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Minimalism is somewhat of a buzzword right now. I choose to be a minimalist because I value experience over material goods. Selling my car and almost everything I own in 2015 pushed me into being a minimalist. Traveling with only a 55L backpack put things into perspective for me. Excessive clothing, jewelry, and house goods are fun to buy, but how much value do they really add to your life? 

By living a minimalist life and traveling as a minimalist, you can benefit the environment and your overall happiness. The weight of things can hold you back in life and on your backpacking trips. 

This blog includes 5 tips on being a minimalist backpacker + a quick minimalist packing list. Enjoy!

Minimalist Backpacker Tips

1. Wear Neutrals

I find myself wearing mostly black, white, and gray. Neutrals are easy to match. I promise no one will ever notice if you re-wear the same pieces over and over!

2. Love Your Natural Self

This one is hard sometimes. If you always curl or straighten your hair, make it a goal to wear your hair natural once or twice a week. If you are the type of person who always wears makeup, practice going to the grocery store with no makeup. Take baby steps, so by the time of your trip, you can leave your curling iron and eyeliner at home.

3. Zero Souvenirs 

The best souvenirs are pictures and experiences. Souvenirs weigh down your pack. If you want to buy a few souvenirs for yourself or your family, mail them home along your travels.

4. Less Showers + Laundry

Whoever brainwashed us into thinking we need to shower every day was probably selling us body wash or shampoo. Please know that showering every day is unnecessary. Travel with compact dry shampoo until your hair adapts to fewer showers. Also, forget the idea of "wear once and wash" when it comes to laundry. You can wear shirts and pants for weeks without washing them. If your clothes smell, you should wash them. If they don't, don't wash them.

5. Embrace a Minimalist Lifestyle

To be a minimalist traveler, I challenge you to live as a minimalist at home. We live a country obsessed with consumerism. Everything online and on social media is about selling something. Selling you a better life. When I was hitchhiking and couchsurfing through Mexico with almost nothing, I was happy. A happy that isn't bought or sold. Contentment and peace that is only found within.

Minimalist Packing List

A note on backpacks: I recommend going to REI or your local travel store and trying on packs. See which one feels comfortable for your body. I personally prefer a larger pack (50+10L pack) and do not mind checking my bag at the airport. For shorter trips (3 months or less), I recommend a smaller pack that can be checked. 

Clothes/Shoes:

  • 1 everyday pants (I wear athletic leggings for hiking and city travel)
  • 1 jeans 
  • 1 dress 
  • 2 pairs of socks (1 hiking, 1 athletic)
  • 1 bathing suit
  • 2 pairs of shoes (1 athletic, 1 sandal)
  • 4 pairs of underwear (wash in the shower with body soap)
  • 2 bras (1 athletic, 1 every day)
  • 1 sweater/jacket
  • 3 shirts (pick shirts that you love and wear all the time)

Toiletries:

  • Bar shampoo (ex: Lush)
  • Bar soap (for laundry + body, ex: Dr. Bronner's)
  • Makeup: 1 concealer/foundation with SPF, 1 mascara, 1 lipstick, 1 bronzer (or nothing!)
  • SPF lotion
  • Menstrual Cup (a great replacement for tampons/pads)
  • Wipes (for in between showers)
  • Anything else you use on a daily basis (toothbrush, razor, face wash, etc)

Admin:

  • Passport
  • Copies of your passport
  • Credit/Debit Cards
  • Proof of vaccinations
  • Driver's License

Electronics:

  • Phone (for pictures, video, communication)
  • Chargers
  • Headphones 

*If you are a digital nomad/blogger, a laptop and camera could be added to the list.

Misc:

  • Packing Cubes
  • Combination Locks (for hostels and locking up your backpack)
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Headlamp
  • 1 purse/fanny pack

Anything else you may need, you can buy as needed along your travels! Best of luck and cheers to living a life of experiences!

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Thanks for reading! My name is Courtney, "Courtney The Explorer". I've been living as a nomadic human for the past 5 years or so wandering mostly in Latin America because salsa dancing is life. I enjoy writing about embarrassing travel stories, rare vegan finds, and sex/relationships. My next adventure is teaching English in Busan, South Korea! If you have questions or would like to chat about traveling or life, let's connect! DM me on instagram: @courtneytheexplorer (link: instagram.com/courtneytheexplorer) or email: courtvondran@gmail.com AND check out my blog: courtneytheexplorer.com (link: courtneytheexplorer.com)!

Special thanks to WearMePro for allowing me to share my passion for travel!