Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Minimalist Trip Packing (Guest Post by John J. Serre)

Guest Blog by John J. Serre for Palms & Pints

Before you start packing your suitcase for you next trip, take a few seconds to read this:

Depending on how long you're staying at a place, you might not need to pack a suitcase at all. Here's my experience with being suitcase free:

A few friends of mine planned a recent trip to Miami. At the airport all of the guys were hauling these massive suitcases that had to be checked. As for me, I had a backpack. Not one of those epic round-the-world traveler's backpack, a small one you would use for school. I remember one of my buddies saying something along the lines of, "You just have a backpack? We're going for a week man..."

But did I have enough with just one backpack? Yeah... and I had enough room to bring back souvenirs for my family, too.

Mike asked me to uncover my "Secret" (Ha!) to minimalist travel for his blog. So here it is. Hopefully it inspires you on your next trip!

Myself & John (centre), plus two buddies in Miami Beach

1.  Make a checklist of all the things you'll need for the trip.

You can make a checklist here: http://www.travelschecklist.com. But come on, just use the good ol' pen and pad. You don't really need technology for this part.

2.  Review your list, removing items that would not qualify as "bare necessities".

Not everything is necessary. You don't need 15 T-Shirts for a week long trip. You don't need to bring your tuxedo, unless you're going to some fancy event. Don't bring sunscreen, buy it at your destination. If you can, buy everything at your destination. Pretty much the only thing you can't buy at your destination is your passport!

3.  Collect all of your remaining items into one single location (like your bed).

From here you will be able to visualize the combined space needed to fit your "necessity" items and it may even encourage you to purge a few more off of the list.

4.  Pack each item in a way that will take up the least amount of room in a backpack.

Roll up your t-shirts.  Buy a clothes compress bag. If you can't fit a certain bulky item in your bag after trying it every which way (say like a 2nd or 3rd pair of shoes), leave it at home!  


Example of the type of backpack used for minimalist travel. 

Learn more about efficiently packing a backpack here:

Bonus, and somewhat relevant...  If you don't understand the concept of minimalism and it's benefits, you should learn more about it here:

http://zenhabits.net/a-guide-to-creating-a-minimalist-home/  (Basically all of the author's written material is insanely insightful. Get on it!)

Voila! Packing this way made it possible for me to have a single backpack for a week long vacation. To be honest, I think I could have traveled with much less.
Remember the benefits - You save both the cost (pricy airline fees) and time (waiting at a carousel) associated with checked baggage. Not to mention the freedom of exploring your new destination comfortably without dragging a suitcase through the Florida sun or across the bumpy Prague cobblestone. 

...And if you still doubt that a backpack isn't enough for a week, consider this story:

I was listening to a minimalist podcast, and they talked about someone that traveled in a very unique way...

This guy basically said "screw it" to, not only the suitcase, but the backpack too. Can you believe he traveled with a single shirt, shorts, underwear, pair of socks and shoes for the entirety of a week long trip? They said the material of his clothing was easy to wash and dry. So every night before bed, he just washed them in the sink and hung them to dry. Everyday he had fresh clothes to wear! When I heard this, it blew my mind! I'm going to have to try this someday...


In addition to being a minimalist traveler & P&P contributor, John is a musician/songwriter. Check him out on Twitter @johnjserre.