Zen Habits
Leo Babuata Updated: 15 April 2021 07:30 IST

Zen Habits : My Most Minimal Travel Setup Yet

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I just got back from a trip to Beijing and Shanghai, and really loved how light I traveled for 8 days.

It was the least amount of stuff I’ve taken on a trip of any length, and traveling has never been less tiring.

When you have very little on your back, it’s less draining. It’s faster and funner.

I thought I’d share my latest travel setup, in hopes that it’ll inspire a few of you to try the joys of traveling lightly.

My Setup

This setup is unique to me, so I don’t recommend that you copy it … but that said, I’m sharing it so you can possibly get a few ideas and see how light travel is possible.

  1. The backpack. I traveled the entire time with just a tiny backpack, no luggage or roller bag. The one I used is the Goruck 15L Shadowruck, which is just 15-liters in volume and only 0.27 lbs. (!). It’s super light. It’s tough. Not much room in it. Perfect.
  2. No laptop. The most significant change I made to my setup this trip is to travel without my 11-inch Macbook Air. This tiny laptop is only 2.38 lbs., but traveling without a laptop is a huge change in weight. I was only going for 8 days, so I did my writing before I left. This wouldn’t work for many people. If I had to write for a longer trip, I could find an Internet cafe in most cities and write there.
  3. The iPhone. While I resisted getting an iPhone for 6 years, in June Eva bought me the iPhone 5 for Father’s Day. So I’m now a part of the smartphone masses. And I embraced it on this trip, carrying only the iPhone, no laptop or camera. I did my reading, Tweeting, email and other work on here. And of course used it to document my trip with sweet photos. Also included: the charging cord.
  4. Clothes: I favor workout clothes, because they are breathable, washable, comfortable and dry fast. So I wore the Ascent Pant, which looks a little dressy and is light and breathable. And a Precision T. And ExOfficio boxer briefs. I packed: another Precision T, two more boxer briefs, some workout socks, workout shorts, and a long-sleeve workout T-shirt. Just in case, I also packed a thin, lightweight Nike rain jacket (I didn’t need it this trip). Just in case it was cold, I also packed a beanie.
  5. Toiletries. Deodorant, toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, nailclippers.
  6. Food. Just in case, I packed a handful of fruit & nut bars, and some raw almonds.
  7. Other. I also had a couple of notebooks and pens, for writing, my passport, earbuds, a travel towel, a sleep mask, ear plugs, and a universal travel adapter.

Total weight: under 8 lbs.

Questions and Answers

Q: Why travel without a laptop?

A: I liked traveling without all the weight. And I tend to use the laptop too much when I travel, so I thought the restriction of not having a laptop would be good for me. If I needed to write, I might have found a foldable keyboard for the iPhone, or used an Internet cafe.

Q: How do you travel with so few clothes?

A: I simply wash them in the shower, wring them out good, and hang them to dry in my hotel room. I didn’t need to wash the pants, though they’re easily washable (as opposed to jeans). If you wash underwear, a shirt and socks on most nights, you only need one or two changes.

Q: Why workout clothes and not cotton?

A: I love cotton. It’s just heavier, and it gets smellier, than the workout clothes I pack. And it takes longer to dry. And wrinkles more. So the clothes I brought solve all those problems, and they’re very comfortable.

Panel: How To Deal With And Create Change

On another note, I invite you to join me, Matt Frazier of No Meat Athlete, and Jesse Jacobs of Samovar Tea Lounge, for a great panel discussion we’re holding at Samovar Tea Lounge in San Francisco next week (Oct. 29) from 8-10 p.m.

If you’re interested, get tickets here:

How To Deal With And Create Change — Tea, Tips & Talk

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