Minimalist travel is an art. It takes a lot of time and practice to master it, and there are many variants. In this context, one of the primary challenges is to find your essentials. Once determined, those essentials will form the basis of your minimalist packing list, creating a set of core items that work on any journey. On this basis, here is my minimalist world traveler kit.
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Whether you want to travel full-time or go on a two-week adventure, minimalist travel essentials will simplify the journey.
I’ve been on the road more or less continually for the last three years and never carry more than two carry-on backpacks. The two bags fit all of my camera gear, electronics, clothes, and toiletries.
Some sacrifices are necessary, but you don’t have to travel ultralight to benefit from minimalist travel principles.
My 10 minimalist travel essentials – how to travel the world full-time
The following components make up my minimalist packing list. They work in every environment and score points with their versatility and durability.
1. Two backpacks
First and foremost, a minimalist world traveler kit includes backpacks.
I don’t particularly rate those huge 80L backpacks that many first-time backpackers use. They are cumbersome, impractical, and highly conspicuous. In my 1,000 plus days on the road, I’ve never used a big bulky backpack.
They are also outdated. In 2006, there weren’t many alternatives, but today, hundreds of forward-thinking companies produce smaller, more low-key backpacks that are much better-suited to long-term travel.
I used to travel with an 80L wheeled duffle bag, but I have downsized to the two PacSafes for more comfort and public transport suitability.
I nowadays use the Vibe as a carry-on, mainly for camera gear, and the VentureSafe as my primary luggage. Both are discrete, stylish, and extremely durable. They can handle deserts, tropical rainforests, and snowy treks. They also have world-leading safety features, making them excellent companions for rougher cities.
All in all, PacSafe offers ideal backpacks for minimalist travelers – creating a functional base for your minimalist world traveler kit.
2. A foldable day-pack (and a dry bag)
Inside my two PacSafe bags, I keep a foldable day-pack and a dry bag for beach expeditions.
One of the secrets of minimalist travel is to combine various pieces of luggage and gear into one another. That’s where foldable day-packs come into play.
The EagleCreek 25L is well-made and sturdy, but most importantly, it folds into a miniature piece that you can easily store in your main backpack.
As such, it works perfectly for day trips and short excursions.
For water sports and beach trips, I also pack a 10L EarthPak dry bag. It doesn’t take up too much space and becomes a life-saving item when you’re carrying expensive electronics on a Southeast Asian island-hopping barge.
3. A water bottle
When it comes to minimalist travel essentials, a reusable water bottle is an unmissable component.
A while ago, I invested in a GRAYL self-cleaning water bottle, and I have not been disappointed. Usable both in cities and in the wild, the GRAYL purifies water and also keeps your beverage hot or cold.
I stopped buying plastic bottles a long time ago, and the GRAYL has been a driving force in regard.
4. Packing cubes
Packing cubes are excellent for minimalist travelers thanks to their versatility and organizational benefits.
By dividing your luggage into different sections, you always know where everything is. As such, they will save you valuable time and also simplify the task of organizing your luggage.
5. A travel wallet with important documents
To keep your passport, credit cards, flight tickets, and other documents safe, use an RFID-proof travel wallet.
Akin to backpacks, PacSafe is my go-to brand for travel wallets. Their V200 has a sleek minimalist look, high-quality materials, and perfect divisions for all your necessary documents.
6. Two pairs of shoes
Many first-time globetrotters ask themselves how many pairs of shoes, pants, and other essential clothing items they need.
Everyone has different travel priorities, but I found that packing two pairs of shoes works well for long-term minimalist travel.
I take one pair of rugged outdoor shoes and one pair of white sneakers. I use the former in nature settings and the latter in urban environments.
When it comes to minimalist travel footwear, the crucial point is versatility. Choose shoes that are discrete and inconspicuous.
If you travel over long stretches, your shoes will need to suit different occasions. White sneakers, as an example, work both in a casual setting and a semi-formal atmosphere.
Better still, they can be paired with almost anything – from jeans to chinos and suit trousers.
All-terrain shoes, on the other hand, should also be usable in a casual environment. Don’t take mountaineering or trekking shoes if you only spend two days of your two-month trip in the mountains. You can always borrow special-purpose shoes in particular situations, but your primary footwear should focus on multi-purpose items.
7. A foldable rain jacket
No matter where you go, a foldable rain jacket is an indispensable piece on your minimalist packing list.
Choose your rain jacket according to two criteria:
- it shouldn’t take up much space in your luggage. As such, it should fold into a small piece; and
- it should be a high-quality, rain-persistent item.
8. Clothes for 10 days
There is an eternal debate among minimalist travelers on how much clothing you need to travel the world.
A straightforward answer doesn’t exist, but in my experience, the ideal solution is to take clothes for ten days. You could find yourself without a washer for a week, which is why you need some spare items.
Take discrete colors and always pack outfits, not individual items. As an example, don’t pack college t-shirts with big logos that make you stand out everywhere. In that same vein, don’t take brightly-colored items that only fit one specific color combination.
Choose your clothes with adaptability in mind, and only take pieces that go with different outfits.
9. Lightweight toiletries
Toiletries are part of my minimalist travel essentials, but I’ve scaled down a lot over the years.
The simple truth is that you can find almost anything at your destination. That’s why there is no point in filling your luggage with easily replaceable toiletries.
Limit your toiletries to essential products, and buy the rest on the road.
10. Versatile travel electronics
Finally, any modern minimalist travel kit will include a wide variety of electronics.
As a photographer, around 30 percent of my luggage contains camera gear. I travel with two mirrorless bodies, three lenses, a Gorillapod, memory cards, etc.
Aside from camera gear, the following are some of my most vital travel electronics:
- a laptop: I work online, so my Macbook Pro is my most prized possession;
- a travel adapter: you may need it to cater to different plugs around the world. I use an EPICKA Universal Travel Adapter;
- an unlocked smartphone: keep in mind that you may need to change SIM cards;
- a power bank: I use the Ravpower PD Powerbank;
- noise-canceling headphones: a critical item on long-haul flights. I use the Bose Soundlink;
- Portable Bluetooth speakers to listen to your music in your hotel room or Airbnb. My favorite small speakers are the Anker Soundcore Mini; and
- external hard drives: if you work as a creator, those hard drives are lifesavers. I use a LaCie 4Tb Rugged HD. I usually carry a few smaller spares.
You may need other electronics depending on your travel style, but those are the ones that secure both peace of mind and productivity on the road.
Useful links on 10 Minimalist Travel Essentials – a Minimalist World Traveler Kit
- more in the category “Design”
- more under the topic “Travel”
- read My 10 Principles of Minimalist Traveling
- read The Best Minimalist Purchases to Simplify Your Life
Don’t miss a beat!
Jack Krier is a writer, photographer, and entrepreneur. On Minimalist Focus, he shares his ideas on minimalism and personal growth, helping thousands of readers improve their lives by focusing on the essentials.