I’ve been giving into my wanderlust for most of my life, but it’s only been within the last few years that I’ve really become an advocate for minimalist principles while traveling the globe. Although it took sometime before they felt natural, my new, stripped down methods are beneficial in ways I’d not even have imagined before I experienced them. Coaching myself to take a “less is more” approach to travel was scary, but it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.Less Reliance on my Mobile DevicesThere was a time in my life that as soon as I landed in a new place, I’d make a beeline to the newest mobile phone shop and buy a SIM card that was compatible with whatever country I was in. However, that habit soon became costly and time consuming and it took away from time I should have been spending exploring my destination, not being fixated on my smartphone.Now, I only carry a phone that has enough minutes for purely emergency uses. I thought I’d really miss being able to make calls and texts with my regular frequency but have found that breaking my dependence on my mobile phone as much has forced me to stay focused on the present moment and truly relish it.No Surprise Overweight Baggage Fees at the AirportI always thought I packed my suitcases carefully and only brought the things I truly needed, but it seemed like every time I got up to the baggage counter and had my bags weighed, I was always hit with an unexpected baggage fee and an embarrassingly garish tag that said “heavy” in block letters. So much for traveling light!A short while ago, I finally grew tired of that happening consistently and became genuinely committed to only bringing the things I absolutely needed. I learned how to create multiple outfits by mixing and matching a few versatile items of attire. Also, when possible I only brought one pair of ultra-comfortable shoes, even when I was away from home for weeks at a time.My pledge to uphold minimalism while packing my main suitcase paid off. It’s been a couple of years now since I last felt that sinking feeling when the check-in agent told me my bags were too bulky. Packing less also makes it easier to manage my bags when I’m handling them on other modes of transportation like buses and trains.Remembering Experiences, Not Buying Too Many Touristy SouvenirsIndeed, I have my fair share of gimmicky items purchased from tourist shops. From magnets to tote bags, it seemed like I could never turn down a product that bore the name of a city or country I’d visited. Although I haven’t stopped going into tourist shops entirely, I’ve drastically cut down on the frequency that I visit them.Instead, I focus on experiences like hiking through cliff-filled territory in Ireland or scuba diving in the Bahamas. When possible, I take lots of photographs of these once-in-a-lifetime experiences and I purchase a new travel journal before every trip so I can vividly describe all the feelings and thoughts associated with each experience I enjoy within the travel journal’s pages.More Opportunities to Form Meaningful Bonds With the LocalsI’ve found a minimalist approach to travel has also made it easier for me to begin friendships with the natives. This has been especially true when I’ve traveled in countries that do not have wealthy economies like my own place of residence does. I suspect the residents may have been consciously or unconsciously intimidated by all my possessions and thought we could never find things in common with each other. Now that I’ve become a proud minimalist traveler, I’ve noticed there is not so much hesitation when I attempt to strike up conversations with locals, and sometimes it seems there is no barrier at all.When I first began my experiment in minimalist travel, I thought I’d never be able to stick it out for more than one trip. Now, thanks to the benefits above and many others, I can’t imagine going back to the way I used to travel. Being a minimalist is incredibly fulfilling and it’s so rewarding that I’ve started recommending it to any fellow travel enthusiasts who will listen.
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