Home Forums Welcome Hello! The minimalist traveler.

This topic contains 30 replies, has 1 voice, and was last updated by Avatar of awurrlu awurrlu 3 years, 11 months ago.

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  • #158492
    Avatar of rw86347
    rw86347
    Member

    The first time me and my wife (then girlfriend) went on vacation I was shocked at way she brought. I had a small roller and she had a purse! And I thought I was a minimalist!!!

    I said “where are your clothes?”

    She said I have my toiletries in my bag along with some underwear. If I want to wear different clothing, I can buy some! We went every where. On trains, taxis, shopping… And in each place I had my stupid bag with me. She was free as a bird.

    I will never be able to be as minimal as her, but living in China has really changed my thinking. Now when I travel everything must fit in a backpack or shoulder bag. Every time I see a westerner carrying two suit cases I just shake my head in disgust. They don’t understand! You will spent thousands of dollars traveling, then you take everything you own… just in case. Go minimal! If you are wrong you can always spend an extra $30 on clothing.

    On my last trip I was cycling through the rice paddies of southern China in a pure downpour! I was soaked to the bone. After cycling I bought now pants, shirt and socks for $25. Oh well, not carrying bags was worth the $25.

    I have two exceptions…

    1) is I love taking my digital SLR camera with me. That alone add 10 pounds.

    2) I need to stay in touch with my work and my daughter both require a laptop. I hope to do away with this with a new iphone and ipad.

    Oh! And as a side note…

    Avoid cotton like the plage! Cotton holds water, is hard to clean, takes up lots of room, and wrinkles. If you have few clothes you will need to wash them in the sink as night. That means they need to dry by morning, look unwrinkled and be clean. You can’t do this with cotton! I wear one outfit and carry one.

    I only wish I could find cotton free jeans! :-(

    Rodger

  • #164574
    Avatar of Sky
    Sky
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    That’s a true minimalist woman!

  • #164577
    Avatar of AJ
    AJ
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    Rodger, you have to check out Rohan clothing. The shop has been around since the 1970s and it has many items that are fast drying, i.e. overnight. It delivers worldwide.

    One example – Men’s Essential Trousers:

    “They’re made from a tough, durable polyamide which has been treated with our highly effective Dynamic Moisture Control™ finish. It’s a lightweight fabric but much more rugged than appearances suggest. It’s also high wicking and extremely quick drying.

    Washing the trousers is a simple matter of rinsing them through with travel wash. Just hang them out – and they’ll comfortably dry overnight. Needless to say, they require no ironing whatsoever.

    They feature two spacious hand pockets which are mesh lined to increase breathability, reduce weight and minimise the packed size. One features an inner security pocket, the other a small accessory loop – which is the perfect place to attach your keys or a pocket knife.

    The zipped rear pocket is a Packpocket™ into which the trousers can be packed for compact, convenient stowage and transport.”

    http://www.rohan.co.uk/

  • #164578
    Avatar of Nina
    Nina
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    For some reason buying what you need new when going on a trip doesnt seem very minimalist to me. Yes, I agree that you don’t have to bring EVERYTHING but why not just bring very little that if you plan right and wash clothes every few days will last you. Otherwise you will have the things you buy just pile up when you get home. Or what do you do with the things when you return? Throw or give them away?

    Also I personally do not find it that easy to find clothes that fit me and I like wearing so I would feel stressed if I had to buy new things while travelling.

  • #164579
    Avatar of bandicoot
    bandicoot
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    nina, i am the same as you. difficult to fit and fussy to boot.
    and i loathe synthetics…..i know they are hardy and they wash and dry fast….but i haaaaate the feel of them on my skin.

    i take 3 sets of linen/silk/cotton shirts and trousers to my own specifications, 3 camisoles, 3 knickers, a sarong, a swimsuit, a pashmina (instead of a coat), another scarf or two, a pair of clogs and a pair of sandals.
    one on, one off and one in the laundry!

    i take a tiny laptop, a tiny leica, an iphone, an ipod, bose noise cancelling headphones, a pen. hotels always have paper.
    my toiletries bag is a marvel of minimalism….i’ve got those gotoobs and i have filled them with concentrated waterless shampoo/conditioner/lotion/scrub….all made by myself or by friends who dabble in handmade skincare products.
    a kabuki brush, two pots of mineral make up, a lipstick, a lipgloss….a strip of painkillers, some tiger balm, some lavender oil. soap!

    i take a few pairs of earrings.

    this all packs down into a small timbuk2 laptop backpack and a small samsonite carry on rolling bag.

    sure, i won’t be cycling from place to place, but i haven’t got the figure for it anyway, lol.

    on the way TO a place, i take as many kilos of my own handmade soap as will fit my luggage allowance (gifts. bribes. barter goods).
    on the way home, i bring spices and any really good kitchen tools that i might spot.
    i used to struggle home with wooden carvings and textiles galore….but this year, i decided i’ve got enough of everything.

  • #164584
    Avatar of trillie
    trillie
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    Chapeau! to your wife, rw86347. It must be an incredibly freeing feeling for her to travel so lightly!

    In my heart, I admire that boundlessly, but I know I’m also siding with Nina and bandicoot: If I had known when packing at home that it would make sense to bring along item X, I would not want to buy a duplicate while travelling. I would also think that if I already own an X, it is possible that it’s of a better quality than the second X I’d buy. Also, if travelling very lightly with a small backpack, I would hate buying something that doesn’t fit into the backpack when it’s not used.

    As for the cotton: Yes, I’d also prefer cotton clothes to synthetics. However, if you are willing to pay more for great quality synthetic clothes, you can get some that feel very cotton-like while having all the benefits of synthetic clothes. On one trip during summer of 2002, hiking from Cologne to Heidelberg along the river Rhine and through the Odenwald, I had two sets of cotton clothes and would wash one set at night, and in the morning I’d strap them to the back of my backpack to let them dry until about noon, along with my towel. It worked pretty well, but then again, I didn’t care who saw my underwear drying on my backpack ;o) And I know it wouldn’t be appropriate for some areas or countries — or during winter ;o)

  • #164585
    Avatar of rw86347
    rw86347
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    We don’t plan to buy stuff, we just don’t carry for every emergency. Usually we don’t buy, but let me tell you when your trip requires planes, trains, boats, buses and hiking you don’t want to have a suit case. Not even a small one.

  • #164588
    Avatar of trillie
    trillie
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    Aaah, that clarifies it. In this case: Yay!

    And I so agree on “suitcases are not fun”. I love having my hands free, I’m a big fan of being able to lift up my own luggage, and I like having just one item of luggage (I cannot understand the women who carry a huge suitcase, a laptop bag and a purse, and then have to ask someone else in the train to lift their suitcase up into the over-head compartments while getting tangled in the straps of their bags), so one backpack is always the way to go for me.

  • #164589
    Avatar of Mrs.Mack
    Mrs.Mack
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    A 10 lb camera? *raises eyebrow*

    I have a DSLR, and it’s no where near 10 lbs.

  • #164591
    Avatar of Nina
    Nina
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    Well I think it depends on the kind of trip you are taking. It’s a big difference to go hiking or backpacking then going on a city-trip for a few days.

  • #164597
    Avatar of bandicoot
    bandicoot
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    yes, different trips definitely need different wardrobes!
    really, i cannot imagine going anywhere overnight without a change of clothes at the very very least.
    i dislike wearing the same clothes two days in a row and i don’t see how doing so would make me more minimalist.
    more grimy, perhaps…

    i’ve got a biz trip in a week’s time…my personal stuff will fit into my usual two small bags and then i’ll be lugging an additional huge case filled with equipment and raw materials for my workshop demos.
    that’s work though. i cannot imagine hauling gear around like that for personal use….it would make me crazy.

  • #164603
    Avatar of sakruger
    sakruger
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    My husband and I walked the Milford track in New Zealand and I *wish* we had gone the minimalist route. We had cameras and tripods (yes … I know), changes of clothes etc etc … the only thing I am super glad we over packed with was a 4L bag of red wine. You know box wine but we took the bag out and just carried it in our pack.

    I can’t tell you how great it was to sip a glass of wine after a 9 hour hike … four days in a row. If you’re planning to do the Milford track I HIGHLY recommend it and the wine ;)

  • #164605

    The minimalist traveler.

    Kudos for being able to travel so lightly. I try to only take the bare minimum but I still have one case with me. The thing is, when I travel for a holiday, the last thing that I would want to do is spend my time in my room hand washing my limited wardrobe. I want to see the sights, visit friends!

    I tend to take things that mix and match and aren’t too heavy …and if there is some shopping on the cards, I will leave lots and lots of room so that I can bring my new holiday purchases back with me.

  • #164606
    Avatar of repete
    repete
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    My first time traveling to Europe (for a ten day visit), I took a small backpack that doubled as a purse and a small gym bag. The taxi driver at the airport asked me where the rest of my luggage was. I told him that he was the only one who would be helping me with my bags, so everything had to small enough for me to carry myself. At the end of the trip, I was glad that I travelled light.

  • #164608
    Avatar of lisetiffner
    lisetiffner
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    13 lbs and no checked luggage is my ideal. I don’t have to do laundry every night, but I’m not checking any bags or breaking my back.

  • #164611
    Avatar of swanky
    swanky
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    I found that it sometimes pays to just ship your things to yourself for the vacation. If there are items that you can’t go without and are not perishable/fragile, then think about shipping it both ways. It requires pre-packing and have them ready to go before the trip, so you have to plan ahead to do so.

  • #164612
    Avatar of DKjr
    DKjr
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    I recently traveled with my father who planned to discard clothing at the end of the trip as he purchased new items. We were in the same location for a week so we packed fairly heavy, but he left older shirts behind in exchange for the new ones.
    I suppose my tip is to pack less loves items that can be donated or thrown out in exchange for some thing new, or to lighten your load through out your trip.

  • #164614
    Avatar of HelofaMess
    HelofaMess
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    Where do you live in China rw86347? My husband and I live in Beijing.

    I struggle with minimalist travel but insist on a good suitcase. Rimowa is my choice. Our other problem is my travel plans always come together so I’m going to vastly different areas in 2 weeks. Last month we spent a week in Australia… half being spent in the deep south so it was cold and half in the top north so it was very hot. Then we went to Italy for a work trip. This meant we needed suits, shirts, smart evening clothes etc for Italy buy also jeans, jumpers, bikinis, tshirts, beach wear etc for aus.

    Try doing that with just a carry on!

  • #164619
    Avatar of vjb
    vjb
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    I love minimalist packing! I always travel with just hand luggage and it’s so freeing. I don’t really like buying new clothes en route though, so I pack a couple of changes and a bunch of different tops. If you stick with thin layers, you can fit in a lot.

    My tip would be to try wool or silk knit clothes rather than synthetic. They’re gorgeous, lightweight, and you can wear them for days with no smell. And to go easy on the shoes: max three pairs altogether, and try to make them lightweight.

    HelofaMess: that sounds like a nightmare to pack for! Arrgh. My sympathies.

  • #164620
    Avatar of rw86347
    rw86347
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    I live in Beijing – 18600065366 (SMS me)

  • #164626
    Avatar of bcjulie
    bcjulie
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    I have a rule for traveling that never fails to keep my tendency to overpack in check. If I can’t carry it, I can’t take it. If my bag is too heavy for me to lift and maneuver comfortably, something has to come out of it before I leave the house. The rule applies to everything I’m going to be taking – if the combination of my suitcase and backpack is too much, one of them has to get lighter.

    I still tend to overpack, for sure, but it’s been a vast improvement from my younger days when I had to get a little luggage cart at the airport, or pray for skycap baggage check-in so I wouldn’t have to drag my bag through the line at the counter. :)

  • #164632
    Avatar of indygirl
    indygirl
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    I would love to be a minimalist traveler. As a short and plump woman, I have a hard time finding clothes, so I’ll need to pack clothes. I’m going somewhere very hot soon, and have no casual summer wardrobe, so I will need to purchase a few items. Any recommendations of stores with websites? Folks are suggesting linen, and wool etc–specific sites would be very helpful.

  • #164634
    Avatar of chacha1
    chacha1
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    Indygirl, if you can tolerate synthetics, Magellan has great travel wear. REI outdoor/fitness gear is also great for traveling.

    Personally, silk makes me sweat and wool makes me itch, cotton dries slowly and linen wrinkles like a bitch! Synthetics rule! ;-)

    bcjulie, I also have the carry-it rule. DH and I only take what we each, individually, can manage. For me that’s typically a carry-on sized suitcase and a medium-size shoulder bag for phone, camera, book, and other essentials. He’s bigger and stronger than me, so he usually takes his suitcase and two other pieces if we’re going somewhere for say a week. For weekends, we’ve both perfected the backpack style of packing.

    I like to have one hand free at all times. :-)

    Also, we don’t sweat the lost-luggage thing. We don’t fly often, but when we do, we only check what we can live without.

  • #164637
    Avatar of awurrlu
    awurrlu
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    I love this thread… I was just in California for four days and three nights for a trip that was related to my sister’s business. The events planned required me to have two changes of clothes for every single day, much to my dismay!

    Normally, for a trip of that length and to that climate, I would plan on three pairs of pants, four tops, a pashmina, and two pairs of shoes. (One pair of pants, one top, and one pair of shoes would be on my body during travel, so I’d be packing a bit less.)

    If I’m not planning on washing underwear, I bring underwear and socks for each day. (Actually, for any trip, that number of items would pretty much work for me.) My toiletries fit in a 1 quart ziploc bag.

    I can usually pack in a backpack and carry a purse that can accommodate my netbook, a water bottle, and snacks.

    For other female travelers (and even male travelers!) I suggest the same things that I have based my overall wardrobe on:
    - Pack things that can be easily worn with other things you’ve brought (for women, packing pants or skirts that are all the same length means you can easily pack shoes that go with any outfit).
    - Pack comfortable shoes that also look nice. (Why on earth do people buy shoes that aren’t comfortable for actual use?)
    - Stick with a narrow range of colors.
    - Finally, just because you’ve worn something doesn’t mean it’s dirty! Air it out for a day or two.

    @indygirl: I am also short and have a hard time buying anything when I’m away. In the heat, I live in capris (no chafing but still cooling), boatneck or vneck 3/4 sleeve tees (or tank tops), and flats. No idea what part of the world you’re in, but I’ve had luck with JJill, Talbots, Dockers, and — my favorite capris ever — Jag (which you can often get on sale from Nordstrom).

  • #164643
    Avatar of drpher
    drpher
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    Hi, @rw86347 and @HelofaMess,
    I would love to get in touch with you! My family will be living in Beijing for two months this summer after a two week tour of Shanghai area. It’s my husband’s sabbatical. I would appreciate ideas for packing for myself and two kids (5 and 10), as well as recommendations for places to live.
    Thanks for any info!

  • #164646
    Avatar of Tradd
    Tradd
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    Indygirl, I’m plump and on the shorter side myself. I’ve found that Travelsmith.com has some nice plus-sized clothes. A bit pricey, but very nice. The reversible jacket, skirt, and tank are very nice (solid black reverses to a print). Comfy and very soft. I get many compliments on these clothes. Go to womens>plus sizes and you can search for “reversible” too. Rolls up in a corner of your bag and no wrinkles.

    Junonia.com also has some nice travel-friendly clothes for larger sized women. Search for “travel” – you want the Travel Elite long skirt, pants, one-button jacket. I’ve just ordered these yesterday and they’re on sale, too. This website goes up to 6X. Also search for the “packables” tops.

  • #164647
    Avatar of suzjazz
    suzjazz
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    Every time I travel, no matter how minimalist I try to be, I always end up bringing stuff I didn’t need. It’s true that some of this could not have been foreseen–I am a jazz pianist and had to bring a lot of music, etc. to Paris last summer. Even though I write and speak French well, I was unable to find out if I needed to bring a music stand and other equipment, so I brought it, which meant I had to bring a large checked bag (I was going for 2 weeks and I probably could have just taken a carry-on and a tote bag.) I ended up not needing most of the music stuff. Oh well…

    I never travel with clothing that I can’t wash in a sink with Woolite packets. I bring a small stretch clothesline. I take small sized or dual function items whenever possible (mini umbrella, no camera, just a cellphone–yes, I know it takes terrible photos compared to a camera, but I don’t want another item to worry about) I keep as much info on my laptop as possible to avoid paper. I can’t afford an iPhone so I unfortunately have to bring my laptop, but I am reconsidering that because internet is unreliable in France, and I hate carrying the extra 5 lbs. Each trip I make a list and try to eliminate items from it that I couldn’t get at my destination if I had to. I still end up bringing at least 50 items. On my next trip, everything is going to fit into a carry on and a tote. Period. That is, if I travel again–I am broke, and I am outraged that the airlines want to charge for carry on luggage. One airline (Aer Lingus, I think) is even considering charging people to use the toilet! (or they were until they got negative PR–I wonder why?) These corporations have no shame. They aren’t even human. And they are holding a lot of people hostage who have to fly. But that’s another topic.

    I love Unclutterer and have greatly improved my workspace both at home and on trips. I watch the Hoarders TV shows every time I start slacking off to give me a kick in the butt.

  • #164746
    Avatar of vjb
    vjb
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    @indygirl, I love Icebreaker.com and UntouchedWorld.com for wool clothes, and Silkbody.co.nz for silk knits. They’re pricey (in New Zealand dollars), but the quality is amazing and you can wear them to death. I have tanks, tees, pants, some underwear, socks, a jumper (sweater) and the Icebreaker Villa dress, which was my favourite thing to wear last (Southern Hemisphere) summer. I’m currently pondering the beautiful SilkBody cardigans and the Icebreaker jackets…. Drool. Don’t get me started! My boyfriend loves the men’s ranges too.

  • #164769
    Avatar of Sam
    Sam
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    Great posts. A long-standing favourite of mine is http://www.onebag.com – wonderful advocacy for minimalist travel, and tons of tips on how to go about it.

  • #164770
    Avatar of bandicoot
    bandicoot
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    i have been packing today and my usual tight packing has gone to the dogs!
    i’ve got a 3 week business trip starting tomorrow and i need clothes to do workshops in….i get filthy, so i need old clothes plus aprons….and clothes for tripping about the city and clothes for a resort, and clothes for dinners with the suppliers in the evenings.
    it’s a nightmare, even though i’ve got all black and white and gray mix and match items.
    i think i’ll have to start from scratch again in the morning.
    arrgghh.

  • #164792
    Avatar of awurrlu
    awurrlu
    Member

    The minimalist traveler.

    Did anyone see the article in today’s New York Times on efficient packing? Some of these folks bring way more than I would on a trip, but there are some good tips in the story: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/06/business/06PACK.html

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