Small suitcases, large travel bags, duffle bags, laptop bags, backpacks, plastic bags, a trolley full of bags. When you travel, and when you visit airports in particular, you see a lot of people and a lot of luggage along with them. You haven’t noticed? Try this: the next time when you’re about to fly with a plane to a foreign country, or when you’re simply visiting your grandparents by the train, stop for a moment in the center of the airport or in the train station and look around. How much luggage people bring with them on average?
For the last few years, I’ve been traveling a lot and silently observing what is happening around me in terms of luggage. Not that I’m planning to stell the bags of the people around me or something. I am simply curious why people bring so much stuff with them. Usually, when I’m away for a week, the thing that takes the most space in my bag is my extra pair of sneakers. Fortunately, minimalism though me that I can now travel with a single pair, which is actually already on my feet so my bag these days is quite empty.
But that’s not the case with most of the people around me. I see bigger bags rolling around me at the airport and sometimes they got me thinking: “Have I forgot something?; Why people are bringing so much stuff?” Even though I can’t inspect their baggage and see what they brought with them unless I am working as airport security guy – which will hopefully never going happen – I do know a lot of people who will probably even bring their 50-inch plasma if there was a way to do it.1
Reasons why people bring a lot of stuff
Here are the 5 main reasons people bring a lot of stuff when they travel abroad, or when they simply go to the grocery store:
- Just in case stuff: The “just in case”, a.k.a “what if,” travel category is on the top of the scoreboard for packed travel items. We tend to pack things that we know we’ll never going to need or use, but we take them anyway: “What if it’s colder? I need to take additional warmer jacket; What if there is a beach nearby the pyramids? I need to bring my swimsuit and my towel?; What if I shi* my pants too often? I need extra pairs of underpants.” Yes, it maybe is a good idea to bring an umbrella, but bringing a couple of extra jackets won’t magically prevent the weather from raining.
- Different outfits: Girls will surely recognize themselves here. The main reason ladies bring a lot of stuff when they travel is because they pack a lot of clothes in variety of colors. They can’t simply bring their black blouse if they don’t bring a matching jacket, small black bag, and a matching pair of shoes along with them. When my girl packs her bag, when any girl actually does this exercise, they bring different outfits for the different days. “You can’t wear the same thing twice” – I think this their mantra. Unfortunately, we men began to follow girls in this direction. A lot of men are spending more time in front of the mirror than doing men stuff.2
- Lack of planning: Quite a lot of people don’t actually think before they start packing their suitcases. That’s why, they bring most of their possessions with them on a journey for a single night. If you don’t have a clear idea about what you’ll be wearing, you will either pack a lot of extra stuff or bring too little, which is also not good.
- They have a kid: As a parent, you will definitely want your child well fed and taken care off. It’s understandable. The sole thought of running out of diapers in the middle of the forest is terrifying. Still, that doesn’t mean that you should hire a caravan for a couple of days or buy car rooftop cargo carrier and stuff your entire apartment. You have a child, so? Did your mother brought an entire fleet of clothes when you were younger and you went on vacation? I know she didn’t. 20 years ago there weren’t so many things parents could buy for us. Now, it’s different.
- Spoiled: It’s more a way of thinking than anything else. If you’re a spoiled person you will want to buy a separate ticket for your wardrobe in the business class. Hardly anything logical will convince you to pack lighter if the mall is your best friend. The best option for you, in this case, is to learn more about minimalism and embrace the lifestyle of owning just enough things.
Why Travel With Less?
Do not worry, I will not try to convince you to start traveling only with the clothes on your back. Even though I know people who think that if you bring your wallet, and you have enough money, you can buy everything you need for a pleasant stay abroad. The above is partly true. You may have all the money in the world but if you’re hungry and thirsty and you’re in the middle of the forest, your wallet won’t cook you a dinner or keep you warm at night.3
So, why travel with less?
To begin with, a large suitcase will slow you down. It’s heavy. Hard to maneuver around an airport, the train station, the busy street. A big bag won’t probably fit inside an elevator or inside most of the cars in Italy.4 It’s anti practical, anti minimalistic to bring a large suitcase full of things that you’re not sure that you will be even using.
Here are a couple of reasons on why you need to learn to travel with less:
- Easier to pack your bag.
- Easier to carry.
- Avoid checking bags.
- Avoid long lines.
- Know exactly what you bring.
- You’re perfectly organized.5
- Less things that you can lose.
- Less options means less time to prepare for going out.
- When you’re about to leave your room can pack your things in the same order you brought them.
Basically, it’s much more practical to travel with less stuff than packing half of the things inside your house. When I go abroad and I have one pair of jeans and a handful of t-shirts, I no longer worry about leaving something behind. Previously I had stuff all around my hotel room and I checked a couple of times before I leave the room, just to be sure I won’t forgot my favorite pair of socks.
Besides a lighter bag, traveling with less means convenience, peace of mind. Also, you have fewer things to wash when you go back home.
Tips For Traveling Like a Minimalist
1. TAKE A MOMENT
Where are you going? What you will be doing there? Where you might potentially end up? Take a moment. Before you even pull your bag out of the closet, take a moment and think about the place you’re visiting. Is there a beach nearby? If there is, you might bring a swimwear. Will you be going to a fancy restaurant? Are you going for business or you will mainly walk around the town on foot? This step is essential if want to learn how to pack like a minimalist. Once you decide what you will be using, you can then move forward.
2. Get a smaller bag:
Don’t buy the biggest suitcase in the store. A bigger bag will allow you to bring more things with you, that’s for sure. You will loosen up and start packing things you don’t need: a golf glove; 5 dresses; 3 pairs of shoes; a coffee machine. Consider the option to travel with a backpack only. The smaller the better. When you don’t have a lot of space you will be forced to exclude a lot of stuff from your travel list and bring only the essentials, which in 99% of the cases will be just about enough. If you already have a larger suitcase you can sell it and get a smaller one instead.
3. Don’t check in luggage:
If you’re thinking of checking in extra baggage quickly get rid of this thought and buy a cheaper ticket that will allow you to bring only a hand luggage. This will intensify what I mentioned initially and will surely make you bring less stuff. On top of that, you will save some cash.
4. Leave the laptop:
It’s probably insane to tell you to leave your laptop behind but I’m going to do it anyway: leave your laptop behind. Unless you’re traveling for business, you probably won’t necessarily need a laptop. Your smartphone will be enough to check locations, find places to eat and navigate yourself around the foreign town. Also, you will save some space. Not much, but it will be probably enough to stuff an extra pair of underpants.
5. Manage from your phone:
On average, you have to show your boarding pass to at least 5 places/people when your boarding a plane: 1) Before entering the security check; 2) After going through the security check; 3) On the gate; 4) To the stewardess at the door; 5) To the person sitting on your seat. Additionally, you might end up being selected for a random security check and have the “pleasure” of waiting, and watching a guy going through your stuff who will only waste your time and mess with your perfectly arranged hand luggage. To avoid this constant parade of your printed boarding pass, install an app on your device and have an easy access to it. Your smartphone will also act as your Kindle. Simply install an EPUB reader and avoid bringing books with you.
6. One pair of shoes:
Bringing a single pair of shoes might sound frightening especially to the ladies. However, in reality, you don’t need more than one pair of shoes, the ones you will be wearing anyway. Depending on where you’re going and what you will be doing there, you might need a second pair but in most of the cases, you will be all right with the ones on you. That being said, be picky with the shoes you’re putting. Make sure they’re comfortable and can handle the weather you’re going. I personally prefer wearing Adidas Originals.
7. Neutral Colors:
Since you will bring a single pair of sneakers and fewer clothes, you will want everything matching. To do so, make sure that all of your clothes are in similar color range: black, white and grey are the preferred colors – at least for me. I personally wear black sneakers, grey jeans, and my backpack is black. Since my lower half is in the black gamma I can wear different color t-shirts without looking like a clown. My jacket, it’s actually parka, is light green and it matches everything I bring.
8. Minimize on souvenirs
The first time I flew to the states I was about to buy half of the things from a single gift shop. When I got home I realized that I didn’t enjoy any of the things I bought. Things collecting dust and only crowding my shelves. I don’t need those. These days I buy only one particular souvenir from all the countries I visit: a fridge magnet. Only one. It’s enough to remind me where I’ve been and it barely takes any of my space in my home or inside my bag. If you’re going to buy gifts for your friends, I will suggest buying the same for them. Do them a favor. Don’t buy stuff that will only crowd their homes.
9. Don’t Pack Stuff that are already there
For example, you don’t have to bring a hairdryer, toiletries or towels. If you find soap in the hotel. That’s for sure. I know people who will bring their own pillows when they travel because: “I can’t sleep on other pillows.” It’s absurd if you ask me but, who knows. Even if the hotel you’re saying does not have your favorite brand of shampoo, you can visit the local store and buy it yourself.
Learning how to travel like a minimalist eliminates so much stress and makes your airport time much more enjoyable.
If you’re a person who travels with everything he owns and still looks for a place to pack the kitchen sink – just in case, then you should definitely try leaving something behind. When you bring only what you need on a trip, it changes your perspective about your stuff back at home. You will start realizing that you don’t need so much stuff to survive and be truly happy.
How much stuff do you bring when you travel? Share in the comments below your travel style:
- Well, there is if you pay for it. But the cost will be probably higher than the actual TV.
- One of them is not caring what you’re going to wear.
- Unless you do this: LINK.
- This spring I was visiting Italy and I saw that people there are mainly using Smart cars with only two seats and literally no trunk. You can’t even put a small shopping bag inside the trunk.
- You can even learn how to pack like George Clooney in Up in the air movie – LINK.