Minimalism made me a better traveler, and it might help you get more enjoyment out of your travels as well! Check out this article for the four benefits of traveling as a minimalist
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How Minimalism Made Me a Better Traveler

Today I have the privilege of sharing a guest post with you by Logan and Michole, bloggers over at Unwork to Travel.

Logan and Michole are a couple who set out to live a life of travel and adventure by “unworking.” Unworking is their unique take on creating a lifestyle business that allows you to pursue your dreams and travel the world.

On their blog, they help people become location independent and live their own life of travel and adventure. They consider themselves minimalist travelers, so today Logan is sharing with us how minimalism made him a better traveler.

If you’ve been following along with my blog, you already know my heart for minimalism and simple living.

This post is a great in-depth look at traveling as a minimalist. Logan shares with us the benefits of traveling as a minimalist in a way that only a seasoned traveler could, so I know that you will appreciate his expertise!

I’ve experienced the benefits Logan talks about as we traveled as a family of 5 to California in December. Traveling as a minimalist definitely has its perks!

From that trip, I learned how to pack light, so that we didn’t need to check any bags. Minimalist travel is so freeing! If you want to experience this for yourself, check out my post on how to pack a carry-on bag for 2 weeks (including packing list!). 

Finally, check out this fun example of a travel wardrobe to help you make a smaller amount of clothes go a long way.

This is the third post in our summer series on how minimalism has changed so many people’s lives for the better. I kicked off the series with a post about minimalism and mental health

Each week we will be hearing from a different person who has adopted some aspect of the minimalist lifestyle. Not everyone who is writing for this series considers themselves hardcore minimalist, and that’s the way I wanted it. I wanted to show you that minimalism (to some degree) is for everyone!

Minimalism has changed so many lives for the better when it’s been applied to an area of stress and overwhelm. Not only that, minimalism allows us to live the kind of lives we’ve always dreamed of living!

How Minimalism Made Me a Better Traveler

Some people might be devoted to taking four pairs of shoes on a four-day trip, and I want to start off by saying that there is nothing wrong with that! There is a saying in the outdoor backpacking community, “Hike your own hike.” I definitely apply this mentality to urban travel and believe that everyone should take their own trip, and do so in whatever way makes them happiest.

With that said, I do think that there is something to be said for minimalist travel. Is it right for you? Maybe, or maybe not, but minimalism made me a better traveler, and it might help you get more enjoyment out of your travels as well!

What does it mean to be a minimalist traveler?

While there are any number of metrics that you could use, I consider any trip with only carry on luggage to be minimalist travel. Some would take it a step further and assert that you should “one bag” it, meaning that you travel with only a single bag, regardless of the length of your trip!

While we did one bag our way around Europe for three months this winter, I don’t think that is necessarily a realistic expectation for many people. Furthermore, even if you are not flying or if you are flying but checking luggage, you might still be traveling minimally. It is all relative!

What are some of the benefits of becoming a minimalist traveler?

1. No more baggage claim!

If you are anything like me, then you absolutely hate the entire airport experience: from TSA, to check in, to boarding, to customs. So if I can get rid of one of those things, I am definitely going to do it.

By traveling minimally, using only carry-on luggage, you will be able to skip the entire, unpleasant process of waiting in line to check your bag and the even more unpleasant process of waiting for your bags at baggage claim.

Not to mention, in this day and age airlines have become notorious for mishandling and losing baggage. One thing I do not need for a week-long trip to the beach is my gear winding up 1,000 miles away!

Traveling with only carry on luggage takes away one stressor from my trips and is probably the top reason that minimalism made me a better traveler. If you want to go carry on only, I highly recommend using a travel backpack as your main piece of luggage.

Airlines tend to give you a bit more leeway when carrying on a backpack than other types of luggage, and backpacks offer you much more flexibility when you reach your destination.

Speaking of which…

2. Freedom of movement

I might be in the minority of travelers here, but I hate wheeled luggage for the same reason that I hate trying to carry multiple, oversized pieces of luggage. Namely, they can both severely limit your freedom of movement.

For example, on our recent trip to Europe, we spent a  few days in Milan. We arrived at Milano Central train station, and our hostel was over six kilometers away.

Had we been using rolling luggage, or carrying more baggage, we would have been forced to shell out the money for a cab and miss a ton of scenery in a beautiful city! But with only a backpack apiece, we enjoyed an hour-long walk across a side of the city that we would have missed entirely, had we not been traveling minimally.

3. Fewer things to worry about

If you are lucky, then you do not suffer from this affliction, but I am a perpetual worrier. I suppose that I inherited it from my mother and grandmother.

Minimalism made me a better traveler simply because I have fewer physical possessions to worry about on my trips. When we arrive at our destination, we each pull a packing cube or two of clothes and a toiletry bag out of our backpack, and that is about all that we have to worry about! Then we are free to start exploring our new surroundings.

I am forever stressed each time we pack up to move on to our next destination. I can’t tell you how many times I will stop and check my bag for things like my wallet, plane or train ticket, passport, etc.

Having fewer things means that I have fewer things to forget to pack, and better still, fewer things to worry about having forgotten to pack!

4. Easier to stay organized

Again, this might not be a problem for you, but I struggle to stay organized under even optimal circumstances, and I think that being in a new room every few days definitely counts as less than optimal circumstances for staying organized.

However, another reason minimalism made me a better traveler is that I now travel with so few things that I don’t really have to worry about organizing them!

I have a packing cube for my pants and a packing cube for my shirts. I have a toiletry bag and the electronics that I use for work, as well as all of my travel-related documents. Even I can stay organized if that is all that I have to organize!

And while this might not seem like a huge deal, it is really symbolic of how minimalism made me a better traveler. It is just one small thing that I do not have to worry about.

And, minimalist travel ticks off so many small things that could add up to a great deal of stress, turning my attention to worrying over what I was lugging around, rather than the amazing places that I was visiting.

Ready to give minimalist travel a shot?!

I don’t think that minimalism in general, or minimalist travel is for everyone. But, I do think that it’s something that almost everyone should at least try.

Furthermore, minimalism might mean something totally different to you than it does to me, but at its heart, minimalism is about possessing only the things that add value to your life, while ridding yourself of things that do not.

And I do not think that there is a place that this is more appropriate than travel. In fact, I was a minimalist traveler, going carry on only, long before I had even heard the term “minimalist.”

If you want to give minimalist travel a go, and want the perfect bag to use for it, we wrote an entire article dedicated to helping people choose the perfect travel backpack for their personal needs.

You can even double dip, by using an EDC backpack as a personal item, or packing it away in your main pack to one bag, on your flight, and then having it double as your day bag once you are at your destination!

Minimalism made me a better traveler in more ways than I can count, and I hope you decide to give it a go. Whatever you decide, have fun, and safe travels!

Logan and Michole
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Logan and his wife Michole are passionate travelers and outdoor enthusiasts for whom minimalism is a natural fit with their location-independent lifestyle. You can find them at UnworkToTravel where they blog about location independent business, self-improvement, travel, and adventure.

14 Comments

  1. Loved this article! Me and my hunsband did Europe with roll bags too and it sucked.. we definitely will try backpacks next time! And we could simplify our lives a little more so this helped me be motivated to do so!

  2. I enjoy travelling light but that is something possible only when I am alone. We are still the toddler holdall phase!

  3. This is a very timely post as I am going on a mini-vacation next weekend! I will be sure to use some of these tips, although I think I am quite a minimalist traveler anyways. It’s more about the journey and memories made along the way than the stuff you bring.

  4. Well I was really proud of traveling to Madrid for 8 days with JUST a carry on! Now I’m going to have to try downsizing to a back pack!

  5. My husband and I are traveling to Paris without the kiddos in a couple of weeks and I’m so glad I stumbled upon this post!!!! That you for sharing babe! Will def incorporate these tips. xo

  6. I can’t imagine traveling, especially overseas, with just a carry on! But I’m not a clothes-and-shoes woman and so that could totally work, with maybe a strapbag for the laptop & other creature comforts for a long flight. Would mean getting to leave the airpot straight away without waiting for your luggage, probably my least favourite part of the airport!

    sunsurfandcoconut.blogspot.com

  7. This is so true! Traveling with less makes traveling so much easier, especially with kids in tow. I realized we were were always wearing the same clothes on vacation, even though we were packing more. With kids, I have not achieved everyone traveling with just a backpack yet, but this is for sure something to work towards! We do currently manage to travel to a destination for a well with just one suitcase for the whole family. Progress, not perfection I guess!

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