Inside: Here you’ll learn why learning to travel like a minimalist allows us to enjoy and experience more while we travel.
Living in the great state of Michigan comes with a down side. While we put our best face forward during the summer with our incredible lakes, gorgeous hiking trails and delicious craft beer, we’ve got a skeleton in the closet.
Her name is winter.
She sneaks in under the radar with the Christmas trees, hot chocolate and sugar cookies. The next thing you know she thinks she owns the place.
It’s that time of year again when the weather just can’t make up it’s mind and we all want to jump ship. Many Michiganders, at this very moment, are searching flight options and scrolling through Groupon for a deal, any deal, that will take us somewhere warmer.
My skin tone rivals that of Edward Cullen, and my waist line needs to know the responsibility of wearing something other than leggings and sweaters. Mostly, I just need a break from these ever loving snow days.
Honestly, travel always pulls at my heart strings. Hello, my name is Rachelle and I’m a wanderlust-ahololic.
Unfortunately, travel really drains my husband. For some reason a 12 hour car trip with three kids under eight isn’t energizing to him? I’ve had to perfect some pretty mad vacation negotiating skills over the years.
But since minimalism has simplified so many areas of our lives, we started to wonder how it could impact the way we travel.
Could a vacation actually be just that? Is it possible to come back home and not feel like we need a vacation from our vacation? Is there an aspect of “vacationing” we could eliminate or simplify in order to intentionally promote the parts that matter most to us?
8 Days, 3 countries, 1 Backpack Each
Last fall, we decided to go all in and see just how much much minimalism could impact the way we travel. We packed lightly…I’m talking super lightly. We each had just one ordinary backpack filled with tightly rolled clothes, the essentials and a good book.
Eight days, three countries. Just me, my husband and our backpacks.
We traveled along the Mediterranean from Nice, France through Monaco and on to Cinque Terre, Italy and ended our trip in Florence, Italy. It felt like a dream.
We strolled for hours in Nice,
guzzling sipping local Rose and eating cheese, each time, like it was our last meal. We read, swam, talked, dreamed and debated as we sat on rented beach chairs in the picturesque hidden cove of Eden Plage Mala. One day we got lost in the steep streets of Monte Carlo and two days later hiked our way from Monterrosso to Vernazza in Italy as the sun set on a hot, cloudless evening.
The very next day we ran from train to restaurants, in the rain, as we ate our way through each of the towns of Cinque Terre. This dream trip concluded with us enjoying wine by the carafe and people watched for hours next to the Duomo in Florence.
We traveled lighter than ever before which allowed us have experiences unlike ever before.
During our little experiment I realized something important:
I had actually always dressed like a minimalist on vacation, but packed as if I was never coming home again!
Sometimes we confuse more options with greater freedom, assuming all of those choices will allow us to better enjoy our vacations. However, it’s actually quite the opposite.
6 Reasons to Travel Like a Minimalist
1. LESS STRESS PACKING
Looking back at the way I used to travel, it seemed I always left something at home. There was always a sweatshirt, pair of shoes, or something that I wished I had brought with me. It left me anxious to pack and anxious to leave. I’d be thinking, “What is it that I am forgetting this time?”
That’s no longer the case. The less I take, the more I learn how fine I am with less! My packing-induced worry was rooted in entitlement. God forbid I not have everything I could possibly want.
Traveling with less has proven that I will be just fine with the essentials. If I actually do forget something, it’s an opportunity to improvise. I’m grateful for the opportunity to travel. The “stuff” is just gravy.
2. AIRPORT EASE
You won’t have to worry about waiting in line to check baggage or worry about weight restrictions. Security lines can still be temperamental, but I’m working on my TSA Pre-Check status to assist with that.
Apparently I have been living under a rock, but I’ve learned you can go through a TSA Pre-Check Screening and glide through a VIP security line in minutes. Mind blown! You want my finger prints? A blood sample? My first born? Here! Just don’t make me wait in an endless security line!
(Update: I’ve been approved for TSA Pre-Check and it is glorious. And it didn’t even cost me my first born.)
3. NO LOST LUGGAGE
This used to be the story of my life when it came to air travel! I don’t know what it is about me, but my luggage always used to get lost.
A while back Paul and I took a vacation to Hawaii and you guessed it. Luggage lost. However, it didn’t just get delayed till later that same day. No, it somehow arrived so late that this small island airport had closed it’s doors for the day. And if I recall correctly, it was closed the next day as well. Apparently you can do that in Hawaii. This was August, in Maui and I had worn jeans on the plane.
My travel time is precious to me. I want to soak up every minute of it. I’d rather bring fewer articles of clothing than run the risk of having to stop in a mini-mart for another pair of tourist shorts with the word “MAUI” screen printed on the butt again.
Traveling with just a carry on, regardless of the length of your trip, prevents those kind of downer delays.
Once you land, you exit your plane, cruise past the crowd of people huddled around baggage claim waiting to see if their luggage made it or not, and start enjoying your trip immediately.
Oh, and we get to be the first in line at the car rental center! Second only to the people that have been doing this traveling lightly thing a lot longer than us.
4. COST SAVINGS
Many airlines took full advantage of the hike in gas prices a few years back and started charging to check even one bag. Funny how they never stopped once gas prices came back down. (Sure, there is probably more to it than that, but it’s how I recall it.) Regardless, I’ve found a way around it.
Traveling lightly saves me money! I don’t have to pay those checked baggage fees. What would you do with an additional $25+ on your vacation? Now, in some parts of the world, that’s merely the cost of one pina coloda. But hey, that’s still one pina colada!
5. VACATION FROM DECISIONS
With only a backpack we are limited to what we can bring, and our reward is fewer decisions.
Our daily lives are packed with decisions, both big and little. Setting yourself up to be able to make fewer decisions will lead to a more relaxing vacation experience. I only bring what I need so I’m dressed and out enjoying myself in no time…even if it’s simply on my way to sit by the pool all day.
6. QUENCHES A THIRST FOR ADVENTURE
When adventure is what we’re after, packing lightly offers it up before we even leave our homes. Packing lightly feels like an adventure, a challenge, an opportunity to dare greatly. How little can I pack? How free from material possessions can I get? I know, I’m weird, but I find it to be yet another opportunity for self-discovery.
This little “how-low-can-we-go” experiment paid off big time. I’m trying to convince Paul that we can ditch our large suitcases forever. However, he’s a little less impulsive than I am if you haven’t gathered that by now.
While other people were dragging, lifting and shoving their extra large suitcases up and down the crowded European train station stairs, we were sipping our espresso and devouring one last French croissant as we meandered to our train.
This trip was a game changer.
It was an exciting and unique vacation that one might even call a “once in a lifetime” kind of trip. But I don’t roll that way. I very much intend to do it again. Maybe we will stay even longer next time. Though my babysitting In-laws may have a thing or two to say about that.
Don’t Miss These Travel Related Posts:
8 Easy Steps to Pack Like a Minimalist
How to Pack a Capsule Wardrobe
The Perfect Minimalist Backpack For Simplifying Travel
8 Easy Tips to Simplify Traveling With Kids
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I loved this piece, Rachelle! Great work. The pictures really added to the magic of the story. You’ve inspired me… now I just have to convince my wife 🙂
Thanks so much John! Promise to take her to the French Riviera 😉 That should do it.
Jon and I are going to Italy for your 10 year anniversary in 2020! I am soooo intrigued by this! He would be on board. But I’ll be the one grieving the lack of options, likely until I actually experience it! Challenge accepted!
Italy!!! Ah! That’s going to be amazing! I’ve done Europe with a giant roller bag as well and this way was so much better. You can do it!
Great post! I love your writing style and your trip looks amazing. I feel the same way, the more I travel the more I feel the same as you. Every time I’m lugging around too much stuff I regret it immediately. Thanks for sharing 🙂
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