Minimalist Travel

Minimalist Travel

Why did I choose ‘Wandering Minimalist’ as the name of my blog? A friend of mine thinks it’s a bit of an odd choice. ‘Minimalism’ is very much the word of the moment, with many people across the western world turning their backs on consumerism and trying to live a more simple, uncluttered life. But minimalism can mean different things to different people. To me, it’s not about deprivation. I applaud those travellers who can travel for months with only one or two sets of clothing and fit everything they own into a 20L backpack. I’m not one of those people. A look at my packing lists will tell you that.

To me, minimalism is about thinking purposefully about each purchase. Living simply, but meaningfully. You could do away with almost all your earthly possessions, but very few people would be truly happy living that way.

In terms of travel packing, I aim to balance a) what is truly needed, and b) what is comfortable. I know I wouldn’t be happy travelling with just one outfit, hand-washed every night. Nor even three. I know I only want to do a load of washing once a week max so I can spend more time exploring. I also don’t like leaving my clothes to dry all around a hostel room (something that is causing me to limit my use of merino clothing actually, as it can’t be put in a dryer). After a number of different overseas trips, as well as general day-to-day life at home, I’ve learnt that having enough clothing for at least 8 days is ideal and it all has to fit in a carry-on sized bag. Now 8 days doesn’t necessarily mean 8 outfits. It usually means a dress or two, three bottoms and a variety of tops (assuming travel through a single climate) and I’ll wear each outfit at least twice before washing. By picking the right fabrics, I could stretch that out to 3-4 wears if need-be. Each item is carefully thought through in order to keep my packing list short, yet have enough clothing options to be comfortable.

To me, minimalism is also about quality. When you’re striving to live simply and with minimal possessions, you want what you do have to be efficient. Often that means choosing higher-quality products that you expect to last for a long time, rather than cheaper products that you may need to replace more often. Minimalism then, like frugality, does not equal cheap. When faced with the option of a 12-hour bus ride for $10 or a 1-hour flight for $80, I’m going to choose the flight! Depending on how long is spent at the airport, that’s 8-10 extra hours I’d have to explore my destination. That being said, sometimes you get lucky and the cheaper option works out the best. Opting for soap over body wash, for instance, is the best of both worlds as a) it’s cheap, b) it lasts much longer than body wash, c) it takes up less space and weight in your bag, and d) it comes in recyclable, biodegradable packaging.

French Soap

Ah, cheap, luxurious soap.

Minimalism is usually environmentally friendly. You could argue that my personal preference for choosing washing machines and dryers over hand-washing, and (sometimes) short flights over long bus rides are environmentally damaging, but I hope overall that my choices equal out to a positive effect on the environment, in whatever small way.

So, why ‘Wandering Minimalist’? Because it represents my ultimate goal of pairing my love of travel with living simply and consuming less.

How do you like to travel? Do you take everything with you but the kitchen sink, or do like to travel as light as possible?