Best Travel Gear for Minimalist Travel- Everything You Need to Know
Minimalist travel is something that I had always hear about but never really understood. When it came to planning our 5 year trip around the world, Daniel and I had to put some deep thought into what to pack for travel; what we needed and what we didn't. At first, minimalist travel wasn't something that we were necessarily going for, but budget travel definitely was. To sustain this full-time travel journey, we had to travel carry-on only and exclusively use minimalist travel gear. The biggest and most rewarding sacrifice was reducing all of the stuff we owned down to a carry-on and become minimalist travelers.
How did we make minimalist travel work?
Now, remember, Daniel and I travel full-time hopping from country to country and have been doing so since June 2018 (See those adventures on our YouTube channel here)! We've been in three different continents, through all types of weather, and have done so with nothing but carry-on luggage thanks to our minimalist travel gear! We know that a lot of you can't imagine leaving for your week vacation without taking two giant suitcases, but what if I told you it could save you hundreds of dollars traveling like a minimalist? Becoming a minimalist traveler may not have originally been easy, but we literally wouldn't have it any other way now.
What to Expect from the Minimalist Travel Gear List
We've created this page because we KNOW that minimalist travel is doable, cost-saving, and frankly liberating! That's why we've taken the time to do all of the guesswork for you. When it came time to plan our trip, we are overwhelmed with the amount of information on the internet that recommended us to bring shit we just didn't need. We don't want that to happen to you, so we've also listed all of the pros and cons of our minimalist travel gear, and alternate recommendations if we don't like what we're currently using.
How to Make Minimalist Travel Work for You
To be a minimalist traveler, all of your gear MUST serve multiple purposes and has to be durable. Below we have all of the items we use to make awesome content for you, AND the multi-faceted gear that keeps us organized on the road. Go ahead and click on any of the images below to get more information on the item. Also, don't forget to scroll down to the bottom of this page to get your copy of our FREE minimalist travel packing list.
Minimalist Travel Gear
A key part of minimalist travel is keeping everything organized and having reliable travel gear. Even as a minimalist traveler, having a place for everything is essential to keep your sanity. Some of the items below may seem a little strange to bring traveling, but I promise you everything serves a huge purpose that will make minimalist travel much easier for you. This page will take you category by category regarding what minimalist travel gear you need. If you are more of a visual person like me, watch the video below to see me explaining all of our minimalist travel gear in action.
Minimalist Travel Gear
Minimalist Travel Gear Bags
Y'all, this backpack is the champion of all champions. The Osprey 55L backpack is amazing for minimalist travel because it's super durable, comes with a detachable day pack, and it comfy to carry around. It's so comfy in fact, that we used it to climb to the summit of Mt. Fuji without any fuss. The Osprey 55L has made it on to every single flight we've taken, making it the perfect bag for minimalist travel. Also a huge bonus: it's water resistant!
The Lowepro Electronics Bag has been a total lifesaver when it comes to protecting our very expensive vlogging equipment. It allows us to keep every we own safe, but also tightly packed so that it makes it on to every flight. This bag is perfect for minimalist travel because it's small size keeps you from buying unneccesary items. Some great features that we LOVE about this bag is that it's SUPER compact. It's our heaviest bag, but is also the tiniest! This Lowe Pro bag has adjustable velcro compartments, is fully padded on the inside, and is very comfy. It's the perfect electronics bag for minimalist travel vloggers.
I could seriously NOT LIVE without this toiletry bag. Why is it so badass? The little hook that it has on top lets cling to any bathroom doorknob, keeping all of our toiletries organized and DRY! I love this bag for a million reasons but the top are that the zippered, see-thru pockets let you keep everything organized and neat! This toiletry also folds up small making it a perfect addition to your minimalist travel gear!
I know this one of the weirder items on this list, but let me explain. We use our dry sac as our laundry bag because it keeps all of the stinky smells inside. The air inside can also be squeezed completely out so it's almost like vacuum sealing your gross cloths when you have to travel with your dirty laundry. AND true to our multifaceted minimalist travel gear requirement, this sac is a rockstar on days when we're doing water excursions and want to keep our electronics safe! When it's not in use, it folds up to basically nothing and takes up very little space! This is an amazing addition to your minimalist travel gear that you cannot live without!
If you're not traveling with packing cubes, we can't be friends. I'm totally just kidding but on a serious note, these travel cubes are a MUST have for minimalist travel. These packing cubes fit more clothes than you would expect, have the most durable zippers we've ever seen, and keep all of your clothes small and neat. They keep everything we own organized, compartmentalized, and clean. We literally use our travel cubes like drawers when we are on the road, and these specifically have a lifetime warranty. We could succeed at minimalist travel with out this amazing addition to our travel gear.
Travel neck wallets are one of those things that people feel like they don't need until they leave the country and realize they need a safe place to keep their passport. These are super handy because no matter where you go, you know your money and personal items will be safe. I don't like to fear monger, but the truth is some places are known for having sneaky pickpockets. This is one of those situations where I recommend you are better safe than sorry. Also, these suckers last forever! We use a travel wallet that is literally 20 years old.
Hopefully, you know that when traveling carry-on only (which we have a WHOLE guide on how to do that here), you have to keep your liquids in a single quart-sized bag. We have found that these bags are useful for so much more than being TSA compliant. We use them for transporting wet swimwear, keeping our medicine in one place, transporating spillable liquids, and even keeping our chargers in one place. This is something very handy any minimalist traveler wanting to travel ultra-light should pack.
Minimalist Travel Gear Necessities
Down below I have listed all of the items Daniel and I currently use for our nomadic journey around the world. For us, it's important to travel ultralight without looking (or smelling) homeless on the road. We are minimalist travelers, but there are going to be some items on this list that will not make sense to take on trips shorter than a couple of weeks. But no worries, I'll tell you exactly what to not waste your hard earned money on! 🙂
Needless to say, a Universal Converter in absolutely essential if you're planning on traveling abroad. A lot of people think that they can get away with the smaller adapters, but what they don't realize is that the different voltage WILL fry your electronics. I've had to kiss many a hair iron goodbye because of it. This converter has your back no matter what country you're going to or coming from and keeps your electronics safe from power surges! I love that this one, in particular, comes in a little pouch that keeps it all together. If there is one item that we literally use every single day, it's this one.
Nothing has proven more useful on travel days than this little power bank! Don't think you'll use it? Yea, me either... until I was on a 17-hour plane ride from Beijing to Chicago, ran out of phone battery and had to look at the back of my chair for 12 hours. It
- holds 4 full phone battery charges
- is teeny tiny and fits anywhere
- Can charge multiple devices at once!
This is the next obscure item on the list, but like last time, I'll explain. There are two really essential times that we use this extension cord and it's:
- At airports to charge your electronics when all of the plugs are taken
- At hostels when the plug is on the opposite side of the room
Although the times that these happen may be infrequent, when it happens you are PISSED. Save yourself a headache, and take an extension cord.
Travel locks are very important to take on your trip. Since we travel carry-on only, we don't really need it for the luggage (although it's nice to have). What we do use them for is putting our valuables in lockers when we are at hostels. Most hostels will have lockers, but don't provide the lock. If you don't take one, get ready to overpay for a heavy one with a key when you're there. We really like these because:
- I can't lose a key
- the flexible locking mechanism allows me to put it around any kind of locker
I never realized how weird deodorant is around the world. In South East Asia, they use liquid roll-ons, and in England and Australia, they use the spray kind. Neither of those types are TSA compliant, so I highly recommend you bring a solid deodorant from home! This Secret Clinical Strength Deodorant is amazing and keeps me smelling fresh for days. Even on the days when I'm on a plane all day and don't get to shower (the gross reality of fulltime travel. You're welcome!). Now that's a lot to say!
Y'all. Sunscreen is SO damn expensive abroad. If you don't bring one from home, be ready to pay between $20-$60 outside of the US. I could literally have paid for two weeks worth of food for the cost of one small bottle of Sunscreen in Asia. This solid sunscreen applies like deodorant and can live in your carry-on without being in the quart sized bag. Also, the solid lasts forever!
I could write an entire blog post about the benefits and uses of Shea butter (you can read them here), but I'll keep it short and sweet. I use shea butter for all sorts of things, but mainly to replace my lotion, chapstick, and treat my psoriasis. It's a solid so I never have to worry about being stopped by TSA, it's GREAT for my skin, and it's all natural! So necessary for combating the dry air in long flights and keeping burnt skin moisturized!
Obviously, any old toothbrush will do you just fine. I really like this one because it's:
- comes with its own cap
- has no charger
We used to carry around our old Sonicare toothbrush, and I really don't recommend you do that. It was huge, needed to be charged, and a Thai outlet completely fried it. Use a converter and NOT an adapter, friends!
Tooth Powder is one of those things that's nice to have if you're going to be traveling for a long time. The limit for liquid or gel items in a carry on is 100ml, which is usually surpassed by any toothpaste tube. I like this toothpowder because:
- It's TSA compliant and doesn't have to go in the liquid bag
- It lasts a really long time!
- It's organic (I'm kind of a hippy, and I like it)
- It surprisingly tastes VERY good
Smelling good abroad is something Daniel and I deem necessary. When you travel long term there are going to be days where you can't find a shower and you knock yourself out with your own stench. I don't need to tell you that cologne and perfume bottles weigh 1000lbs and don't even fit in your liquids bag. This little sucker:
- smells amazing
- last a long time
- is tiny!
- weighs next to nothing
I have unfortunately not been able to find a female scent that I like and would recommend. If you find one, help a sister out and let me know here!
Because I haven't been able to find a female perfume solid I like (although I would recommend that before buying this), I have to use one of these. This is nice because if you're going on a shorter trip it lets you refill it with your favorite perfume from back home. It's also small enough to fit in your liquids bag!
Goob Tubes!! OMG. Let me tell you the love affair I have with these things. They have this awesome little suction cup in the back of them that allows them to cling to any tile and glass. We use them to fill up on soap, shampoo, and conditioner for the times that the hostel/airbnb doesn't provide it. I really like that they're color-coded so I know exactly what I'm grabbing, AND it has a built-in label that you can change based on what you put in there!
We have literally owned our microfiber towel since our first trip in 2015, and we couldn't be happier with it. It:
- folds up very small
- dries like a champ
- doesn't get smelly
- lasts forever
- has a zippered pocket to keep valuables when you're at the beach
This towel is literally our bath towel, beach towel, and sometimes blanket! I recommend you get a dark color because it will stay looking nice much longer.
Because we have a YouTube Channel, we can't get away with looking homeless on the road. Daniel owns a beard trimmer because although we are minimalist travelers we literally live on the road. I don't think this will be necessary if you're doing a trip shorter than two weeks, but if you are traveling long-term (as a guy) you will need this. This beard trimmer is nice because:
- it doesn't break the bank
- comes with every sized head you would need
- packs up small
- comes in its own zippered bag
If the 30,000 reviews on this straightener don't convince you that this is the best in the world, let me tell you. I've owned this thing since 2012, and it has been all around the world since 2015! I've dropped it on the ground, chipped the ceramic on it, and even plugged it into outlets around the world without it frying. I LOVE the hair straightener because:
- it's literally indestructible
- Can take any voltage from around the world
- heats reliably
- leaves my hair looking amazing
- It's the cheapest hair iron I've ever owned and is also the best hair iron I've ever owned.
- Even if you're not a traveler, you need this!
I personally take this straightener on short trips because I like my hair straightened. But if you're going to a place that is excessively humid or you just don't want to take a hair iron, I have a heatless travel hairstyles video I created for you right here!
If you're a tampon girl, I'm sorry to break it to you but they are very difficult to find abroad. Another gross reality is that many countries don't keep a trash can inside of the bathroom. That's why I've opted to bring applicator-free tampons with me. These tampons are awesome because they take up very little space in your bag, are good for the environment, and are organic!
Minimalist Travel Airplane Comforts
Daniel and I spend about half of our nights sleeping on overnight buses, trains, and airplanes. That's why we have a whole section on just travel comforts because we know how important they are. If you travel on a larger budget than we do, these items may not be of use to you. BUT if you are considering traveling long-term, you will be so glad to have these in your bag!
Investing in a good pair of headphones is a great idea before you go traveling. These have great reviews, don't break the bank, and have a long battery life. Any pair of headphones would work, but I specifically recommend you take wireless headphones for a few reasons:
- sleeping on airplanes is going to be much more comfortable if they're wireless
- You don't have to worry about untangling them for 5 minutes before using them
- You can use them on just about any device
I know a lot of people who opt to not use a travel pillow and I don't judge them. If you're doing a short trip, this might not be something you need. I do agree that most of them suck which is why I recommend you get one of the comfy memory foam ones. This bundle includes an eye mask, earplugs, and pillow which I use literally every single time I'm on a long flight, or overnight bus/train.
Before you judge me for this one, let me just say we've used this SO much more than we expected! This snuggie is great on airplanes and busses, useful for keeping fragile items safe, and it kept us warm at the summit of Mt. Fuji, and. Yes, we took it on Fuji and you can see us use (and freeze our butts off) here. I would get rid of it if it wasn't so darn useful!
Having a refillable water bottle is going to save you a ton of money, friends. Think about every time you've been thirsty at an airport or on an airplane. they either give you a super tiny cup, or you're paying $5 for a Dasani water bottle. The same thing applies around the world and these water bottles are:
- pack up super small
- come with a carabiner to easily attach to your backpack
- come in cute colors!
Best Minimalist Travel Clothing: Mens
Daniel has it SO easy when it comes to his travel gear. It's much easier for men to have a minimalist travel wardrobe than women. Below you'll find exactly the items Daniel uses on a daily basis. For specifics on how much of these items he takes, make sure you download our minimalist packing list at the bottom of the page!
These hiking sandals were a dream come true for Daniel. We tend to be adventure travelers (chase for adventure, get it?!), so we end up hiking through a lot of waterfalls, climbing mountains, and even go Jet Ski island hopping. Daniel has been able to get away with these being the only real pair of shoes he has outside of his flipflops. These hiking sandals are:
- nice enough to wear with all of his clothes
- Fast drying!
Like other basic items on this list, you cannot go traveling without flip-flops. Some days this is all we would wear. Although any pair of flip-flops would work, if you're planning on traveling long-term I recommend you invest in a sturdy pair. These are Daniel's flip-flops and he's loved them! They're:
- & let's be real, he really loves them for the built-in bottle opener
DryFit material is known for being moisture wicking and quick drying. That's exactly why Daniel swears by them. No matter what climate we are in, DryFit shirts keep Daniel dry, they're super easy to wash in the sink, and will be dry by the time you wake up! Added bonus: They roll up super tiny, and weigh almost nothing at all!
Would you believe me if I told you these are the only shorts Daniel owns? Billabong submersibles are shorts that are nice enough to wear out to dinner with a polo, and versatile enough to go swimming with! They are the fanciest swim trunks you will ever own, and the only pair of shorts you will need. Period.
I used to be in the camp that thought DryFit Underwear was a silly and frivolous expense... until I learned just how SLOW cotton underwear drys. When you're on the road, it's sometimes difficult to find a laundromat. Daniel literally just takes his DryFit Underwear into the shower with him, washes it and within 30 minutes, the underwear is completely dry! Also, this underwear is:
- Fast drying!
I'm a huge fan of not spending tons of money if I don't have to. Although we usually travel to warm places, we take this just in case our travel plans change. When we were in the Thai Mountains, I was so glad we had this in our bag! This Amazon Basics down jacket is:
- Surprisingly high quality
- folds teeny-tiny
- water resistant
- keeps you warm without making you sweat!
Like most things we own, we need to look nice enough to go to a restaurant with, but practical enough to climb a mountain with. These pants completely fit the bill! They are:
- Moisture wicking
- Quick Drying
- Nice enough for dinner
Daniel also loves the velcro pocket on the side because it's hard to steal from!
Best Minimalist Travel Clothing: Women's
Ladies, I wish our travel wardrobe were a simple as men's, but there is no sugar coating it. Below I have listed the staples that I use to travel ultralight, while still remaining stylish.
Before finding these shoes, I used to use Chacos and honestly hated them. They were uncomfortable to put on and smelled like something literally died in them. These shoes have changed my life! They are:
- easy to put on and clean
- and super anti-slip
- Best of all! They don't stink!
I'm pretty sure these Sanuk Sandals are the best flip-flops to have ever been invented. They feel like you're walking on a cloud (or more specifically a yoga mat), and they are easily the most comfortable flip flops I've owned. My one concern with them is they get slightly slippery when the footbed gets wet, but it's not enough to keep me from buying these over and over again.
Ladies, I'm OBSESSED with these pants. They are super cute and stylish but are also my hiking pants. What?!?!?! Yea, I didn't think fashionable and functional existed in women's clothing. These pants are:
- moisture wicking
- come in tons of colors
- quick drying
- pack small
- good for everything!!
As a woman who is also the captain of the itty-bitty-titty committee, I very rarely wear a bra. On outdoorsy days though, I love wearing this Sports Bra. It is a fraction of the cost of ANYTHING at Victoria's Secret, and is more comfortable than any of their bras, too. I can wear it all day, feel supported, and don't experience any underboob sweat. All great things in my book.
Any ol' underwear you have should work because our undies tend to be much smaller, and are usually made from quick-drying materials. But if you're looking for undies that are small and affordable, you can get a 6 pack of these for less than $15!
Minimalist Travel Vlogging Gear
This section below is for all of our aspiring vloggers! When we sold everything to travel the world, we basically traded in our cars for cameras. Below is the currently vlogging gear we use for our YouTube Channel, Chase for Adventure. Keep in mind that ALL of the gear down below fits in the LowePro Bag that we showed you in the first section and is carry on friendly 🙂
We actually own two of these awesome cameras! The Sony a6300 is a great travel vlogging camera because it's small and packs a punch. As a mirrorless camera, it's much smaller than other DSLR's, has interchangeable lenses, and shoots 4K video. We also love the Playmemories app because it lets us wirelessly transfer photos and video to our cell phone so we can post it straight to our Instagram!
Although we love this camera, if we could do it over we would go with the Sony a6500 because of its internal stabilization!
This baby is the newest addition to the Chase for Adventure team! We haven't been able to take pictures to show you how well it works yet, but it is a zoom lens that we can use when vlogging, too! Super versatile, has a great range and focuses on the subject while blurring the background! We will add pictures as soon as we have some 🙂
The Zhiyun Crane 2 is the stabilizer what makes our YouTube videos keep that cinematic, smooth finish. We got this before we got the DJI Ronan S, but didn't feel like the added features of the Ronan warranted another $700 spent. Our stabilizer supports heavier camera sizes and has two stabilization features. It's a little difficult to balance the camera on it at first, but it's proven to be an indispensable part of our kit.
If you are planning on getting serious about vlogging, you need a good microphone. We made the mistake of going the budget route and getting the Rode Mic Go, and we basically wasted $60. It started making an awful buzzing sound after 1 month, and was completely broken within 6 months. We have since upgraded to the Rode Mic Pro and you wouldn't believe the difference in quality! It is quite a bit heavier than the last one we had, but you wouldn't believe the difference in sound quality and durability.
I have to be honest. I HATE carrying this giant, bulky, and heavy thing around, BUT it's the only way Daniel and I can get good pictures of the two of us. It's also what we use whenever we are doing sit down vlogs. This is another product that I tried cheaping out on at first, and then regretted it. This tripod is sturdy, can lay completely flat, and doesn't struggle with the sand at the beach!
Gorilla Pods are a nifty little tripod with adjustable legs that allow you to wrap it around random objects. Out of all of our vlogging gear, this is the item we use the least since our camera is usually attached to our Zhiyun Crane 2. The reason why we keep it is some places we visit don't allow professional stabilizers but will allow a gorilla pod. We also took this tripod on Mt. Fuji since it was light, adjustable, and let us get some killer night shots from the summit. I think this tripod would be good for people who want to travel light and need a tripod that's functional.
We LOVE our DJI Mavic Pro and it's by far Daniel's favorite toy. It folds up small, shoots in 4K, and can even take high-definition pictures! If you watch our YouTube Channel, you know that we use our drone all of the time! If you want to see some examples of the image and video quality, click down below!
In the near future though, we are looking at upgrading to the DJI Mavic Pro 2 because it can zoom, can take better low light video, and has a powerhouse camera! I've recommended the bundle above because it's honestly a much better value even if you just use the memory card, extra propellers, and batteries.
Guys, I, Annette Fortner, am a cheapo. I will not spend a nickel without doing hours and hours of research. The costliest mistake Daniel and I have made in our vlogging business was not using a MacBook Pro from the beginning. We bought a Lenovo Yoga 920 because we liked that it was so much cheaper and had basically the same internal components. Man, were we WRONG. It could NOT handle Adobe Premiere Pro, and we ended up wasting $1700 and still had to buy a MacBook Pro 6 months later. Do yourself a favor, if you are planning on doing ANY video editing, GET A MACBOOK PRO. It processes footage SUPER fast, renders videos in minutes, and is basically indestructible. In short, it is simply worth every penny. I have been working on a 2013 MacBook Pro that had a full cup of coffee spilled on it in 2015. The thing is still kicking despite having an enormous stain on the screen. Daniel uses a 2017 Macbook for those of you who are wondering, so don't feel like you have to get the latest model for it to work.
We own 3 of these hard drives and we love them. If I had money overflowing from my pockets I would invest in a solid state drive, but we're not there yet. So, we just handle our hard drives very carefully. Make sure that you get a case for your hard drive to keep it safe and lower your chances of corrupting it. This is the hard drive case we use and we really like it.
We film tons of footage in a day, and we've only maxed out our memory storage a couple of times. We've considered upgrading to a 258GB memory card, but the way we look at it is it keeps us efficient with our storage. The more we film, the more external hard drives we have to purchase to store that data. This Ultra series has incredibly fast reading and writing speeds and is everything we could need and want. Also, we recommend you stick to the MicroSD cards because they typically come with an adapter, and can be used on any device.
If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us!
And as promised, click down below to get your free packing list!
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