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Minimalist Traveling: How to Stay Free With Just A Carryon

Minimalist Traveling: How to Stay Free With Just A Carryon

Do you think traveling for two weeks to three foreign countries in a carryon is impossible?

My husband and I did it. I’d love to tell you how.

I may ascribe to a philosophy I like to call living a perpetual vacation, but it’s not all about actually traveling. Most of the time, I live my own perpetual vacation by staying put in Managua, Nicaragua. Living and working awesomely doesn’t require leaving your home. It only requires creating work that’s meaningful to you and fulfills you, doing your best to take care of yourself as you go about achieving your goals, and living out your ideal day.

Sometimes, though, I do travel — just because I enjoy it so much. Travel is a part of my own ideal lifestyle, so I’ve striven to explore more this past year.

As I travel more, I’m getting better at making it an optimal experience. After receiving an invitation to speak at a business school in Madrid, my husband and I planned a trip to Madrid, Florence and Copenhagen over the course of two weeks. I knew it would be a major trip for us, and I didn’t want to be bogged down by our luggage.

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So, we decided to accomplish it all by not checking a single bag.

How to Pack Correctly

One of the biggest troubles is knowing how to pack. I remember being mindblown when I watched a video of a flight attendant comparing how many clothes fit into a carryon when they’re rolled up instead of folded. Rolling your clothing grants so much more space! I definitely used that approach on this trip, but I also had to be careful with two important attributes of packing:

  • Weight — Airlines have different rules for the weight allowed. Since we were traveling within Europe, most of the airlines we flew had the similar weight limitations, the lowest of which was 10kg or about 22lbs. We used that lower number to guide our packing endeavors to make sure we weren’t charged overweight and forced to check a bag at any airport.
  • Size — Airlines also have different rules for the size of the carryon used. I’m used to traveling within the US, which allows for bigger bags, so this trip to Europe was a bit different. I borrowed smaller carryon luggage from a friend to make it within the limits.

It’s important to do your research on this. I looked up every airline we flew to make sure that we used the smallest limits possible to ensure we didn’t run into any surprises along the way.

But don’t fret! No matter how small or light your carryon has to be, there’s so much that you can fit inside.

What to Pack (And What to Leave Behind)

Have you ever gone on a three-day vacation with a huge bag full of clothes that comes back unworn? Yeah, same here.

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So many of us pack way too much for trips. Not only do we not use half the things we take with us, but we’re doing it due to an emotion we’re not even aware of: fear.

Most of the stuff we pack and goes unused we take because we never know what might happen along the trip — I call these “just in case” items. And most of those “just in case” situations never happen.

Here’s the breakdown of what I think is necessary, and what absolutely is not:

  • What you need — These are the items you absolutely need, like underwear, pants, shirts, etc. Only the absolute basics.
  • What’s “just in case” — These are the items you think you might need along the way, like a fancier outfit, an umbrella, and so on. It’s up to you to analyze just how likely these situations truly are.
  • What you don’t need — These are the items that you absolutely don’t need and are just taking for a ride, like your entire set of earrings.

I hope that helps you when you’re packing for your next trip. I know that it absolutely helped me to decipher what made the cut and what didn’t.

How We Did It

In our recent trip to Madrid, Florence and Copenhagen, we wanted to make sure we didn’t pay the bag checking fee. We also wanted our trip to feel as easy and light as possible. At the end of a very long trip, waiting for checked baggage in the terminal feels terrible, right?

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Here’s what I was able to pack in my 10kg carryon:

  • 4 pairs of jeans (one worn during trip)
  • 1 pair of white capri pants
  • 1 pair of navy blue shorts
  • 1 black day dress
  • 9 shirts (one worn during trip)
  • 1 light navy blue jacket
  • 1 very light black sweater (worn during trip)
  • 1 navy blue blazer
  • 5 pairs of shoes (one worn during trip)
  • 1 European blowdryer
  • 2 hair combs
  • 1 pair of socks
  • 1 tan belt

Sounds like a lot, right? Wait until you hear what I packed in my personal item (a tote bag):

  • 1 Macbook Pro and charger
  • 1 Bose noise-canceling headset
  • 1 Moleskin
  • 4 pairs of earrings and necklaces
  • 1 iPhone and charger
  • Toiletry bag with hair products, hand cream, medicine, etc

I definitely had a great time on the trip, and every single item that I packed was used many times. At the same time, I was able to keep the trip as light and carefree as possible.

How You Can Do It

These are just my own travel experiences. I’d love to hear your stories:

Is there a particular trip in mind that you’ve been holding off on?

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During your own travels, what holds you back from feeling free?

Are there small tweaks you could make — like packing in a carryon —that could help you feel more free?

Can’t wait to hear from you in the comments!

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

More Resources About Getting out of a Rut

Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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