The Subtle Art of Minimalist Travel

The Subtle Art of Minimalist Travel

Introduction to minimalist travel

The things you own, end up owning you - Tyler Durden

Truer words are hard to come by.

Most of us overpack for a trip don't we? We end up carrying a lot of stuff that we end up not-using.

Minimalist Travel

I call this the "Just in Case" stuff. You may not realise it, but this "Just in Case" stuff is actually impacting your trips.

Apart from the obvious "heavy bag", there are other issues such as 'waiting for check-in baggage", "keeping you bags in safe custody", "keeping and eye on all your stuff" etc.

Why should all this come in the way of an amazing vacation full of wonderful experiences.

There is a better way

Enter, Travel + Minimalism - A very powerful combination that is guaranteed to transform the way you Travel.

Shed that extra load so that you can focus on the important thing - having amazing travel experiences.

Step 1: Reconsider that extra trolley bag

Less is More

One important aspect of minimalist travel is getting rid of that extra trolley bag (usually your check-in bag).

Bringing a trolley-bag on your trip is like bringing a kid.

You have to hold it's hand, baby sit it, pay extra for it everywhere, and make sure it doesn't run away with strangers :)

Trolley Bag

Do you really need that extra trolley bag? Your backpack will do.

Here are the benefits of travelling with just your backpack

a) Freedom and agility on the road:

Whether you are boarding a ferry, walking around on the streets, or climbing stairs, an extra bag is a burden.

With just a backpack, you can move quickly (especially on public transport), and execute impromptu plans very easily.

b) Saves you time

No more waiting at the baggage conveyor to collect bags. Get out of the airplane, and head straight for the exit :)

You also won't have to spend time at the check-in/ baggage drop counter. You can walk straigh to the security check and then the boarding gate.

c) Saves you money

Budget airlines usually charge extra for check-in bags. Avoid this by carrying just a cabin backpack.

d) No more Airline baggage loss:

How can you lose it when it is on you all the time?

e) No stress of leaving your bag in cloakrooms, hotel storage etc.

Moreover, you also have less stuff to look out for. Being in alert mode all the time is not fun.

f) You look more like a traveller rather than a tourist

Step 2: Choose the right backpack

Now that you have decided to get rid of that trolley bag, you backpack becomes all the more important.

Make sure you pick the right backpack

i) Model: Should open up completely

Your backpack is basically your cupboard during your time on the road. Pick one that opens up completely like a suitcase.

This way, you won’t have to rummage your entire bag to access items at the bottom.

ii) Shape: Think Rectangles


Curves on a backpack are not efficient when it comes to space saving. Modern rectangular shaped laptops are designed to utilise maximum space. 

iii) Size: Smaller the better

Cabin bags (even in budget airlines) can hold up-to 45 L based on allowed dimensions. However, a backpack this size is not necessary.

Stick to something between 26 L to 36 L. Keep in mind that the larger your backpack, the more stuff you’ll pack to fill it.

Also, smaller backpacks go unnoticed, and do not get weighed by Airline Staff

iv) Can it be compressed?

If you do choose to buy a large backpack, make sure it can be compressed to reduce the size.

v) What about padding?

This one is going to be on your shoulder the entire time your move around. Make sure it has good padding/ cushioning so that it is comfortable.

Step 3: Become a Pro at Packing

The skill to fit all the stuff you need into so little space is very valuable. Here are some tips to get you started

a) Packing your Clothes

i) Use this simple formulae: Tops x no of days + Bottoms * 1/2 * no of days.

This works very well for trips up to 7-8 days

ii) Pack for max 7-8 days:

This usually covers a weekend to weekend trip. If you are packing anything more that this, it is sub-optimal

iii) Do laundry on the road:

Use a scrubba bag (more on it later) or Use a sink with a stopper. Popular tourist destinations (e.g. Thailand) have laundromats that do it for cheap.

iv) Buy quick dry underwear:

Most of us carry one for each day, and that takes up more space than you think it does. A neat trick is to buy quick-dry underwear, and wash it regularly.

v) Use basic colors that can be mixed and matched

This one needs no further explanation I'm guessing.

vi) Roll your clothes

We know you have heard it multiple times. But you have to try it out to believe these amazing benefits of rolling clothes:

a Takes up less baggage space: Rolled clothes stay tightly packed together and take up much less space compared to stacking clothes.

b) Less Wrinkles and Creases: Stacked clothes have a tendency to move over each other and form creases and wrinkles. This does not happen with rolled clothes.

c) Easy to identify: It is difficult to identify and retrieve you favorite T-Shirt from a Stack. Rolling solves this problem

d) Use Packing Cubes: When you stuff a lot of items into a backpack, it can be difficult to identify and retrieve them. Use packing cubes to segragate your items. Avoid the frustration of unpacking your entire bag to retrieve your favorite items.

b) Packing Other Stuff

i) Carry a Travel towel:

Travel Towel

a) Regular terry towels are heavy and bulky: If your backpack is overflowing, the towel is usually the culprit.

b) Linen towels are a decent alternaitve: However, they don't absorb well, and take forever to dry.

c) Microfiber Travel Towels are light weight (<200 gm), compact, and will easily fit in your backpack.  

ii) Toiletries:

Carry toiletries in smaller bottles: Don't pack those big shampoo bottles. Transfer the stuff you need to smaller toiletry bottles and pack them. Good quality silicone ones work best.

Use a small toiletry bag: Living out of a backpack is not easy unless you have everything organized properly. Use a small toiletry bag to carry just the basics.

Buy toiletries on the road: You can buy basic stuff such as tooth brush, tooth paste etc at your destination. Especially true if you are living in a city center.

iv) Carry a foldable backpack:

Your regular backpack is not a daypack: It is to big and heavy. Besides, you don't wanna spoil it by taking it on day-trips.

Just carry a foldable backpack: It is light weight and compact. Just pack it in your regular backpack, unflod it and use it for day trips, and fold and pack when done.

Also, Worst case scenario, you bags are weighed at the boarding gate and its too heavy, and needs to be moved to the luggage hold. What do you do with your valuables?

Easy, just carry them in your foldable backpack. 

v) Shoes

Wear a pair that can be used for all purposes: Something that is light weight, durable enough for light treks, and preferable water proof. This one shoe should serve you for the entire trip. Don't pack this one. Wear it.

Pack a flip flop or sandals: you are gonna need this one for the beach, for when you step out of the hotel room etc.

v) Carry a foldable water bottle:

This one will save you a lot of space. Empty it before security check and fill it up later. It is very useful on day trips too.

Smooth Travels!
Team BorderTribe

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