Once upon a time, I traveled to Mexico. I checked a big suitcase, carried another smaller suitcase on the plane and had a big bag filled with all the other stuff I thought I might need. I remember laughing at the end of the trip. I brought 5 pairs of shoes and ended up in flip-flops and the same dress most of the time.
I brought even more to Sweden, Germany and other beautiful locations. What was I thinking?
Two years ago I traveled to Portland and Seattle with just a backpack and last week, I left on an 8 day trip visiting Las Vegas (warm), Boston and New Hampshire (colder). I brought one little suitcase and my laptop bag. Just like any big change, it took time for me to realize that I didn’t need to travel with so much and that traveling with less is much more enjoyable.
Why traveling with less is better
- avoid checking bags and long lines
- avoid baggage claim and long waits
- lose less
- worry less
- organize less
- carry less
A few ideas to help you travel lightly.
- Wash your clothes. There will probably be a sink where you are staying. You can spot treat some of your clothing and wash the rest in the sink and hang it to dry.
- Pack for three days. Focus on packing for two or three days, even if you are traveling for a week or more. This will provide enough variety and give you time to wash and dry in between outfit repeating.
- Use provided amenities. You don’t need to bring your own hairdryer or toiletries. Your stuff might be better, but instead of carrying the extra weight, rely on what’s available where you are staying. If you are staying at a hotel, ask the front desk for what you need. You’ll be surprised what they will provide free of charge.
- Buy something if you need it. Chances are you will have everything you need, but if you don’t, buy it. I don’t recommend spending extra money, but giving yourself permission to buy something will help you overcome the need to be prepared for everything.
- No Jewelry. There is no need for jewelry when you travel. It doesn’t take up much space, but it does add extra worry, especially if it’s valuable. Spend time enjoying new surroundings instead of keeping track of your stuff.
- Choose function over fashion. Stick with the basics. Unless you plan to walk a runway, choose iron-free, solid pieces that mix and match. Keep it simple and spend less time choosing your look and more time exploring new cities and opportunities.
- Travel like Eva. Be inspired by Eva Babauta’s travel list and recommendations. This wife and mother knows how to travel more with less.
- Never check a bag. For each airline that charges to check a bag, and for every time I arrived to my destination hours or days before my luggage, I now live by a “never check a bag” rule. If I can’t carry it with me, I’m not bringing it.
- Experiment. I can fit my entire 3 month wardrobe in a suitcase thanks to Project 333. It took dressing with less to teach me that I could travel with less. Experiment to see what you really need. Define what is enough in your life by pushing your boundaries for a set period of time.
Even if you haven’t begun to simply your life, travel like a minimalist. It will give you a good chance to see what it’s like to live with less, dress with less and travel with less. Instead of searching for the best packing tricks, travel more with less.