Have you ever dreamed of traveling around the world, free of the inhibitions of money? Not too long ago, I dreamed of this same thing as I witnessed people around me traveling from country to country seemingly not worried about money at all. Not too long after the death of my mother I started to prioritize how I wanted to live my life, and what mattered the most to me.
Since I always had a dream of traveling, I decided to sacrifice whatever was necessary to travel full-time. 65+ countries later, it is time to help others who are in the position I was not too long ago. One of the biggest sacrifices you need to make is to pack lightly and cut back on material possessions.
After all, many of the things you buy require an additional price for maintenance. When the cost of maintaining your material, possessions requires you to dedicate a good portion of your income, you will have a much harder time finding the money for travel.
How Much Stuff Do You Need For Travel?
It didn’t take me long to realize that you need next-to-nothing to be able to travel full-time. In my Best Travel Gear post, you can find out what I carry with me on my travels. To summarize, I never carry more than one medium-sized backpack with me at any given time.
As far as clothes are concerned, experience has taught me that you should never carry around more than 7 – 10 days of clothes since this amount of clothing should be enough for a year. Considering that laundry service is always available, it is much more convenient to carry a light load of clothing.
Only Pack for 7 – 10 Days
Clothing is one of the heaviest items you can have when you consider the weight of several weeks of clothing. Then, you need to think about having a backpack that is big enough just to carry several weeks of clothing. Clothing is one of the biggest space wasters. Not to mention, it can be a big hassle when you need to move around. Plane companies often charge more to check bags, but if you only have one carry-on backpack this will never occur.
It Saves Time and Effort to Pack Lightly
Whenever I need to take a plane to a new destination, having no check-in bags allows me to go directly to the departure gate and save time that would otherwise be spent in long check-in lines. It also greatly reduces the stress at the airport since I am already checked in, I just need to arrive before the airplane door closes. Then, when I arrive at a new destination I can exit the plane and go straight to my accommodation, without waiting 30 – 60 minutes at the baggage claim for another piece of luggage.
What About Winter Jackets and Bulky Clothing?
People who want to travel to cold destinations realize that you need cold clothing to be comfortable in your new home. However, these items can also be some of the most space-wasting possessions that you can have. If you need to bring bulky clothing such as heavy coats, you might consider simply wearing them on the plane so that you don’t need to check them.
Use Packing Cubes to Maximize Your Space
One of the best ways to travel with only one backpack is to use packing cubes to reduce wasted space. Packing cubes allow you to roll up and compact your clothing and personal items into cubes which can then be placed into your backpack. Since these allow you to have extra space, I always use them in my backpack to both stay organized and to maximize storage space.
Only Bring Items That Are Essential
One thing that I couldn’t be able to live without is my MacBook Pro. This is one item which is necessary for me to have enough income each month. Outside of this, it is nice to have a Sony Rx 100 MIII Camera for taking photos. When combined with miscellaneous small items and basic necessities, everything fits inside my 31.5 Liter Tavik Sett Travel Backpack wonderfully.
For plane rides, it is nice to have a pair of Bose Soundsport Headphones to block out the noise of the engine. Although I could live without some of these things, they are an essential part of my survival and happiness. As far as your case is concerned, only bring items that you determine to be absolutely essential for your well-being. Whatever they may be.
Don’t Bring Too Many Toiletries
Toiletries are another item which can quickly become too bulky to sustainably carry around. Additionally, many accommodations (even budget hostels) will provide you will basic necessities such as soap and shampoo to use on a daily basis. Other things such as toilet paper, and sometimes even towels are typically available anywhere that you go. To make things easy on yourself, don’t purchase these things or carry them around with you.
Detach From Materialism
One thing that many common tourists love is to get some sort of souvenir everywhere that they go. If you want to travel full-time, this will quickly add up to a need for more baggage space. As difficult as it might be to stop purchasing something to remember your latest adventure by, remember that it will quickly translate into less space, the need for additional bags, and accordingly, higher fees for travel.
If you want a nice souvenir to remember your travels, make sure to bring a nice camera with you. Since a camera will stay the same size, it will capture an endless amount of souvenirs without getting rid of your space. If you are interested in packing light, then make sure you check out my entire best travel gear post to see how I travel full time with one carry on bag.
About the Author
I have been traveling ‘full time’ for about six years now and have visited over 65+ countries. Running with the bulls in Spain, attending Oktoberfest in Munich and visiting the majority of the wonders of the world, are just a few things already checked off my never-ending bucket list. I love meeting new people and this is one of the reasons I continue to travel! Currently, I am working online as a digital nomad roaming around South America, but my home base is in Medellin, Colombia. You can find more about how I got started with traveling in my Full Bio Here.