I’m a big fan of minimal travel. I’ve never been a big packer and I never understood why people go on long backpacking trips with tons of luggage. It just seems at odds with the free backpacker’s spirit. Everybody overpacks the first time they hit the road, but as time goes by, experienced travellers tend to downsize their luggage with practically every trip.
There’s something about minimalism that not only makes life easier, but it helps de-clutter the mind as well. That is why Mark Zuckerberg and Barack Obama always wear the same outfit. Minimalism has become somewhat of a trend in the past couple of years, but I think that it does have some serious benefits, which are even more obvious when travelling.
In the past couple of years I have only travelled with a backpack small enough to be a carry-on and I am glad that I do. Here are 5 reasons to embrace minimalism and pack lightly when on the road:
You don’t need much stuff to travel
Simply put, if you’re out on the road looking for adventure, you don’t need to bring much stuff. It’s one thing if you’re on a business trip or on a luxury holiday (though even then, I think packing lots is debatable), but if you’re looking to really travel, you don’t need to pack much. Some clothes, some medicine, a few gadgets and you’re set. Especially when travelling in cheap countries, you can easily buy anything you might spontaneously need. There really is no point in packing anything you might need ‘just in case’.
I get that some people find comfort in certain belongings, but most times I’ve seen someone with huge amounts of luggage, they ended up not using half of what they packed.
To me, travel is all about freedom and discovery. It’s the adventure and the experiences that we seek and those really don’t require much in terms of material belongings.
Packing less can be cheaper
Minimal travel can also be cheaper, especially if you take flights. Not having to check in luggage is always cheaper, especially when it comes to low-cost airlines who tend to charge a lot for extra luggage. In some countries, busses and trains also charge for large luggage, so those are more costs you can save.
On a more basic level, bringing less means you have less to lose, which in turn also means you have less to worry about…
Minimal travel can be safer
You never know what might happen while travelling. I’m always paranoid about anything valuable I bring because I am sure I’ll either lose it or have it stolen. Packing lightly makes things so much less stressful. Packing lightly especially makes a difference when travelling to more dangerous places. Carrying less makes you less of a target and I know a few travellers who say that packing nothing saved them from some unsavoury situations.
Packing lightly is more practical
I cannot even count the amount of times I’ve been crammed into a tiny bus or van in what feels like 1000 degrees, squished even more by a giant backpack that I had to balance on my lap. Worse even are the times my baggage was stowed away in a dodgy compartment where I was convinced I would never see it again.
Packing minimally makes things so much easier and more practical. You don’t need to worry about your luggage being out of sight, you don’t need to carry a heavy bag in the heat, the airline can’t lose your luggage and you don’t ever have to wait at baggage claim. I hate waiting at baggage claim.
Travelling minimally makes you more adventurous
This is the main reason I travel minimally. It’s true what they say, that clearing out belongings you don’t need is a great way to declutter your mind.
The best thing about minimal travel is that you are completely free to be as spontaneous as you like. Oftentimes when on the road, you’ll experience things, have opportunities and meet people who will completely change your plans from one second to the next. Packing lightly allows you to always be ready to go. I remember a number of occasions where my luggage was holding me back. Not convinced? Try hitchhiking with a large suitcase.
I’ve talked about packing minimally with a lot of people and there is one thing that always stands out: once someone tries travelling lightly, they can’t even imagine going back to packing more. I know a lot of ‘heavy packers’ who say that they don’t mind the extra hassle but the thing is, you often don’t realise what a big difference it makes until you actually try travelling lightly.
Give it a go!