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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...


  • Near complete freedom from worry or attachment to things

  • Everything is replaceable at minimal cost


  • 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.


  • 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


  • 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..


  • Highest level of comfort, convenience and flexibility

  • Extremely flexible travel destinations, weather be damned


  • 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..


  • High level of comfort while staying productive and making money

  • Flexible travel destinations - so long as they have internet


  • 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..)


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