Updated: Jun 29, 2022
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!)