The standard minimalist travel guide motto is to “pack light and travel smart”. This is simple, logical and not boring like it may sound. Following this minimalist travel guide will free up time, space and energy for you to focus on making the most out of your trip.
Through learning from my own mistakes and from other travellers, I have my own set of rules to live and to travel by in order to make the most out of each and every day.
Do the Research
Look up the place you’re travelling to. Find out about the history, the culture, the food, the weather, the people and what there is to see and do in the area. This will help you in just about every aspect of the trip. You will know what to pack. You can make a list of the things you must do. Doing the research will mean you don’t have to waste a second once you arrive.
Create a New Comfort Zone
You don’t travel to a new part of the world, only to remain in your same old, boring comfort zone. Create a new comfort zone by exploring new places, eating new, exotic food and meeting new people you may have never met, otherwise. Say “yes” to adventures. Live life to the fullest. Go and see the world, learn more about it and about yourself! When an opportunity presents itself, countdown from three and say “f**k it” and go for it!
Be Open to New Cultures and Experiences
Travel presents us with an opportunity to expand our knowledge of the world and the different people and cultures that inhabit it.
Don’t contribute to the already negative stereotypes many countries have of us, Western tourists!
Use travel as a tool to make a difference in the world; to have a positive impact on the people you meet and allow yourself to learn and grow.
Don’t be the loud, obnoxious traveller that is ignorant of other cultures and values.
Become a “Frequent Flyer”
By joining a frequent flyer program, you’ll rack up miles every time you fly – which will presumably be a lot if you’re a traveller. These miles work pretty much like money and you’ll be able to use them to get discounts, perks and even free flights in the future!
I don’t expect you to go all “Tim Ferriss” with languages and learn to become fluent in six months. However, it is super useful – when travelling – to know a few basic phrases and words. Locals will also really appreciate this and will help improve the image us English-speakers have of being incredibly lazy when it comes to learning languages.
Here’s a video of Tim Ferriss teaching you how to learn a language quicker…
Stay in Hostels
Staying in hostels is – hands down – the best way to meet other travellers. This can be a life-saver if you’re travelling solo and haven’t met anyone yet (it can help you overcome your fear of meeting new people). What’s more is that hostels are usually very cheap so by using this form of accommodation, you can actually prolong your trip even more.
Live like a Local
While hostels are awesome, and it can be nice to spend the occasional night in a five-star hotel, I often find that the best – and most authentic – travelling experiences come from living like a local and properly immersing myself in the culture. To do this – accommodation wise – I would advise using sites like Couchsurfing. This allows you to stay with a local completely free of charge. Sometimes your host will want to take you out and show you the local area too! So, free accommodation, a free tour guide and a brilliant way to build your travel network! Airbnb could be another option if you’re wanting a more culturally authentic experience.
Be Culinarily Adventurous
In other words, try new food. Food is one of the main aspects of new cultures so immerse yourself and try some of the local goodies. I like to brag about this a lot, but in case you didn’t know, I ate a scorpion in Thailand. The key is to just say “yes”!
Expect Your Plans to Change
This is one of the more exciting aspects of travel. You may discover a new place or event or meet some new people you want to travel with for a while. The list is truly endless and if you are prepared for the unexpected, it will make your trip even more exciting. Go with the flow. Don’t rigidly stick to your guide or itinerary. This is how you end up missing out on things.
Having been guilty of this in the past (I think we all have), take it from me that you never need everything you think you need for a trip. In fact, most of the time, you will be able to live out of a backpack (here’s how). The key is to be brutally honest with yourself during the packing stages. If it isn’t essential, don’t bring it. You’ll thank yourself later, as you’re free from the excess weight and can explore more easily. If you need help, try following these rules:
- Don’t pack duplicate items. If you’re travelling with someone, share toiletries with them, for example.
- Don’t pack “what if items”. If you find yourself saying “I might need this if…” do not pack it. Pack only the essentials.
- Don’t pack anything that you can buy for very cheap if you end up needing it. It helps to budget (more on that next) for little expenses like this.
One of the more boring parts of the travel experience, but still essential nonetheless. Budgeting will enable you to maximise the length of your trip. Also, be sure to budget for unexpected expenses, like maybe deciding to head to another country if you meet some friends during your trip. Budgeting will allow you to just go with the flow.
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Explore this new city without a map or guide. Find places yourself. You have no idea what you might stumble upon.
“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J.R.R Tolkien
If you’re all in with becoming a minimalist traveller, why not downgrade your everyday phone too?
Getting a cheap phone and travel SIM is very easy now and this will make life much simpler for you when it comes to contacting friends or accommodation hosts etc.
Take the Tortoise Approach
This basically means to “slow down” and to travel with everything you need on your back. Travel is not a race. You don’t get points for returning home before another person. The only way to “win” at travelling is through your experiences and the memories you make and the people you meet. Take time to get to know a place.
Slow to a Halt
There’s no rule that says you can’t stay somewhere for longer than expected. If you find somewhere you really like, why not live there for a few months. If you follow all of the other rules, this will be entirely possible!
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Get Travel Insurance
I’ve gone over this before, but travelling without insurance is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. You don’t want to become one of the horror stories out there that travel bloggers use to convince people to get travel insurance!
Seek Out Lesser-Known Gems
I’m not talking about hunting for crystals (unless you’re into that). There are certain places that just get flooded with tourists like Phuket in Thailand, for example. Make an effort to get off the beaten path and find places you never knew existed before. This will make for one hell of an adventure and will create a more unique, memorable experience.
Party On Dude!
Experience the nightlife in other cultures. It can be a great way of meeting new people and learning some of the local drinking traditions.
Don’t Judge Other Travellers
If others want to travel with three suitcases, that’s their choice. It doesn’t affect you.
Travel is a personal journey and everyone experiences it differently. Don’t look down on others for the way they travel or the principles they live by.
Appreciate the Moment
Pictures are an amazing souvenir to have as they serve as a constant reminder of your adventures and the memories you made. That being said, put the camera down; put your phone away and just appreciate the moment. Take everything in. Don’t get caught up in taking the ultimate picture, writing the ultimate tweet or Facebook post. Just take in the moment and appreciate that you are among a privileged few to live this life of wanderlust.
There are no set rules for how to travel. Everyone makes their own. You’ll travel; you’ll make mistakes and you’ll learn from them along the way. Over time, you will develop your own set of travel rules. If you don’t give yourself the chance to make mistakes, you’re robbing yourself of the chance to learn and grow. So, take the risk. None of this can happen until you decide to go out and make it happen.
Remember that travel is a privilege that only a select few of us will experience. Make the most of this experience. Live by the minimalist travel guide!
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