12 Minimalist Travelers Share How They Pack and Travel with Carry on Bags Only

Most people pack way more than they need.

Don’t be like most people.

To improve how we pack and prepare, we have talked with 12 experienced minimalist travelers and asked them to share their best packing light advice.

Read on and learn from their best tips and tricks (these people have been traveling for years with just a carry-on bag, so they know what they are talking about!).

The 12 Minimalist Travelers

Kenny Flannery

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

Not many people carry a USB condenser microphone, but I travel with the relatively small Samson Go Mic in order to record my podcast. The small weight and volume penalty is worth sharing advice and stories coming from myself and people I meet on the road.

I made my own hat where the brim is removable, it unfolds into a whiteboard for the use of hitchhiking. That’s pretty handy for times when I do want to make a sign to clarify which direction I’m heading.

A third uncommon thing… I could stretch and say ghost pepper sauce… I try not to carry too much so the rest of what I have is fairly common besides my backpack itself, but it looks like the next question addresses that. Hot sauce or powder is nearly essential.

As far as useless stuff people carry, the list is endless. I’ve seen full blown bathroom towels, heavy stoves that (barely) power USB devices when they burn, surpluses of clothing, bathrobes, shovels, surge protectors, condoms, extra boots and 10 pound crystals.

How do you bring things with you?

I use a backpack I designed that turns into a bivy tent, it’s called the BivyPack made by Freestyle Travel Gear. When I need to camp the frame of the pack slides out to becomes tent poles (along with the rest of the bivy) and I can slip in to stay bug-free and dry for the night just about anywhere.

Inside the pack I have three separate bags. On the bottom is a stuff sack with my 20F degree sleeping bag. Next is 2.5 gallon ziplock bag that fits all my clothes (with an extra ziplock inside to separate dirty clothes); I use this as a pillow when I sleep. Lastly I have a waterproof bag that can hold my laptop, food ziplock bag, little camp pot and is basically my catch-all bag for anything else. Besides that I’ll often have my water bottle in the external pocket as well as my rain jacket so it’s easily accessible.

When I’m not carrying a lot of food I especially feel like I have too much extra room, so I’ve considered making a smaller version of the bag to slim things down.

What are your top tips for other minimalist travellers?

Packing styles will vary quite a bit depending on whether you’re leaving indefinitely and also whether you’ll be freestyle traveling (hitchhiking, camping, hiking… everything) or plan to only drive, bus, fly and stay in hostels, hotels or couch surf every night. If it’s the latter then you can get away with carrying next to nothing… really you could easily live out of an overstuffed fanny pack.

In any event, do what many travelers do within the first few weeks and empty all your stuff on the floor and start separating the useless junk into a pile that you should immediately give away or get rid of.

Lastly… who cares? If you’re this deep into reading all this and you’re not on the road then it’s time to go, no pack or an 80 pound pack. The road provides and good times are abundant. You’ll shed your useless stuff as you go and meanwhile happiness will become you.

Visit Kenny Flannery’s website

Daniel Kay

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • A super-small, super-absorbent travel towel. (I use this one). This packs down to almost nothing and can be hung off the outside of your pack using the included mesh pouch if it’s still wet. It is absorbent enough to towel off your whole body at a swimming hole, and can be used as a emergency shower tower if your hotel or hostel doesn’t provide one (or charges).
  • Rubber Bands: Bring a lot of these, as they take up very little space, break often, and can be surprisingly hard to replace. Rubber bands work great for compressing clothes, bundling cables togethers, organizing toiletries… anything really.
  • Smartwool socks: socks and underwear are the weak point of any ultralight traveler. They get the dirtiest and the smelliest quickest, meaning you either need to bring a lot or do a lot of laundry. Smartwool socks help alleviate this problem — you can wear them for several days in a row without noticeable smell, fungus, or sweat. They’re a bit expensive though.

How do you bring things with you?

I use either a 18-22 liter CamelBak hiking pack with the hydration bladder removed (if I want to go super-light), or a Tortuga 45-liter backpack. The Tortuga allows for maximum space while still being carry-on sized, but I still feel like a “backpacker” with it. When I use the Camelbak, I feel more inconspicuous in a city, since it looks just like a normal daypack.

The downside with the CamelBak is you have very little space to acquire things on your journey — this could be a good or bad thing depending on your attitude. You need to be very intentional about what needs to be in your pack and what can be done without.

I use heavy-duty rubber bands to roll up my clothes, which makes it much easier to sort through the contents of the pack. My computer, if I’m bringing one, goes in the hydration bladder pocket on the CamelBak.

What are your top tips for other minimalist travellers?

The key to packing light is making sure all your clothes go together — this way you can mix and match to create different outfits. Choose one primary color, and pick your clothes around that theme. For instance, if you want to bring a maroon shirt, make sure all your shoes, your pants, and your jackets would all look good when paired with maroon.

But ultimately, with ultralight packing, the thing to understand is you’ll be wearing the same clothes a lot of the time. You have to not be bothered by this. Yeah, you may look similar in all your photos, BUT — you won’t have to carry around a big heavy pack, or pay to check luggage on busses and planes.Over the course of an extended trip,, this can add up to a lot of savings *and your poor back will thank you when you have to walk five kms from the bus station to your hostel).

Ultimately, the thing to remember is: anything you need can be bought at your destination. Don’t stress too much about bringing everything, or packing perfect, because chances are you’ll find yourself wishing you hadn’t brought half the stuff you ended up packing. I have given away or lost SO MUCH clothing and equipment while traveling, because it ended up being more trouble than it was worth. For this reason, I have one more golden travel rule: never bring anything you’re not OK leaving behind.

You will be a much more versatile and happy traveler if you follow that rule while packing.

Visit Daniel Kay’s website

Alec Farmer

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

What I carry always depends on where I’m going and what I’m doing.

If I’m flying, I travel light. Normally, I only take hand-luggage, and I pack to ensure that I can pass through the airport quickly and easily. The most useful item for doing this is a clear dopp kit. I use one made by Sea to Summit, and it’s ideal. Because it’s clear, I don’t have to transfer my toiletries into a baggie – I can just pull out the whole pouch as it is. I’m currently trying to avoid liquids altogether, favouring solid soaps, toothpastes and deodorants, but my ‘system’ isn’t quite ready yet!

When I head exploring Scotland, my kit list is quite different. I still pack light, but there are some essentials that make life much more enjoyable. Top of the list is a good axe, with a mid-length handle. Often, dead-wood can be damp from the rain, and splitting it down makes it much easier to light and creates a better campfire.

Then, once the fire is ready, out comes the hipflask. I live in the home of whisky, after all, and a wee dram at the end of the day always warms the soul. Plus, from a practical point of view, it’s much lighter and easier to carry than a case of beer!

Perhaps my favourite EDC item is the Mu charger – a usb plug that folds completely flat. In the UK, our plugs are normally very bulky, so this really helps to keep things streamlined. I see a lot of people taking multiple usb plugs when they travel – they just grab all the chargers for all their devices. Most things charge via USB today, so one plug can serve multiple devices!

How do you bring things with you?

I make my living by designing and making bags, so I’ve got a pretty big selection of packs and prototypes to choose from!

When travelling, my go-to pack is the Trakke ‘Storr’ hand-luggage backpack. It’s about 30 litres, and I rarely need more space than that, no matter how long the trip. Inside, I use our ‘Foulden’ pouches to create a modular packing system. I’ll pack clothes in the largest size, underwear in the medium, and I keep all my small accessories together in the smallest size. Cables and plugs get organised in a ‘Gask’ tool roll to make everything easier to find. If security do end up opening my bag (which they rarely do, If I’ve packed it right!), the organisers mean that the contents of my bag stay organised even if they have a rummage around. No-one wants their underwear on show at security! Oh, and I always try to leave a bit of free space inside the bag, just in case I buy anything on my travels.

I use the same method to pack all of my bags. The beauty of this ‘inception’ style packing (i.e. a bag within a bag) is that I can group selections of gear into pouches, which makes packing much easier. If I’m heading out hiking, I tend to use an Assynt 28 and I’ll grab my cook-kit, sleep system and tent, then mix and match my other EDC pouches depending on my needs for that trip.

What are your top tips for other minimalist travellers?

People tend to pack a lot of ‘just in case’ items when they travel. The trouble is, they rarely get used.

I prefer to pack as little as possible, and if a ‘just in case’ scenario comes up, I buy what I need wherever I am. Truth be told, I’ve never had to do this. That’s how rare these situations are!

The easiest way to pack light is to obey the rule of 3. You never need more than 3 of anything. 3 trousers, 3 t-shirts, 3 jumpers…whatever. You have one to wear, one in the wash and one drying. Travelling like this requires a little thought, but it’s not hard. You choose a ‘capsule wardrobe’, where all of your clothes work with each other, and each day, you wash one item in the sink or shower. It’s not as limiting as you may think – when done well, 3 pairs of trouser, 3 t-shirts and 3 jumpers can give you 27 unique outfits to wear – more than enough for a week, a month or even a year of travelling.

A lot of people who start adopting minimalist packing methods get caught up in it, and it can become expensive. People search for the smallest, the lightest or the best of what’s on offer, but the truth is, it doesn’t need to be expensive at all. Switching out a burly Nalgene water bottle for a ‘disposable’ plastic one will save weight instantly, at very little cost. Packing cubes can be swapped out for ziploc bags that are easily replaced, or omitted entirely by learning to make Skivvy rolls. Chances are, you have everything you need to pack smarter at home right now.

If you are looking to swap out some items to make your bag lighter, smaller or more packable, there are plenty of easy fixes. I replace my stock charging cables for short ones that are under 20cm long. This keeps them more neat and compact in my bag. I’ll often take a lightweight down jacket in place of a sweater to save space and weight. I only take as many toiletries as I need for that trip, so I’ll decant large bottles into smaller ones.

Ultimately, the secret is to pack, unpack, edit and repeat. Each time, you streamline your gear, and with practice, minimalist packing becomes second nature!

Visit Alec Farmer’s website

Charlie Marchant

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

Top 3 items I bring outside of the usual packing items:

  • Water bottle. This cuts down on plastic waste as it can be refilled from taps or water dispensers. Very handy to have in my day backpack.
  • Elephant box. This stainless steel lunchbox is perfect for taking lunch with you during the day, especially if off trekking or away from restaurants and cafes. I love to have it as it avoids plastic waste from takeaways.
  • Mooncup / menstrual cup. This is the best invention ever! A mooncup or other brand of menstrual cup allows women to avoid buying and creating waste from tampons and sanitary towels. The cup is reusable and can be easily cleaned whilst travelling by boiling in hot water. It’s comfortable, easy to use and good for the environment.

Most useless things I’ve seen other people bring:

  • Stuffed toys. These take up a lot of place in backpacks and aren’t very practical.
  • Multiple books. Heavy to carry and difficult to pack! Better to have a Kindle, or to carry just one book and trade it out for another at a hostel.

How do you bring things with you?

My main backpack is a Fjallraven Bergen 30L. It’s the perfect size for a minimalist traveller like me and I travel the world with it. It has a handy compartment inside that fits a laptop. The entire back is waterproof so no need for fiddly, cumbersome rain covers.

I carry a day backpack (which I fold up inside my Bergen when travelling). This is a North Face Berkeley backpack. It folds up easily inside my larger rucksack. It’s enough to carry a rain jacket, camera, purse, and water bottle.

What are your top tips for other minimalist travellers?

Don’t pack too many clothes! I see this mistake the most. I only carry 8 days of clothes and wash my clothing weekly instead of hauling around excess clothes.

Visit Charlie Marchant’s website

Ian Norman

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

As a photographer, a camera usually tops my list but I’ve been known to ditch the “real” camera altogether and shoot exclusively on a smartphone. Besides the obvious things like basic clothes, a laptop and a decent bag, there are a few items that always seem to greatly help in my travels: a portable USB charger battery such as the Anker 10,000 mAh USB battery. I make sure that any and all devices that I bring (including my “real” camera) can be charged via USB. Whether my wife and I are traveling via train, plane or automobile, there often won’t be an immediate source of power available and that’s where the portable battery becomes a huge help to keep our devices going.

The second item is a Sea-to-Summit Ultrasil Packable Daypack. It’s a small daypack that can be compressed down to the size of bar of soap when not in use. The small daypack allows us to leave our bigger bags in our AirBnB and go out for the day while still being able to carry a couple jackets, water, sunscreen and a camera on our back.

The final item (or items) are a set of small packing bags. My wife and I both share a set of Eagle Creek Specter Pack-It Packing Cubes for our clothes and a set of REI Co-op Ditty Sacks, small lightweight drawstring bags that allow us to better organize the things we bring into convenient pouches. For example, I can put all of my camera related items such as spare batteries, charger, extra memory cards, etc. into a single small pouch, rather than scattered around pockets of my bag.

As far as useless items, I think that bringing too many electronic devices usually tops the list. There’s never a reason to have more than one camera. Some photographers will have their DSLR and a backup mirrorless camera in addition to 2 lenses for each. Bring only one body and one lens. You don’t need a laptop, smartphone, tablet and Kindle. Leave at least two of those at home. Bring only a smartphone even and let it become your primary computer AND camera. I can take photos, answer emails, write blog posts, read books, play games and edit photos all on my smartphone. If you absolutely hate the ides of not having a fullsize keyboard, consider supplementing your laptop with a small foldable bluetooth keyboard for your smartphone. I’ve used one called the iClever keyboard with great success for several months while touring around Europe.

How do you bring things with you?

I use a simple Timbuk2 Phoenix backpack that’s long since been discontinued. It’s very similar to Timbuk2’s current line of Aviator backpacks.

I have owned my old Timbuk2 bag for more than 10 years now and it still works like new. At 30 liters, everything must fit into that bag. It’s small enough to fit under the seat in an airliner which allows me to avoid baggage fees but large enough to fit everything I need. It fits and protects my 15″ Macbook Pro in its dedicated laptop compartment and has compression straps that allow me to tighten it up to reduce volume of the main compartment and keep the bag small.

I organize the internals with packing cubes for my clothes and small drawstring ditty sacks for my smaller items. Clothes sit at the bottom of the main compartment, ditty sacks on top of that and, if I’m carrying it, my camera at the top of the main compartment for easy access. Small items that I may need to access on the go such as my USB battery, USB cable or earphones get stored in the small outer pockets for fast access.

What are your top tips for other minimalist travellers?

Pack only an “under the seat” bag. Don’t check a bag. Don’t use a full-size “carry-on” bag. A single medium sized backpack around 22-30 liters should be the absolute limit for traveling to most places. If you have a bigger bag, you’ll be inclined to fill it up. Travel should not be a game of logistics on how to transport your stuff. Having less stuff will free up so many opportunities and make travel significantly more fun.

Most of the weight of tourists luggage is in the form of clothes. Regardless of the length of the trip, never bring more than you can wear in a week. Heck, bring no more than 4 days if you can. I typically travel with a single pair of jeans, 4 t-shirts, 4 pairs of underwear and socks as my basic clothing items. T-shirts and underwear are all synthetic fast dry material that I can easily wash in the sink or shower if my accommodations have no laundry facilities. Since I’m always wearing a full set of clothes, that means I only need to fit 3 t-shirt, underwear and sock sets in my bag. That leaves a ton of room for all the other things necessary for wherever I’m traveling such as an insulating jacket, raincoat or a pair of shorts depending on the climate of my destination.

Most people travel much too quickly. Slow down and take it slow. 2 days in Paris, 2 days in Amsterdam and 2 days in Berlin? You’ll never really get a feel and appreciation for those places in that amount of time. Make it a whole week in one of those places and you’ll spend significantly less time getting from place to place and you’ll have a much better time. If you can, stay for a month or longer if at all possible. Make it possible. It’s actually often much cheaper to rent a place at a monthly rate. For the price of what could be one week in a hotel, you can often rent an entire flat for a month.

Take a break and just go. Most Americans don’t use their vacation time. Use yours. Want to travel full-time? Just do it. Research and learn about the ways that so many people are making extended or full-time travel possible and apply it to your life.

Visit Ian Norman’s website

Marek Bron

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

I always bring a dry bag for any activities in or near water. I had a few bad experiences (like getting my passport completely soaked on a speedboat ride) and now I rely on it on keeping my important items totally powder dry.

On a market in Mexico, I once bought a tiny little leather pouch that you can attach to your belt. It’s just big enough to fit a couple of folded up bank notes. But it’s proven to be a great little storage space as it went entirely unnoticed when I got robbed in Rio de Janeiro. I always carry it with and keep the rest of my money in a small travel wallet.

Finally, I always pack a Buff, which is a flexible cloth item that you can use as a bandana, scarf, face mask, sweatband, etc. Super versatile.

The most useless stuff I see people pack are usually things like mosquito nets or hammocks when their travel style or chosen destinations make these entirely unnecessary.

How do you bring things with you?

Since I now review bags I tend to change bags a lot, so maybe my answer will be different a year from now! But I am currently very enamored with the new Setout Backpack by Tortuga. It’s light, stylish, and carry-on size. I put my clothing in the main compartment with several packing cubes and the rest is distributed among the smaller pockets.

I also carry a small Case Logic camera bag as my daypack. I shoot with a Micro Four Thirds system as the lenses for this are significantly smaller and lighter.

What are your top tips for other minimalist travellers?

I think a lot of people pack loads of stuff not because they really need it, but because it gives them a false sense of security. Traveling to parts unknown can be a little bit scary after all, so having all these extra objects with you ‘just in case’ makes you feel better prepared. But in reality you usually don’t need so many items, and it’s much more comfortable and easy to travel light. The more you travel, the more confidence you get to travel light.

I just came back from a trip to Panama where other travelers were surprised to see my 40 liter backpack. ‘How long are you traveling for?’, they asked. When I said 2 weeks, my pack size suddenly made more sense to them. But the truth is that I’ve also traveled the world for 2 years straight with that same bag! A longer trip doesn’t have to mean packing more things. It can be very liberating to keep things minimal.

On my blog, I have more detailed tips for minimalist travel to help people skip the awkward “overpacked mule” phase of travel and be more minimalist from the start.

There’s a lot of clever hacks when it comes to packing, but when it comes to traveling itself I encourage everyone not to overthink it. Just book a flight somewhere and go out and explore!

Visit Marek Bron’s website

Erin McNeaney

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Packing cubes – These allow us to organise our clothes and save space in our luggage. They are one of the reasons we are able to travel full-time with just one carry-on-size backpack each. My favourites are ultralight Eagle Creek Spectre Compression cubes. I have one for my main clothes, one for workout clothes, and one for underwear/socks.
  • Lush shampoo bar – Solid toiletries are a great way to get around the airline security rules on liquids. These shampoo bars work for body and hair, are small and light and last ages.
  • YogaPaws – I do yoga every day wherever we are, mostly with the wonderful Yoga with Adriene videos (free on YouTube but I belong to her membership site). A yoga mat is too heavy and bulky to carry around, so YogaPaws are a perfect compromise. They are little yoga mats for your hands and feet so I can practice on any surface without slipping. They are tiny and light.

How do you bring things with you?

I travel with one carry-on sized backpack – the Osprey Farpoint 40. I organise my clothes inside using packing cubes. I also have a small shoulder bag for my mirrorless camera and 2 lenses that packs inside my backpack on travel days. I like only having one bag to worry about. I also have a packable shopping bag to use in destinations for shopping/beach trips etc.

My partner Simon travels with a Tortuga Setout backpack, which is also carry-on sized. He packs a small packable daypack to use when sightseeing in destinations.

What are your top tips for other minimalist travellers?

Pack for a week even if your trip is for much longer (or indefinite like ours) and then do laundry. Choose lightweight, quick-drying fabrics to make this easier. Make sure all your clothes go together so you can mix and match to create multiple outfits.

Don’t pack anything “just in case”. Everything needs to earn its place in your luggage by being used regularly. If you really end up needing something you can probably buy it in your destination anyway.

For more tips on packing light you can see our carry on packing list and my book, The Carry-On Traveller: The Ultimate Guide to Packing Light.

Visit Erin McNeaney’s website

Lina Stock

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Water Bottle – because I hate both buying water and seeing so much plastic being used. If you bring an empty water bottle through security you can fill it up on the cleared side, saving you lots of money when it comes to purchasing beverages for your flight.
  • Eye Mask – I always carry a dark out eye mask. This allows my eyes to rest when I’m on an airplane of traveling cross country. I sleep better if I am able to block the light.
  • Merino Wool tops – I know this seems weird, but I never travel without these. They are hands down the best travel shirts because they help you maintain steady body temperatures, minimizing sweating and do not hold stink. I cannot live without them.

I think the most useless thing I have seen people carry are those neck supports. They just take up room and don’t really help people rest in a natural position on the plane. Half the time they dislodge while the person is sleeping and fall behind their seat!

How do you bring things with you?

After 2 years of traveling quite light, we now travel with much more. This has a lot to do with our profession as travel content creators. We need some serious camera gear to create content, so this means we now travel with a 30L carry on and 65L wheeled bag each. My wheeled bag is an Eagle Creek and I love it. It’s the perfect size at 65L. It also converts to a backpack if I need to carry it. Both of our carry on bags are currently PacSafe bags and we love them because they have tons of pockets and cross over really well for hiking when needed. In the big bags we use packing cubes and in the carry ons, camera inserts to stay organized.

What are your top tips for other minimalist travellers?

Only take what you need and try not to overpack on clothes. Despite my years of travel experience, I still can’t seem to figure out how to bring the ‘right’ amount of clothes. I tend to overpack, even though we take way less with us than 90% of the people you’ll see at the airport!

Visit Lina Stock’s website

Sarah Murdoch

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

I always bring a down pillow. It packs small and provides extra comfort in hotels with hard pillows. Also great for the plane. A small power strip with USB connectors is really useful as well, since many hotels have only one outlet. And these days I am traveling with compression socks, which make me feel cozy on the plane or long days on my feet tour guiding. The worst thing people can bring is too much stuff! You do not need so much stuff!

How do you bring things with you?

I always carry my bag on, so I use a small backpack. I’m currently using the Cotopaxi Allpa, but also like the Tom Bihn Tristar for their size and organization. Both bags are a nice size for light travel.

What are your top tips for other minimalist travellers?

My top tip is to weight everything. Take the time to put all of your belongings on a kitchen scale and write the weight in permanent marker. Doing this will help you understand how you are spending your weight. A heavy bag is a miserable bag, I’ve never been happier than when I’ve had a 9 pound backpack for 2 weeks!

Visit Sarah Murdoch’s website

Ali Garland

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

Two things I pack that have helped me travel better are solid sunscreen and solid bug repellent. I only have so much room in my liquids bags for all the normal things I need, plus I wear contacts and need contact solution, so being able to pack solid versions of sunscreen and bug repellent is a big help. They work just as well as the liquid versions, so now I prefer them.

I also always pack a stuff bag. I always want a bag for day-to-day sightseeing and other activities, but I don’t want to travel with a separate day pack in addition to my normal backpack because it feels like too much stuff. A stuff pack is great because it packs up really small, so it doesn’t take up much room in my backpack, but when it’s opened up, it’s big enough for my camera, water bottle, jacket, Kindle, wallet, sunscreen, etc.

I think people, women especially, pack too many pairs of shoes. You need shoes that are comfortable to walk in, plus maybe a nicer pair of shoes if you plan on going out to a fancy place or flip flops or sandals if you’re at a beach location. You don’t need a pair of shoes that only matches one outfit. Pack the least amount of shoes as possible since they take up so much room.

How do you bring things with you?

I travel with my REI Trail 40 backpack, and I love it. The main compartment opens all the way, which I much prefer to a top-loading bag. There are several small pockets that are great for organizing, and it has a rain cover. The backpack comes in male and female versions, so the female version is really comfortable for me. I think 40L is the perfect amount of space for carry-on travel, and I take this bag for any trip that’s longer than about 4 or 5 days.

I use 1-2 packing cubes to help organize my things. I have some from eBags and some from Eagle Creek, and I think they’re both good quality. One cube holds my shirts, and if I’m taking a second cube, it’s usually for a longer trip when I have more toiletry and medical items, like my daily prescription, non-liquid laundry detergent sheets, etc.

What are your top tips for other minimalist travellers?

Packing carry-on only is really important to me. I think it’s so freeing to not be lugging so much stuff around, so I’ve been traveling this way for over 10 years.

One of the most helpful things to me is realizing I can wear the same thing more than once. Even for a 2 week trip, I’ll only pack a week’s worth of clothes knowing I can wear my shirts more than once. If I run out of underwear or really can’t wear a few other things again, I can find a laundromat or some other kind of laundry service. In a pinch, I can wash a few pairs of underwear in the sink and let them dry overnight.

Another helpful thing was determining how much shampoo I really use. So many people think they can’t go on vacation with just 3.4 ounces (100ml) of shampoo, but if you track what you use at home before your trip, I think many people would be surprised that they use less than they think. I once got 17 showers out of 1 ounce (30ml) of shampoo.

I also think too many people pack too many “just in case” items. You don’t need to prepare for every possible scenario. On the off chance something unexpected does happen that you haven’t packed for, you can probably buy what you need on the road. A good way to break yourself of this habit is to keep track of all the things you use while on your trip, and when you’re unpacking at home, see what things you never used. On your next trip, don’t bring those things, or at least leave some of them at home. After a few trips, you’ll get better and better at knowing exactly what you need to bring with you.

Visit Ali Garland’s website

Jessica D Festa

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

  • Pickpocket-proof garments. As a solo female traveler these help me feel safe, as thieves don’t even know I’m carrying valuables.
  • Peppermint essential oil. It helps with nausea, as well as with pain. It also helps when I’m feeling jetlagged to feel more awake and focused.
  • REMOVU S1 Gimbal Stabilizer. For travelers that bring GoPro action cameras, this gadget is compact and ensures your video doesn’t come out shaky. It’s really fun to use, too!

How do you bring things with you?

To pack, I use Barracuda Smart Collapsible Carry-on Luggage, which is a beautiful bag in itself but is also incredibly roomy. There’s also a strap that goes over all of your belongings that helps to compress everything down.

I never have to check a bag either. I use this bag, along with a backpack for my laptop and plane snacks, which acts as my one personal item.

What are your top tips for other minimalist travellers?

When travelers use a briefcase or a purse as their one personal item, they are giving up a lot of potential packing space that a backpack provides. That’s fine if you like checking a bag, but if you’re someone trying to travel in a carry-on only fashion, then I recommend pairing a carry-on suitcase with a backpack.

Visit Jessica D Festa’s website

Jeremy Noronha

What top 3 things do you bring besides the common stuff everybody brings?

It’s more about the things I don’t carry with me than the things that I actually bring.

I always carry around a USB powered fan that can be used with a power bank. During long journeys sometimes through a dessert or a wasteland it’s been the best few bucks ever invested.

A notebook. In the day and age of the internet and as a personal who’s entire livelihood is on the internet, having a notebook to jot down ideas.

A pocket knife was one of my most useful tool before airport security confiscated it. Once as I was traveling through Laos, I met a reader of my blog and a few days later I had to break into his house as he was out away on holiday and when leaving we had accidentally locked his cat in and I was the only person in the friend circle who was in the same town. The pocket knife really proved to be useful then lol.

Taking more than a week worth of clothes is a pretty bad idea as almost every hotel or hostel has a laundry service and having the light weight on your shoulders is worth spending a few bucks a week.

How do you bring things with you?

I travel with a single carry on backpack. Right now it’s the Nomatic Travel Bag. Other than a tiny pile of documents that’s at my parents place, everything I own fits in my backpack.

2 years ago I started out with a 50L Quechua backpack, later as I traveled around warmed countries I downsized to a 30L, now I switched to the Nomatic travel bag which is my favorite bag till date. I bike around countries a lot so having a highly functional backpack that’s waterproof let’s me be productive while still having fun.

I usually have my clothes organized in separate packing cubes and then I have a bigger packing cube for all the other packing cubes that then goes into a vacuum pack. Normally if I arrive in a new city I just drop off my vacuum pack to my Airbnb and then I can comfortably go cafe hopping or walk around.

Normally I feel like I have a lot more space than I ever need, I built my life around not needing a lot of things. I have a policy wherein if I don’t use something for 2 weeks, I give it away. Life’s too short to waste it holding on to things.

What are your top tips for other minimalist travellers?

Start it with the backpack first so that you can’t overpack if you are forced to make your things fit in it.

Make someone else look at the things you are packing and question you about why you need everything. If you can’t answer why you need something, don’t take it along.

You can almost buy 99% of the things you need, so take half the clothes you need and double the cash.

The best way to make it less of a dream and more of a to-do is to just start with one aspect of it. Whether that is booking your flight, buying a new backpack or just planning your itinerary.

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