What follows is the philosophy I employed as a minimalist traveler while backpacking around Europe for seven weeks.
Inspired by three primary people, Tynan, Ray Jardine (author of Beyond Backpacking), and John Gregory (creator of the website Art of Travel), I’ve developed a comprehensive, 3-season packing list for anyone interested in traveling Europe, or any westernized country, in a budget-friendly manner. This packing list combines three primary philosophies: lightweight outdoor backpacking (also called Ultralight Backpacking – Ray Jardine), travel minimalism (Tynan) and travel flexibility (Art of Travel).
To begin, let me explain all three philosophies.
Ultralight Backpacking: Ray Jardine
The modern guru of Ultralight backpacking is Ray Jardine, a man who has some serious outdoor credentials, including through hikes of both the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails, sea kayaking thousands of miles near Baja California, and a former outdoor leader for NOLS.
Jardine emphasizes a no-frills approach to outdoor backpacking.Basically, you pack only what you need, and do not take ANYTHING that is not practically necessary. For example, Jardine believes a headlamp is unnecessary because human eyes eventually adjust to darkness, making a light useless. Other examples include no stuff sack for sleeping bag; only half of a therma-rest; sawed off toothbrush; quarters of a bandana; and only one piece of each clothing article (besides socks).
By streamlining your pack, Jardine states that backpacking becomes 10x easier due the reduction in packweight, allowing each backpacker to become immersed in a nirvana-like experience.
How did I apply this philosophy to my pack strategy?
1. The Therma-rest I used was cut in half, rolled up and stuffed in my pack.
2. Used a Go-Lite backpacking pack. At only 1.5 pounds, it’s 1/3 the weight of most standard packs.
3. Packed a Go-Lite tarp, weighing in at .5 pounds, instead of a one-person tent, which weighs upwards of 2.5-3 pounds.
4. Did NOT use normal hiking boots. Instead I wore Merrell barefoot shoes aka TRAINERS, which weighed about a quarter of normal hiking boots. I also wore my trainers while hiking in the Himalayas, receiving a number of “you’re not actually hiking in those, are you?” comments.
Travel Minimalism: Tynan
Tynan’s philosophy is grounded in a combination of entertainment and practicality. In his recent gear posts, he has written about owning a minimal amount of clothing: two t-shirts, two pairs of underwear, one pair of pants, one pair of shorts, one hooded sweatshirt, a warm jacket, a rain jacket and very simple shoes. I based many of my specific clothing choices (such as brand and style) from Tynan’s recommendations.
The other half of Tynan’s list includes technological items that serve to enhance his overall life experience. This list includes a minituare camera, tiny speakers, unbelievable earbuds, a travel backpack, a mini flashlight, and various other tidbits. I only purchased a few of the items on this list, as most are too expensive to consider buying.
Travel Flexibility: Art of Travel
The phrase “travel flexibility” needs further explanation.
By flexibility, I mean the ability to choose when and where you sleep, no matter where you are in the world. So, if you want to save a few bucks and sleep under the stars for a night, you can. Or, if it’s been a long day, and you’d really like a hot shower, then staying at a hostel is just as easy. When you have a light backpack slung over your shoulder, then getting places you want to go, even if it requires a lot of walking (hell, it’s better if it requires a lot of walking, cause the chances of other humans spoiling it with their constant presence is much less likely), is no problem at all.
In my eyes, travel flexibility = travel freedom.
Due to the high cost of travel in the UK (most budget travelers spend $70+ per day), I based my travel itinerary around his philosophy. Simply put, I can’t afford to spend 70+ dollars per day while traveling, so drastic measures, such as sleeping under the stars, had to be employed.
John Gregory, the author of Art of Travel, has backpacked around the world many times. To quote from the website itself: “Not only is low budget independent travel the best way to experience other cultures on an intimate, participatory level, but it’s a great way to learn about yourself.”
Now, I didn’t follow his ideas as strictly as I initially intended to. My original goal was to never pay for a night of accommodation, by employing a combo of couchsurfing and camping. This idea did not work out. However, when I did backpack through Scotland and England, I spent a total of 7 nights under the stars, and, including Spain, spent upwards of three weeks staying with couchsurfers, saving me several hundred dollars in total.
The actual packing list will follow very soon. Expect detailed descriptions, prices and total weights.
My apologies for the consistent delays in posting. My last post was written the day prior to leaving for Scotland. I traveled for nearly eleven weeks straight, from September 9 until November 24.
From now on posts will be much more consistent, as I’ve been working hard to get all my travel experiences into writing form. As those who are familiar with my blog posts can see, this blog post isn’t as detailed or comprehensive as I’d like; but I need to publish something in order to get the ball rolling.
Thanks to all who tuned in, and I promise much more content in the near future.