It has been an awesome couple of weeks during the How To Live Anywhere launch. Thank you for being a part of it! Let's switch gears from all the business focused articles for at least a day, huh?
Last year, I wrote an article on ZenHabits called The Beginner's Guide To Minimalist Travel. If you haven't already read it, go ahead and check it out after we're done here.
We're going to take minimalist travel to the next level.
As an ultra light traveler (ok, technically not) my goal is not only to pack as little as possible, but everything I pack should have multiple uses.
As an example, I use the Dr Bronner's soap I mentioned in The Beginner's Guide as body wash, face wash, toothpaste, and laundry detergent. I stopped washing my hair with hair products almost a year ago so I don't use it as shampoo, but it can also be used in place of your shampoo.
1) Use USB Rechargeable Electronics
If you're traveling it's a given that you're going to bring electronics with you. Especially if you're like me and you're working as you travel. I've got a laptop, an iPod, a digital camera, a Flip Video camera, and a small flashlight (torch).
But I've cut my chargers down to the bare minimum.
While my laptop is charging (or I'm working) I charge most of my electronics.
My iPod charges with a small iPod cable and not the big iPod charger and the batteries to my Flip and flashlight charge using a small USB AA/AAA battery charger.
You can buy a USB battery charger almost anywhere that sells rechargeable batteries. If you can't find it locally, Amazon has them.
Unfortunately, my digital camera has it's own proprietary charger, but thankfully it's very small.
2) Stick To One Credit Card and One ATM Card
The rationale for traveling with more (what I've heard from people I've met) seems to be "well, if something happens to one, I still have a back up."
On the surface that seems like a great argument, but it's completely unnecessary.
Let's pretend you fall into the unfortunate situation of getting mugged. If you get mugged all of your credit cards will probably be taken. If you lose your wallet the same holds true. Having a backup in either of these worst-case-scenarios will be utterly useless. (Unless you happen to keep your cards in different places.)
Instead, stick to one credit card. Either one that gets you the most points or cashback or one that doesn't charge international fees (my preference).
If you're in the U.S. get a Capital One credit card. They don't charge international fees so you never have to worry about being hit with the industry standard 3% fee for the "privelege" of using your card in another country.
Along with your no fee credit card, find a bank that offers no fee ATM withdrawals. Many online banks with corresponding stock trading accounts offer ATM cards that refund your ATM fees worldwide.
Additionally, sometimes banks in your home country will have an association with banks in other countries. For example, with my Bank of America ATM card I get fee free ATM withdrawals from any Westpac bank in Australia or New Zealand or Deutsche Bank here in Wroclaw, Poland. :)
Confession: I also travel with an Amex Platinum card so I have access to their benefits. Completely worthless card to actually use for transactions outside of the USA though.
3) Replace Your Shaving Cream or Foam With Shaving Oil
Shaving oil is a shaving cream/foam replacement that packs up much smaller than even travel sized shaving products. It's also good for both men and women.
Shaving oil is not the same as pre-shave oil. Pre-shave oil is a conditioning oil used before your shaving cream/foam. Shaving oil, on the other hand, is used in place of shaving cream/foam.
I personally use Pacific Shaving Oil and love it more than any other shaving product I've ever used. One tiny bottle is good for 50-100 shaves depending on how many drops of oil you need to use. I use 8-9 drops per shave.
Just as important as being a minimalist product, shaving oil provides a very smooth, close, shave. I have horribly sensitive skin and Pacific Shaving Oil is the only product I've ever used that keeps me from getting razor burn. (I think it's the only company I'm a fan of (err, I mean Like of, haha) on Facebook.)
4) Pack Your Own Towl
That's not a misspelling. I'm referring to the MSR Packtowl. It's a highly absorbent towel that packs up like a deck of cards. It may not be luxurious, but it's small, light, dries incredibly quickly, and gets the job done.
It's a must in the bag of any minimalist, ultra-light, traveler.
If you're staying in hotels this isn't relevant for you, of course. But the PackTowl is indispensible if you're camping, hosteling, or CouchSurfing.
5) Vapur-ize Your Water
I forgot to write about this in my updated packing list because I didn't use it in India or Thailand. Been using it daily here in Poland. Speaking of Thailand, on the streets all around Chiang Mai there are purified bottle refill stations for big 5 liter water bottles. It costs only 1-2 Baht (2-6 US pennies) for a refill. I do have video of the process and will post it some day. :) Tangent over ...
The Vapur anti-bottle, available through Vapur.us or Amazon ($7 more expensive on Amazon), is one of those products I can't believe I didn't come up with myself. Not only is it BPA-free, but it rolls up tiny.
Let me repeat that last part: the Vapur water bottle rolls up. It rolls up! Which means you can take a reusable water bottle with you anywhere.
You might be thinking "Doesn't buying a new water bottle go against what minimalism is all about?"
Minimalism isn't only about not buying stuff. It's about living with the essentials and not overconsuming.
If you regularly buy bottles of water you now have no excuse not to take a reusable bottle with you everywhere. The Vapur fits anywhere.
And if you already have a bulky reusable water bottle give it to a family member or friend.
Traveling with a 16oz (almost half liter) water bottle that folds or rolls up simply makes more sense than any other option.
I hereby declare you ready to travel the world with the bare minimum. The absolute essentials. When you have the best time of your life thank yourself for having the courage to be a minimalist.
I've had lots of new friends visiting here in the past few days. Is that you? Hi! I'm Karol (Carl not Carol). Thank you for stopping by. I write about fun things like traveling the world, minimalism, challenging authority and ourselves, and working from anywhere via a laptop. I don't know how many thing I own (I've never counted) but I live out of a 32L backpack and own 3 t-shirts. :) Welcome! I hope you stick around.