Many travelers, even experienced ones, travel with their creature comforts at the expense of luggage weight — I know one who refuses to go anywhere without her pillow, and others who haul too many clothes for SE Asia. However, a lot of us tend to become traveling minimalists by necessity, never buying a family-size anything or more than a few days’ supply of dry snacks. I’m here to tell you the day will come when you know you’re going to be in one place for many months and get out of the habit of buying little to save space. What are some of the first purchases you’ll make that will let you realize your traveling days are on hold?
(Author’s note: excluding obvious things like furniture, dishes, living space, and cars.)
I usually just swiped a laundry pod or two and some dryer sheets from my friends’ places when I needed supplies on the road. Buying a full container of detergent means you plan on being around for the full 64 loads.
2. Loose tea
Travelers drink tea, of course. There are plenty of caffeine aficionados who haul coffee beans, loose leaf tea, and infusers (maybe even a French press), but we all know if you’re carrying everything with you, instant coffee and tea bags are infinitely more practical. Buying nothing but full bags of loose leaf means you probably have your own mug and kettle.
3. iPhone contract
Two years of your life, sold away so you can comment on pictures of kitties. Well, not really; the standard contract does in fact allow account holders to freeze the contract for a few months at a time, but unless you’re willing to pay a fine, buy the phone up front, or pay for service you won’t use abroad, you know you’re grounded.
4. Real books
This one is a misnomer; I’m in the minority, but I tend to bring real books with me when I travel. Nevertheless, the growing trend is to use an e-reader and just download English-language material across the world. Stocking up on hardbacks means you’re planning on buying a bookshelf, filling it with inspirational reading, and inviting guests over to sip wine while you drone on about your time in Peru.
5. Formal clothes
Yes, many travelers come prepared with something appropriate for business casual, but I don’t know too many who bring jackets or full suits, tuxedos, etc. along for the ride, risking mildew, wrinkling… not to mention the weight and having the matching shoes. Look at yourself in the mirror the first time you buy that pantsuit or tie and just think: “you’re here forever.”
Don’t forget: You’re here forever.
6. Anything offering point cards
Sandwiches, smoothies, ice cream, haircuts… it’s not as though you wouldn’t buy any of these in another country, but hanging onto the point card and expecting to get the free whatever after twenty purchases?
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