Easy to grasp yet hard to define, you know what minimalism means, yet probably wouldn’t know how it relates to travel. A travel experience is never the same twice and can be haphazard, which makes it hard to plan for. But minimalism is the most straightforward way to maximize any travel experience and minimize hassle. Switching your mentality off “things” means you’ll have more mental space to acquire new feelings and experiences. Once I had accepted I had become my own version of nomad, I realized that I’d developed some new appreciations on minimalist travel.
Simplicity in Versatility
Before my nomadic venturing began, I had a real life modern nomad come to stay with me. She was a friend, but had been moving around the world for the last 4 years. It was most interesting to me that despite being an accessory designer her accessories were absolutely scarce, and she would only carry one if it could serve various purposes. I saw her use a cotton scarf as a cover up at the beach, picnic blanket, bag for oranges and a turban in a single afternoon. I realized I have one of each for these things. It seems to be normal to have a different item fit different purposes, but adding versatility to a single-use item makes life a lot simpler.
75% of space in the average suitcase is taken by clothes. Knowing they dominate your luggage, natural fibers offer the best compactness. They pack down tightly, especially silk and lightweight cottons. Most genuine animal fibers are anti-microbial and naturally eliminate scents without washing, meaning a wool jacket that went for a curry meal can be aired out. Merino wool and alpaca create temperature regulation as well as eliminating bacteria, unlike highly marketed synthetic wicking fabrics. It’s no coincidence that linen, made of flax, has typically accompanied the journeyer as it acquires the character of the traveler.
Custom Your House
Living as a nomad is as expansive as it sounds, but it’s also living life like a turtle. You carry your home with you, except in a suitcase and not a shell. The interesting detail of a nomad’s house is in the possibility for many compartments. Each enclosure is like rooms in a house, each holding a different purpose – sleeping, eating, work, art, etc . Soft cloth bags are the simplest for creating walls in the house. Winter clothes can go in a drawstring bag when flying to a summer location, and toiletry bags have potential for infinitely smaller pouches. These movable compartments allow for easy access and maintain order, especially when you rush to search for that one item that turns everything upside down in a moment. Avoid buying and reuse cotton shoe or hat bags. When not in use take them to do groceries, minimizing waste as you move.
Save the Space
It’s tempting to acquire new “things” when traveling. Knowing I have a weakness for local crafts I don’t have space for, I hold back from buying or accepting unless I know I can gift to someone (soon) or it’s extremely practical. The other space eliminator is letting what you already have accumulate instead of circulate. Medicines and hand wipes may be of use in the future, but if your not using it now it’s probably just more baggage. Giving away to others what isn’t in rotation leaves you a lot lighter. And if you find you need certain thing you gave away, remember the nomadic rule of reciprocity means other travelers are always ready to share as well.
Traveling as Gift-Giving
As you roam the world, you will find spontaneous gatherings occurring with old and new friends. Minimal gift giving is an art in itself. It allows for focus on the details and the act of thanking when you appreciate time shared. I love and collect aromatic herbs and other dried plants, so I bundle palo santo sticks, essential oils and loose-leaf herb teas to travel with me. They are lightweight, perfume the luggage and usually find the right home. And it gives a warm feeling to know that with a simple note it will brighten a friend’s face with memory.