In a couple weeks I'll be heading for Canada to see my family. The trip is being split with some time in British Columbia where my family lives and the other will be in Banff National Park. I'm not a frequent flyer as I'm lucky to fly every couple years of so. I still remember the days when we would fly to England to see my grandparents and I'm watching my mother as she crammed what seemed like an endless supply of clothes into a suitcase. Those were the good old days, when everything was free. Today, the airlines nickel and dime passengers for everything. Every time I travel, I'm surprised how much luggage people will bring. Since I'm a minimalist person, I pack the bare necessities. I don't want to pay extra for baggage, wait for it or deal with surly TSA agents. When the plane lands, I want to grab my stuff and head out of the airport.
I researched what most minimalist travelers use and it wasn't much of a surprise, all of them use a backpack. It made perfect sense as a backpack is very versatile. After much research, the backpack that was highly recommended on various sites was the Osprey Farpoint 40. I bought mine at a local outfitters store for $140.00. The price is expensive, but you're paying for high quality material and a lifetime warranty. The Farpoint 40 measures at 22"x 14"x 9", which meets most airlines carry-on requirements. It weights a little over 3 pounds empty which is amazing considering it's listed as a 40L backpack. The main material of this pack is 210D Nylon Mini Hex Diamond Ripstop and it’s one of the main reasons it’s so light and incrediblely durable.
The backpack has a clamshell design, which allows you completely open it and lay it flat much like a suitcase. You can access everything without having to pull stuff out. Inside, there is a sleeve for a laptop, tablet or slim books. The other is a front flap zippered mesh pocket. At the top of the outer shell of the backpack there's another pocket called a slash pocket that is useful for items such as keys, wallet or a passport.
Another great feature is the shoulder harnesses can be stowed away to minimize the size of it when placing it in a overbin compartment or under a seat. There's also a handle on the side of the backpack and a strap if you wanted to use it as a duffle bag.
To take advantage of all available space and keep my stuff organized, I use packing cubes. I purchased set of cubes made by Gonex from Amazon for $26.00. The set has a large, medium and 3 small cubes plus a laundry bag. For my trip, I'm using the medium and 3 small cubes. Everything is rolled and neatly packed in them. One top will be my fleece jacket and toiletries. I packed all of those items and I was surprised how much I was able to fit in it. The compression straps made it even more flatter.
Here's my list
One pair of hiking pants
3 pair of wool socks
5 pairs of underwear
3 pairs of shorts
Cell phone charger
Doesn't sound like a lot, but I'll be able to do laundry at my mother's place. But even if I didn't have access to a washer and dryer, I would have simply washed my clothes in a sink and dry them on a hanger.
The Osprey came in handy when we hiked up the Lake Agnes teahouse. I packed snacks, some clothes and water. The hike was a little over 2 miles and almost 1,700 ft up through a series of switch back trials. For the entire hike, I barely felt the weight of the pack. The hip and shoulder straps kept it tight against me.
Being a minimalist packer isn't for everybody. Most do it because they're on a tight budget or backpacking through Europe going from one hostel to the next. Next year, I'm planning on going to Italy's Almafi coast for a week. It might be difficult packing dress shoes, slacks and a nice shirt when I take my girlfriend out for a nice romantic dinner. But, a minimalist packer might be able to pull that off without breaking a sweat.
So remember when traveling there's no need to pack like you're spending the next 8 years in Tibet.