Travel teaches us many things. It throws us into unfamiliar circumstances without the lifeline of our familiar home, possessions, and people, and forces us to learn and adapt to those circumstances. I’ve always thought it really helps me to know what I am capable of, who I am, and what I want – plus, I really get to know anyone I am traveling with! While I travel so much that I only have pockets of “everyday life”, I have definitely taken tricks, practices, and skills learned through travel and applied them to that everyday life. Here are five travel habits that can be very valuable both on the road and off.
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1. Minimalism & Multi-Functionality
When you travel, you have to be able to physically carry, drag, or roll whatever you want to have with you. You don’t bring your entire closet or even as many clothes as you might wear at home in the same amount of time as your trip. You pare it down to the bare essential and maybe a few luxuries, depending on space. No matter how long I travel for, I always pack carry-on only! And there is always something that I never use. You don’t need as much as you think.
You can translate this spirit to your everyday life and clear out the clutter in your home. Do you really need and use everything you own? Of course, your home wardrobe does not need to fit in a carry-on suitcase, especially if you live in a place with widely different seasons! I’m just suggesting you use that minimalist travel mindset to pare back your possessions. This can help with organization, neatness, space, and budget (you won’t buy as much and can sell anything you already have but don’t need!).
Multi-functional items are another travel staple that can help you go minimal at home. If one item can do the work of two or three, you can reduce the number of things you own and the space they take up. I love me an infinity dress, for example. That one piece of clothing can be worn a dozen different ways, allowing you wardrobe variety with a single item. As a traveler, multifunctional bags are totally my “bag”, so to speak. Something like this convertible backpack is great for everyday life. It’s one item you can use as a wristlet purse, a shoulder bag, or a backpack, depending on your needs that day!
2. Carry Necessities With You
Like I said before, when traveling you have to carry everything you need with you. Of course, you leave most of it in your accommodation as you explore your destination. But if I’m going to be out all day in a strange city, I always bring some minimal “just in case” supplies with me. I always carry a water bottle and a snack. Especially as a vegetarian, I never know when/where I might find food. I carry a spork multitool keychain, too, so I can easily eat any street food or gas station snack I do find.
Asmall packet of tissues and hand sanitizer are great for understocked public toilets and a small fold-up shopping bag is perfect to unfold to carry any purchases you make or that sweater when you get hot, etc. Having these little conveniences with you wherever you go, even around your hometown, can come in super handy. I even carry my water bottle around the house with me to help me stay hydrated!
3. Packing Cubes & Vacuum Packing
Packing cubes and vacuum packing are great ways to organize and save space in a suitcase, or to fit more in a smaller bag. They don’t only have to be suitcase organizers, however. You can use these space-saving tools in your home closet as well. Pack away and vacuum down your off-season clothes or spare bed linens and pillows. Contain socks, underwear, scarves, small items that tend to sprawl and take over a drawer with packing cubes. You can tidy up lots of things in your house this way, link yarn or table cloths – not just clothing!
Along with “long-term” and “solo”, “budget” is one of the three core components of my travel style. I’m able to travel cheaper than the average person lives a “normal” life. So why can’t you bring that thrifty, selective budgeting into a “normal” life? You can! While I tend to travel without a strict itinerary or too many thoughts on where exactly I’m going to go when and what I’m going to do, I do have a general budget in mind of what I’m willing to spend on that particular trip.
I use credit cards all the time to rack up travel rewards points but I never spend more than I have in the bank. As an introvert, I opt for private accommodation whenever possible but I go for the cheapest option I’m comfortable with. I eat out in restaurants to try local food but not every day. I look for free sights that sound cool and pick and choose only the paid attractions and activities that I am most interested in. I walk or use public transportation as much as possible rather than renting a car or paying for a taxi or Uber.
You can bring some of this travel budgeting balance into your home life, too. Sure, get take-out or go to a restaurant but only once in a while. Or set a monthly budget and when it’s gone, you’re cooking at home the rest of the month. Having your own car is convenient, but is there a cheaper public transport option you could use part of the time to get to work or run errands? Pick and choose the leisure activities you do to those most important to you. What is the minimum level of comfort and fun you want in your life and do you really need to spend more than that? Setting a budget and tracking expenses can help you minimize your everyday spending.
Traveling to new and exotic places gives you the opportunity to have new and exotic experiences. I always try to see the sights, take in the culture, try the local food of any place I visit. I’ll take that riverboat cruise, climb that tower or mountain, hop the bus out to the next town just to see what it’s like. You don’t have to go to extremes like bungee jumping or skydiving (although I totally have!), but it’s not too difficult to bring a little bit of that adventurous-try-anything-be-open-learn-and-explore attitude to your everyday life.
Most people never do the so-called “touristy” things in their own backyard. Pretend you aren’t a local and view your home from the perspective of a traveler. See the sights, check out new things, eat at the street vendors. Look for fun things to do in your area. Even something like trying an escape room or renting a kayak can help add adventure to your daily routine. Bring the joy and exploration of travel home with you.
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