I first adopted Minimalist Travel techniques while working as a sales rep for Staples. My role had me traveling at least once a month by plane to either Toronto or Thunder Bay. Since time is money, the less time spent at the airport, the better. Waiting for baggage was a waste of time. This is how I first started traveling carry-on only.
While carry-on worked for business, it took me a few more years to adopt it for personal travel. After a trip to Boston in 2014, where we almost couldn’t get home due to the amount of stuff we had, I realized I never wanted to be a slave to my bags again. For the three week trip Kyla and I took to Europe the following year, we scrutinized every last thing we packed and made carry-on only work. Seven trips later, we still haven’t checked a bag. This includes our trip most recent trip in August to Ontario with Devlin.
Now to the fun part! Here are the tricks and tips…
Minimalist Travel Tips
- The average price for checked baggage (return) is $50. Are the things you are bringing/packing going to cost more than $50 to buy once you arrive? If no, don’t bring them and buy what you need once you arrive.
- Keeping all your belongings with you makes things easier if there are flight issues or you miss a connection. Never have a lost bag if it is always in your possession.
- Liquids always go in the easiest to access pocket, usually your smaller carry-on. Never have them in the middle of your larger carry-on. Put them away wherever you want after security.
- There is no need to bring full-size bottles of any product. Use a travel bottle set and take only what you need while you are away – not your entire bathroom. If your deodorant is a solid, it doesn’t need to go in the liquid bag. Neither does your razor. Additionally, hotels will give you extra shampoos, conditioners, and toiletries. You just need to ask! If you use a solid
- Packing Cubes. Save time and space. More on these below.
- Do a test run. A few weeks before a trip, live like you are on vacation. Keep track of everything you use. Even better, set aside everything you would pack and only use that for a week. Whatever you don’t touch or use, doesn’t come with you. I did this last year when I traveled to BlizzCon in just my Dakine backpack listed in the following section.
- Laundry service helps for longer trips. While in Europe for three weeks, we did laundry twice. Once through the hotel, and once at a laundromat. One of my favorite moments of the trip was drinking espresso with the locals in Berlin while waiting for our clothes to dry.
One thing I will not share or even touch on in this post is a packing list. There are too many variables and too much individual decisions to be made. However, do make your own. I have two which I keep on my phone in Evernote. One for trips less than a week and another for trips more than seven days.
Every Trip Essentials
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40L Rolling Bag: My bag of choice is the Convoy Roller from MEC. The top handle of the bag is soft and sewn well. Never worry about pinching or tearing. It holds a lot too. Lightweight and Narrow. It has never met an overhead it couldn’t fit inside.
26L backpack: I have used my Dakine Duel for almost 15 years – that is longer than I have known Kyla. It has been with me on almost every trip too. It is big enough to hold what I need while small enough to not be in the way while under a seat. Great for airport security because of easy access to your computer via the laptop compartment. on the side.
Packing Cubes: I don’t know how I traveled before I started using packing cubes in 2015. Packing cubes control the space inside your bag and make unpacking easier. For some trips, I will pack the cubes for different points in the trip (days 1-2, 3-5, 6-7). My usual tactic is shirts, pants, and sleepwear rolled in a large size. Medium for socks and underwear. Small for toiletries that do not need to go through security.
Document Holder Wallet: The LUG Tango Travel Wallet is my preferred document holder. It is a handy place to keep passports, any paper confirmations, cash, and customs declaration forms. It doesn’t take up much room and gives me a piece of mind that everything is in one place.
Travel Power Bar: I used to bring a power bar with us due to all the things we had to plug in. This made it easy at an Airbnb or hotel to ensure all our tech were located in a central location and all chargers were accounted for when leaving. Last year, I upgraded to a 3-Outlet Wall Mount, with USB ports.
BONUS! BlizzCon Related Tips
- Flu shot two weeks before you leave.
- Wash your hands constantly. Hand Sanitizer is good, but hand washing is best.
- Because I am an International Traveler, I print out all confirmations I have (Boarding Passes, Hotel, Transportation, Event Ticket) and put them in the travel wallet. I want to limit the opportunities to bring out my phone in crowded travel areas or going through Customs
- A good eye mask and earplugs (Noise Cancelling Headphones are even better if they are in your budget). If you have a flight over an hour, sleep. If you can’t fall asleep, doze. Get any rest you can before the event, because you’ll hit the ground running once there.
- SuperShuttle is your friend.
- Join your Hotel’s Loyalty Program! Marriott offers free wi-fi to their members regardless of level. I was able to get two nights on points at the Hilton last year for significant savings.
- Every year, I buy a new pair of running/walking shoes. I purchase them a few weeks in advance and break them by walking around the house for a few days. They do not go outside until the first day of the trip. This helps save my feet during long days. Also, new socks. Your feet will thank you.
- Use the CVS / Walgreens. Once you arrive, take some time to do a small shop for your room. Healthy snacks, alcohol, unhealthy snacks, any toiletries you planned to buy once you arrived. After checking-in, this is the first thing I do. I also bring a small reusable bag like the KNALLA from IKEA to help carry everything back to the hotel.
- Southern California is basically a desert. Drink lots of Water! I learned the hard way my first year when I suffered from massive dehydration headaches. I now try to drink 32oz an hour while at the Con.
- Nap when you can. You do not need to spend all day at the Convention Center. Sneak back to your hotel. Watch a panel on the Virtual Ticket and have a siesta. You’ll feel better about doing it when 2 am rolls along.
- Leave your phone in Low Power Mode the entire weekend.
- A battery charger with a minimum of 20000mAh. You do not want to ever be without power, so make sure your battery pack is up to the challenge. I personally use the Anker PowerCore 26800 with double charging. Also, make sure to recharge it each night so you are never without or trying to find a plug! Set a reminder or an alarm on your phone to help you remember.
- What about the Goodie Bag and merch when it comes to carry-on? I only buy what I can bring home. That is part of the deal when traveling by carry-on. But, I do pack accordingly. In 2014, I packed my backpack inside my rolling bag giving me space to bring items home. In 2015, I didn’t bring a backpack, used the messenger bag given to us, and left space in my bag for anything I would acquire. Last year, I only used the backpack to travel down and bought the Overwatch Duffle Bag on the Blink Sale to carry the items back. You shouldn’t need much for a 4-5 day trip, leaving room to bring stuff home. This year, I plan on doing a giveaway for the Goodie Bag while at BlizzCon since I do not have a need for any of the items, meaning I also don’t need to worry about space in my bags.
Bonus Bonus! Video Walkthrough of my packing style and BlizzCon Tips!
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What are some of your travel tricks? Anything to add when it comes to BlizzCon? Share in the comments!