I’m not a minimalist traveller

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~Saint Augustine

Watching numerous minimalist blogs, I see over and over again posts about minimalist packing and minimalist traveling. While I certainly pack lighter than most, I have no desire to pare down to just a few shirts and some pants.

I travel, mostly, by car. Sadly, there’s really no other good way to see the US. Minimalist packing just means I’d have to do laundry in the sink during my vacation, and I’m far too lazy for that.

As you read this, I’m probably en route to or at IAH in Houston. I’ll be spending eleven days in Washington state with my mother, roaming around at will. We’ll get there via plane, and then rent a car once we reach Washington. Our luggage will be carried only short distances, and since we’re attending a wedding first, I do have to take a nice shirt and shoes that I wouldn’t wear otherwise.

The days of “pack as little as possible so you don’t have to check your baggage” ended with 9/11. The situation for most people now is “take as little on your person as you possibly can.” Another strike against the convenience of minimalist packing.

Now, if I was going back to Japan again, I would pack a little more minimally. In Japan K-chan and I traveled mostly by train, bus, or subway, and then on foot. This makes lighter luggage almost a necessity, especially so when we arrived somewhere well in advance of our check-in time.

My camping trips, however, are a whole other ballgame. Those require not only the luggage, but also the tent, cooler, sleeping bag, camp chair and other supplies. But I enjoy my camping trips much more than my mother’s hotel trips. Road tripping around with everything I need stashed in the back of my little Roach-car is definitely my style.

So the amount I pack really depends on the situation. If I have a car, I’ll just pack whatever I think I’ll need, within reason. If I’m traveling by public transit/on foot, I pack more minimally. I prefer flexibility over the rigidity of just one system for traveling.

But as I said, I’m a light packer, anyway. I don’t wear makeup and typically expect that soap and shampoo will be provided if we’re staying in hotels. For camping trips, I bring my own small bag of toiletries. I tend to wear the same clothing more than once, anyhow, so less clothing is necessary, and I shy from anything that’s not practical. Two pairs of shoes (one for hiking, one for just hanging out), some clothing. A jacket and/or hoodie. A few books, Stinky the laptop, and the toiletries and I’m set. More for longer trips, less for shorter. In fact, for trips that are long enough to justify the suitcase, I actually take more than I would normally just to fill it out so things don’t slide around in it.

So, in a sense, some would call me a minimalist packer. I’ll pass on the ultra-light packing, though. Not my cup of tea.

If you’d like to hear more about the Washington trip, keep an eye on my travel blog, No Home Range.

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One Response to “I’m not a minimalist traveller”

  1. Dargon Says:

    When I traveled to Minnesota back in 2007, I was there two weeks, and I packed only one suitcase (small enough to be carry on) and a briefcase, so I call bullshit on the post 9/11 thing. I had 1 weeks worth of clothing and a laptop, that was it. Purchased a small tube of toothpaste and used the hotel hygiene products when I got there. No troubles at all flying no-checked baggage.

    As for the rest, full agreement.

    In related news, I noticed I coincidentally put my “Remove Before Flight” keychain on the zipper of the pouch on the backpack where I keep my sandals, and I found it funny.

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