When you imagine a traveling minimalist, perhaps the first picture that comes to mind is a mustached, plaid-wearing hipster carrying their entire life in two backpacks. But there is another picture, and definition, of the traveling minimalist: you.

The minimalist philosophy rests on quality over quantity; placing the greatest value on people, experiences, and joy while creating room in your life for the things that matter most.

Translated into travel, minimalism means traveling with quality, versatile belongings and being intentional about enjoying each moment.

As you might assume, my husband and I love adventures! Besides our mico-adventures and gastro-reviews around the islands, we also voyage to the mainland once a year to see our families. Our yearly trip to the East and West Coast from Hawaii had presented a few challenges, but adopting minimalism into our travels (as we have with every other area of our life) we are much happier travelers…

The three things that convinced us to go minimal for our travels?

  1. We travel for love.
    When we trek all the way from the islands to the East or West Coast, our main objective is to enjoy the trip together and with our families when we see them. The most important part of traveling for us is taking in those special moments and new experience. You can read a little more into practically making the most of our experience here.
  2. It’s always expensive.
    Flying to and from Hawaii to LA or NYC during the holiday is pricey enough, but paying for luggage was a waste of a few hundred dollars. I didn’t expect flying with one duffle bag to be possible, but it is and it’s better.
  3. It’s a very long trip.
    Truthfully, I used to bring several books and mags along for the fear I would be subjected to hours of staring at the seat in front of me but thankfully, my little MacBook Air takes care of that problem. 
    Now, all you’ll find in my personal bag is my Air and a few other items (check out my “what’s in my personal item” post). I make sure my MacBook has 6-10 movies to choose from, along with a few e-books, sound-canceling earphones, and split jack to share movie time with hubby.

To elaborate a bit, here are two main aspects of practicing minimalist travel:

Traveling Light

Herschel bag

Along with my backpack of carry-on goodies, my husband and I carry-on one duffle bag with two changes of clothes– no matter where we go or how long we go. Now before you gasp and write this off, let me say that I felt the same way initially…

Part of the fun of going to the big cities is dressing up and dining out. Yes. But what I found is that with more room in my carry-on and a budget for shopping, I can buy what I need and have room to bring it home. Whatever doesn’t fit in the bag can be shipped home and it’s usually cheaper than paying for extra luggage with most airlines.

On top of the sheer practicality of traveling with only one change of clothes per person, you will be amazed at the awesome conversations and moments you will share while waiting for laundry to wash. 

This leads me to the most important element of minimalism:

Intentional Awareness

time square

Travel presents the perfect opportunity to break out of our usual day-to-day activity. But many times we are still stuck in our way of thinking, often geared to simply go through the motions or plan for the next thing.

For the sake of making the most of our adventure, we have to be intentional about being present in the moment. Sound etherial? Let me give you an example…

When you’re out in a crowd of a million people in Time Square, trying to get to that pizza place you read reviews about for months, instead of letting your h-anger lead you in fury, slow down and notice the faces around you. Admire the fashion in the windows. Grab a drink and people gaze for a moment. Take it in. Allow yourself to be creatively inspired….

If you’re adventuring with a friend, focus in on the moment together. You can find tips on “making the most of your adventure” here, but this is the basic concept.

I hope that you can truly experience times like this, even in your ordinary day; moments of feeling deeply connected to your experience and people around you. The way of the traveling minimalist can seep into your daily life and even make you a happier person. Who knows?

Cheer’s to the good life!

In Joy,
Samantha & Bryan

How to Travel like a Minimalist & Maximize Happiness