53 items found for ""
- A "True" Minimalist
The closest thing I've met to a "true" minimalist was a fellow traveler who didn't even have a bag.. he spent his days strolling the beach with just his shorts, shirt and sandals.. Me: "Wait, so that's all you have?" Him: "Yup! Everything I have is on me.." Me: "Buuuut... sorry I'm confused.. what do you do..? How do you get around?" Him: "Oh I just chill on the beach most days, or hang at the hostel... don't really need much, the weather is perfect, I walk most places and rent a scooter if I need to.." Me: "So you don't have any other clothes? Or shoes..??" Him: "Nope! Don't need 'em.. I wash my clothes in the shower.. they dry off in a few minutes in this heat.. but most days I'm in my swimsuit all day and don't even wear a shirt..." And on and on and on... Hiking? He'd gotten used to hiking in sandals.. (if that's even possible..) Eating? He made food at the hostel or, more often, ate out.. Passport? Either on him or locked up in a locker.. Phone? Charger? Headphones?! Oh right, he forgot he had a phone, he pulled it out and shook it.. "I usually just leave it at home.." Showering? Oh... he confessed, he did have a bag, a plastic bag for his toiletries.. I was shocked.. I'd probably spent a thousand dollars on gear in preparation for my six month trip, and here was this guy, living the dream, not worried about a thing. Granted, not everyone can live as simplistic as he did.. and not every place has consistently nice, year-round weather... but seeing his approach to life and material things was eye-opening; and it got me thinking.. how much stuff do you really need for long-term travel, or even just living? "Something amazing happens when you stop caring about what people think and stop caring about the things you have.. it's this incredible sense of freedom.." When you realize you don't actually need anything to be happy, see new places, meet people, or experience something new - all the things most travelers set out to do. This guy understood a few things I didn't understand prior to long-term travel.. 1) Nobody cares what you're wearing or how you look - you're in a different country - whether it's by your clothes or your complexion or the constant look of confusion on your face - you already stand out. 2) Everything you need is available for purchase - often for very cheap - so yes, you could hop on a plane right now, with just your passport and a bank card.. it's really that simple. 3) Almost every place you visit will have electricity, running water, food, shelter, clothing, etc.. the basic necessities are universal - this may sound obvious, but people have a tendency to pack for "what if" situations, and it's almost entirely unnecessary. 4) Especially in regards to long-term travel, what you pack just doesn't matter that much - the contents of your bag will change, the clothes you bring will wear out, the sandals you bought will get lost, that life-saving portable charger will get soaked and die; it doesn't matter - when you're traveling long-term - the less you pack and the less you've invested in clothes/tools/gear; the better off you'll feel when you have to replace it. I don't share this to say "extreme" minimalism is the ideal way to travel. I wouldn't expect many, or anyone, to hop on a plane to the nearest tropical island with no bag, no plans and nothing but a passport.. but you could, if you wanted to... that's how little you actually need, and it took - at least for me - seeing it in person to fully wrap my head around it. And while I'd rather keep a small bag with a few useful items versus no bag at all, it's nice to know what's possible, with the right mindset and the right environment. Keep Reading: Check out What IS Minimalist Travel? for a personal and philosophical take on the definition of minimalist travel; The Benefits of Minimalist Travel for a comprehensive list of the benefits of minimalist travel or Is Minimalist Travel Right For Me? for a list of questions to ask yourself if you're considering minimalist travel. And as always, happy travels. Note: After my return, I started researching "no bag" travel and found a few noteworthy links.. https://www.scottevest.com/company/nobaggagechallenge.shtml https://tim.blog/2010/08/20/travel-with-no-baggage/ https://www.rtwblog.com/2010/08/how-to-pack-for-a-journey-with-no-luggage/ https://www.huffpost.com/entry/no-baggage-challenge-for_b_779486
- Cold Weather Travel
Note: This post is a work in progress, more to come later! I'm a big proponent of fair-weather travel, but if you plan on (or unexpectedly encounter) cold weather on your travels, here are a few things to keep in mind.. 1) You can still pack minimally, albeit with some caveats; if it's really cold, you'll be wearing your heavier items (pants, hats, jackets, etc.) all the time, so you don't have to worry about bag space when you're on the move; and if you're doing laundry every day as I recommend, you'll just be washing the same few things; namely an undershirt, socks and underwear, on a daily basis - the stuff that's not touching your skin shouldn't need to be cleaned with much regularity. If you know you'll be traveling to warm and cold climates, plan on using the same warm-weather clothes as an under-layer to the bulkier stuff; you get the benefit of an added layer for warmth, and the benefit of still only having to hand-wash a few items each day. In addition to the warm-weather basics, I add just two or three pairs of long-socks, a pair of thermal long-johns, a light hoodie and a jacket into the mix. On my last winter trip, I packed a cheap, compressible puffer jacket from Amazon, leaving the Patagonia at home, because I didn't want to worry about losing or damaging one of my favorite jackets. 2) If you're traveling long-term, you may want to consider buying cheap winter clothes on the fly, it'll be less expensive than purchasing anything in the States, and you won't feel as tied to those items when you get back to warmer weather; for example, if the first part of your trip is winter in Europe, and the last part of your trip is summer in Southeast Asia, consider planning on shedding your winter gear as the seasons change; you can always donate your clothes when they're no longer necessary, and you can always buy or go thrift-shopping for whatever you need, if the weather turns on you again - many hostels have donation boxes or you can ask a local where to go. 3) If you're traveling to a "cool" but not necessarily "cold" climate, you may just need a set of thermal underwear and a thin hoodie to get you through those chillier days; they take up little space, and, depending on thickness, they'll buy you anywhere from 10-20 degrees of comfort; good enough for fall weather, but maybe not for winter weather. Do you really need a winter coat to get from the door of your home to your car, and then from your car to the doors of the airport?? 4) You may want to ask yourself if you'll even be outside long enough to warrant winter gear; I recently met a girl from Canada who was annoyed that she had to pack her winter coat just to get to the airport on her way to Mexico, where the temps ranged from 75 to 85 every day.. and my first thought was.. Do you really need a winter coat to get from the door of your home to your car, and then from your car to the doors of the airport?? Obviously that's just one instance, and it really wasn't that big of deal, but it's worth thinking about if you're planning for a long trip; if it's really cold out, will you be spending much time outside anyway? Or will you be hopping around in taxis and sticking to indoor activities during those colder months.. Electrically Heated Clothing and Gear This may sound ridiculous coming from a minimalist blog, and/or if you're not familiar with rechargeable, heated clothing, but as a Minnesota native (with freeeeezing winters) and Colorado resident (cold-ish winters), I can tell you, these are fairly common and great for long periods outdoors (skiing, camping, snowshoeing, etc.). I can't vouch for the effectiveness of any particular brand, so you'll have to rely on reviews and perhaps some at-home testing; but I wanted to mention it because it's relatively new and maybe it's a perfect fit for your travel plans. Heated insoles and socks will run you anywhere from $40 to $100 dollars per pair, but if you're willing to recharge them every day, then one or two pairs may be all you need - and they don't take up too much space. Rechargeable Heated Gloves fall in a similar range, $50-150 per pair, and, of course, you'd only need one set; search "rechargeable heated gloves" on Amazon for options. Rechargeable Hand Warmers are even better, I use them all the time while snowboarding, or, more likely, watching a live show at Red Rocks. I've used Beskar brand handwarmers, but there are a ton of options on Amazon, search "rechargeable hand warmers" and find a pair that fits your style. It's easy to go down a rabbit hole on rechargeable clothing, so I'll spare you the pain, but if you're really going all-out on a cold-weather trip, there are plenty of options for heated pants and jackets as well. More to come soon!
- Drying Clothes on the Road
Drying wet clothes while traveling has always been, and perhaps always will be, an issue; there are no standards when it comes to hostel beds, hostel rooms, hooks, hangers, hanging space, or usability of any of the many products in this space that are designed to simplify drying.. We have hostel beds with side-to-side walls but no header or footer, beds with head and footboards but no walls, beds with frames but no bars, beds with bars but no frames, open beds with no frame at all, beds with no frames or bars, and occasionally, beds with built in hangers and the perfect place to hang whatever you want (these are rare and priceless..), but for everything else, the inconsistency can make drying clothes a pain. You may find yourself with one wall hook for all your stuff, a full hanger bar or closet with hangers, or in a worst case scenario, no hooks to hang anything. Layered on top of that inconvenience, is that fact that drying clothes drip, constantly, so you have to be cognizant of where you hang your clothes.. if you're top bunk, do you want your clothes dripping onto the bottom bunk? If you're on the bottom bunk, do you want to commandeer the ladder from your upper bunk mate? The short answer, probably not.. So what do we do when minimalist travel requires us to dry our clothes nearly every day? Below, I will go through the various drying methods and tools I've used... if you're traveling long-term, you'll probably want to plan for and pack a couple different items to account for any situation. The Minimalist Standard Before I list out all the options, you can, of course, always just lay your clothes on your bed, this is the simplest, cheapest and most universally feasible of all drying methods; but I've found that, when traveling, your hostel bed becomes your only "you space" for comfort, privacy and relaxation; so having your bed overtaken by wet clothes isn't an ideal situation. Portable Travel Hangers Portable hangers are convenient, and for the small amount of space they take up in your bag, I think having one or two of these is worth it; you won't always be able to use them, but they are nice when you can; and you can combine these with a travel clothesline if it makes sense for you. Search "portable travel clothes hangers" on Amazon or check out what I pack here. Portable Travel Clotheslines I haven't had as much luck with clotheslines, there never seems to be a good place to hang a line, and even if there is, there's a decent chance you'll be stretching your line into a walk-way, between beds or over your own bed for drying; which never goes over well. Unless your hostel room is empty, or your room has lots and lots of wall-mounted hooks, I rarely find myself using it. That being said, if you have the space for it and want the flexibility, there are a few different options you can choose from; there's the bungee twist (no hooks required) , the retractable (space saver), the elastic all-in-one (built-in hooks), the bring-your-own-hooks (designed for lots of byo-hangers), the single vertical hook (it's bigger than I'd like, but single hooks are very common) and the always useful, do-it-all, multi-use paracord line. I keep it simple and carry a 10-15ft paracord line as a just-in-case, but I leave the fancy, built-for-travel clotheslines at home. Portable Travel Clothes Rack This option is a stretch, but if your bag is a little on the bigger side and you don't want to worry about hanging, ever, there are mini-portable drying racks. If you really want to stretch your imagination.. (note: I have not tried this at home nor on the road - but I think it's hilarious), check out this collapsible noodle drying rack. Would it work? Probably. Do you really want to find out, I don't know... Portable Dryers There are portable dryers on the market, most of them are way too big, the only one I've found worth considering is the Vonovo portable dryer*, which is only effective for small items (socks and underwear); though if you're packing a bigger bag, you could consider the Panda portable dyer or the Nekithia portable dryer. And of course, if you're a female traveler and/or traveling with a bigger bag, you may already be packing a handheld dryer. The issue I've run into with any of these options is the noise, which may or may not be an issue if you're in a shared dorm, just something to keep in mind. If money isn't an issue, Dyson (of course) offers an inaudible, supersonic hair dryer that could double for drying your clothes, I personally wouldn't risk bringing something so spendy on the road, but to each their own! *Update, as of April 2022, this appears to be unavailable with no foreseeable availability.. I've found what appears to be an identical option on a site I'm unfamiliar with, linked here, order at your own risk! Summary There is definitely room for improvement in the portable clothes drying department, but until better products come on the market, we'll have to make do. I would love to hear what other minimalists are doing to simplify the process, please feel free to comment and share your ideas!
- Laundry on the Road Part 1 (Washing)
I've experimented with a few different methods for washing clothes while traveling, 1) multiple sets of clothes and using a washing machine or laundromat once per week, 2) hand-washing in the sink, 3) hand-washing in the shower, 4) using a portable wash-bag; below are the pros and cons of each - from my perspective. 1) Laundromats and/or Washing Machines - This is the easiest method, but it costs money and you'll likely be packing more clothes to make it worth your while. Many hostels have washers and dryers you can use (for a fee), but in my experience, you can't rely on or expect a hostel to have them; and some hostels only have washers, so you're still stuck waiting for clothes to dry. The good news is that every city has laundromats and the person working the front desk at your hostel can probably point you in the right direction, the bad news is that you have to get the right currency and wait around for your clothes to finish; maybe not an issue if you're staying in the same place for awhile, but it can be a pain if you're only visiting a city/country for a few days. After traveling for some time like this, it effectively became a requirement for my hostel to have washers and dryers, you can filter for them on sites like HostelWorld and Hostelz. Pros: The least amount of work (if your hostel has washers/dryers); you're (probably) only washing once per week, you can pack more clothes (if you want); and you can wash lots of clothes at once. Cons: Every wash costs money; it can be hard to find washers/dryers; local currency is required; you're tied to the laundromat for however long it takes; and... more clothes to pack. 2) Hand Washing in the Sink - As simple as it sounds, you use a universal sink stopper and wash your clothes in the sink. It's fast and easy, but of course, you lose the benefit of letting your clothes soak, which some would say is necessary. If you're crunched for time or only have a few small items to wash, this works great! Note that sink washing can be a pain on occasion.. 1) when you're in a shared hostel, you may have limited sink access and/or time to use the sink, and 2) you have to wash the sink out before you use it for your clothes, this can seem (and sometimes is) gross, and may be a deal-breaker for many people. Pros: It's free; relatively quick (if you're doing just a few clothes daily); and you can scrub/target stains. Cons: Can be time-consuming (though definitely quicker than a laundromat or wash bag); you have to clean the sink before use; sinks are usually common spaces in hostels; your clothes are not getting soaked (though if you're scrubbing them, it shouldn't be an issue); and you still have to hang-dry your clothes. 3) Hand Washing in the Shower - I tried this approach for awhile, and aside from how weird it looks and sounds, it's actually fairly convenient! 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, you throw it in your clean clothes bag for drying later. I like this method for a couple reasons, 1) It's easy; you're already showering, it doesn't take a lot of additional effort to hand-wash each piece while you're in there, and 2) it's simple; you're not taking over a sink, filling up a wash bag, paying for anything or waiting around for your clothes to get clean. That being said, you are (again), not soaking your clothes, however, I would argue that by hand-washing and scrubbing each piece, your clothes are getting sufficiently clean. Pros: It's free; relatively quick; and you can scrub/target stains. Cons: Still takes some time; your clothes are not soaking; it becomes a daily chore (while you could wash lots of clothes, you're better off doing small, daily loads - and if you don't shower, you'll have to clean your clothes using one of the above methods); and you still have to hang-dry your clothes. 4) Portable Wash Bags - This is my go-to, and the go-to for many minimalist travelers. It's about as straight forward as it gets, you fill up a wash bag, add soap, shake it up for a bit and then let your clothes soak for however long you'd like. When you're ready to dry, rinse your clothes in the sink piece by piece and hang dry for the next days' use. The benefit to this approach is that you can let your clothes soak for however long you want. In a perfect world, you would rinse and wipe down your clothes prior to throwing them in the wash bag (to remove any surface particles), then soak your clothes, with detergent, for at least an hour, before taking them out to dry. You're supposed to soak them with detergent, then rinse and refill the bag with clean water for a second round of soaking, but I've never found this necessary; nor do I typically want to take the time to do it while traveling... I soak once with detergent and simply rinse them in the sink when done. Pros: It's free; you can wash a decent amount of clothes at once; and you can let your clothes soak for as long as you'd like. Cons: It can be time consuming, if you let your dirty clothes pile up; and you still have to hang-dry your clothes. The easiest method I've found, across the board, it to simply wash my dirty clothes with a portable wash-bag, every time I shower. I frequently shower first thing in the morning, so I'll bring my wash-bag into the shower, fill it up with soap and water, let it soak all day, and when I'm ready for bed (or anytime in the afternoon), I'll quickly rinse each piece and hang it out to dry. Note: Sea-to-Summit offers a variety of convenient travel soaps that come in a tiny package, kind of like the dissolvable Listerine packets that you can still find at gas stations and convenience stores. If you're packing with quick-dry clothing (as you should be), even the biggest items (shirts/shorts/pants) should be dry in 8-12 hours. See my post on Dry Times for more details. Summary The method you choose comes down to personal preference. There's a very good chance you'll end up using all the methods, depending on where you're staying and what your schedule looks like; so it's a good idea to pack the basics and stay flexible. Read Next: Laundry on the Road Part II (Drying) // Washing Clothes in the Shower
- Is Minimalist Travel Right For You?
Minimalist travel isn't for everyone - you're sacrificing comfort and convenience for freedom and flexibility, and it may take a shift in how you think in order to see the benefits, but that's what this site is all about. Note: If you haven't yet, you may want to read The True Minimalist to get a glimpse into why I built this site and felt compelled to share this approach to travel. Minimalist travel will be different for everyone (see What IS Minimalist Travel?).. but in my opinion, minimalist travel is having little-to-zero attachment to things, and simplifying your life so you can get by on just a few sets of clothes and a few bare essentials. I travel with a small hiking backpack, three sets of clothes, two portable wash bags and just a few personal "must-haves" - you can see the full list here. I also (usually) travel with my laptop, and if you're careful with your selection, it shouldn't make a huge impact on your bag selection or size. This extremely limited approach to packing comes with a few limitations.. A willingness to wash and dry your clothes every day (either hand-washing or using a wash-bag) A willingness to wear those same clothes every day (you won't get points for style) The ability/flexibility to choose warm or moderate climates, or the willingness to purchase climate-appropriate clothing wherever you go, and.. The ability to plan ahead, both before you start traveling and on a day-to-day basis. In exchange for wearing generic, multi-use clothes and making time for washing those clothes, you gain the ultimate freedom in terms of where you go and when you go, in additional to the mental freedom of being unattached to your personal items.. (check out Why Minimalist Travel for more details). Most people tend to get hung up on packing fewer clothes - they are, after all, the biggest ticket items - whether your packing for short or long, domestic or international travel; so I've put together a few short articles addressing each, in case you're not sold on the possibility. The Minimalist Method - How to compress your pack into the smallest footprint possible Travel Clothes (What To Look For) - Multi-function, quick-drying clothes for every use Oh My God, Shoes! - Why you only need one pair (bonus points if you get the reference) The second thing people get hung up on is the pure insanity of having to wash and dry your clothes every day, and for that, I've put together a few articles addressing the reality, inconvenience and benefits. Laundry on the Road Part I (Washing) Laundry on the Road Part II (Drying) Washing Clothes in the Shower (don't judge until you read) The third thing people get hung up on, is vanity - and I fully admit, I fall into this trap as well, I want to look my best, or at least normal, no matter where I am - which is why it's so important to select your travel-wear carefully; but it's equally important to remember that you're likely going to stick out no matter where you are or what you're wearing, when you're in another country. No One Cares (Except Maybe You) - Same as above only better Bars and Nightclubs - Why it doesn't matter what you're wearing Read Next: The True Minimalist or The Five Types of Minimalists
- The Five Types of Minimalists
There are five types of minimalist travelers... just kidding! - it would be insane to try to categorize people's preferences like that.. however, I do think it's a fun thought-experiment, and potentially useful if you're debating how to pack for your next trip. So without further ado, here are the five completely made up types of minimalists... The True Minimalist avoids attachment to all things and carries nothing but the clothes on his or her back, the freest way to travel. The Mostly Minimalist (i.e. "minimalist-ish") likes to keep their possessions to a minimum, but travels with a few extra items to stay flexible and simplify travel. The High-Tech Minimalist likes to pack as much as they can into a very small footprint, to maximize flexibility, comfort and time; they're less worried about money and more interested in high-tech gadgets that allow them to travel as light as possible. The Working Minimalist (i.e. digital nomad) likes to travel light, but just can't leave their toys at home, they pack a laptop, or laptop alternatives, and some combination of the above clothes and gear to minimize their footprint and maximize productivity. The True Minimalist You wander the earth with nothing but the clothes on your back and a few small essentials; you stick to warm or hot climates so you don't need a lot of clothes; you hand wash and hang dry your clothes when needed, and most of your days are spent strolling the beach, walking the city or reading a good book. Everything you carry is cheap and replaceable; lounge wear from a convenience store down the street, swim trunks from a local beach shop, shirts from a nearby strip mall; you may not even have shoes, unless the sandals you bought from a local street vendor count... You have a bag, but you don't really need it, you're toiletries and laundry detergent sit in a plastic bag on your bed at the hostel; you have a small towel for drying off, or you rent one from the hostel.. and if you need anything, you buy it, use it temporarily, then give it away. YOU are a true minimalist. The true minimalist is the envy of all travelers, the freest of all travelers; but also the most limited in terms of location and comfort. I've met plenty of people who hop around the Caribbean, the Philippines or the beaches of Thailand with exactly this mindset; and let me tell you, it's amazing to see and feel their freedom. It doesn't get much better than this... Pros Near complete freedom from worry or attachment to things Everything is replaceable at minimal cost Cons Limited to warm/hot climates (doesn't sound too bad, does it?) Ideally need to wash one set of clothes daily at a minimum See packing suggestions here. The Mostly Minimalist You travel the world with nothing but a small backpack and a few essential items; you stick to warm climates so you don't need a lot of clothes, but you have some long underwear and a light jacket in case it gets chilly; you wash your clothes nearly every day and have a few tools to make life a little easier; you spend your days doing what you love; exploring the city, trying local restaurants/coffee shops and taking day trips to nearby attractions.. Most of what you carry is easily replaceable, but you pack a few time-saving items for comfort and simplicity; your clothes are multi-use and quick-dry, your backpack doubles as a hiking/hydration pack and your "convenient extras" give you some added peace of mind. Everything you need fits in a small, generic backpack; your toiletries hang from a hook and you keep a wash bag on hand for emergency soaks. YOU are a mostly minimalist. The mostly-minimalist tries to find a balance between cost and convenience; they utilize clothing and tools to minimize the time it takes to do some things, while maximizing their freedom to travel most places. They have some limitations in terms of where they can go and what they can do, but for exploring most of the world, they're as prepared as they need to be. It's a great way to travel if you like to keep things simple and convenient. Pros Minimal investment in clothes and gear Near complete freedom from worry or attachment to things Partially (mostly) flexible travel destinations.. if you plan ahead for weather/seasons Fairly minimal cost to replace everything Cons Limited to cool/warm/hot climates (but not cold) Ideally need to wash one set of clothes daily at a minimum See packing suggestions here. The High-Tech Minimalist - for those who want to pack light while maximizing comfort and flexibility. You travel the world with nothing but a small backpack, but you like to pack the latest and greatest in miniaturized travel tech. Warm or cold, you have the right stuff to survive and thrive. You spend your days exploring, adventuring, pushing your boundaries and sampling everything your latest destination has to offer. You generally stick to warm climates, but you don't mind if your travels take you from the African Jungles to the Himalayan Mountains; you may have to rent some gear hear and there, but you can go almost anywhere. You stick to the minimalist's creed - bringing only what you need - but everything you pack is durable, light-weight, quick-dry, multi-use (or specialized) and designed for long-term comfort. You love your stuff, because it fits your needs perfectly, but losing it might cost you a pretty penny to replace. YOU are a high-tech minimalist. High-tech minimalists prioritize comfort, durability and functionality over money and replaceability. They want the latest and greatest tools and gadgets to maximize their freedom. They may appear to pack light to the common observer, but their clothes are gear are designed for long-term travel, maximum comfort and the highest degree of flexibility. If money isn't an issue, this is a great way to travel.. Pros Highest level of comfort, convenience and flexibility Extremely flexible travel destinations, weather be damned Cons High up-front cost, higher risk of stolen gear, high cost to replace everything Ideally need to wash one set of clothes daily at a minimum View packing suggestions here. The Working Minimalist - i.e. Digital Nomad Why sit at home when you can live and work anywhere in the world?? If your laptop is your livelihood, as it is for many, you may not be able to imagine traveling anywhere without it.. but yet, you still want the freedom and flexibility that comes from packing light; so you opt for a small-to-medium sized backpack that fits everything you need, and nothing more. You spend your days working and your weekends exploring - jumping cities every few weeks or months, to maximize your time in each place and really get to know the culture/vibe - or maybe you just love the weather. You're not sure where your travels might take you, but as long as you're able to work, it doesn't really matter. YOU are a digital nomad.. the envy of many long-term travelers. Working minimalists prioritize comfort and flexibility without sacrificing productivity; they travel with the bare minimum necessary to work and play, and they don't mind the extra burden if it means they can keep traveling and exploring. If you're traveling and working, this is the only way to go.. Pros High level of comfort while staying productive and making money Flexible travel destinations - so long as they have internet Cons High up-front cost, higher risk of stolen gear, highest cost to replace everything You still need to wash one set of clothes daily at a minimum (hint: there's no getting around it if you're trying to pack light..)
- Phones, Apps and Tech
Note: This post is a work in progress, more to come later! TimeKettle In-Ear Language Translators - https://www.timekettle.co/ TimeKettle offers a variety of in-ear language translators, depending on your needs, ranging from fluent, bi-directional, instantaneous translation, to simple headphone-to-phone-app translators for simpler uses cases - available in 40 languages and 93 accents. Check out their website https://www.timekettle.co/ for more detail and information. Google's Project Fi (eSIM) If you haven't heard of the Google's Project Fi, you are not alone.. but for anyone traveling long-term, it may be a godsend. Designed to give you cell coverage almost anywhere in the world with no SIM card - by switching between carriers depending on where you are.. and it works, as advertised, in 200+ countries. I cannot express how convenient this is; when I first started looking at International Coverage, there were a few compatible phones, but the Google Pixel was designed and built for Google Fi, so I opted for simplicity and purchased one as a backup to my primary phone; and it worked amazingly well - I had cell connection the second I landed in all 26 of the countries I visited; no more unlocking* and/or switching out SIM cards for each new place you visit. Nowadays, you can bring your own phone, and the number of supported phones continues to grow. Please note, there are phones that are compatible with Google Fi, and then there are phones that are designed for Google Fi; phones designed for Google Fi will automatically switch between carriers, wherever you are in the world, while phones compatible with Google Fi do not include automatic switching and may have some limitations. For simplicity sake, I purchased a Google Fi phone that already had a Google Fi SIM card, and I didn't have to do anything to make it work before or while traveling. If you have a compatible phone and/or if you're looking to change your plan before your travels, I highly recommend looking into phones designed for Google Fi - traveling without having to worry about SIM cards is incredibly freeing and amazing, AND their plans are typically less expensive than traditional US-based unlimited plans. *If you bring your own phone to Google Fi, it will need to be unlocked, which typically means it must be paid off in full - you will have to switch/transfer your number (at the time of this writing), and you'll be sent a Google Fi SIM card that must be installed. Before making any changes, I recommend doing some research on what phones work, what the requirements are to make it work, and what the limitations are once your Google Fi eSIM is installed. Or if the timing is right and you're looking for a new phone prior to travel, get a phone with Google Fi already installed/enabled, and make your life even easier. More to come soon!
- What YOU Should Pack..
The title of this post is bit (or very) misleading.. and was really just meant to grab your attention, sorry! How and what you pack will always be personal, but there are number of great questions to ask yourself before any big trip, especially if you're trying to minimize you pack.. The biggest question.. for any trip.. and for every item you're considering.. is.. "What's the worst that could happen if I don't bring this thing?" If you don't bring a jacket, could you get by on a cheap sweater or long-sleeve from a nearby store? If you don't bring a raincoat, could you grab a cheap poncho on the run? If you don't bring a towel, could you rent one from the hostel or buy one at the beach? If you don't bring that extra pair of "nice" clothes, could you live with looking like a traveler at a less fancy bar, or could you find the clothes you want in a worst-case scenario? Another noteworthy question, related to the above and worth asking for each item.. "Is this item easily replaceable?" and "if this item gets lost or stolen, how am I going to feel?" If you're looking for peace of mind, and embracing minimalist travel for the freedom it gives you, you should always aim for easily replaceable items.. I would argue that your clothes are already easily replaceable, and should be easily replaceable, if you're traveling long-term. We have a tendency to pack for "worst case" or "just in case" scenarios, but the reality is, you can get almost anything you need, usually for cheap, from a nearby store in any major city.. The only hard-to-replace necessities will usually come down to your phone, your laptop and anything else you've spent a bunch of money on.. If the worst-case scenario is that you have to buy it while traveling, you're likely much better off leaving it at home or buying it when you need it.. In addition to the above questions, if you're attempting go "minimalist," you may want to ask yourself.. What's the average temp or expected temperature range in the places I'm visiting..? Could I get by with one set of cold weather clothes; a single pair of pants, a set of convertible pants or a set of thermal underwear? Do I really need a jacket? Are my travel plans flexible enough to stick to warm climates and/or avoid cold climates? (link to fair-weather fan, cold weather gear, etc.) What are you looking to do while traveling? Long hikes? Camping? Beach days? Water excursions? City explorations? Can I find shoes and clothes that work for all of these activities? (link to shoe recs, clothing recs, etc.) For the more "extreme" activities, can I rent the gear I need? Or will the activities I'm thinking of have specialized gear provided? (Hint: most do) If you're attempting "extreme" minimalist travel, ask yourself.. Can I get by on just two or three sets of clothes? Am I willing to take 15-20 minutes out of my day to wash clothes? Am I comfortable making laundry a daily habit? Am I okay with planning out my days and taking into account how long it will take for my clothes to dry? (link to dry times) If you're debating on your laptop, accessories or electronics, ask yourself.. Do I absolutely need my laptop? Or can I do everything I need to do on my phone? (insert link) Have I looked into laptop alternatives that make working on my phone easier? (insert link) Do I need an eReader or tablet, or could I survive on my phone and audiobooks? (insert link) (Note: This post is under construction, check back later for more updates and useful questions!)
- But I NEED My Laptop
Alternative methods/gear for traveling with a laptop.. For those traveling with a laptop, there are a few additional considerations to take into account. To start, consider whether or not you really need your laptop... Ask yourself if you can get your work done using a simple phone stand and foldout keyboard. Try this approach at home before making any decisions - if you're working a lot, you don't want to hate your professional setup, or you'll get nothing done - trust me, I've tried it. For foldout keyboards, my Samsers brand is freakishly small and works well, but there are a million options; Sungwoo has a rollable/rubber/waterproof option (wired, not bluetooth), but I personally still prefer a hard keyboard. You may also want to consider a phone screen magnifier if you want the benefits of a bigger screen without the risk of a costly laptop or monitor. That's being said, if you do need your laptop, I highly recommend either a waterproof backpack or a waterproof laptop sleeve. External Monitors I can't tell you if you should spring for an external monitor, they're still pretty expensive but they're also extremely convenient. I won't make any recommendations here, as I'm still convinced that any extra items, especially expensive ones, will just add to your worry/stress when you're out and about seeing the world. More to come soon, stay tuned..
- Bars and Nightclubs
Can you get into bars and nightclubs wearing hiking shoes, shorts and a t-shirt? The short answer is... probably. There was a time when I couldn't imagine not having the option of going to the hottest club in whatever city I was visiting, these days I can't imagine wanting to go to the hottest clubs in any city - but everyone is different - and here are some things to consider when weighing the pros and cons of packing for nightlife. To start, bars and nightclubs aren't like they are in the States, the high-end, $20/drink clubs of New York and LA are few and far between on the road, and if you're going to places that have a dress code, you probably aren't interested in minimalist travel to begin with. I've had exactly zero issues getting into places I love while traveling; yes, there are places that will frown upon your hiking shoes and lackadaisical attitude towards clothes, but for every fancy nightclub, there are 100+ fun-filled bars, dance clubs, beach bars, tiki-huts and music venues that simply don't care what you're wearing; those are the places I like to, and ahem... have to.. frequent. I've made the mistake of packing a nice pair of pants, nice shoes and a dress shirt - and what I've found, consistently, is that I've never missed them or needed them - you're already meeting people if you're staying in a hostel; every "big city" hostel seems to host a nightly bar-crawl, or have their own bar in the hostel; and many of the people you meet traveling will be on a budget, uninterested in hitting up the hottest spots in town. You are far more likely to meet fellow travelers, drinks some cheap beers at the hostel bar and then wander to a nearby place for more drinks and fun; fancy clubs just never seem to be on the menu - the last thing you should worry about is dressing up or packing to dress up, for a big night on the town. Don't buy into the ads and don't let FOMO cause you to pack a million things you don't need or use, trust me when I tell you, you're not missing anything. All of that being said, if you do decide to pack some additional clothes for a nicer look or fancy dinner, consider Vevo Barefoot as a very packable, low-profile, nice-but-minimalist shoe option, an Arcteryx button-down for a nice-looking, quick-dry, long-sleeve shirt, and ClothingArts for travel-ready, pick-pocket-proof, "stylish-enough" pants.
- Backstory / History
The first time I tried backpacking, I did it the old fashioned way, a 55L monstrosity we'll name Sullivan.. I packed everything I thought I'd need for a two month trip.. five sets of clothes, a washbag, clothes hanger, a *not* small jacket, chargers, converters, physical books.. you name it.. and while I loved that trip, the bag (and fear of losing everything) was a literal weight on my shoulders.. The second time I tried backpacking, I went extreme, or what I thought was extreme.. a 33L backpack from Aer.. for a six month trip.. people thought I was crazy.. I got a few comments, but in actuality, I loved it.. I could fit the bag in most storage lockers and it had everything I needed.. and while it was a tight fit, it was comforting knowing I had everything in a relatively small package.. less to carry, less to worry about. But it was still somewhat annoying lugging everything around, and the bag itself was not super comfortable when packed to the brim. I also realized shortly into the trip that I didn't need the extra shoes, the nice clothes or the extra travel pants.. what I DID need was more underwear, better shoes, multi-function clothing and a different mindset. Anyone who's traveled a lot can tell you that we tend to overpack - and by tend to - I mean we ALWAYS do.. at least the first time.. but what you quickly realize is that anything you start off with will eventually wear out, anything you forget or lose can always be bought (generally for cheap!), and every basic necessity you could possibly need is available for purchase, almost anywhere in the world. Consider this... every place you're likely to travel will have electricity, running water, showers, toilets and every basic human necessity.. there are exceptions to this, of course, but 99% of the world's travel destinations have all the modern comforts (albeit sometimes dirty, small or broken).. So what do you really need to pack? I started brainstorming... could I make this bag even smaller, could I bring even LESS stuff and be JUST as comfortable? Are there tools/tips/tricks out there for traveling with nothing but a couple sets of clothes and a phone? The short answer is YES, but it takes some planning and a shift in mindset. That's why I started this blog... to share with you what I've learned from traveling with nothing but the bare essentials, and to hear what YOU'RE doing to get by on the bare minimum. My hope is that by reading some of these articles and implementing some of the strategies, you can maximize your freedom and flexibility while still doing the things you love, and while worrying less about what you have (or don't have). These days, I travel with a 21L backpack... everything I need fits into a (very) small package.. and I absolutely love it.. If you want to see how I pack and what I pack, take a look at The Minimalist Method (M²), and then check out the How-To Guides; from there you can start to build your own packing list and hopefully, hit the road! My goal was to minimize and simplify, to care less about my things and spend more time doing what I loved, but your goals may be different, and if you're unsure what to pack or how to get started, check out my post What YOU Should Pack for a list of questions to ask yourself before you start booking flights. To all the other travelers out there, I hope this is useful; please feel free to share your suggestions, stories and feedback by either creating an account and writing your own articles, or posting in the Forums section; I would love to hear what you're doing and how you're doing it! And as always, happy traveling.. :)
- Handling Inclement Weather
I admit it, I generally chase warm weather when I'm traveling long-term; you have all the freedom in the world, so why go somewhere cold? This is, of course, controversial; you can't control the weather and you can't predict the rain; but you can plan ahead and try to align your travel plans with summer season (i.e. semi-decent weather).. And if you run into a string of bad weather.. you can always buy a small poncho, an umbrella, long-sleeve shirts, gloves, hats, hand-warmers, ear muffs, scarfs, thermal underwear or anything else you might need, if it becomes necessary; you don't need to pack for every season. That being said, I do (usually) pack a light, compressible jacket, and I travel with a reusable poncho and thermal underwear occasionally. If you know you'll be traveling through arctic tundras but still want pack as light as possible, and you're willing to spend a little extra, check out the High-Tech Minimalist Packing List for cold-weather gear. Worried about waste? Just remember you're supporting local retailers by purchasing their goods and you can always donate gently used clothes/gear to the hostel or fellow travelers.. Most hostels I've stayed at have had a freebie/donation box where people share or leave things they no longer need. Check out my Essential Gear post for a list of things I always pack, and my Clothing Optional post for some nice-to-have extras.