I just got home from a trip to NYC, and will be heading out again for another leg of the Tiny Wardrobe Tour in a few weeks. The more I travel, the more simplicity I crave.
When I wrote the Be More with Less Guide to Simple Travel, I asked you for your tips on simplifying travel. I’m confident your awesome ways to simplify travel and see the world will resonate.
20 Awesome Ways to Simplify Travel and See the World (17 from you + my 3 favorites)
Take time to do nothing. If you’re traveling for work, it’s important to give yourself the same amount of downtime you’d typically take at home. Meditate, do yoga, or take a long walk, but do not attempt to work for the entire time as you’ll potentially underperform.
To avoid unhealthy snacks in airports and while traveling, I prepare ahead. I take a water bottle with me wherever I go. It’s leakproof, holds cold or warm beverages and fits in my shoulder bag. I also carry a plastic fork and spoon with me. Greens from the markets are easy to find everywhere, and I can prepare my own snacks from nuts and dry fruits.
I take a notecard for each day I’ll be gone and write about my day.
The first thing I pack is my elastic travel clothesline. I can always find two points to stretch it between, and it allows me to take far fewer clothes. I will never go back to checking a bag.
Visit “tourist” attractions in the off-season, if possible. Most places are overcrowded and pricey during peak season. For example, many people flock to Washington, DC for the Cherry Blossom Festival or July 4th. Many of my out-of-town guests found one of the best times to go was during December. The weather is usually still mild, it’s less crowded, the museums and other sites are still open, and each state has its own Christmas tree decorated. It’s really nice, strolling around the area and seeing all of the lights.
Wash your clothes and your body at the same time. Simply jump in the lake or ocean.
Rediscover your own backyard. There are so many beautiful parks and waterfalls and cottages here in Canada (and they’re cheap!) that I’ve never had to go very far. The money I save on travel means a longer vacation. If I can drive somewhere on $50 worth of gas as opposed to $500 worth of plane ticket, I can stay an extra week at least!
Ditch your itinerary and your map. I’ve gone urban hiking in a lot of cities. It’s fun to just ditch your map and wander. I occasionally need to use Google to find my way back. 🙂
Let go of the inner expectation that memories have to be preserved or captured and instead give yourself permission to live fully in the moment.
Create a list of what to take on trips, separated by type of trip — cycling trip, camping trip, XC ski trip, trip to visit family. On the top of each list write, “take out two things you packed as you won’t need them!” I also note on my list things I have brought in the past and never used, so I don’t make the mistake of bringing them again.
When I pack for a work trip, I choose a colour scheme, and choose one pair of dress shoes that need to go with everything. Each item must be part of at least two outfits.
I am committed to “carry-on only”. I feel so much lighter and more free (mentally) when I don’t have a checked bag. I am more able to change flights and planes more easily too.
Know yourself and your interests. One of my family´s travel experience priorities is trying the food. Others see eating out as a waste of money. It’s good to know your preferences and those of your travel buddies or someone could be disappointed.
Budget or at least be aware that somewhere along the way you may be hit with surprise expenses. We were mis-directed on public transportation once and ended up paying about $100 for a trip in the wrong direction!
One simple addition for transportation–rent/borrow a bike. I’ve done this many times successfully.
I try to remember that everyone else in the line for security, or brushing by on a crowded sidewalk is distracted by thoughts of getting home or wherever they’re going. They may be tired, confused, worried or all of the above. I try to cut them a little slack if their attitude or actions seem a little brusque.
Leave room in your headspace for the unexpected, and remain open to the possibilities that offers. There will be surprises, and you can adapt. Some of the best parts of my travels have been experiences that could not have been planned.
My 3 Favorite Ways to Simplify Travel …
- Create a travel capsule wardrobe: stick with similar colors, and instead of an aspirational wardrobe, pack clothes you will actually wear. I roll my clothes so they all fit nicely in a carry-on without getting too wrinkled.
- Keep a daily journal: jot down the places you visit, favorite new foods, and other things to remind you about what made you smile. Taking pictures will help too, but writing down stories about your adventures is a great way to reflect on the day and encourage even more adventure in your life.
- Live like a local: instead of a pricy hotel, find an apartment through Airbnb. I’ve stayed in Airbnb rentals in Paris, Sydney, Arezzo, Austin, and NYC. While I usually rent an entire home, I have done some house sharing too. I’ve always had a great experience and love having a kitchen, washing machine, and staying in a neighborhood I like. It feels more like a home away from home.
The more I travel, the more I notice what it feels like to come home. When I come back from a trip, it takes me a little while to settle in, to find my way, to feel like home. I want a clean slate, but to get there, I have to let things be messy, see the stuff, put it away, give it way, let go of what’s in the way, and come back to simplicity.
This goes for all kinds of trips; travel, getting sick, feeling distracted, facing something unexpected … whatever it is, I will just keep coming back.
I will keep coming back to simplicity for a happier, healthier, more joyful life.