Minimalist Travel Guide: How to  Travel Anywhere in the World with One Backpack

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This is my minimalist travel guide. I designed the guide after traveling to 25+ countries with a single backpack while working full-time. 

I put together this resource so that you can learn how to travel with less and focus on the real joy of travel – the people you meet, the experiences you have, and the food you consume.

With the items included in the guide, you will be able to pack your possessions in 15 minutes, comfortably throw them on your back, and head to any country in the world knowing that you have what you need.

Whether you are just starting or in your 10th year of traveling, you will find at least one nugget of invaluable wisdom.

The guide is divided into 10 sections. Click each section to see the items listed.

When you travel, you need much less than you think you do. When you pack, your mind naturally gets caught up in all the things you might need.

But to travel as a minimalist, you must shift your focus to only what you will need. The following 3 guiding principles will help you make that mental shift:

1. Is this essential?
With everything you consider packing, ask yourself ‘Is this essential?’. If no, don’t bring it! Do not pack for the edge cases. Remember that in 99% of cases you can buy whatever it is you need if the scenario arises.

2. Buy something, donate something.
If you buy something – a shirt, trinket, painting, etc., donate something. This will transform how you think about purchases and prevent you from accumulating items along the way.

3. Comfort and utility before style.
You can still look trendy and stylish, but develop a bias for practical and dynamic items. A pair of Nikes that can be used to run, hike, and go out becomes more valuable than a pair of suede shoes that you wear to nice dinners.

These three rules form the foundation of my minimalist travel philosophy and have helped me optimize the below items over time.

Osprey Farpoint 40L Travel Backpack
This is my primary backpack. It’s awesome! It is the optimal blend of size, comfort, and simplicity. Even when fully packed, it feels light on the back. It’s also easy to organize and spacious, especially with a few packing cubes. You will never need to check this bag on a flight. And in the rare event that the overheads are full or unusually small, it even fits under the seat of an airplane. You really can’t go wrong with this bag.
Buy here.

Cotopaxi Luzon 18L Lightweight Daypack
This daypack is hard to beat. It’s super light, spacious, and incredibly durable. I use this bag for everything I do- hiking, bringing my laptop to a coffee shop, carrying groceries, and so on. It is even large enough to pack lightly for a 3 to 4 day trip. If you have a home base somewhere and want to take a small trip, this is your bag. And finally, Cotopaxi is an admirable brand that does lots of good in the world. They give back in big ways to help solve poverty. This bag makes me feel good in every way.
Buy here.

AmazonBasics 4-Piece Packing Cube Set
These packing cubes enable you to fit more in your backpack and to organize your clothing in smart ways. The organization pays off when you are traveling quickly from place to place and want to avoid just throwing everything into your backpack and moving to the next place. Pro tip: the can also be used as a laundry bag.
Buy here.

SUNGLASSES AND WALLET

Ray-Ban Folding Wayfarer Sunglasses
I did not like wearing sunglasses until I found these. They are comfortable, look sharp, and fold up very nicely. They are also pretty low key, so you don’t worry about people taking them.
Buy them here.

Polarspek Trendy Sunglasses
These are my cheap, backup sunglasses that I wear on beach days or when I’m boozing. They are polarized and comfortable.
Buy them here.

Travelambo Minimalist Slim Wallet
This wallet is great. It’s slim, practical, and comes in a bunch of fun colors. I carry two of them. Day to day, I carry one with a little cash, a credit card, and a health insurance card. I leave the rest of my cards and identification safely locked away at my residence. That way, if I ever lose my wallet or get it stolen, the damage is minimal. This strategy protects you without being a burden on your time or attention. I also recommend carrying your wallet in your front pocket.
Buy it here.



OTHER GREAT STUFF

Calm the F*ck Down Adult Coloring Book
Coloring helps reduce stress and increase creativity. It’s great to open this book, start coloring, and unwind after a long day.
Buy them here.

Silk Sleep Mask
This sleep mask is very comfortable. It comes in handy on airplanes and other places I’d like to sleep, but can’t turn the lights off.
Buy them here.

Rustic Thank You Note Cards
Thank you cards come in handy when you want to let people know that you are thankful for their hospitality and kindness. These have a good design and are not too bulky.
Buy them here.

Ricco Bello Notebook
I always carry a notebook. It comes in handy when you want to journal, take notes, or avoid technology during a long journey. Pretty much any notebook will do, but this one is pretty good. I also carry around a notebook I bought in Chiang Mai. The cover reminds me that as long as I’m not pink and eating grass, I’m okay.
Buy it here.

Uni-ball Ballpoint Pens (x2)
A pen is a pen. When you travel, you will usually need a pen to fill out immigration cards and to journal. Other than that, you probably don’t need a pen. These are pretty good pens that get the job done.
Buy them here.

EQUIPMENT

Jump Rope by FMS International
It’s not always easy to find a gym when you’re on the road. That said, it is always easy to find a space to jump rope unless you’re in Manhattan. I like this jump rope because it’s ultralight, high quality, and compact. If you see a guy jumping rope on the side of the highway, it’s likely me.
Buy it here.

Resistance Bands
These resistance bands are amazing. No matter where I am, they allow me to get in a good workout or stretch. I often use them on long flights and after sitting at my computer for extended periods of time. They have good resistance and take up very little space.
Buy it here.

Vetoky Mirrored Swim Goggle
I love to swim and carry goggles wherever I go. It’s easy on the body and a great form of meditation, You get a full body workout and escape from the world of technology. Not only these goggles trendy, but they also have UV protection, don’t fog up, and are comfortable.
Buy them here.



SUPPLEMENTS

Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein
It’s often hard and expensive to good sources of protein on the road. This 1lb bag of whey protein is a gem. I mix it with oats and peanut butter for a hearty breakfast.
Buy it here.

Viva Naturals Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps me stay healthy and energized. 
Buy it here.

Thorne Research Stress B-Complex 
This B-complex helps me stay healthy and reduce stress. 
Buy it here.

FOR WORK

HP Spectre x360 13.3 inch
This laptop has served me well and is an awesome travel partner. It is very lightweight, durable, and has good battery life. It also is touch screen and rotates 360 degrees so you can use it like a tablet or comfortably watch a movie. It also looks a lot like a MacBook. So you can have the ‘cool’ factor of being an Apple guy for half the price and still be a beast with your Excel shortcuts.
Buy it here.

HP Bluetooth Mouse
This mouse is comfortable and ultra thin. It’s great because it’s less bulky than most mouses. And it works. What more could you want from a mouse?

Apple Headphones
I carry multiple pairs of these. They are reliable and can be used to make calls, listen to music, and make recordings. If you need truly exceptional sound quality, you might look elsewhere. But these are perfect for most everyday use cases.
Buy them here.



FOR LEISURE

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
The Kindle is a traveling man’s best friend and the best investment I’ve ever made. It fits in your pocket and gives you access to millions of books in an instant. It can provide you happiness during solo dinners and long bus rides. It’s easy on the eyes during the day and night. I love my kindle. Buy a Kindle even if you don’t travel.
Buy it here.

UE Boom Bluetooth Speaker
This portable speak is super dynamic and durable You can bring it to the beach, the Ritz-Carlton, or on a yacht. It is reasonably priced, has good sound quality, and is incredibly durable. You can drop it a bunch of times and it will still work. It’s even loud enough to host a party with.
Buy it here.

Buy it here.

Unlocked iPhone 8+
The iPhone 8+ has great battery life, a large screen for reading, and an excellent camera. I use this as my primary camera. Ensure that it is unlocked. Then you can buy local SIM cards for $5 to $15 wherever you go. With a local SIM card, you get multiple GBs of data and the ability to make calls. This is cheaper than getting a package from your domestic service provider and is often more reliable.
Buy it here.

Spigen Tough Armor iPhone Case
iPhones are expensive and fragile. Protect your investment with a good case. I have used this case for 5+ years. It is not too bulky or expensive. After dropping my iPhone hundreds of times, I can say with confidence that the case does its job well. It even helped my iPhone survive after I flipped an ATV into a rive and was pinned down in the water.
Buy it here.

Chargers: I bring iPhone and Kindle chargers with me everywhere.

SHOES

Nike Free RN Distance Running Shoes
These shoes are hyper-functional. You can wear them on long runs, planes, dates, and in nightclubs. To travel as a minimalist, you need a versatile multi-purpose shoe like this.
Buy them here.

Havaianas Flip Flops
These flip flops are affordable and comfortable. If you lose them, they are easily replaceable. If you end up in Brazil, definitely show up in Havaianas.
Buy them here.

ZANZARA Men’s Picasso Loafer
I’ve purchased these multiple times over the years. They take up very little space, are super comfortable, and can be used in more formal settings. You can also spill water or beer on the navy version of these and they will continue to look good.
Buy them here.



SOCKS, UNDERWEAR, & OTHER

Saucony Comfort Fit No-Show Socks
I’m not too picky when it comes to socks, but these are very comfortable for the price. If you want something a little better, especially for running, these Balega Running Sock are also great.
Buy them here.

Stance Guadalupe Travel Sock
I carry one or two pairs of long socks for plane rides and when it’s a little colder out. These work very well for those purposes.
Buy them here.



UNDERWEAR, HATS, & GLOVES

Underwear x7
I’m not too prescriptive with underwear. I look for comfortable and not boring, so I bring a mix of Penguin Boxer Briefs and Bjorn Borg Briefs.

Patagonia Trucker Hat
These hats are comfortable, stylish, and let your head breathe. Great for being in the sun or when you want to have a hat day.
Buy it here.

North Face Thermal Beanie
These will be times when you find yourself in a colder than expected climate or where your heating doesn’t work. This hat will keep you warm when it happens and takes up very little space.
Buy it here.

North Face Men’s Apex Etip Gloves
I didn’t carry gloves until I did the Salkantay Trek in the Andes. They provided to be very handy again about a year later when I flew from Bali to New York during the ‘bomb cyclone’.
Buy them here.

SHORTS

Bonobos Core Shorts (x2)
These are dynamic shorts that are great for running, swimming, or just hanging out and living your life. They come with a snazzy side pocket for a credit card and cash. One the whole, they are comfortable, light, and classy.
Buy them here.

Bonobos 7″ Washed Chino Shorts (x2)
I carry these in white because white pretty much goes with anything. on the other hand, white gets dirty. But with two pairs, you can easily make up for a wine spill or sitting somewhere dirty with a quick change and a little bleach.
Buy them here.

The Banzai Swim Trunk 7″
I really like this swim trunk. It’s light, fits well, and feels great. You’ll hit the pool or beach with confidence with these trunks.
Buy them here.



PANTS

Bonobos Stretched Washed Chinos
These pants are perfect for going out to dinner, slightly cooler climates, or airplanes. The light green or white will match with most shirts and serve you very well.
Buy them here.

Bonobos Blue Jean
You won’t be made about having these jeans in your playbook. They are comfortable, durable, and can be worn in all kinds of climates.
Buy them here.

SHIRTS

Jcrew V-neck T-shirt
These simple solid v-neck shirts are light and help take the thoughts out of what to wear. I carry 3 black, 1 dark blue and 1 grey. They are not fancy, but they feel good and look sharp.
Buy them here.

Smartwool Merino Wool Shirts
Merino wool is amazing. It’s good for varying climates and doesn’t need to be washed frequently. It is expensive, but worth it. I carry both the Smartwool NTS Mid 250 and the Smartwool 150 Pattern Tee.
Buy them here and here.

Miscellaneous T-shirts (x3)
Carry a t-shirt from your alma mater, your company, or something else that means something to you. These are great to break up the routine of the solid v-necks.

Nike Textured Dri-Fit Tank Top
These tanks are great for working out or lazing around in warm climates. They are comfortable and look sharp.
Buy it here.

Jcrew Irish Linen Shirt
The only button down you need when you travel. Great for warm climates and looks nice with jeans and most pants.
Buy it here.

Bonobos Riviera Short Sleeve Shirt (x2)
These shirts fit well, are comfortable, and have fun prints. People tend to really enjoy the animal prints.  These shirts are good for when you want to look nice and when you want to loosen up and let a few buttons down.
Buy it here.

 


JACKETS

Marmot Precip Jacket
I don’t always travel with a rain jacket, but if you feel that you need one, this one is great. It has nice hand pockets and it more affordable than jacket of similar quality and style. Most importantly, it will keep you dry.
Buy it here.

North Face Apex Chromium Thermal Jacket
This jacket will keep you warm when you find yourself in cooler climates without weighing down your things. It’s also a great companion if your fight is particularly cold.
Buy it here.

ESSENTIAL

Cevetta Leather Toiletry Bag
A simple, light, and easy to organize toiletry bag. This bag allows me to keep all of my toiletries organized in one place.
Buy it here.

Oral-B White Pro 1000
Invest in your teeth. People like it when you smile, and they like it even more when you have good teeth, decent breath, and no mouth infections. So loosen up, laugh a little more, and brush your teeth.
Buy it here.

Ibuprofen Liquid Softgels
Sometimes, you won’t feel good. But there is no need to carry a medicine closet with you. You might be hungover, injured, or just ill And ibuprofen is the most versatile things to have on hand.
Buy it here.



HAIR & FACIAL GROOMING

Phillips Multigroom 5000 Shaver
This is a fantastic all-in-one trimmer for face, head, and body styling. I often use this for haircuts and to trim the beard. It’s one of the best additions I’ve made to the list in the last year.
Buy it here.

Harry’s Razor
Harry’s is a high quality razor with affordable blades. It lasts for a long time and will serve you well on the road. I usually bring 8 extra blades depending on how long I will be traveling.
Buy one here.

Pacific Caffeinated Shaving Cream
This shaving cream has caffeine in it, which is pretty cool. Whether or not it makes for a better shave, I still really don’t know. But I know that it feels pretty good and it works.
Buy it here.

Burt’s Bee Aftershave
I love this aftershave. It changed my experience with shaving. It smells really good and makes your face feel awesome. I don’t travel without it. It comes in a great size for traveling.
Buy it here.

American Crew Fiber Hair Wax
When I had more hair, this product was pretty useful. But I still use it from time to time. I’ve been told it smells good. And it provides a nice hold for your hair and is the right size for travelling.
Buy it here.

Ayshone Trimmer Scissors: You can’t travel with most scissors, but you can with rounded scissors. While these are designed for facial grooming, they come in handy for all kinds of things on the road. I’m often glad I have these with me.

Bestope Nail Clippers: These are good quality nail clippers that get the job done.

Amazon Kindle
The Kindle is a traveling man’s best friend and the best investment I’ve ever made. It fits in your pocket and gives you access to millions of books in an instant. It can provide you happiness during solo dinners and long bus rides. It’s easy on the eyes during the day and night. I love my kindle. Buy a Kindle even if you don’t travel.
Buy it here.

Cotopaxi Luzon 18L Durable Lightweight Daypack
This daypack is hard to beat. It’s super light, spacious, and incredibly durable. I use this bag for everything I do- hiking, bringing my laptop to a coffee shop, carrying groceries, and so on. It is even large enough to pack lightly for a 3 to 4 day trip. If you have a home base somewhere and want to take a small trip, this is your bag. And finally, Cotopaxi is an admirable brand that does lots of good in the world. They give back in big ways to help solve poverty. This bag makes me feel good in every way.
Buy here.

Nike Free RN Distance Running Shoes
These shoes are hyper-functional. You can wear them on long runs, planes, dates, and in nightclubs. To travel as a minimalist, you need a versatile multi-purpose shoe like this.
Buy them here.

Resistance Bands with Carry Bag
These resistance bands are amazing. No matter where I am, they allow me to get in a good workout or stretch. I often use them on long flights and after sitting at my computer for extended periods of time. They have good resistance for their size and take up very little space.
Buy it here.

Smartwool Merino Wool Shirt
Merino wool is versatile. It is good for varying climates and needs to be washed less than a cotton shirt. It is expensive, but worth it. 
Buy it here.

Chase Sapphire Reserve
The best travel credit card in the market. It has a strong signup bonus, a great rewards program, and no foreign transaction fees. It’s easy to redeem rewards for travel, and you earn 3x points for most travel-related purchases. With the card, you also get a Priority Pass membership, which grants you access to a thousand airport lounges around the world. The lounges save you hundreds of dollars on airport food and drink expenses and make long travel journeys much more enjoyable. If you end up in the Bangkok lounges, you even score a free massage!
More info here.

Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card
This card has no membership fee and no foreign transaction fees. It offers great earnings back for Amazon purchases. If you own a Kindle and buy your books on Amazon, it serves you very well even when you’re abroad. If you’re a big Amazon user, this card is great.
More info here.

Charles Schwab High Yield Checking
Last year, I paid an average $15/month in foreign ATM fees. I also ended up short of cash on multiple occasions because I didn’t want to get hit with more fees. This card solves that problem. With if, you get reimbursed for all ATM fees worldwide. If you travel a lot, especially in countries that primarily use cash, this is a huge win. I also only use this as a travel account, so I don’t put my primary checking account at risk while I’m abroad.
More info here.

Identification
The only identification you need to bring anywhere in the world is a driver’s license, a passport, and a health insurance card. Make sure you have these three cards and you’re all set. Keep a photocopy of these cards stored digitally and on your person. I also use this Jcrew Leather Passport Case to protect my passport. As a general rule, I never carry my passport with me for day to day activities. The only place I’ve ever needed it outside of airports and border crossings is a national park in Colombia

Happy travels,

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