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.. :)