Packing for Minimalist Travel

LIVING A MINIMALIST LIFE

With the amazing technology and soaring wifi speeds these days, it is entirely possible for freelancers to work a more productive and happy life from literally anywhere. Which is why I decided to leave my comfortable life in London for a more adventurous life on the road. One of the most challenging parts of making this happen was packing for the indefinite journey.

In case you didn’t know, minimalism is kind of a thing these days. Just as the digital nomad movement is making waves, so is minimalism.

People are catching on to the notion that material things don’t make us happy long term and we’re starting to see through the cracks of the consumer driven lifestyle we’ve been fed our entire lives. That, coupled with rising house prices mean that millennials are getting creative with how to live a more meaningful life.

I think it was sometime last year when a dear friend recommended I watch  ‘Minimalism. A documentary about the important things on Netflix. American duo Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus have jumped on the minimalism bandwagon and now totally own it. I’m a huge fan, I love the film, love the book, their podcast and their motto –  ‘Love people, use things. The opposite never works.’

They have both lived out the classic scenario of living the American Dream. Earning 6 figure salaries, living consumer driven lifestyles, owning expensive cars, houses, etc. They had it all, but ultimately, they were miserable! So, their story is an inspiring one that a lot of people can relate to. Including me!

When I was living in London, I felt trapped by my stuff! Although I didn’t have a 6-figure salary, I had all this furniture (which is currently residing in a shed!) and all this random stuff. Books, art, screens for printing, paints, clothes and shoes. I realised that all this stuff was keeping me stuck where I was, working in a job I didn’t like, living a lifestyle that didn’t make me happy. I went on with this for a while until I finally plucked up the courage to make a change. With a little help from my amazing shed loaning friends and accommodating family, here I am. I’m trying out a new lifestyle being a freelance, location independent traveller. Now, I’m like a turtle, carrying my life on my back, complete with a new motto…If you can’t carry it, lose it!

So, here’s my ‘Essential minimalist packing list’. Go forth and use it wisely nomads.

  1. Amazon Paperweight Kindle – goodbye books. This is a tough one for me as I love books but they just take up too much room and they are really heavy!
  2. Essential eBook reading list, I’d recommend:-
    Everything that remains, The Minimalists.
    The 4 Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferris (The digital nomad bible, check out the Tim Ferris podcast too).
    – Lonely Planet – the beauty of the e-book (any edition, I’m currently on Thailand).
    – Also check out sites like Goodreads for free e-books and Planet Ebook for free classic e-books.
  3. A good quality 70L backpack – You don’t want to go too big or too small, in my experience 70L is just right.
  4. A smaller backpack for day trips. Mine is from Status Anxiety and has a handy laptop case inside.
  5. MacBook Pro.
  6. External hard drive with at least 2TB Memory. (Always back-up!)
  7. Travel insurance – Check to make sure any policies you take cover your personal electronics, as well as your health! I ended up going with DU insurance as they were great value for money and offer unlimited medical and AUD$5,000 for luggage and personal effects.
  8. Notebook/sketchbook and pens – real paper is allowed!
  9. Waterproof Anorak (a MUST during monsoon season).
  10. Photocopies of all your important documents.
  11. Backup credit card/emergency cash.
  12. Personal safety alarm.
  13. A mini portable Bluetooth speaker  – I use a Bose but you can get super small ones that are just as good.
  14. Bikini/swimmers.
  15. Sarong – good for everything!
  16. Lightweight travel towel.
  17. Worldwide Adaptor.
  18. Clothes – this is a tricky one for me as I love my dresses! I have sacrificed on some more practical items (such as warm clothes/trainers) to fit in more dresses. I think I packed around 7 in the end!
  19. Yoga Clothes (if you love Yoga as much as I do). You can buy a mat when you arrive at your destination, although they are also really easy to take onboard as hand luggage.
  20. Flip flops/thongs whatever you want to call them. One pair of walking shoes (I have Converse) – say goodbye to high heels!
  21. Essential make-up and toiletries. Best to buy when you arrive at your destination but some must haves for me:- Natural sunscreen (I prefer one with natural ingredients but it isn’t always available everywhere you go).
    Fermented Pawpaw. Loved by Australians and amazing for everything including lip balm, dry skin and most importantly, mosquito bites. It takes the itch away almost immediately.
    – Coconut oil. You don’t need to pack it as you will find it in most places, but it’s always good to have for your hair and body. In India I even used it to stop some squeaky door hinges, it worked a treat!
    Rosehip oil or Moringa oil as a moisturiser for your face and neck. It’s anti-aging and a great alternative to cream moisturiser which can feel heavy in humid climates.
  22. A good camera. A mobile phone is great but for photography enthusiasts something more substantial is always better for special trips. My choice is the Canon Powershot – good for beginners.
  23. Travel clothes line.
  24. Padlocks for your backpack.
  25. A lighter – for incense and candles. My recent accommodation smelt a bit when I moved in so I needed to ‘de-smell’ it!
  26. Travel pillow for long haul flights, it’s totally worth lugging around just for some comfort when flying.
  27. Sleeping eye mask and earplugs!

I hope this list comes in handy for you. Safe travels, nomads.

Nicole is a freelance Graphic Designer and Illustrator.

She was born in Australia and has lived in London for over a decade, where she worked in some of London’s leading design agencies including Williams Murray Hamm and Bisqit. Before moving on to start her own creative company Paper Heart, where she focused on traditional forms of printing, predominately screen printing. 

Her love of travel has encouraged her to ditch the silk screens for the laptop screen and she now freelances from all over the world. She is currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand frequenting co-working spaces and cafés.

Nicole enjoys working on projects that she believes in and she loves collaborating with passionate and positive people who want to make a difference in this crazy world. You can follow Nicole’s adventures on her blog and on Instagram over at @chasing_waterfalls__

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