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  • 16 Things You Should NEVER Pack

    The 16 things you should NEVER pack for long-term travel. I expect a lot of hate for this article... but in my semi-professional experience, and based on years of travel, these are 16+ things and 16 mistakes I see people make when packing for trips. Item 1 - Water Bottles Blasphemy! I know... it seems like everyone has a personalized stickered water bottle these days, and I get that they are environmentally friendly.. when you're at home, filling it up with tap water or utilizing filtered water from your fridge. But here's the deal.. many, if not most places you visit will have questionable tap water, so you're going to be buying bottled or jugged water anyway.. bringing a water bottle isn't changing anything, it's just packing more stuff. I know some of you will argue that you can pack filtered water bottles, but I'm guessing you've never traveled with one, because they're bulky, low capacity and you have to change the filters, which is a pain in the butt when Amazon over-night isn't an option. There's a simple, environmentally friendly solution to all of this.. Step 1) Buy a bottle of water on the first leg of your journey (ideally glass, since it's easier to recycle, but plastic is fine if you're worried about dropping it). Step 2) Go to the grocery store when you get to your first city and buy the biggest jug of water you can find. Step 3) Fill up your "trip bottle" and reuse it for the rest of the trip. How is this different from just bringing a refillable water bottle? It's not.. at all, but it's one less thing to pack, one less thing you can lose, and you won't feel nearly as guilty if you forget it somewhere and have to buy a new one. If you're absolutely adamant about bringing a water bottle, consider a space-saving collapsible or foldable water bottle. Item 2 - Portable Chargers and Power Banks More blasphemy! Bring on the hate. Listen, I don't care if you bring a portable charger, it's your back; I'm just listing all the things I think are overrated or nice to have but not necessary, and here's why: Portable chargers are heavy, often bulky, prone to getting wet and often create more problems than they solve. You would know this if you've ever traveled with one and had to decide what to charge with the one working plug in your room. Do I charge my phone or do I charge my charger? And then charge my phone later... hmmm.. Then you're sitting by the pool, your phone is at 25% but you're getting ready to go out for the night, do you stuff that bulky charger in your pocket or do you deal with a low battery.. If you do stuff it in your pocket, will you even actually plug-in your phone while your out? Or will you be taking pictures and texting.. Portable chargers are one more thing to manage, one more thing to lose, and one more thing to charge when you could just charge your phone. Yes, they're useful on trains, planes and buses, but these days, most long-haul transports have plugs; couple that with super fast wall chargers that can charge your phone in <30 minutes, (which you should bring), and you shouldn't have many, if any, battery issues. Item 3 - Tablets and eReaders Everyone should know by now not to bring physical books, but I'm arguing for even less, leave the eReaders and tablets at home. Why? It's one more thing to charge, one more thing to worry about, and one more thing to manage. What does a tablet get you? A bigger screen to watch shows? You can suffer with a small screen for the miniscule amount of time you'll be watching TV, and airplanes have TVs. What does an eReader get you? Okay, you got me here, reading is cool and you should do it, but will you even be reading that much? Could you suffer through an audiobook or burn through some podcasts instead? To each their own, but I'll keep returning to my golden rule; if you're not sure if you'll need it, don't bring it. I doubt you'll think twice about it once you hit the road, there's too much to see and do. Item 4 - Portable Bluetooth Speakers I'm not sure if other people struggle with this, but for a long time I debated packing a Bluetooth speaker; for beach days, park days, pool hangs, etc.; it seems to make sense, but here's what I've found: Every rooftop pool you visit is already going to have music, every park you go to will likely have someone blasting local jams, every beach you go to will either have music playing at a beach bar, or you'll actually be trying to get away from the music, and finally, that phone in your pocket can get the job done in a worst case scenario. They're just not super useful, and if you're goal is to minimize your pack, this is an easy drop. Item 5 - Beach and Bathroom Towels Woah, now he's crossing the line, towels are universally useful! Yes, this is true, but they're also universally available, at every hostel, hotel, and Airbnb; and they're bulky, like obnoxiously bulky. I've noticed two things while contemplating the pros and cons of towels (yes, I've thought about it way too much).. 1) Towels get wet and dirty faster than anything else (especially if you use them as more than bath towels), so why not use the provided towels and leave the laundry to the host? And 2) Towels are always the last thing to get packed when you're checking out of a hotel/hostel (assuming you shower before you go); do you really want to pack that wet, smelly towel in your backpack before you hit the road for 8 hours? Probably not. Towels are universally useful, but I find it much more convenient (and space-efficient), to borrow and return them when done. Items 6/7/8 - Hats, Sandals and Sunglasses Wait, what? How could he say that? Okay, this one could be a stretch, but hear me out.. Hats get lost, sandals are cheap, and sunglasses break; these are all great reasons to leave them behind, until you need them. What am I saying? I'm saying leave them, and then buy them when you get to your tropical destination. They're all cheap and easy to find, they're a great excuse to go shopping, and if you manage to hang on to them all the way home, they'll make for a nice keepsake. And if you do lose them, you won't care. Admittedly, this is coming from a guy who's lost every single pair of sunglasses I've ever owned, so maybe I'm a bit jaded, but the point remains; there's a case for leaving some space. Item 9 - Big Expensive Headphones You know those huge Beats by Dre headphones? Yeah, those, leave them. I'm all for pristine sound and noise-cancelling headphones, but if you're looking to minimize your pack, this is an easy place to save. Inexpensive, in-ear Bluetooth headphones can be found at almost any convenience store, anywhere in the world, so you won't be without your tunes, and you probably won't notice much difference; you probably won't care if you lose a pair of cheap headphones; and you definitely will care if you lose your Beats by Dre. Save yourself a small headache and drop the beats... Item 10 - Neck Pillows and Head Bob Stoppers Hmmm... I can't decide how I feel about this.. People love their travel pillows and neck braces and face slings and jaw holders, and I love that they love them, because I get to laugh at how silly they look with their mouths agape and drool dripping every so slowly onto their gently tucked in, baby blue airline blanket. These are all great things, but here's the catch, neck pillows, face braces, and forehead holders are only really useful on that first long flight overseas, and that second long flight home; outside of that, they're just taking up space. There are better uses for that space, like coconut bras and dinosaur crocs. Plus, pillows are provided on international flights; they're not perfect, but then again, neither are you. Item 11 - Thick Comfy Hoodies Hoodies are great, hoodies are cool, pack a hoodie for travel and feel like a fool. I don't know if that's true, but I do know that thick hoodies are about the worst thing you can pack (right next to towels) if you're trying to save space. Few things in this world are as nice as a big comfy hoodie - I don't envy your decision - but thick hoodies are right up there with neck pillows and chin twisters; they're great for long flights and chilly evenings, but that's about it; there are better ways to stay warm... like traveling to a warm climates, or having a drink. Leave the thick hoodie at home and pack a lightweight version instead, you'll get most of the benefits and all of the space. Items 12/13 - Umbrellas and Rain Jackets Umbrellas are like hats, sandals, sunglasses and playing cards, easy to find if you need them, so don't pack one. Rain jackets could go either way, on one hand, there are super packable options that are great for travel, on the other hand, why spend the money when you could just buy a cheap poncho, or stay out of the rain completely? When in doubt, leave it behind. Item 14 - Watches and Jewelry Watches, jewelry, necklaces, rings, and earrings - I probably don't need to mention these, but just in case you were wondering, leave them all behind; they're easy to lose, often expensive, and they can draw unnecessary attention; if you're really looking to accessorize, buy some while traveling, but don't pack anything you'd be afraid to lose, it's not worth it. Item 15 - Smart Watches Smart Watches are like eReaders, tablets, and any other extra electronics that are nice to have, but not necessary; it's just one more thing to worry about, only you won't know you're worried, because you won't have your heart rate tracker, well... that's a conundrum. Item 16 - Specialized Sporting Equipment This one is tough, if you're trip revolves around some specific activity, like rock climbing, snowboarding, scuba diving, etc., it does make sense to bring your equipment, but since this blog is geared towards long-term, multi-month, multi-destination remote workers, travelers and digital nomads; let's assume your travel is more generic than that. It's good to remember that any tour-guide or instructor-led activities you sign up for will already have all the equipment you need, often-times it's required that you use the onsite outfitter; so you probably don't need to worry about packing extra equipment - outside of generic hiking gear. If you do end up doing your thing, like camping, kayaking, canyoning or croqueting, there's a 99% chance you can find equipment rental in every major city; if you're worried about it, do some research before you leave and ignore everything I've said so far. Items 17+ - Honorable Mentions Extra Shoes - While these are a big ticket item, I'm putting them in the... foot notes, because it would take a whole article to explain, and I've already written it. Excessive Clothing - Unpacking what I consider "excessive clothing" would take days, 2.5 days to be exact, it was written yesterday, and you can find it here. Playing Cards - I was told long ago to always pack a deck of cards, so I did, and I never needed them; these comfortably fall into the "buy them if you need them" category. Flashlights - There's something about travel that makes me think I need a flashlight, I don't know why, and I've never needed one, it just... seems like you should have one, just in case.. and maybe you're in the same boat; but alas, after years of travel, it's time to admit it, flashlights are rarely necessary and can safely be left behind... unless it's a keychain flashlight, those are always a good idea. Summary There you have it, 16+ things people frequently travel with, but often don't need. Obviously these are all debatable, but when it comes to packing for long-term travel, less is always more. If you're aware of any other often-overpacked items, please let me know in the comments and I'll add them to the list! And if you're interested in getting monthly travel tips in your inbox, feel free to join the mailing list below. As always, happy travels. Read Next: 6 Travel Rules You MUST Follow (for Long-Term Travel)

  • 9 Tips for Packing Fewer Clothes

    When it comes to packing, clothes and shoes are hands-down the hardest things to minimize, so here are 10 tips to help you reduce, minimize, consolidate and optimize your pack for your next big trip. #1 - Bring the Right Clothes This is one area of minimalist travel where I recommend not skimping. Investing in comfortable, high-quality, travel-specific apparel can save you time, money, space and headaches over the long-haul. If you were to pack twelve shirts, I could guarantee you'd be wearing the most comfortable shirt 90% of the time; the same is true for shorts, pants, socks, and shoes. One pair of high-quality travel pants can do the job of three; the right travel shorts can triple as casual, workout or swim shorts; a simple, lightweight Merino wool t-shirt can be worn for 2-4 days before it needs to be washed; all of these things add up to packing far fewer clothes. This will require some trial and error on your end, everyone's style is different and I definitely can't speak to women's travelwear, but I can recommend Exofficio underwear, Merino wool shirts and socks (in general), and zippered-pocket shorts and pants. If you're traveling to cooler climates, consider a packable puffer jacket to save space. #2 - Be OKAY With Looking Like a Tourist Or a hiker, or both.. The truth is, no one cares what you look like when you're traveling; look around any hostel and you'll see a a hodgepodge of shapes, styles, colors and trends; there's no rhyme or reason to it, because everyone's coming from a different place or heading off on a hike or lounging around on a day off or they're already too drunk to care; no one's going to judge you for wearing the same outfit every single day - the second you step off that plane in another country, the rules stop applying; this simple mental switch alone can save you a 2-3 outfits. #3 - Color Coordinate and Stick to Neutral Colors The more color you throw in your backpack, the harder it gets to pack, dress and match; stick to neutral colors if you want to minimize decision fatigue while maximizing your outfit combinations. Solid-color shoes and grayish shorts/pants will pair with almost anything, and just in case you already forgot, no one cares. I wear black shoes, gray pants and black shirts almost exclusively, but I'm a bit extreme, and I don't like thinking about what I'm going to wear everyday. #4 - Pack One Week's Worth of Clothes at MOST A simple rule of thumb is to pack one outfit for every occasion, and then build from there; for example, I like to pack one hiking outfit, one comfort/lounge/travel outfit (for travel days), and one "going out" outfit. If you take those three outfits and add an additional top for each, you're left with six outfits, and a good a mix of comfort, style and utility. From there you can consolidate or expand as necessary. Are your hiking pants comfortable enough to travel/lounge in? Great, that's one less pair of pants. Are your comfy travel shoes nice enough to wear out on the town? Perfect, that's one less pair of shoes. Mix and match your outfits until you feel comfortable you could find something to wear for any situation. Paired with our next tip, you shouldn't have any trouble getting through a week without washing. #5 - Be OKAY With Being a Little Grungy Contrary to what we've been taught, it's okay to wear the same shirt two, three or even four days in a row; if you're showering daily like a normal person - and assuming you're not getting obscenely dirty - your clothes should be fine for a few days before they need a wash. This is even more true if you've invested in anti-bacterial, sweat-wicking travel clothes (see Tip #1). Hang them out to dry at night and you'll be amazed at how long you can stretch your minimized wardrobe. Pro Tip:  If weather and location permits, hang them out in direct sunlight between use - ultraviolet light (free, from the sun) kills 99% of bacteria in as little as 20 minutes(!) - you've had the world's best washer/dryer combo sitting outside your window this entire time, and you didn't even know it. #6 - Consider Packing ONE Pair of Shoes (or Maybe Two) This is a lot to ask, but I'll ask it anyway. Consider packing just ONE pair of shoes, how would that affect your outfit choices? The simplest and easiest way to minimize your clothes, is to choose a single look and stick to it. In my case, I go with the hiker look, because I want to hike, and regular shoes just won't do the trick, so I commit to looking like a hiker, even when I'm not hiking. Yes, I wear my convertible hiking shorts out to bars, and guess what, no one cares. For you it could be different, maybe you're a city guy/girl and you're okay with sticking to the city look (and hiking in regular shoes); or maybe you're a beach bum and only plan on bumming beaches, in which case, you barely have to pack anything. (Which reminds me of a story worth reading). The point is, the less outfits you need, the less shoes you need; and if you're willing to look like an X in every Y situation, you can drastically reduce your pack size. #7 - Suffer to and from the Airport I've met travelers in Cancun who wore the same swimsuit every day, yet they packed a huge roller suitcase because "it was cold when I flew here," - this is nonsense; if you're wearing a winter coat and pants just to get from the front door of your house to an Uber, you're doing it wrong. If you're traveling to a mostly warm destination, but you're coming from a cold place, consider suffering for those few short moments between climate-controlled buildings; it will make you appreciate your destination that much more. I once flew to Medellin in the middle of winter (a city nicknamed "Eternal Spring" for its year-round moderate temperatures - which means I wasn't packing pants) - I'll never forget standing on the tarmac in -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-15.5 Celsius) in my shorts and shirt - hoping for no delays. "I'll never forget standing on the tarmac in -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-15.5 Celsius) in my shorts and shirt, hoping for no delays." Was it uncomfortable for ten minutes? Yes. Did I look like an insane person? Yes. Was it worth it to fit everything into a 24L laptop bag with no checked luggage? Definitely. As a general rule of thumb, you can wear your biggest items (pants, hoodies, hats, etc.) on travel days as a way to minimize your backpack, it may be uncomfortable for a little while, but if it means the difference between checked luggage and a carry-on, it's probably worth it. #8 - Stick to Warm Climates This isn't always possible, but it may be worth considering for a couple reasons, 1) warm climates means less clothes in general, and 2) travel is just better when the sun is out. I won't dwell on this one too much, but if you're traveling long-term and have flexible travel plans, planning your stops around the seasons can massively simplify and minimize your pack. No pants, no problem. While we're on the weather topic, it may be useful to note that you probably won't be doing much when the weather is bad, especially if you're traveling long-term; if it's raining, you probably won't go outside, so you probably don't need a rain jacket; if it's chilly out, you might opt to take an Uber or stay near your hostel, so you probably don't need a jacket; if it's 120-degrees out, you probably won't leave the pool, so you likely don't need that SPF 50+ long-sleeve shirt, etc. It's easy to want to pack for every type of weather, but the reality is, you're not camping, you're traveling, and you have all the modern comforts of home in whatever place you're staying, don't overcomplicate it. #9 - Remember the Golden Rule If you're unsure on something, don't bring it; if you find yourself in a bind, you can always buy appropriate clothing; wherever you travel in the world, you'll be able to find climate-appropriate clothing if you need it, because if other people live there, they too need protection from the elements. That's more like three rules, but you get the idea. You don't need to pack for every situation, every type of weather, every disaster. etc.; you just need to pack the basics and stay flexible. Conclusion Clothes and shoes are among the most difficult things to plan for when it comes to long-term travel, and while I can't tell you exactly what to pack, my hope is that these tips useful and applicable, and if it by applying them you're able to bring one less thing, I'll consider it a win. Thanks for reading, and as always, happy travels. :)

  • 12 Major Benefits of Minimalist Travel

    "There’s something poetic and beautiful about minimalist travel, it’s like the satisfaction you feel when you finally finish a project after a long, hard day of focused work... it feels like.. freedom. Knowing that everything you need fits in this tiny little backpack; everything you need to live, to work, to play, it’s all on your back, and you can get up and go anytime you want… it takes 5 minutes to pack, because everything you need is either on you, in your pockets, or already in your backpack. It’s like having a permanent bug-out bag, only instead of survival gear, it’s life gear. I don’t know how else to explain it, it’s just.. freedom, in every sense of the word." - Me, after a 36-hour travel day and no sleep. For the sake of those who may not be convinced that minimalist travel is practical, cost-effective, inspiring, easy, good for the environment, or good for the soul.. here's a list of 12 benefits minimalist travel can offer. #1. No Luggage Fees Checking luggage is annoying, and the cost of checking luggage is getting outrageous. It may not matter for one or two flights, but when you start hopping cities over the course of one, three, six, months, etc. the fees add up, along with the risk of airlines losing your luggage (see Benefit #2). Tack on the costs of storage locker fees, transportation fees (see Benefits #5 and #10), and the risk of losing all that stuff (see Benefit #12), and you're looking at hundreds of dollars lost because you couldn't live without that extra pair of shoes you probably won't even wear. #2. No Lost Luggage Losing your luggage can put a dampener on any trip. It doesn't always happen, but it does happen, and it can be extremely frustrating. Two of my closest friends once took a two-week trip to Switzerland, but their luggage didn't get the memo, and for three days they tooled around Geneva just waiting to get their lives back. (Not a bad place to wait, though). Granted, it's not common, but the longer you travel and the more flights you take, the more likely it is to happen to you, and there's never a good time for it. As a minimalist traveler, your carry-on luggage is always on you, and not only on you, but easily accessible as well, it's at your feet instead of under the bus, it's above your head as you train through the Swiss Alps, it's by your side as you ferry to the Greek Isles, and it's on your back, every time you step off that platform. That's what I call peace of mind. #3. Faster and Easier Travel With no checked-in baggage to worry about, you can breeze through airports and train stations without any delays; this speeds up travel time significantly while minimizing the stress of navigating through crowds with bulky luggage. And you get the added benefit of more personal space; from flights and buses to Ubers and Tuk-Tuks - and who doesn't want more legroom? #4. Flexibility and Spontaneity With minimalist travel, you have the freedom to be spontaneous and flexible. With everything you need in one compact bag, you can easily change your plans or hop on a last-minute flight without worrying about carrying heavy bags or missing your checked-in luggage. The same is true for unplanned changes - canceled flights, late trains, broken down buses, failed boat engines (yes, these have all happened to me), but when the world is on your back, you can handle these moments with ease. In short, it's freedom... for when you don't have plans, don't want to make plans, or have to change plans unexpectedly. "In short, it's freedom... for when you don't have plans, don't want to make plans, or have to change plans unexpectedly." #5. Versatility Having a small, lightweight backpack means you can easily maneuver through different modes of transportation, whether it's walking through cobblestone streets or hopping on a crowded subway. It also gives you the flexibility to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations or take spontaneous side trips without the burden of heavy luggage. The flexibility to rent a scooter, motorbike, or bicycle while traveling - that alone is worth any sacrifices that need to be made to fit your life into a backpack. "The flexibility to rent a scooter, motorbike, or bicycle while traveling - that alone is worth any sacrifices that need to be made to fit your life in a backpack." #6. Maximizing Travel Days Minimalist travel allows you to utilize full travel days if you have to start early or finish late. By avoiding the need to check in or drop off bulky luggage, you can save precious time and spend it exploring your destination; additionally, your small footprint has a much higher probability of fitting into airport or train station lockers, so you can lock up your stuff and explore with complete freedom while you wait on your next transport. #7. Simplified Packing Process When you only have a small bag to pack, the process becomes much simpler and more manageable. You no longer have to spend hours agonizing over what to bring and how to fit it all into your luggage. Instead, you can focus on the essentials and easily pack and unpack your belongings without any hassle. I keep a travel-ready bag, separate from all my "home" possessions (aside from my laptop) - it has everything I need to hop on a plane at the drop of a hat. I never think about how I'm going to pack, because I'm already packed, at all times, for any destination. Check out Tom's Minimalist Packing List (2024) to see what I'm packing these days. #8. Minimize Decision Fatigue Related to the above, less choice can help eliminate decision fatigue. A select number of clothes and tools lead to a simpler life, whether at home or traveling. You don't have to think about what you're going to wear, because you're wearing the same comfortable, functional clothing every day (and you still look great). Plus, it's always easier to find what you need when you're only carrying the essentials. #9. Quality over Quantity Since the number of items you carry is significantly reduced, you can invest in high-quality gear and clothing designed for travel. This can save you money in the long run as the few important items you decide to carry are built to last and can withstand the wear and tear of frequent use. Plus, they often have features that are useful whether traveling or at home, like water-resistant material, anti-theft pockets, or a packable design. #10. Cost-Effective Baggage fees and locker fees are the obvious culprits when it comes to traveling with lots of stuff, but there are hidden costs as well, and they can add up. For example, with extra luggage, you'll likely need Ubers to get from airports and train stations to hostels and hotels, versus Tuk-Tuks, golf carts, and moped Ubers (terrifying, but highly recommended); these fees add up. A big backpack can mean the difference between renting a scooter and having to rent a car (see Benefit #5), this may not seem like a big deal to anyone who hasn't traveled a lot, but when you're island hopping in the Philippines or exploring the Vietnamese coastline or looking to zig-zag cross Bali with all your stuff, scooters start to look very appealing. #11. Environmentally-Friendly Beyond the practical, you might look at minimalist travel as a way to reduce waste and minimize your impact on the environment - living with less, by its very nature, reduces waste; and when you return home after six months of living out of a backpack, your eyes will open to all the things you didn't need that entire time, these realizations can translate into lifelong changes that drastically reduce your carbon footprint. "These realizations can translate into lifelong changes that drastically reduce your carbon footprint." Bonus points: scootering, mopeding, Tuk-Tuking, biking, and walking are all better for the environment and better for you. #12. Peace of Mind and Mental Freedom The less stuff you have, the less you have to worry about losing; and the less you've invested in stuff, the less worry you'll experience while traveling. These things, by nature, go hand-in-hand, and I can tell you from experience, that you'll worry far less about that $30 Walmart backpack than you will that $250 travel bag. Traveling light ultimately leads to a more enjoyable and stress-free experience. It allows you to focus on the present and fully immerse yourself in your surroundings without being weighed down by unnecessary belongings. Letting go of unnecessary baggage, both physical and emotional, leaves you with more headspace to focus on experiences, exploration, and adventure! I could go on for hours about the psychological benefits of traveling light, but your best bet is to experience it for yourself. Conclusion My goal isn't to sell you on minimalism, there are a ton of great websites touting the benefits of letting go... https://www.becomingminimalist.com/ https://www.theminimalists.com/minimalism/) This site, rather, is meant to show you what's possible, what you can expect, what the limitations are, and how you can get started if you're new to the world of packing light. I hope that by reading some of these articles and implementing some of the strategies, you can maximize your freedom and flexibility while doing the things you love and worrying less about what you have (or don't have). Read Next: The ONLY 7 Things You Need for Long-Term Travel

  • The 6 Packing Rules You MUST Follow (for Long-Term Travel)

    Six simple rules to follow while prepping and packing for long-term travel. Rule #1 - If you're unsure if you'll need it, DON'T BRING IT. The most important rule to remember and the hardest to follow. This applies to frequently packed items that are convenient, but not explicitly necessary; ex. tablets, eReaders, portable Bluetooth speakers, umbrellas, jackets, filtered water bottles, etc. This applies to clothes as well, do you bring that extra pair of pants? Or that extra shirt? Or that thick hoodie? DON'T DO IT. If you're on the fence, I can tell you from experience, it's not necessary; check out Rule #5 for why. Rule #2 - If you're afraid of losing it and don't need it, DON'T BRING IT. If it's of any value to you, and you don't need it, don't bring it; ex. your favorite hoodie you stole from your best friend, a water bottle with a million collectors stickers, or a scarf your grandma knitted you; whatever it is, if the idea of losing it makes you nervous, don't bring it! Imagine leaving for a three-month trip, you finally arrive at your first city, ready to explore, and suddenly you can't decide if you should bring your favorite handbag or leave it at the hostel, either way, now it's on your mind, and it will stay on your mind, for the next three months. If you love it, leave it... it's that simple. Rule #3 - If it's expensive or irreplaceable, DON'T BRING IT. 78/ This should go without saying, but jewelry, watches, family heirlooms, a customized suitcase with your initials embroidered on it; whatever you're into, things get lost on the road, and the longer you're on the road, the more likely you are to lose it, forget it or misplace it. You won't come home with the same things you left with, so plan for the worst and hope for the best. "You won't come home with the same things you left with.." If it's irreplaceable and unnecessary, do not bring it. Rule #4 - If you can easily buy it while traveling, DON'T BRING IT. This applies to SO many things, and it's easy to forget, but if you're going to a place where people live, you can always find all the necessities; toiletries, soap, shampoo, sunscreen, sandals, towels, socks, underwear, hats, gloves, jackets, umbrellas, ponchos, headphones, charging cables, travel adapters, portable charges - literally anything you could need is available for purchase - often for very cheap - at a convenience store just down the street from your hostel. This ties back to rule #1 - if you're unsure, don't bring it, you can always pick it up on the road. Note: I don't even fly with soap, shampoo, or conditioner anymore, many hostels provide it, and if they don't, I make a quick trip to the nearest store when I land. Rule #5 - If it's expensive and replaceable, consider alternatives... Things that come to mind that might be expensive yet are replaceable: nice headphones, expensive jackets, fancy backpacks, designer luggage, etc. I won't sit here and tell you to leave your $250 AirPods at home, but I will tell you that the less you care about your stuff while traveling, the less you'll worry, and the more freedom you'll feel. "The less you care about your stuff while traveling, the less you'll worry, and the more freedom you'll feel..." When I embarked on my first round-the-world trip, I splurged on a $250 AER Travel Pack 3 backpack; I was SO excited for my first attempt at fitting everything I needed for 6+ months in a single backpack, it was easily the most expensive item I had; what ended up happening, is that I was nervous, ALL THE TIME, that my nice fancy backpack would get stolen; or that it was screaming "Look! An American with money!" I feel the same way about AirPods and iPhones; they too, in some ways, signify wealth. The point is, the more money you pump into travel gear, the more you'll feel invested in it, the more you'll worry about it, and the more it will weigh on you; if peace of mind is a priority while traveling, consider inexpensive alternatives to those things that would hurt (financially) to lose. Rule #6 - If you need it, and it's not easily replaceable - bring it, and protect it! This applies to items that are necessary but can be a pain to replace; phones, laptops, eyewear, camera equipment, drones, passports, medications, etc. If you need it, you need it, it's as simple as that; so for these rare items, consider going the extra mile to protect them; hardened phone cases, laptop sleeves, padded bags, waterproof bags, etc. This will be money well spent if it means you don't have to replace them while 9000 miles from home. In Summary Preparing for long-term travel is as much about leaving behind what you don't need as it is about packing the essentials. By following these six simple rules, you'll streamline your packing process, minimize worry, and enhance your overall experience. Whether you're trekking across continents or settling into a new city for a few months, these principles ensure that you carry only what serves you, leaving space for experiences, discoveries, and freedom. Travel light, travel far, and most importantly, travel smart!

  • Tom's Minimalist Packing List (2024)

    I've gone through many iterations of minimalist packing, below is my packing list for 2024. The Basics Passport, credit cards, and wallet. These items almost go without saying, but it's worth noting here what I don't pack - I don't keep my passport in a passport wallet or protective case, this is because my passport is always either on me (in my pocket) or kept safely in a hidden pocket in my backpack; even though passport protectors are useful, I prefer to keep things as simple as possible. I do use a minimalist RFID-protected wallet for my credit cards to keep things organized. Primary phone, a burner phone, and headphones. A phone and headphones are necessities (at least for most people), while a burner phone is great for peace of mind, in case you lose your main phone, or you want to leave your main phone safely at the hostel when you're going out on the town. Your burner phone should be cheap, and you shouldn't care if you lose it - pop a local SIM card into it when you land for local coverage and basic communication. Laptop, power cable, and portable mouse. Not mandatory, and if you can get away without bringing one, more power to you! It's worth noting here that I don't pack any laptop accessories, no portable monitors, no external keyboards, no laptop stands; I choose to suffer with my 15in laptop screen, but I do allow myself the luxury of a battery-powered portable mouse. I pack a single 3-in-1 splitter cable to charge my phones, headphones, and Bluetooth sleep mask, and a simple universal power adapter; minimizing electronics means fewer cables, less need for waterproofing, and less worry when you leave stuff behind. Toiletry bag and toiletries. I keep my toiletries as minimalist as possible and pack only the basics, toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, a cheap plastic razor, deodorant, etc. I don't pack soap, shampoo, or conditioner - and haven't for a long time - many hostels provide these, and if they don't, I pick some up when I land and leave the bottles for future travelers when I check out. Sharing is caring. Clothes & Accessories I'm packing slightly less than normal on this trip, opting for warm weather climates and fully committing to the hiker look, which limits my style, but allows me to fit everything (for 3-4 months) into this 24L laptop bag. 1x pair of black, Salomon trail-running shoes 1x pair of minimalist Xero Barefoot sandals 1x pair of grey Sahara convertible hiking pants 2x pairs of zippered pocket Fabletics shorts 4x black Fabletics All-Day T-shirts 1x lightweight AIRKUHL hoodie 7x pairs of Exofficio Give-no-Go boxer briefs 7x pairs of William Painter Titan socks - note: they seemed to have stopped making the runner socks (which, in contrast to the no-show socks, provided heel coverage - this is sad) Extras I'm keeping my extras to a minimum this year, opting for simplicity above all else. 1x 4Monster packable backpack 1x Small washable laundry bag 1x Ultraportable pocket phone stand Summary That's it! That's everything I'm packing for 2024, if it seems small, it's because it is. :) Happy travels!

  • The Only 7 Things You Need for Long-Term Travel

    My goal in this article is to convince you that you can pack everything you need for long-term travel in a small backpack or carry-on suitcase; guy or girl, for any destination; it's a tall order, and it will require some supporting arguments, but hear me out, and save yourself some bag space. First, it's worth checking out The 12 Things You Should NEVER Pack for Long-Term Travel. Second, familiarize yourself with some simple space-saving packing tips - Bring THIS Not THAT. Now for the good stuff... Here are the ONLY things you need if you're traveling long-term. Passport, credit cards, a wallet, or handbag. Phone, burner phone, and headphones. Laptop and portable mouse. Travel adapter, 6-in-1 charger, and 1x split cable. Packable backpack. Toiletry bag and toiletries. One week's worth of clothes. Okay, there are more than seven physical items here, but let's dive into the details of each for tips and pointers to help minimize your pack. Passports, wallets, credit cards, and handbags. Your passport is required, so let's skip that one. Wallets and handbags? You could get away without them, but they're small and they keep things organized, so they're okay. Cash and credit cards? Unfortunately, you still need them, although almost any place with a chip reader will accept your phone for payment, I still recommend keeping physical cards and cash, and never keep all your eggs in one (phone) basket. Phone and headphones. Phones are pretty much mandatory, and headphones are arguably a must-have, although, I would argue against bringing anything bigger than earbud headphones, and you could theoretically borrow the free (microphone-jacked) headphones they hand out on international flights. It doesn't matter, these things are small. A backup/burner phone is great for peace of mind, and small enough to slip in an extra pocket. Your burner phone should be cheap, and when I say cheap, I mean you shouldn't care if you lose it - it should be that cheap. Pop a local SIM card into it when you land for local coverage and basic communication. Many long-term travelers take their burner phones on day trips and leave their primary phone at the hotel/hostel, I do the opposite, because the camera on my primary phone is better, and I'm typically traveling with zippered-pocket pants, so the risk of theft is low. I also double-down on SIM cards, using both a local SIM for the burner phone and a travel-specific eSIM for my primary phone, so both phones have cell service and you can use them interchangeably depending on the situation. Laptop and a portable mouse This is where things get interesting, I assume most long-term travelers will want their laptop, but if you can get away without it, all the power to you! I would, however, argue that you leave all your laptop accessories at home, the portable external monitor, the fold-out keyboard, the bulky laptop stand, the accessory pouch - if it doesn't power your laptop, you don't need it. The only exception to this rule is if the accessory takes up a minimal amount of space, a portable mouse or an ultrathin, collapsible laptop stand, for example. Travel adapters, charging stations, and cables A few cables will always be required, for your phone, headphones, and laptop at the very least, but you can easily minimize here by packing a 3-in-1 split cable. One cable to rule them all. A portable travel adapter is nice to have, although not always required, depending on your destination; and you can buy them at any airport or convenience store, so even these are optional. Lastly, I included a charging station in my list, because I know you won't listen when I say to leave the rest of your gadgets at home. A simple packing trick is to always assume you'll only ever have ONE outlet that works, what kind of charging station would you need to power ALL of your electronics through a single outlet? The answer to that question will tell you what kind of charging station to pack (if you even need one). This may sound hard to believe, but I only pack two power cables, one for my laptop, and a single 3-in-1 split cable, for my phone, headphones, and sleep mask (sshhhhh I know it's not on the list). A Packable Day Pack While not required, a packable day pack is one of the smallest, easiest, most versatile travel tools in your arsenal. They work for day hikes, grocery store runs, easy-access space for travel days, beach trips, dirty laundry bags, the list goes on, and they're pocket-sized, you can't go wrong throwing one in your bag. Toiletries and Hanging Toiletry Bag This is where it gets tricky, I've seen toiletry bags bigger than my backpack, and I wish I was joking. Let's be real, I can't tell you what to pack and what not to pack when it comes to toiletries, all I can tell you is that excessive toiletry kits will destroy your ambition. Here are a few simple tips to help minimize: Almost all hotels and most hostels provide soap and shampoo, you don't need to pack it. If they don't provide it, you can easily buy what you need once you land at your destination. All hotels and most hostels provide hair dryers, or you can borrow one from your travel pals. All hotels and most hostels sell basic hygiene items because people forget toiletries all the time; you will never be at a loss for soap, toothpaste, lotion, sunscreen, cosmetic items, or anything else you could need to feel pretty. For guys, this is probably a non-issue, for women, remember this - if the city you're about to visit has any other women, rest assured, you can find whatever you need, don't pack the bathroom. A Week's Worth of Clothes Lastly and most important - packing just one week's worth of clothes - this topic could fill a book, but I'll try to keep it short. It’s impossible to tell anyone what to pack when it comes to clothes, so instead, I’ll give you a baseline method for planning outfits, and you can build from there. Socks, bras, and underwear are easy, they're small, they take up very little space, and they sit next to your skin; 7x pairs of each should be good for any trip; opt for quick-dry, antibacterial options if possible. Swimsuits are equally easy - for women, one or two variations should take up minimal space; for guys, one or two pairs is plenty, and they can double as workout shorts. I always recommend zippered-pocket shorts that can be worn casually, on hikes, or to the beach. Now for the planning. Assuming you might be somewhat active, start with a single hiking outfit (trail-running/hiking shoes, hiking pants, and a comfy top) - now add a second top and you have two outfits. I will always recommend convertible hiking pants as baseline travel gear. Next, add a cute/casual weekend outfit, keep it comfy and basic (comfy/casual walking shoes, casual shorts, and a casual shirt/top), now add a second top, and boom, you have two more outfits; I highly recommend dedicated travel pants, shorts, and shirts, they're designed to be lightweight, quick-drying, anti-bacterial and comfortable - dedicated travel clothes can drastically reduce your pack size. Now let's add a third comfort/lounge/travel outfit - this is for travel days, hostel hangs, movie nights, etc., comfort is all that matters here; add a second top, and voila, you have two more outfits. For girls, this might be lightweight, casual leggings with tops to match; for guys, you can probably combine your hiking/weekend/travel pants into one single pair. If you're traveling through multiple climates, I recommend one pair of lightweight pants and one pair of thicker/warmer pants, in either case, two pairs of pants should be good for 99% of travel plans. So now you have six outfits with a good mix of comfort, style, and utility. Now let's try to consolidate a bit.. 1) Can your comfy/casual/weekend shoes double as your comfy/travel/lounge shoes? If so, you can safely pack just two pairs of shoes, 2) Can you color coordinate all your tops, so that they go with all your bottoms? If so, you just quadrupled your outfits by mixing and matching, 3) For chillier weekends, could you get away with wearing your convertible hiking pants instead of packing dedicated "going out" jeans? If so, you can safely pack just two pairs of pants - for the entire trip! It’s vitality important to remember five things when it comes to packing for long-term travel 1) No one cares what you look like; travelers are a hodgepodge of shapes, colors, and styles, there’s no rhyme or reason to it, and you won’t be judged the same way you might be at home, 2) You’re going to look like a tourist no matter what; different countries rock different styles, brands, and clothing, you’re only ever dressing for yourself and possibly other travelers, but you’ll always stick out to the locals, 3) You can wear pants and shirts multiple days in a row, despite any stigma you may feel, everybody gets a little grungy on the road, 4) If it's cold, you'll be wearing layers, so no one will see your shirts and no one will care what pants or shoes you're wearing, and you can go even longer without washing since you're not sweating in 90-degree heat all day, and 5) If you find yourself in a bind when it comes to clothing, it’s a perfect excuse to go shopping! Pair all the above with a casual, lightweight hoodie and a puffer jacket (*if necessary), and you'll be good to travel almost anywhere in the world. To recap and summarize: Guys can get away with one or two pairs of pants, two or three pairs of shorts, four or five shirts, and one or two pairs of shoes. Girls can get away with three or four pairs of pants, two or three pairs of shorts, five or six tops, and two or three pairs of shoes. It's really that simple! Conclusion Packing for long-term travel doesn't need to be daunting or cumbersome. As outlined in this article, focusing on the essentials and employing strategic packing can significantly lighten your load, leaving you more agile and less burdened during your travels. By packing only the necessities—such as a few versatile electronics, a week’s worth of clothing, and minimal toiletries—you ensure that every item in your suitcase serves a purpose, possibly multiple ones. The goal isn't just about saving space; it's about adopting a minimalist mindset that enhances your travel experience. Embracing this approach means you'll spend less time managing your belongings and more time exploring your destinations. Whether you're navigating through city streets or hiking remote trails, a lighter pack makes for a more enjoyable and spontaneous adventure. Remember, the world is your oyster—a little easier to navigate when you're not weighed down. So pack smart, travel far, and enjoy the simplicity and freedom that comes with carrying less. For more tips and trick on how to pack as light as possible, check out our monthly newsletter below! Read Next: The 8 Minimalist Packing Rules You MUST Follow

  • Minimalist Travel (A Brief Overview)

    The What, Why and How of Minimalist Travel What is Minimalist Travel In its simplest form, minimalist travel is packing only the bare essentials, and leaving everything else behind. It's the conscious decision to pack less, knowing you may have to sacrifice some modern comforts and/or style, in exchange for freedom, flexibility, and a much smaller backpack. For example, my base packing list can be broken down into ~7 categories. 1) Passport and wallet, 2) Phone and headphones, 3) Laptop and portable mouse, 4) Sleep mask, 5) A 3-in-1 charging cable, 6) Toiletries, and 7) One week's worth of clothes. Everything I travel with fits in a standard laptop bag or a small hiking backpack. You can see the full packing list here. Your minimalist packing list will look different, but my goal throughout this site is to advocate for the benefits of minimalist travel while sharing tips and tricks to help you minimize your pack. Why Minimalist Travel There are many benefits to minimalist travel and many reasons to give it a try. From a practical perspective, minimalist packing equates to easier travel, flexible travel plans, no lost luggage, simplicity in packing, and less fear of lost or stolen luggage. From a philosophical perspective, minimalist travel can bring peace of mind, a simplified lifestyle, a taste of humility, and a profound sense of freedom. By disconnecting from what we're told we need, we often find ourselves reconnecting to what we actually need, which isn't a lot when it comes to material things. "The things you own, end up owning you." - Tyler Durden, Fight Club Finally, beyond the practical or philosophical, you might look at minimalist travel as a way to reduce waste and minimize your impact on the environment - living with less, by its very nature, reduces waste; and when you return home after six months of living out of a backpack, your eyes will open to all the things you didn't need that entire time, these realizations can translate into lifelong changes that drastically reduce your footprint. There are a ton of benefits of minimalist travel, covered extensively in my next article, but the important thing to note is that minimalist travel is a lot easier than you might think. How To Minimalist Travel In my post What If I Told You - I argue that the only things you need to travel are a passport, a way to pay for things, your phone (nowadays), and the clothes on your back - not even a backpack. That's a bit extreme for most people, but it highlights an important point, you can literally, and with appropriate documentation, go anywhere in the world with just your phone, passport, and access to cash. It's that simple, and always will be. Of course, that's not to say you should travel like this; my point is to illustrate how little you actually need to travel, and to remind everyone that if you're going to a place where people live, you're going to find everything you need to live, from running water and shelter to climate-specific clothing and smartphones. "If you're going to a place where people live, you're going to find everything you need to live.." Minimalist travel starts with the recognition that, aside from a few basic items, you don't need to pack for every situation, every activity, every dress code, every climate, or every possible catastrophe. The "how" of minimalist travel is a big question, and answering it will involve several articles; as a starting point, I recommend checking out these high-level overviews. 9 Tips for Packing Fewer Clothes The Top 10 Ways to Minimize Your Pack (under construction) 16 Things You Should NEVER Pack The Only 7 Things You Need for Long-Term Travel 6 Packing Rules You Should ALWAYS Follow 50+ Travel Tips for Long or Short-Term Travel Further Reading For a more in-depth definition of minimalist travel, check out Minimalist Travel (A Deep Dive). For a list of the benefits of minimalist travel, and how it can help you, check out The 12 Major Benefits of Minimalist Travel. For a deeper dive on the how-to of minimalist travel, check out our How-To Guides and Packing Tips. Final Thoughts Minimalist travel will look different for everyone, and reasons for trying it can vary from person to person, but it ultimately comes down to consciously defining and prioritizing what's important, what's necessary, and what's nice to have. The beauty of minimalist travel is that it evolves uniquely for each person, shaping the type of experiences you place at the core of your travel memories. Whether you travel for work, adventure, or peace of mind, a minimalist approach can bring focus, clarity, and a deeper connection with the world around you. If you're interested in staying up to date on the latest travel hacks, packing tips, and space-saving tools, feel free to sign up for our newsletter, and as always, happy travels! Read Next: The 12 Major Benefits of Minimalist Travel

  • Prepping for Long-Term Travel

    The Basics Check your passport. Often overlooked by those who aren’t constantly on the road, check your passport’s expiration date and renew if necessary. I won’t dwell on this, but it has to be mentioned because it’s often the last thing people remember to check. https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/passports/have-passport.html Check VISA requirements - often only necessary for long-term stays, but it’s worth checking out each country before visiting to be safe. https://www.usa.gov/visas-citizens-traveling-abroad Get your shots. Depending on where you’re going, you may need to visit the doctor before you take off. This is not a problem for 95% of travelers, but if you’re traveling long-term and your plans aren’t set in stone, it’s probably worth looking into it. Check https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list to see if there are any requirements based on the countries you plan to visit, then it’s as simple as visiting a travel clinic (https://healthandtravel.com/)  in your area. Please note that some shots require multiple doses over multiple weeks, so look into this as soon as possible! Consider travel insurance, depending on where and how long you’ll be traveling. Look for a policy that covers medical emergencies, trip cancellations, theft, and any specific activities you plan to do. I like World Nomads, but there are lots of options. Note: Travel insurance isn’t perfect, but it can save you in emergencies. When Covid struck in March 2020, I was three months into a 12-month trip, and while no travel insurance had verbiage to account for a global pandemic, I was able to get reimbursed for a partial chunk of a prepaid train ride across Russia, it wasn’t everything, but it was better than nothing. Medical emergencies aside, it’s nice to know you’re covered if anything big gets stolen or lost! Honorable mention: Consider an International License if you plan on renting a car while overseas, and depending on where you go (ex. Italy, Spain, Greece, Japan) - for $20, it’s worth the investment if you’re traveling long-term. Check here to see if you need an international license: https://www.usa.gov/international-drivers-license and check here to apply for the license: https://www.aaa.com/vacation/idpf.html. The Prep Digitize important documents and save them to Google Drive, OneDrive, Dropbox, or any other web-based storage platform that you can access from any computer, in case you lose your phone or your laptop breaks. Take pictures of your ID cards, credit cards, medical cards, and any other important documents, and add the support numbers for each document to your phone. Think about what you would do if your phone goes for a swim or someone steals it.. How do you cancel your cards? How do you access websites if you have two-factor authentication setup? How will you access your IDs and cash. Have a backup plan in place. Beyond the important stuff, consider keeping ALL your digital files in an online repository, so that if something happens to your laptop, you won’t lose anything. Consider a burner phone. This is how long-term travelers operate, we buy a cheap, unlocked phone and purchase a SIM card (or eSIM) in whatever country we're visiting, and we use that phone any time we go out. It lowers the risk of losing access to everything, and you won't care as much if it gets damaged or stolen. I tend to hang on to all my old phones (vs trading them in for an upgrade), and I use them as my backup phones while traveling. I've been known to carry three phones while traveling, my primary and two backup phones, they're small and hold little value if they get in the wrong hands. Note: Consider a second email account as a backup to your primary, and tie this second account to your burner phone(s), so if anyone gets a hold of it, they don’t have access to your primary email. Consider a secondary e-SIM. I use Google Fi (which works in almost every country) as a cheap, secondary travel line, you can activate the eSIM on your main phone and enable it when you land, wherever you land, while turning off your primary cell (and/or disabling roaming). This has saved me hundreds of dollars in roaming charges over the years, and it’s easier than purchasing a physical SIM card and plugging it into a separate phone. But again, take note, I wouldn’t use this method alone, I would still keep a burner phone for nights out and day trips in sketchy countries. I use all three when I travel, a primary phone with my main number, a secondary eSIM travel line tied to my primary phone, and a tertiary burner phone with a local SIM card. Backups on backups on backups. If you’re paranoid like me, consider a retractable cord or wrist strap for your phone to protect against pickpocketing, it may look a little funny, but it’s better than being phoneless. (Matt’s story). Leave the Extras. While we’re on electronics, do yourself a favor and leave the expensive stuff at home. I have a hard time leaving my AirPods anywhere, but I have an even harder time losing a pod or living in fear of my pods getting stolen when I’m in a foreign country, that $250 loss could buy you two weeks in a hostel in some countries, which is a kind of crazy to think about, especially knowing you can buy a cheap pair of Bluetooth headphones at almost any convenience store, in pretty much any city in the world. They also scream “I’m a tourist with money!” - which is never good. The same applies to any other electronics you’re considering… if you don’t need it for work, you don’t need it on the road: tablets, eReaders, portable monitors, noise-canceling headphones, etc. Everyone needs to figure out their ideal remote-work strategy, but in general, the more you pack, the more you have to lose. Finances Let’s assume you have the basics down, money saved, cash on hand, and credit cards in tow. Here are a few additional considerations for financial peace of mind: Have a primary travel credit card that doesn’t charge ATM fees, and have one or two additional credit cards that you leave hidden in your backpack at all times, I travel with three cards, one on me, one in my day bag, and one that stays with my backpack, locked in a hostel locker. I do the same thing with bank cards, one primary bank card tied to checking, and a secondary bank card tied to savings, I keep them separate at all times. Overkill? Possibly… but peace of mind? Yes. Consider security pouches, hidden money belts, and/or secret pockets, even if you don’t always wear them, they’re a nice way to keep your cash out of sight if you forget to zip up your bag. Security pouches may be an easy target for anyone familiar with them, but small pouches and hidden pockets aren’t as easy to spot. Please keep in mind, 99.9% of travelers you meet at hostels are good/decent people, the above methods are meant to protect from uncommon, opportunistic theft. Lastly, don’t forget a padlock for hostel lockers if you plan on staying in dorms; even if you don’t plan on staying in dorms, they can come in handy on excursions where lockers are available. Apps & Tools There are only a few apps that I consider mandatory for travel, and of course, you can download whatever you need, when you need it, but this list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning: WhatsApp: Used by 90% of the world for everything from hostel group chats to lodging to communicating with businesses (think coordinating check-ins, scheduling tours, negotiating rental rates, setting up haircut appointments), this app is used by everyone in the world except iPhone users in the US. Google and/or Apple Maps - specifically the “download offline maps” feature, you likely already use one or both, but it’s a very good idea to download a map of whatever city you’re flying into, before taking off. Uber/Lyft/DiDi/Cabify/Grab - These are worth downloading ahead of time because they all require you to verify a credit card before use, so it’s good to get them set up before you leave. Google Translate - specifically, download the language packages for whatever countries you’re visiting. Also, consider DuoLingo or whatever other language-learning tool you prefer, you’ll probably never open it, but when someone asks if you know the local language, you can show proof that you’re on step one of the program. A VPN App like NordVPN or ExpressVPN, while not always necessary, you’ll find that you can’t access some US-based websites without connecting through a VPN; save yourself the trouble, and have it on hand if you need it. Lastly, just a friendly reminder to download any music, shows, podcasts or other entertainment before the long flight. :) The Pack Pack light. You had to see this one coming, but as a general rule of thumb, if you’re unsure about something, leave it behind, you can always purchase hats, gloves, ponchos, underwear, etc. as needed while on the road. If you’re traveling to a hot country, you don’t need a lot of clothes, you’ll probably be wearing the same swimsuit every day, the same shirt over that swimsuit, and sandals (i.e. no socks). And if you’re traveling to a cold country, you don’t need a lot of clothes, you’ll be wearing the same pants, hoodie, and jacket over your underwear and undershirts every day. In either case, a week’s worth of socks, underwear, and undershirts should be sufficient, no matter the city, country, climate, temperature, or activity. Choose versatile, comfortable clothing. I can’t emphasize this enough, comfort is king while traveling. If you pack ten shirts and two of them are your favorite because they’re so comfortable, you’ll be wearing those two shirts 90% of the time, do yourself a favor and pack what feels good! Consider compression or vacuum bags to maximize bag space. I use a Scrubba wash bag that doubles as a vacuum compression bag to keep my pack as small as possible, and, of course, you can use it to wash clothes if you’re in money-save mode. Consider packable travel gear. Packable backpacks, packable fanny packs, portable wash buckets, packable puffer jackets, packable rain jackets, pocket blankets, etc. Look for places to minimize and get creative. Forget the towel. This is highly controversial, but I never travel with a towel, they’re bulky, dumb, and easy to lose. Yes, I rent a towel everywhere I go, or if I’m in a private room, they’re provided for free. Imagine the freedom of being able to throw that faceless wet towel on the floor after you shower, just before packing up and checking out…  versus packing it in your bag. Conclusion That’s it! If I’ve forgotten anything, please feel free to mention it in the comments below, I’ll update the article and immediately delete your comment. :)  Kidding (maybe). As always, happy travels.

  • The Ultimate Guide to Minimizing Your Pack

    12 Tips for Keeping Your Pack as Small as Possible Please note: this post is geared toward long-term travelers and digital nomads and is not necessarily applicable to weekend warriors or baby trips. A comprehensive list of the top 12 ways to minimize your pack. 1. Bring Less Clothes This obvious, but often difficult-to-implement tip requires its own mini-list. There are hundreds of ways to do this... but since I'm trying to keep this list short, I'll give you the top four. Pack ONE week's worth of clothes max, and do laundry weekly. Utilize anti-bacterial socks/underwear and quick-dry shirts, shorts, and pants - make a mental note: sweat doesn't smell, YOU smell, so when you shower, you stop smelling - your clothes can be worn multiple times before they need to be washed. Pro Tip: Hang them out in direct sunlight - UV light (free, from the sun) kills 99% of bacteria after.. I don't know, let's say 20 minutes to 6 hours. (feel free to read the brain-numbing reference articles below for exact details). The point is, you have the world's best washer/dryer combo sitting outside your window, you can use it every day, weather permitting, and cut your pack in half. The point is, you have the world's best washer/dryer combo sitting outside your window, you can use it every day, and cut your pack in half. Stick to warm climates (I know, it's not always possible) but it's a well-known fact, that the hotter it is, the fewer clothes you need. Maybe a more applicable piece of advice is to simply acknowledge the climate at your destination. When I visit hot climates, I bring seven pairs of socks/underwear, three shirts, two pairs of shorts and one pair of shoes... THAT'S IT... It's worth mentioning that cold climates don't require much more clothing; one pair of pants, a hoodie, a puffer jacket, a hat, and gloves to go with the above. You can layer everything and you're only washing the layers that touch your skin, i.e. socks, underwear, and shirts. Rotate your shirts/shorts on a clothesline during the week, do laundry once a week, simple. Create a simple packing rule for yourself, I'm generally a 5-4-3-2-1 guy, 5x socks/underwear, 4x tops, 3x bottoms, 2x beers, 1x pair of shoes - hot climates are an exception, since you sweat through socks and underwear faster, while shirts and shorts are worn less and are easily cleaned in the sun. 2. Bring the Right Clothes Quick dry, anti-bacterial, neutral color, athleisure/comfort clothes. Comfort is king while traveling... if you bring twelve pairs of pants, I guarantee you'll be wearing the most comfortable pair 99% of the time, all the rest just take up space. Quick-dry is great for shorts and pants (since you're presumably wearing underwear), but quick-dry shirts - which are typically right against your skin for extended periods - can hold on to odor, so I recommend lightweight cotton or Merino wool shirts and tops. Exofficio underwear and Merino wool socks have been my go-to for years, I will always love and recommend them. If you have the means (and need), consider a packable puffer jacket and/or rain jacket - or opt for a 3-in-1 rain poncho that can double as a beach mat.. (or my personal preference - don't go out in the rain, or deal with being wet, or buy a 30-cent poncho at the nearest convenience store). 3. Suffer at Airports Wear your biggest items to the airport, pants, long socks, hoodies, hats, shoes, etc. If you're going to a mostly warm destination, but are worried about cold spells or rainy days, then wear your pants and long-sleeve to the airport, which helps keep your packable items as small as possible. Note: this also means that when you get to your destination, even if it's 100 degrees (37.8 Celsius), you may have to wear your pants and long sleeves on travel days, deal with it. On the flip side, if you're running from the winter and flying to a mild or hot climate, leave your cold weather gear at home completely. I once flew to Medellin in the middle of winter (a city nicknamed "Eternal Spring" for its year-round moderate temperatures - which means I wasn't packing pants) - I'll never forget standing on the tarmac in -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-15.5 Celsius) in my shorts and t-shirt - hoping for no delays. I'll never forget standing on the tarmac in -4 degrees Fahrenheit (-15.5 Celsius) in my shorts and t-shirt, praying for no delays. Was it uncomfortable for five minutes? Yes. Did I look like an insane person? Yes. Was it worth it to fit everything into my 24L standard-issue Dell laptop bag with zero checked luggage? Absolutely. If you're wearing a winter coat and pants just to get from the front door of your house into an Uber, you're doing it wrong. If you're wearing a winter coat just to get from the front door of your house to an Uber, you're doing it wrong. 4. Be Okay With Looking Like a Tourist Utilize ugly convertible hiking pants as your “one pant” - you might hate yourself, but don't you kind of hate yourself a little already? Bite the bullet, look like a tourist, and save yourself the annoyance of an extra item in your bag. The same concept applies across the board - pack comfortable, functional clothing, and forget about style -no one cares what you look like when you travel, you're going to look like a tourist no matter what you do, so you might as well use it to your advantage and minimize your pack. 5. Pack ONE Pair of Shoes This one miiiiight be easier for guys, but listen, I've met lots of women - two to be exact- who packed just two pairs of shoes.. walking/running/trail-running shoes and sandals.. it IS possible, you just won't look as cute as you might prefer.. but seriously, you're traveling, no one cares. One pair of comfortable hiking/trail-running shoes should be good enough for 95% of trips. If you're worried about ankle support and debating those calf-high hiking boots, consider minimalist ankle braces to pair with your trail shoes, they take up less space while doing the same job. Side Note: If you do decide to pack multiple pairs of shoes, Xero Barefoot shoes and sandals are a great space-saving option. 6. Minimize Toiletries Simplify your bathroom routine. Can you survive with just blush and eyeliner? (Hint: yes you can) - drop all of it… or go extreme and don’t bring ANY toiletries, and buy them when you land,. At the very least, leave the soap, shampoo, and conditioner, it’s provided at many places and they're readily available everywhere.. if you want to go super extreme, consider using a plastic bag for your toiletries.. simple, cheap, easy, ugly.. basically my motto. Bonus: Hitting the malls, shopping centers, grocery stores, and convenience stores in a new country is one of the most rewarding things you can experience while traveling. 7. EVERYTHING is EVERYWHERE Speaking of everywhere, this is a friendly reminder that EVERYTHING is readily available.. literally.. everywhere.. if you’re flying into an airport, to a place where other humans live.. you’re likely to find everything people need to survive; but but but, NO BUTS, if you're not sure on something, anything, just remember you can always buy it if you need it. (Ex. cheap ponchos, cheap sandals, a cheap hoodie if it gets unexpectedly chilly, $3 shirts, $1 socks, 4-cent toothpaste, you get the idea). 8. Pack Packable Packs Phew that's a mouthful, but what I mean is... exactly what I said. Packable day bags (check), packable fanny pack (check), packable tote bag (check) - these things take up almost no space, yet give you tons of flexibility for extra carrying capacity when you need it.. grocery store runs, beach days, day tours, etc. 9. Forget The (Water) Bottle I know, blasphemy.. it seems like everyone has a personalized stickered water bottle these days, but here's the deal.. many, if not most places, have questionable tap water, so you're going to be buying bottled or jugged water anyway.. there's a simple, easy, environmentally friendly solution: Step 1) Buy a bottle of water on the first leg of your journey (ideally glass, since it's easier to recycle, but plastic is fine if you're worried about dropping it). Step 2) Reuse that bottle of water for the rest of the trip. There's a bonus here.. you won't care if you lose it, and you won't feel nearly as guilty if you forget your travel bottle and have to buy a new one. If tap water is a concern where you're staying, go to the grocery store, buy the biggest jug of water you can find, and fill up your "trip bottle" as needed. If you're absolutely adamant about bringing a water bottle, consider a space-saving collapsible or foldable water bottle. 10. One Cable to Rule Them All Pack ONE power cable per charger type, or even better, a single split cable, I don’t even bring a portable charger with me anymore (but I understand some people are incapable of plugging in their phones at night), in that case, opt for a small pocket-sized phone charger. For the power-hungry digital nomads, I'm a big fan of the Anker Nano 6-in-1 Charging Station. Actually, I recommend Anker products for any charging needs; everyone's needs are different and it would be impossible for me to recommend any one item that's perfect for everyone, it's worth visiting their site and finding the right tool for your needs. 11. Go Virtual I shouldn’t have to mention this, and maybe I don't - but stop with the physical books, suffer through an audiobook for once in your life, you'll probably love it thank me later. While we're on the topic, do you really need an iPad to watch your shows? No, you don't, watch on your phone like a normal peasant, or better yet... I hate to say it.. but don't watch TV while traveling. 12. Follow THE RULE Lastly, it all comes down to this.. follow the rule - the ONE rule, the ONLY rule that truly matters when it comes to packing, and it's so simple... if you're unsure if you'll need it, YOU DON'T NEED IT. If you're unsure if you'll need it, YOU DON'T NEED IT. It's as simple as that. If all the above tips didn't drill it home, I'll reiterate here: You probably don't need it, and if you do end up needing it, you can buy it, for cheap, at a store, within walking distance from your hotel/hostel. Trust me, or don't, time will prove it in the end. Conclusion That's it folks, the only packing guide you'll ever need - until the proliferation of wearable multi-screen contacts, haptic gloves, and Elon's mind-reading brain implants, at which point, your backpack will get even smaller. Can't wait. As always, happy travels. References: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1563624/ https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7064263/#:~:text=Sunlight%20has%20long%20been%20recognized,and%20to%20many%20aquatic%20environments.

  • 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. :)

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