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Minimalist Travel - Zen and the Art of Travelling Light

What is the smallest amount equipment you've personally travelled with - what did you miss? what were the advantages? and roughly - how much did your bag weigh?
12 years ago, March 6th 2008 No: 1 Msg: #29314  
B Posts: 5,195
Back 2002 when I was a newbie backpacker, I met briefly a French guy in Guatemala who still inspires me to this day.

He travelled with:

A sarong
2 x shorts
2 x tshirts
2 x underwear
1 x penknife/corkscrew
1 x tiny portable speakers
1 x cassette player, and a couple of tapes.
1 x flip flops/thongs
Passport, credit cards, a few other small documents.
Soap, toothpaste, brush, deodorant.

And that was it. Nothing more...

When it came time to move on - he wrapped up whatever he wasn't wearing in the sarong - and carried that - tying the ends together to make a bag. The sarong doubled as a sheet, towel and mat. He washed one set of his clothes everyday in the shower with soap and let them dry while wearing the other set.

I had way too much stuff and was envious of this style of travel - though at times he must have got cold.

Has anyone travelled for more than a week or so with less than this?

What is the minimum you've personally travelled with? Reply to this

12 years ago, March 7th 2008 No: 2 Msg: #29338  
B Posts: 11.5K
Ha! That list sounds more like an overnight load for me, rather than long term travel ;-)

Depending on where I was going (and at what time of year) I could manage with a carry-on size bag for a week. Would have to have my ipod, book and camera though.

Reply to this

12 years ago, March 7th 2008 No: 3 Msg: #29373  
B Posts: 580
When I was a wee lad on my first big trip back in 97, I travelled to Bali with all the usual backpacker trappings...After a week I became restless and wanted to branch out a bit...I left my big backpack, and most of my cash with the hostel I was staying, and set off for Lombok with just a day pack...

I'd planned to stay two weeks in Indonesia. But those were revolutionary times and the pound just seemed to go a long way...I just continued to island hop around the archipelago fuelled by the spirit of adventure.

Three and a half months later I returned and was glad to see the hostel still had my stuff and more importantly my cash (stuffed in some socks) - lubricating my first few months in Australia, which had ultimately been the aim of my trip.

After all that, Australia could never live up to the whimsical Indonesian adventure, which has stayed in my blood to this day.

I can't remember what I had in that day pack, but it couldn't have amounted to much.

Incidentally, on the trip I met a Swedish lad on a ferry who would rip out the pages of his books, as he read them, in order to cut down on weight!!

Most of my bulk nowadays is taken up by books (the pages intact!). I went through a rather addictive faze for a few years where I used to travel with upwards of fifteen books which I used to chop and change en route.

Besides the fact that you can fit your entire CD collection on an iPod that weighs less than a toilet roll, I honestly think the advent of technology has paradoxically made us feel we need to pack a lot more stuff than we used to...

Isn't part of travelling letting go off all that stuff, if for only the duration of our adventures?

My old professor at Liverpool University, Rogan Taylor travelled around India in the sixties for three years with two horses and a dog!!!

Reply to this

12 years ago, March 7th 2008 No: 4 Msg: #29374  
I have no idea how he could survive with so little!!! Unless it's short term travel and you can predict the weather every step of the way I don't see how you can live with just two sets of clothes!

I think the least I travelled with was when I went to India for three weeks in 2006. I took one pair of trekking sandals, one flipflops, three salwar kameez, one pair of trousers and a long sleeved top, a few sets of underwear, one light fleece, passport, money and documents, personal CD player, malaria tablets, toothbrush and paste, shampoo and conditioner, camera, diary, Lonely Planet and presents for the friends I was staying with.
That's about it... needless to say I came home with more than that!! Reply to this

12 years ago, March 9th 2008 No: 5 Msg: #29502  
I spent 5 months in India with what was basically a school-bag, after I posted home my big ruck-sack from Pakistan, with my tent, stove, sleeping-bag, shoes, and a lot more in it.

I was left with 1 pair trousers, 2 pair 3/4 length shorts, 4 t-shirts, some underwear (but no socks), 1 fleece, 1 silk sleeping-sheet, 1 i-pod, 1 camera, 1 pair sandals, 2 books (including guide book), and whatever was in my money belt. Later I was also able to fit in a hammock I got made for me.

It was great, travelling light is a real liberation. It all depends on where you're going - in tropical places like Indonesia and India you can get away with almost nothing. If you wanna go trekking or travelling in cooler places, then obviously you need a lot of extra stuff. Reply to this

12 years ago, March 9th 2008 No: 6 Msg: #29506  
I met a guy in Bolivia back in 2003 who was only traveling with his toiletries... That was all he had... He had been doing that for half a year already, after his backpack was stolen in Central America somewhere... He never bothered buying a new one... He wore the same clothes for a couple of days, than went to the local market and bought a new set... That's how he traveled... As clothes were so cheap, he didn't see the need of carrying a backpack full of clothes... Reply to this

12 years ago, March 9th 2008 No: 7 Msg: #29507  
The first time I travelled across Africa I didn't carry any luggage at all. I used to wear one of those "adventures" trousers with plenty of pockets in it and there I carried all my belongings: toothbrush, toothpast, passport, several hundred euros (inside the belt), a compact camera, a little notebook with a pen and 1 extra pair of underwear. Everynight I had to wash evrything and let it dry to wear it again the next day. It was great, everyone I met was very keen in helping.

More recently I went to Africa again for several months carrying slightly more, just a daypack. Here it is: Reply to this

12 years ago, March 9th 2008 No: 8 Msg: #29508  
B Posts: 580
I travelled with a Dutch guy in Iran who had one set of clothes which he was obviously forced to wear everyday.

But the best part of the story is when he came to wash them... he used to WEAR them in the shower, then hang them up over night to dry!!! Reply to this

12 years ago, March 9th 2008 No: 9 Msg: #29513  
Another thing - for Morocco last year, I got a few CD books from the library, and put them on the ipod. Saves a lot of space, and useful for journeys where you can view the scenery and listen to your book at the same time. Reply to this

12 years ago, March 10th 2008 No: 10 Msg: #29566  
B Posts: 5,195
> when he came to wash them... he used to WEAR them in the shower, then hang them up over night to dry!!!

I had a friend who did the same at university 😉 Reply to this

12 years ago, March 11th 2008 No: 11 Msg: #29650  
I always travel with less than 10 KG. I usually have 2 sets of clothes with me. I wear one while the other is being washed. Those clothes are generally enough because I take ones that are nice enough to go out at night in. My bag is usually around the size of the day packs that people have when they travel. I have soap, shampoo, suncream.... too . Also a few books in English and a couple of pens. And I wear a moneybelt with passport, money etc in it. The longest I travelled with this much stuff was 3 months.

What I like about having this much stuff is that it is easy to carry around when I cant find anyplace or any reasonably priced place to leave it. Also it is easy to go in anywhere or on any bus etc because my stuff is easy to shove under the seat in from of me or under a cafe table. Before the liquids on flights restrictions it was very convenient to not have to check in my bag and risk it being lost or having to wait for it at the other end.

I often miss real coffee when I travel in some places. I think I will start taking it with me in future. Always in the past I have decided not to thinking I am such a whimp if I cant do without coffee. I give up. I am going to take ground coffee, a cone and filters with me when I am going someplace where I expect there to be no coffee.
The other thing I miss are baths but cant take one of those with me.

Reply to this

12 years ago, March 15th 2008 No: 12 Msg: #29979  
Unless you stick to warm places around the equator, like SE Asia, I find it really hard to keep a small bag, especially the further I get into my trip. For a while I was going around with a really light bag but slowly I've accumulated a collection of warm clothes (as an Australian I tend to fair badly in the cold unless I'm wearing an entire wardrobe), a few too many shirts, a bunch of heavy souvenirs, and a ridiculous amount of junk that adds up.

I've gotten so lazy that I haven't bothered to post any of it home. If I did that I'd be able to halve my pack, but then, that would give me a great excuse to fill it back up again; a force which I simply can't seem to stop. I also like to have some luxuries though, a light pack is nice but so is shampoo, a good book, and a nice shirt to wear out.

Years ago I met a pair of travellers in Malaysia who had been travelling for almost a year with only one day pack between them. They even shared the same toothbrush! Reply to this

12 years ago, March 17th 2008 No: 13 Msg: #30061  
B Posts: 61
I travelled through Indo for 5 weeks with barely anything, 2 sarong, 1 trouser, 1 shorts, 3 tops, 2 bikinis, 1 skirt, toiletries and the shoes on my feet. Defintely the best way to go....my first trip I took 20kg+! never again! Reply to this

11 years ago, June 16th 2009 No: 14 Msg: #76487  
When going to warm places I travel with: 1 trousers, 1 belt with pouch, 1 swimming trunks, 1 slippers, 1 short-sleeved shirt, 1 travel towel, 1 passport (with any tickets stapled in), 1 bulldog clip for money, 1 bulldog clip for cash, 1 space pen, 1 wash kit (size of a cigarette pack) and unfortunately a telephone due to family and work commitments. Reply to this

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