top of page

Search Results

66 items found for ""

  • The 7 Methods for Doing Laundry While Traveling

    Seven methods for doing laundry while traveling and tips for simplifying the process. There are many methods for doing laundry while traveling; in this article we'll explore each method, the pros and cons of each, and tips for keeping it simple. Hostel/Hotel Laundry Service The easiest and most expensive option - utilizing a hostel or hotel's laundry service. Nothing beats dropping your dirty clothes at the front desk and getting them back freshly cleaned and folded the next day, but it comes with a price, and not all places offer it. Tip: Ask the front desk where you can do your own laundry, and if it's nearby, drop it off yourself and save a little cash. Pros: The least amount of work, professional cleaning, no need to pack or buy detergent, and it takes zero time out of your day. Cons: Most expensive option, 24-hour turn-around, not always available. DIY Laundromats If you want to save some money and can spare the time, do-it-yourself laundromats are the way to go; they're in every city, usually within walking distance and about as inexpensive as it gets. Ask the hostel receptionist for a recommendation and they'll probably point you to where they take your clothes if you opt for the laundry service. These days you'll find lots of laundromat/restaurant or laundromat/coffee shop combos; these are great options if they're available, but buyer beware, they're usually expensive on both ends, food and wash. Consider packing pocket-sized laundry detergent or laundry sheets, Sea-to-Summit Laundry Leaves are good for 50 washes. Tip: Many laundromats have been upgraded so you can pay using an app like Speed Queen (Google Play, Apple Store), but don't count on it - get local cash before you go just in case. Pros: Average cost, fast turn-around, professional cleaning, option to hang-dry your clothes. Cons: Will take three hours of your day, may be hard to find, may require local coins/currency, and you'll likely need to pack or buy laundry detergent before you go. 24-Hour Laundromats Depending on where you are in the world, you can probably find a 24-hour drop-off laundry service. This is another easy button, but, of course, it will cost more than doing it yourself and you'll have to wait 24 hours (maybe more) for your clothes. Tip: Pack a washable laundry bag so it's easy to drop off and pickup your clothes as you head out (or come back) for the day, plus you can wash the bag along with your clothes so everything comes back squeaky clean. Pros:  Average cost, relatively easy (depending on proximity), professional cleaning, no need to buy or pack laundry detergent. Cons:  Can be expensive, 24-hour turn-around, may be difficult to find. On-Site DIY Laundry Some hostels have washers and dryers you can use (for a fee), just like a DIY laundromat only it's at your hostel, which is great. It may be slightly more expensive than an off-site laundromat, but definitely worth it if it's an option. Note that some hostels only have washers, so you may need to hang dry your clothes. As previously mentioned, consider packing pocket-sized laundry detergent or laundry sheets. Tip: You can filter for hostels that have on-site laundry when you're booking a stay, I recommend reaching out to the hostel directly and asking if the machines are in service, especially if you're planning a long-term stay. Pros:  Average cost, very easy, fast turn-around, professional cleaning. Cons:  Will require 3-hours of neglectful babysitting, may require local coins/currency, often not an option, requires you to bring or buy laundry detergent, and there's a small but noteworthy risk of broken machines. Hand Washing in a Sink or Tub Time-tested and minimalist traveler-approved, this is as simple as it sounds; you can use a universal sink stopper or portable wash basin to wash your clothes in the sink or tub; it's relatively easy, but you lose the benefit of a "professional" clean. This is a great method if you're crunched for time or only have a few things to wash. Socks and underwear can be a pain due to their small size, so you may want to consider packing two week's worth of your small items, hand-washing shirts and shorts, and using a regular laundromat every couple weeks. Note that you can use regular hand soap for washing, which is gentler on clothes compared to regular detergent, or you can pack laundry soap bars, general purpose camping soap, or one of the options listed previously. Tip: Sink washing can be a pain when you're in a hostel with a shared bathroom, the sink or bathroom may be small, you may have limited time as people are waiting to use the bathroom, and you'll always have to wash out a shared sink prior to use; I opt for the portable wash basin to make it easier. In any case, I always recommend packing a sink stopper or wash basin so you always have the option. Pros:  Free! Relatively quick depending on how much you're washing, you can scrub/target stains, you can use hand or body soap. Cons:  Can be time-consuming if you have lots of clothes, shared sinks are gross, shared bathrooms are often tiny, it's not a "professional" clean, and it requires time and space to hang-dry your clothes. Hand Washing in the Shower As weird as it sounds, but not without precedence, this is a simple, alternative approach to sink washing. In short, you bring your dirty clothes into the shower with you - along with a "clean clothes" bag - and hand-wash each article as you're showering; as each piece gets cleaned, throw it in your clean clothes bag to keep it off the shower floor. As with the sink-wash option, you can use body wash or soap bars to clean your clothes, as they aren't as harsh as traditional detergents. I tried this method for awhile and loved it for a few reasons, 1) it's easy, you're already showering, and it doesn't take a lot of additional effort to hand-wash each piece, 2) it's simple; you're not taking over a sink, filling up a wash bag, or waiting around for your clothes to soak, and lastly, 3) it's free. Tip: Portable wash basins and wash bags work great as "clean clothes" bags, but plastic bag from the grocery store works just as well. Pros:  Free! Relatively quick and easy, you can scrub/target stains, and you can use body wash for soap. Cons:  It's a daily chore that adds effort to an otherwise enjoyable activity, you can only wash a few clothes at one time, it's not a "professional" cleaning, and it still requires time and space to hang-dry your clothes. Portable Wash Bags A go-to for many minimalist travelers and backpackers, and about as straight forward as it gets - fill up a wash bag, add soap, shake it up for a bit and let your clothes soak for however long you'd like. When you're feeling ambitious again, rinse your clothes piece by piece and hang dry for the next days' use. In theory, if you wanted to model a modern-day washing machine, you would soak them with detergent, rinse, refill the bag with clean water, then soak them again, but most people just rinse them under running water after a single soapy soak. This approach is great for long-term travelers looking to save some money, and for those willing to commit to manual washing on a daily or weekly basis. Tip: Portable wash bags are designed to be watertight and airtight, so you could use your Scrubba wash bag as a vacuum-sealed compression bag when you're on the move, super convenient! Pros: Free! You can wash a moderate amount of clothes at one time, the soaking method mimics a professional wash, you can scrub/target stains, and it's moderately easy. Cons:  It can be time consuming depending on how much you have to wash, it again requires time and space to hang-dry your clothes, and you'll need to pack a portable wash bag. Conclusion There you have it! Seven tried and true methods for doing laundry on the road, each with its pros and cons; if you're traveling for an extended period of time, you're likely to use a mixture of all the methods, and I highly recommend packing at least one hand-washing tool - sink stopper, portable wash basin or portable wash bag - so you have the option if the need arises.

  • 9 Tips for Booking the Perfect Hostel

    Nine travel-tested tips for booking the perfect hostel. Hostels come in all different shapes and sizes, and the right hostel can make or break your trip, so here are nine travel-tested tips for booking the perfect hostel, whether you're a party animal, digital nomad, solo explorer, or anything in between. Where to Book and are your two main options for booking hostels, both sites also list hotels, boutique stays, bed and breakfasts, apartments, and even campsites; set your filter for hostels - but note that some places will say " hotel and hostel" - these are usually more hotel than hostel, you've been warned. Pick a Vibe (1) When it comes to hostels, there are chill hostels and there are party hostels, and everything in-between, there are health-focused hostels, MMA hostels, dance hostels, yoga-focused hostels, and digital nomad/coworking hostels like Selina - you can usually tell what kind of hostel it is by the main picture. Choosing a hostel that fits your style is arguably the most important consideration when it comes to booking the right stay - have a type in mind, look at all the pictures and read reviews, a little research here will go a long way, and it will help you narrow down the many options. Use the Filters - but don't always trust them (2) This can be overwhelming, so use the filters in the top right corner.. 👇👇👇 Price, rating and room type are the obvious filters; but there are few things to note... There are dorm rooms (mixed and female-only) and private rooms - and everything in between. Hostel rooms are highly variable and the filters don't always tell the full story (2), you may see options like Standard Private, Deluxe Private or Premium Private - there are subtle differences for each, so double check that the room you're looking to book has the features you're looking for.. for example, air conditioning, if you're traveling to hot climates. If you're booking a private room, "ensuite" usually means there's a private bathroom in your room, like any hotel - this is important, because many private rooms are just that, private rooms with beds, and you still may be sharing a bathroom. Other things you may want to look for: shared kitchens (for long-term stays), on-site bars or nightclubs, swimming pools, coworking space, libraries, movie rooms, or on-site gyms and yoga studios. Don't Hesitate to Reach Out (3) Some things just aren't listed online; if you're staying for an extended period of time, you may want to reach out to the hostel directly and ask them any specific questions, for example: is the coworking space 24-hours? Is it keycard access-only? Does the hostel offer free tours? Can you bring guests? It says 24-hour reception, but does that include 3am when I land? Is the hostel kid-friendly (so you can avoid it)? Do you provide discounts for long-term stays? Etc. If something's important to you, email them! (3) Book for a Week, Stay for a Month (4) It's easy to worry about choosing the right hostel, so here's a simple trick to help ease your mind: if you're unsure on a place but still want to lock in a reservation, make two reservations (4), one initial short-term stay (from a day to a week), and a second long-term stay (a week to a month). You'll be locked in to your initial stay no matter what, but the long-term stay is usually far enough out that you can cancel it with no penalty - on the off chance you hate it. Book Direct for Discounts (5) Many hostels offer a better price and discounts if you book directly through them; is great for finding hostels, and it's definitely the easy-button for booking, but if you're looking to stay long-term, I recommend emailing and booking directly with the hostel. Many hostels offer discounts for long-term stays that can only be provided by the hostel; plus it's a good opportunity to ask any questions you may have, as referenced in tip 3. Location (6) I haven't touched on this yet, since I assume you have a destination in mind and can use Google Maps as well as I can; but there's one booking tip worth noting: If you're not sure where to stay and can't decide on a hostel, book a place with multiple hostels within walking distance (6), and then go on a little hostel tour when you arrive; you can get a pretty good feel for most hostels just by walking by, or you can pop your head in, no one will care! The point is to stay flexible (see tip 4). Hostel Hack (7) A little-known hostel hack - if you have to choose between a 4-person dorm and an 18-person dorm, consider the larger dorm, it sounds counter-intuitive, but most people think a 4-person dorm will be less crazy, and since most people book the smaller dorms first, the larger 10/12/16/18-person dorms are often half or fully empty.. so it's very possible you'll have more space in an 18-person dorm versus a smaller 4 or 6-person dorm (7). There is some risk to this, especially with popular hostels - if it doesn't work out - you didn't hear it here. :P Join the Chat (8) This is more general travel advice, but it's good to touch on - many, if not most hostels have a hostel chat so you can quickly and easily get in touch with fellow travelers, get travel recs and make new friends (8), join the chat before you arrive if you're looking for ideas or want to fill up your social calendar. If You Don't Love it, Leave! (9) Lastly, it's good to remember that you're not locked in to anything; if you hate your room, or the place is dirty, or you get bad vibes, don't hesitate to make a change - yes, you may lose out on a small deposit or have to pay a cancellation fee, but that's a small price to pay compared to the alternative, being stuck in a place where you feel unsafe, uncomfortable or just bored. Conclusion Choosing the right hostel can have a huge impact on your travel experience, whether you're seeking nightlife or a quiet retreat, so pay close attention to hostel vibes and amenities, don't shy away from reaching out directly for specific details and discounts, and consider booking a short initial stay to assess the hostel before extending your visit. Flexibility and communication are your best friends when it comes to booking the right stay, if you don't love it, don't be afraid to make a change. Embrace these nine tips, and you're well on your way to finding a hostel that feels like home, or if you're lucky, something even better!

  • 8 Things You SHOULD Pack for Long-Term Travel

    8 things you should consider packing for long-term travel. Less is more when it comes to travel, but there are a few things that come in incredibly handy when you're traveling long-term; these are the items I (almost) never leave home without. Please note, this list is supplementary to the The 7 Things You MUST Pack for Long-Term Travel - there is some overlap, and it assumes you're already packing the basics like your phone, headphones, laptop (if necessary), passport, clothes, etc. Packable Day Pack Packable backpacks are infinitely useful while traveling; for beach days, day trips, hikes, and grocery store runs, just to name a few; they can also be used for extra carrying capacity on travel days, organization within your main backpack, or as a dirty laundry bag if you need it. You'll be glad you have one. I mention this one first, because packable backpacks my not be easy to find while traveling, so it's good to get one before you leave. The Sea-to-Summit Ultra-Sil Day Pack is the smallest (and most expensive) option, or you can opt for a 4Monster Lightweight Travel Backpack for a less expensive option that does the same thing. Portable Wash Basin or Wash Bag Portable wash basins aren't the first thing that come to mind for most travelers, but if you travel long enough, you'll find yourself wishing you just had something for x, y or z - for example, you forgot to do laundry and just need to wash a few pairs of socks and underwear in the hostel sink; or you want to keep a six pack of beer cold and you need a small water-proof container for the ice, or your phone took a swim and you need a little bucket for rice - you won't always need it, but it comes in handy when you do. A portable wash bag like Scrubba does the same thing - it's bulkier and more cumbersome to pack, but it has the added benefit of doubling as a vacuum/compression bag for packing; the choice is yours. Washable Laundry Bag A simple, useful add-on, washable laundry bags are nice for when you're going out for the day and just want to drop off your dirty clothes a 24-hour laundromat; they take up almost no space and there's really no reason not to bring one. Sleep Mask and Ear Plugs Bright hotel rooms, loud party hostels, shared dorm rooms, babies on planes - sleep masks and ear-plugs are a must-have for all travelers, for every trip, and for any length of time. International Travel Adapter It perhaps goes without saying that an international travel adapter is useful for long-term travel, but this list wouldn't be complete without mentioning it; the only thing to note here is that you can buy one at any airport if you lose it or forget it, so don't worry about it. Fast Chargers and Splitter Cables A fast charger can be a lifesaver, literally - if you chronically forget to charge your phone - and having the ability to go from 0 to 100% in 30 minutes is a godsend; and it means you can leave that portable charger at home. Couple the fast charger with a 3-in-1 (or 6-in-1) splitter cable, and you can charge all your devices quickly and efficiently. Save weight, save space, save lives. Burner Phone Backup/burner phones are common among long-term travelers, they're easy to pack, inexpensive, and provide peace of mind anytime you're hesitant to bring your main phone; and I'm not just talking about sketchy cities or hostel bar crawls that have the potential to get out of hand - you can opt for your burner phone anytime your phone might be at risk; beach days, waterfall hikes, hot air balloon rides, ATVing - it's nice to not care if your phone accidently takes a swim. And if you do take your main phone everywhere, it's nice to know you have a phone back at the hostel or hotel, if anything goes terribly wrong. Padlock (for Hostel Lockers) If you plan on staying in shared dorms, you'll want a padlock for the lockers. Any lock will work, but combination locks are ideal since you won't have to worry about losing the physical key while you're out and about. Summary Not everyone will pack the same and no two trips are the same, but these eight things are staples in the minimalist traveler's diet. If you're wondering what's missing from this list, check out 16 Things You Should NEVER Pack for a list of commonly-packed but not always useful items. And if you're interested in getting monthly travel tips and packing hacks in your inbox, check out our newsletter. As always, happy travels. Read Next: 9 Tips for Packing Fewer Clothes

  • 50+ Tips for First Time Travelers

    50+ tips for for first time international travelers and anyone looking to minimize their pack. I'll try to keep this short. :) Pre-Travel Tips Tip 1 - Confirm passport AND credit card expiration dates - 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. Tip 2 - Confirm VISA requirements (long before necessary) - often only necessary for long-term stays, but it’s worth checking out each country's requirements before visiting to be safe. Tip 3 - Confirm vaccine requirements - 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 worth looking into it. Check 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 (  in your area. Note: Some shots require multiple doses over multiple weeks, so look into this as soon as possible! Tip 4 - 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. Tip 5 - Consider an international drivers license if you plan on renting a car while overseas (and depending on where you go, ex. Italy, Spain, Greece, Japan) - it’s worth the investment $20 investment if you’re traveling long-term. Check here to see if you need an international license: and go here to apply for the license: Tip 6 - Consider a travel credit card with no foreign transaction fees; and while we're on the topic, be sure to pack one or two backup credit cards and keep them separate from your primary card. Pre-Booking Tips Tip 7 - Double check for conflicts of interest - check travel advisories, local climate, holiday conflicts, and potential costs. Tip 8 - Decide on your type of stay - Airbnbs, hostels, hotels, etc. I recommend staying at hostels for the social aspect alone - private rooms offer the best of both worlds, they costs a little more but you can shut out the noise when you need down-time. and are two popular choices for finding accommodations on the road. If you're working while traveling, look up popular coworking spaces in each city and book a stay within walking distance, or book a hostel that has coworking space. Tip 9 - Decide on your style of stay- when it comes to hostels, there are chill hostels and there are party hostels, and everything in-between, health-focused hostels, MMA hostels, dance hostels, digital nomad/coworking hostels like Selina, etc . You can usually tell the "type" of hostel by their pictures, check out 9 Tips for Booking the Perfect Hostel for more tips. Tip 10 - Choose a neighborhood - Depending on the size of the city, there are usually a number of different neighborhoods to choose from, do some research on what fits your style, are you looking for partying/nightlife, or more interested in history/architecture? Or perhaps you want a relaxing beach retreat away from everything? Do some research before you book. Tip 11 - Consider fair-weather travel - fair-weather travel isn't just about comfort, it drastically reduces what you need to pack and prep for, check out Fair Weather Travel for more details. Pre-Flight Tips Tip 12 - Confirm international cell service and be prepared for roaming charges - or buy a SIM card when you land (see Tip 25); Verizon charges $10/day for international coverage, they get me every time I land in a new country, but it's worth it for peace of mind until I get to a place with WiFi. Tip 13 - Download popular travel apps and confirm your login/payment information - WhatApp, HostelWorld,, Airbnb, VPN apps (Nord or Express VPN), etc. Most of these are optional, but WhatsApp is 100% required. Tip 14 - Check and download local ride-share apps - Uber works in many (69+) countries, but some regions have dedicated apps, like DiDi for China, Grab for Southeast Asia, and Ola for India; confirm which apps you'll need and confirm your payment information before you leave - this is an important last step in case your card happens to not work when you land. Tip 15 - Download offline Google maps and destination language packages - just in case your phone doesn't have coverage when you land, or if you unexpectedly lose service. I once flew to Cambodia, and in my sleepless delirium, got in a TukTuk at 4am headed for the nearest 24-hour coworking space; only after getting dropped off did I realize it was Cambodia's Khmer New Years Holiday - everything was closed, I had no cell service, no internet, and no convenience stores where I could buy a SIM card... and I was 3 miles from my hostel. The only saving graces were, 1) I knew were I was going, 2) I could have asked for directions if I needed to, and 3) working legs. "No cell service, no internet cafes, and no convenience stores where I could buy a SIM card... and I was 3 miles from my hostel.." These are rare situations, but they do happen; it's always a good idea to download offline maps and language packages before you fly out. Check out The 7 Apps You MUST Have for Travel for more app recommendations. Tip 16 - Call or be prepared to call your bank / credit card company - While this is increasingly less necessary, it's good to call and confirm prior to travel; at the very least, save the appropriate numbers in your phone - you should have them anyway in case your cards get lost or stolen. Tip 17 - Setup your phone for contactless payments like Apple Pay; it's convenient and it doubles as a backup plan in case your cards don't work or they go missing. Tip 18 - Get US dollars (in $5/10/20 increments), in case airport ATMs don't work and you need cash immediately - it's not common, but you will run into it; ex., on-arrival VISAs, airport taxis, tips for drivers, street vendor food if you're getting in late, etc. Packing Tips Tip 19 - Start with the Necessities - passport, bank/credit card, phone & headphones, laptop & accessories, 1x weeks' worth of clothes - this is ALL YOU NEED to travel, seriously.. check out The Only Things You Need for Long-Term Travel. Pro Tip: Pack a pen and a marker - a pen is universally useful and a marker is great for marking your food if you're staying in a hostel with a shared fridge. Tip 20 - Add in the Nice-to-Haves - universal travel adapter, fast charger, split cable (standard, retractable or short), burner phone, packable day bag, portable wash basin, laundry bag, sleep mask, ear plugs, locker padlocks. Most of these are optional and almost all of them can be easily purchased on the road if you forget them, lose them or break them. Pro Tip: Assume you'll only ever have ONE power outlet to charge everything, how would that affect your packing plans? This mental exercise can help determine what's necessary. I pack a generic travel adapter, an Anker fast charger, and a single 6-in-1 splitter cable, that's it for power. Check out 8 Things You SHOULD Pack for Long-Term Travel. Tip 21 - Splurge on travel-specific apparel - Specifically pants with zippered pockets, antibacterial/quick-dry underwear and stretchy/comfortable Merino wool or athleisure shirts - comfort is king while traveling, underwear is easily washable in the sink (if you find yourself in a bind), and zippered pocket pants adds peace of mind as your wandering the streets of Rome. Pro Tip: Neutral colors make everything easier, black shoes, gray bottoms, black/blue/gray shirts - you won't get points for style, but no one cares what you look like when you travel. Tip 22 - Consider one pair of shoes - I wear one pair of black trail-running shoes, but I'm a bit extreme; most people can get away with one pair of hiking shoes, one pair of comfortable/stylish every-day walking shoes, and one pair of sandals. If you're worried about ankle support, consider ankle braces over the ankle-high hiking boots, they perform the same function while taking up less space. Tip 23 - Consider barefoot sandals, or better yet, just buy a cheap pair if and when you need them - I love my Xero sandals and they do save a small amount of bag space, but I'm a bit obsessive and you're likely to worry less if your sandals cost $2 and you lose them in the sand. Tip 24 - Pack a padlock for hostel lockers and maybe luggage locks, if you're really paranoid - I don't travel with suitcase locks anymore, because my worry shifted from "someone's going to get in my locker" to "what if I lose my suitcase keys" - pick your poison, I'm a firm believer that less is more. "I don't travel with suitcase locks anymore, because my worry shifted from 'what if someone gets in my locker' to 'what if I lose my suitcase keys'. - pick your poison." Tip 25 - Consider a burner/backup phone if you're traveling long-term, buy a cheap SIM card or purchase an eSIM and use your burner phone anytime you go out. Pro Tip - Limit access on your burner phone - tie it to a backup email address and forward any travel documents as needed - you'll worry a lot less if you lose it. Note: I double-down on connectivity by using a local eSIM in my burner phone and secondary travel eSIM on my primary phone; backups on backups on backups - ask yourself, what would you do if your phone took a swim, or was lost or stolen while traveling? Make a backup plan and prep for the worst. Tip 26 - Consider a simple phone/wrist strap and/or retractable cable, this is a simple solution that can add piece of mind when you're out in a crowded city. Tips for Minimizing Your Pack Tip 27 - Digitize your most important documents - everything from your passport to your credit cards to your medical cards should be in digital format, stored on a shared drive that can be accessed from any computer with just a password (or if you have 2-factor authentication setup, ensure you can access it with an email link as a backup, in case you lose your phone). Tip 28 - Commit to audiobooks and small screens - many people debate the need for a tablet or eReader while traveling, and it's understandable, but if you're traveling long-term, consider how much you'll really be using it.. Could you suffer through those few shows on your phone? Could you try audiobooks versus physical books or an eReader for a few months? Check out 16 Things You Should Never Pack for more details. Tip 29 - Pack fewer clothes - check out 9 Tips for Packing Fewer Clothes for ideas on how to minimize your outfits. Tip 30 - Consider ultralight/ultraportable travel gear - packable backpacks, packable fanny packs, packable wash buckets, packable puffer jackets, packable rain jackets, packable ponchos. I'll always recommend inexpensive options for everything, but if you must bring it, you might as well make it small. Tip 31 - Consider vacuum packing, or my personal favorite, a Scrubba wash bag that doubles as a compression bag and a wash bag if you decide to hand-wash your clothes - Nomatic has a nice vacuum seal bag - it's a little too big for me but will likely do wonders for the roller suitcase crowd. Pro Tip: Utilize the rolling method (in addition to vacuum sealing) to pack even more stuff into a small space and prevent wrinkles - I've also used Velcro ties in the past to keep my clothes rolled while packing; they're nice in the beginning, but also easy to lose, so these days I go without them. Tip 32 - Leave the water bottle at home - this may sound counter-intuitive and environmentally unfriendly, but hear me out - You'll likely be buying bottles or jugs of water in 90% of the places you visit, why not buy one water bottle and refill it as you go? It's one less thing to pack, one less thing to worry about losing. Tip 33 - Leave the towel at home - hotels have free towels, hostels have towels for rent - you can buy cheap (and beautiful!) beach towels on any beach in the world - why pack it when you can buy local and bring home a piece of your travels? (see Tip 42). Check out 16 Things You Should Never Pack if you haven't already. Tip 34 - Review your pack - it should be pretty fairly minimal at this point, but is there anything you can do to make it even smaller? A lighter hoodie? A micro shaver? A thinner toiletry bag? A thinner belt? Less clothes? Brainstorm and research ultraportable travel accessories, and minimize where possible. Tip 35 - Follow the rules - if you're undecided on something - DON'T BRING IT, this is the simplest and best packing advice you'll ever need to hear, but hard to implement. Remember that you can buy whatever you need, often for very cheap, wherever you are in the world. There are three benefits to this approach, 1) Your pack is lighter if you end up not needing it, 2) You can buy it cheap if you do need (i.e. you get to go shopping!), 3) You won't care as much if you end up losing it or need to donate it. Packing Tips Tip 36 - Consider suffering at the airport - If you're traveling from a cold to hot climate, consider suffering those 10 meters from your doorstep to the Uber and from the Uber into the airport - do you really need a jacket and pants for those 25 seconds? Tip 37 - Utilize the sun! - It's a little acknowledged fact that direct sunlight is one of the best disinfectants in the world, if you're traveling somewhere warm with access to a patio, you can rinse your clothes and put them outside to dry in the sun; odor-causing bacteria will die within a few hours - you have access to the worlds best washer/dryer combo right outside your window, weather permitting. Tip 38 - Break the stereotype - you can wear clothes more than once.. sweat doesn't smell, YOU smell.. so if YOU shower, YOU won't smell - it's that simple. Check out 9 Tips for Packing Fewer Clothes. Tip 39 - Consider renting vs packing - if your travel involves a lot of outdoor adventures, it's good to remember that most places have activity-specific gear available for rent, and if you're doing it through a group tour, you'll likely have to use their gear anyway; do some research before you go and save yourself some bag space. Tip 40 - Consider packing less and buying what you need on the road - this is a great way to minimize your pack while supporting the local economy and gifting yourself some souvenirs. For every place you visit, there will be apparel and accessories specific to that location, if you're going to Iceland in the winter, you're going to find Iceland-brand clothing made for Icelandic winters; if you're going to the Caribbean, you're going to find cheap sandals and sunglasses every 20 feet. Buying isn't always the best option, but if you're traveling long-term with open-ended travel plans, you don't need to pack for every situation. Tip 41 - Utilize the post (office) - this may be a spendy piece of advice, but it's worth noting the option, especially for long-term travelers... but consider mailing stuff home if you have to - if you're traveling for 6+ months from a cold to hot climate, consider mailing home your cold-weather gear once the weather turns.. yes it can be expensive, but it might be less expensive than buying new - plus you'll have a nice little package of keep-sakes and gifts to open when you get back. Extra Packing Considerations Tip 42 - Pack a washable laundry bag - this comes in handy when you're heading out for the day and want to drop off laundry at an overnight laundromat - you can throw your laundry bag in with your wash and it's ready to repack when your stuff is clean. Tip 43 - Consider a washable plastic belt - these are airport-friendly, lightweight and easier to pack. Tip 44 - Consider a plastic bag for toiletries - this is old school, but a cheap plastic 1L bag is the absolute smallest footprint you can imagine, if you're itching for simplicity and space-savings. Tip 45 - Consider an inflatable pillow, small pillow sheet, or no pillow at all - most overnight/overseas flights will provide a pillow, but if you're worried about it, pack a small, pocket-sized inflatable pillow.. or my personal favorite, a small pillowcase to wrap around your clothes which can double as a pillow and add some organization to your pack. Tip 47 - Security belts, pouches and ankle/wrist pockets - these aren't necessary if you have zippered pockets, but they do come in handy if you want to hide extra cash that stays in your bag. Tip 48 - Consider a cheap backpack - on my first world trip, I bought a brand new $200 Aer backpack that was my pride and joy - until I actually started traveling.. then it became my #1 worry - It was the most expensive thing I was traveling with (aside from my phone), and I worried about it all the time. These days, I travel with a $30 backpack you can find at any supermarket. Inexpensive travel gear serves two purposes, 1) you don't draw attention to yourself, and 2) you won't worry about losing it... i.e. it's peace of mind. General Travel Tips Tip 49- Utilize local ride-sharing apps to negotiate your fair. When you first land in a new country, you'll have lots of drivers offering you a ride, these are normally fine, but it helps to pull up Uber with your destination so you can see what is should cost - use that number to negotiate your fair before you get in the taxi. Tip 50 - Go grocery shopping - it's one of the most enjoyable things you can do while traveling, and it'll give you a baseline for how much things should cost; convenience stores serve the same purpose, but grocery stores are more fun. Local farmer's markets are even better! Tip 51 - Prepare for shitter shock. Americans are spoiled, we get to flush our toilet paper down the toilet. If you've never left the country, you're in for a surprise; 1) many countries don't want you flushing TP down and the toilet, and 2) some countries just have holes in the ground. I hate to ruin the surprise, but is anyone even reading this whole list? "Americans are spoiled, we get to flush our toilet paper down the toilet." Tip 52 - Don't fear the language barrier - Luckily for us monolinguist Americans, English is the universal language, so you won't have many issues while traveling, but even in the remotest of places, you'd be amazing at how far pointing, grunting and miming can get you. Tip 53 - The best food spots aren't on Google Maps - or listed anywhere for that matter, your best bet is to walk around, away from the touristy spots (within reason) and try different places; or better yet, ask other travelers who have been there for awhile, or ask at the front desk of your hotel/hostel. Tip 54 - Coming soon! Phew, okay, I need to stop. My brain hurts. If you're still reading this, I applaud you, and thank you. This isn't a complete list, but it's a pretty good start, and if you're interested in even more travel tips, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter; where I will be fresh out of ideas. :) And as always, happy travels.

  • 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 he's ever owned, so maybe I'm a bit jaded, but the point remains; there's a case for leaving 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; plus 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 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: Oh My God, Shoes! 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: 9 Tips for Packing Fewer Clothes 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 or ways to minimize, 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 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 quick-dry, 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 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 a second 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 most situations. 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; this is generally true, and even more true if you've invested in anti-bacterial, sweat-wicking travel clothes as reference in Tip #1. This also assumes you're 1) showering daily like a normal person, and 2) not getting obscenely dirty rolling in mud or showering in beer. Most clothes should be fine for a few days before they need a wash; hang them up 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 (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. :) Read Next: Oh My God, Shoes!

  • 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.. 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 five minutes to pack, because everything 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. "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... 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. 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! Read Next: 8 Things You SHOULD Pack for Long-Term Travel

  • Tom's Minimalist Packing List (2024)

    My minimalist packing list for 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! Read Next: 9 Tips for Packing Fewer Clothes

  • The 7 Things You MUST Pack for Long-Term Travel

    The 7 things you must pack for long-term travel (opinion piece). There are only a few things you need for long-term travel, and if you're smart and selective about what you bring, those few things can be ALL you need, for any trip, and any destination. 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 16 Things You Should NEVER Pack for a list of commonly packed items that aren't necessary. Second, please note that this article is focused exclusively on seven things you shouldn't leave home without, because they're either necessary, personal or hard to replace while traveling. Now for the good stuff... Here are the ONLY seven things you need for long-term travel. Passport, bank and credit cards Phone and burner phone Laptop and accessories (or not) Headphones, sleep mask and sleep buds Travel adapter and cables 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, Bank and Credit Cards Your passport is required, so let's skip that one. Bank and credit cards? These are surprisingly less and less necessary, but still required, and I wouldn't recommend leaving the country without them; bank cards for obvious reasons and credit cards for convenience. It's worth noting that most places use chip readers, so you could use your phone for payments everywhere you go (you would just have to check with each vendor before making a purchase); and if you have your bank and credit cards tied to your phone, you could travel the world without physical cards, it's just very, very risky. In short, these things are still necessities. Primary and Burner Phone A phone is pretty much mandatory, nothing to discuss there, but a burner phone gets an honorable mention in the must-have list, for reasons I'll explain in a moment. If you're not familiar with the concept or usefulness of a burner phone, here's the short version: many long-term travelers pack a cheap, unlocked backup phone for peace of mind; you can pop in a local SIM card for international service, you can use it as your "going out" phone if you're worried about pick-pocketing, and you can use it as backup access to email/files/numbers in case anything happens to your primary phone. Burner phones aren't required, but they're a cheap and easy insurance policy. I mention burner phones in the "don't leave home without it" category because, , 1) you might have an old phone lying around the house you can use, 2) it's nice to have a burner phone right when you land, in case you need to pop in a SIM card for connectivity, and 3) it's just easier to buy, setup and unlock phones in your home country - so do it before you leave. STOP I'd like to pause here and take a moment to reflect; a passport, bank card and phone are arguably the only things you need to leave the country; everything else could be, if needed, purchased on the road. I mention this (as ridiculous as it sounds), because people have a tendency to overcomplicate, overthink and overpack; people forget that if you're going to a place where other people live, you're going to find everything you need to live. It really is that simple, not cost effective, but simple. #endrant Laptop and Accessories 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! It makes the "don't leave home without it" list because, like phones, you probably already have one, it's nice to have, and you definitely don't want to be buying and setting one up while traveling. I would, however, argue that you leave all your laptop accessories at home; the portable external monitor, the fold-out keyboard, the accessory pouch, etc. - if it doesn't power your laptop, you don't need it. The only exception to this rule is if your extras take up minimal space, like a portable mouse or an ultrathin, collapsible laptop stand. Where are we at.. 7 things? Passport, bank card, credit card, phone, burner phone, laptop, mouse... Okay, I lied, you'll want more than 7 things. Headphones, Ear Plugs, Sleep Masks and Sleep Ear Buds You'll want them, you'll want them on your flight, and you probably already have them. Headphones and ear plugs are in every convenience store (in every country, in every city in the world), but sleep masks and side-sleeper ear buds may be harder to find, so you may want to invest in these before you leave town. Travel Adapters and Cables This may sound hard to believe, but I only pack two cables when I travel, one for my laptop, and a single 6-in-1 split cable for my phone, burner phone, headphones, and sleep mask. A few cables will always be required, but you can easily minimize here by giving it a little thought. A simple packing trick is to assume you'll only ever have ONE outlet that works; what kind of adapters, charging stations or cables would you need to charge all your electronics through that single outlet? The answer to that question will tell you what to pack. None of these are necessary prior to travel, as they can all be purchased at any airport or corner convenience store, but they make the "don't leave home without it" list because you'll probably want them for your flight, and it's easier to minimize if you plan ahead. Honorable mention: Anker 6-in-1 Power Station - because I know you won't listen when I say to leave the rest of your gadgets at home. Toiletries and Toiletry Bags 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 possibly 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, so don't pack the bathroom. Honorable mention: a hanging toiletry bag if you don't already have one. A Week's Worth of Clothes Lastly and most difficult - packing just one week's worth of clothes. This topic could fill a book. Check out 9 Tips for Packing Fewer Clothes for a baseline on how to pack effectively. Since I know you didn't click that link, I'll summarize the key points here: 1) start with the right clothes, i.e. travel-specific shorts and pants, anti-bacterial/quicky-dry underwear, Merino wool shirts and socks, etc., 2) accept that you're going to look like a tourist, 3) stick to neutral colors, 4) stretch your outfits, 5) pack one or two pairs of shoes (at most), and 6) don't pack for every imaginable situation/climate/season. If your destination is hot, you'll probably be wearing a swimsuit and sandals most days; if your destination is cold, you can wear the same outer layers every day and just switch out your socks, underwear and undershirts, and if your destination is moderate, you can wear the same clothes over and over; in any case, one week's worth of clothes is all you need. Clothes will always be the hardest thing to pack, but with proper planning and the right clothes, you can keep your pack to a minimum - some people even advocate for no bag travel. They earn a spot on the "don't leave home without it" list because, well, you probably shouldn't travel naked, and clothes are best tried on at home. Conclusion Let's see... passport, bank card, credit card, phone, burner phone, laptop, portable mouse, headphones, sleep mask, travel adapter, split cable, toiletry bag and.... clothes. So 12 things, plus clothes, not bad! Of course, there are other things you'll probably want (check out 8 Things You SHOULD Pack for Long-Term Travel for more ideas) - but the point is, packing for long-term travel doesn't have to be hard, and with a little planning and some foresight, you too can fit your life into a 24L backpack. For more tips and trick on how to pack as light as possible, check out our monthly newsletter below! Read Next: 16 Things You Should NEVER Pack for Long-Term Travel

  • 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 consists of just seven "big ticket" items. 1) Passport and wallet, 2) phone and headphones, 3) laptop and mouse, 4) sleep mask and ear plugs, 5) charging cables, 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 my current (2024) packing list here. Everyone's packing list will look different, but my goal with 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 Beyond the practical or philosophical benefits, you might look at minimalist travel as a way to reduce waste and minimize your impact on the environment - learning to live with less, by 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. The Only Things You NEED for Long-Term Travel 16 Things You Should NEVER Pack (for Long-Term Travel) 6 Packing Rules You Should ALWAYS Follow (for Long-Term Travel) The Top 10 Ways to Minimize Your Pack (under construction) 9 Tips for Packing Fewer Clothes 50+ Travel Tips for First Time Travelers Further Reading 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. Check VISA requirements - often only necessary for long-term stays, but it’s worth checking out each country before visiting to be safe. 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 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 (  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: and check here to apply for the license: 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.

bottom of page