November 1, 2018

The Art and Obligation of Minimalist Travel

How packing only what you need can change the way you see the world.

As I sit here meticulously packing the bare minimum for my week-long business/leisure trip to Vietnam, I remember the times that I would have my suitcase packed in the comical fashion that we are used to seeing in cartoons. You know, the ones where you need someone to sit on it while you frantically attempt to zip it up.

Back then, I slowly began to realize that those “what if” scenarios that I was packing for would never occur, so I began to bring only what I felt were the essentials and eliminate the things that were simply not needed.

For the past five years, I have had the privilege of a job that brings me to every corner of the world and allows me to interact with people from many different backgrounds. I have seen some of the best that humanity, cultures, and the natural world has to offer. Unfortunately, I have also seen some of the worst as well.

The beauty far outweighs the ugly—by a landslide—and hopefully, that’s how it is for everyone. But I asked myself, why are some travel experiences so valuable while others are forgotten shortly after I arrive back home?

The answer? It’s me.

What I have found is that the beautiful aspects of a country are amplified when you are prepared to accept and experience them as they truly are and with an open mind. Naturally, we have our own pre-conceived notions about the world which are defined by our backgrounds and culture. When we travel we are willingly (hopefully) opening ourselves up to experience a new culture, cuisine, lifestyle, etc.

I have had my perspective completely turned upside down by what I have experienced. At first, it can be scary but once you get over the initial shock, it is liberating. These are the moments that I live for and truly believe that the world would be a better place if more people were unremittingly exposing themselves to cultures other than their own.

To do this, bring what you need and leave the rest.

What does this mean? It’s simple:

  • Bring your knack for adventure and leave your anxieties about “what if” behind
  • Bring your thirst for knowledge and leave your presumptuous mentality at home
  • Leave your “I don’t eat that” statement in your kitchen (unless you’re allergic of course)

The easiest and the most important way to travel like a minimalist is to listen more than you speak. You’d be surprised by the things you can learn when listening to people that are completely different than you in terms of values, language, and interests.

So, with these tips in mind, pack light, get out there, book a trip, and touch the world.

Published by Joe Schneider in Travel

Photography by Jannes Glas

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