plus side, waterproof bags offer you peace of mind for those (planned or unplanned) water-based excursions; they're great for day trips to the beach, waterfall hikes, hot spring soaks, lake-side paddle boarding, boat outings, etc. however... What I don't like about waterproof bags, is how heavy and inconvenient they become when you're doing anything other than water-based activities.. I've come to prefer (and require) easy-open bags with either a clam-shell or butterfly opening - versus the roll-top design inherent to any waterproof bag. Instead, I've opted to use smaller, light-weight dry sacks for all the electronics inside my backpack, which provides both flexibility and organization, while getting the same peace of mind as you would with a fully waterproof backpack. You can see how I pack here. Hydration/Camelback Backpacks I'm an advocate of hydration or hydration-compatible backpacks, although my current backpack doesn't fall into that category; and I would mention saving the planet from water bottles, but the truth is that you will want to or have to buy filtered watered in many (if not most) of the countries you visit, so you may not be saving anything - but at least with a hydration pack, you can buy large water jugs and fill your hydration pack at the hostel. Alternatively, you may want to opt for a small, collapsible water bottle for your daily outings, I'm a fan of the 25oz (750ml) Hydaway water bottle, due to its soft, silicon construction, versus the Vapur Flexible water bottle, with its Polyethylene (i.e. hard plastic) construction, which I constantly feared cutting my hands on when I reached into my bag; you might also consider the 1L Hydrapak Stow if you're looking for an ultra-lightweight, water filter-compatible option. Day Bags Despite the already small, daily-use backpack, I sprung for a low-profile, semi-waterproof chest sling bag; there's something comforting knowing that your most valuable possessions are tied tightly to your chest when you're on long trips or falling asleep on a train. It may take some trial and error to find one you love, I tried the Osoce anti-theft bag, the Zomake anti-theft bag, the Weiatas anti-theft bag and the Waterfly sling chest bag, before finally settling on the Topnice chest sling bag, due to material/fabric comfort alone. Another item that I love and have used used hundreds of times - although recently I haven't needed to pack it - is an ultra-compact, compressible day bag. I've had an 18L Sea-to-Summit Nano Pack that I've used for 15+ years, and it's still in great shape, but there's an Amazon Basics option and a water-resistant Osprey option as well; I doubt you can go wrong with any of them. Hiking Backpacks (My Personal Preference) As you've maybe seen in other posts, I travel with a 21L Mystery Ranch backpack (shown here) - it's small, comfortable and light enough to hike with. I've found "comfortable enough to hike with" to be the best determining factor for selecting a minimalist backpack, it's comfortable when you're on the move and packing everything, and works just as great as a day bag when you're settled in a city for days, weeks or months at a time. This bag does come with a small laptop (or iPad) sleeve that fits my 13in laptop perfectly, although you wouldn't be able to go much bigger, and while it's perfect for my needs, I don't expect it to be perfect for everyone. Benefits of hiking backpack.. Perfect for daily use and packing all your belongings when you're on the move Easily replaceable if it gets lost, damaged or stolen - the nearest outdoor gear or sports store should have many options Generally inexpensive, usually under $100 to replace in a worst-case scenario Many hiking packs are hydration-pack compatible, with all the benefits mentioned above Cons of a hiking backpack.. Extremely limited in how much you can pack (but that's why you're here, isn't it?) No built-in laptop protection - despite being able to fit small laptops, there's generally not a lot of padding for your money-maker A lot of them are ugly - at least in my opinion - it can be difficult finding a bag that looks decent whether you're hiking, hitting the beach, exploring a city or hitting a coffee shop to work Not a lot of internal organization - most hiking packs are simple by design, but this can be annoying when you prefer to have specific pockets for all your stuff Summary There are thousands of options to choose from, and it completely depends on your personal list of essential items, which you'll need to decide on before you even choose a backpack. So before you go looking for the perfect bag, ask yourself these questions.. What's the minimum size bag I need to fit everything I need? Do I need my laptop and/or do I need laptop protection? Do I need a waterproof bag or can I use a dry-sack for my electronics? Do I want the flexibility (and inherent limitations) of a small backpack? Do I want lots of internal organization/pockets for all my things? Read Next: The Minimalist Method - How I keep my pack small and maximize flexibility