“Live better with less“: this credo is that of minimalism, a way of life that advocates a return to the essential, by voluntarily reducing our possessions. With “decluttering” as its keyword, minimalism has slowly taken its place in travel world – especially in travelers’ bags. So does minimalist travel mean travelling with a lighter backpack? Yes… But not only!
What we mean by minimalist travel
Let’s start with a confession: for a long time, we didn’t dare to talk about minimalism in travel, because we didn’t think we were really minimalists… I swear! With our camping gear and all our multimedia equipment, we’ve added extra kilos that some travelers manage to remove from their bags (I know, what a beautiful impostor syndrome!).
Today, with time and experience, we have realized that minimalism is not limited to the weight of the bag: minimalism is in fact a philosophy of life in itself, a way of life that consists in keeping only essentials, to get rid of the accumulation of material, to live more simply, more freely. And we can say that it’s been a long time since we adopted it!…
Our tips for minimalist travel
Before sharing a few tips with you (from our experience, something that reflects our convictions), we would like to insist on several points: first of all, minimalist travel is not something innate; it has to be learned. All travelers without exception have had to readjust their bags during their trip(s), made some mistakes in their way of consuming despite their good intentions. So you have to stop feeling guilty because your bag weighs more than 8 kilos, or because you can’t get rid of material things that are useless. But above all, keep in mind that there is no such thing as a perfect minimalist traveler!
Reasoning your choices
“Let’s take it, just in case.” Just in case… You keep piling up these “just in case” items and you end up with bags that are way too heavy. And a lot of times, the “just in case” turns into “very useless”. To travel minimalist, you have to start by reasoning your choices: What’s the point for me to take this? Would I really need it? Is the cost of making it worthwhile? Before leaving, test, weigh, re-sort, remove superfluous things (extra clothes, unnecessary packaging, perishable and non-essential drugs, etc). And if you really run out of something, don’t worry: you can always get it on the spot.
Favour dual-use products
To travel lighter, we really advise you to use dual-use clothing and accessories. Not only it’s a great way to save some space in your bag, but it also saves you money!
- Hiking pants convertible into shorts made of lightweight, waterproof fabric, an ideal 2-in-1 element!
- Bathing suits that also used as underwear
- Lightweight long-sleeved T-shirt for cooler days, at the beach to protect from the sun, for going out or to protect us against mosquitoes
- Casual dress for the beach or outings
- Scarf worn in winter as a scarf, or in summer as a headscarf
- Vegetable oils hard soap that perfectly cleans the body, clothes, dirty dishes…
- A pair of scissors that cuts everything, including our hair and Julien’s beard!
- A strong rope to hang our clothes after washing, or to hang our bags more solidly on the back of a car…
- The indispensable Swiss Army Knife whose functions “blade”, “corkscrew”, “bottle opener” and “pliers” have already helped us several times!
- E-reader to store several books, without taking up much space
What we took in our bags?
Since we left, we’ve collected a lot of holes! Only, instead of throwing away our material at the first defect we found, we have fixed them (or had them repaired). So we manage to keep our essential belongings for a long time, avoiding buying new ones and transporting defective clothing or objects indefinitely, because we don’t know where to put them to be recycled.
On the barter side, we have several times swapped clothes with other travelers. A great alternative to get more suitable clothes, to live a nice moment of exchange and make everyone happy!
Adopting a zero waste habit
Minimalism and zero waste are two closely related concepts: by seeking to refocus on essentials with minimalism, we are also moving towards a form of self-sufficiency, a more ecological way of life. Values that are also found in zero waste, where we try to produce as little waste as possible!
In practice, we travel with a set of reusable cutlery (fork, spoon, straw, chopsticks), as well as tot bags for shopping at the local market and a filter straw. Despite our vigilance, it happened a few times that we were given plastic bags while shopping or that thoughtful drivers offered us plastic water bottles. In that case, we reuse these bags and containers instead of throwing them directly in the garbage!
The keyword: deconsumerism
This is probably the only advice you won’t find anywhere else on travel blogs (even from alternative travelers!), as they usually feature sponsored links or “best gifts for travelers” list. On the other hand, we advocate deconsumerism instead of impulse buying (often “Made in China” gadgets that have traveled far more than you have). Rather than rushing to your favorite shop, keep your budget to spend it differently, during your trip or by equipping yourself, when necessary, with second-hand equipment. We have everything to gain: for ourselves, for our wallet and especially for our planet!
Responsible travel: how to reduce your impact while traveling
Minimalist travel, a choice towards more freedom
We all agree: carrying the minimum amount of weight helps you avoid having back pain and a hard time carrying your bag. But traveling minimalist also has many other advantages:
- It’s more ecological: as soon as we move towards deconsumerism and a reduction of useless purchases in order not to overfill your life, the approach becomes necessarily more ecological!
- It is also more economical
- It’s still more practical for traveling: it avoids spreading out, wasting time looking for a particular item in your bag
- You travel more serenely: you limit losses (less business to manage, therefore less risk of forgetting), and especially thefts (who would want to steal old second-hand equipment from you?)
But the biggest advantage in our eyes is that by freeing ourselves a little more from material accumulation, we also take a big step towards more autonomy, more freedom. And that’s worth a little effort!
* Post written according to our personal experience *