My husband and I recently got back from our honeymoon-slash-my-graduation-from-naturopathic-medical-school-celebration trip to Europe which, might I say, was ah-mazing. We were really trying to keep things minimal, particularly in the areas of packing, money, and eating. As we are still students in the art of minimalism, I thought I would share with you a few things I learned, while preparing for, and during our trip.
For context, we traveled in September to Spain (Barcelona and Ibiza), and visited the Greek islands of Mykonos, Naxos, and Santorini. We did some sight-seeing, beaching, hiking, dancing, and a lot of walking.
The number one tip I learned before leaving was:
Lay out all your clothes and make sure that EVERYTHING goes together.
You need to be able to wear each top with each bottom. This will make your travel wardrobe much more versatile AND will make your daily outfit decisions sooo much easier.
Pack your usual clothes.
It's fun to go shopping for a bunch of new travel clothes but what people wear in Europe is not all that different than Canada. Having your usual outfits will make you feel much more secure in a new place, AND will make you look like less of a tourist.
If you always wear jeans, pack jeans, unless, of course, it's going to be deathly hot, then pack the shorts you normally wear, not the pair of slightly uncomfortable but super cute shorts that you have been waiting for the perfect time to wear...you should probably just get rid of those ;).
Take a backpack, and leave room in it.
I agonized for weeks over whether to use a suitcase or a backpack.
I didn't want to look like a tourist but I also didn't want to be the one dragging my bag awkwardly over cobblestone streets and narrow stairways. I ended up taking my backpack because that's what the rest of my party was doing and, although I think you could get away with a suitcase if you are staying in hotels the whole time and not doing much walking with your bag, I'm glad I chose it because it gave me more freedom.
Of course, leave room in your bag or carry-on for clothes, and souvenirs if you are the type who likes to bring them back for people. Just make sure they are meaningful and not just brought back for the sake of bringing something back. No one needs another stupid trinket to clutter their lives.
We brought back 4 locally-made bird-shaped water whistles for our nieces and nephews, 3 lava rock candles for our parents and ourselves, one t-shirt each with the logo of a club we had a great time at (shout out to Ushuaia!), and one pair of thai-style pants for my mom who was gonna steal mine if she didn't get some soon!
Not to sound like mom, but...
Make sure you have a stylish pair of comfortable walking shoes or sandals.
A common theme when I hear people talking about their travels is that there is always a lot of walking. I only brought my runners for the more intense hikes we were planning on doing, so if that's not part of your travel plans and runners aren't part of your usual wardrobe, then you probably don't need them.
When you're going to a different country, you understandably want to try all of the local food and drink, but eating out for every meal will quickly add up.
Pick a few special occasions to splurge, then go cheap for the rest.
In Greece, we ate 2 euro gyros ALL THE TIME (also because they were freaking delicious), and once in a while we sat down for a nice lunch or dinner.
In Europe, it is commonplace to have a coffee and a pastry for breakfast. Delicious but not exactly the best way to start your day. I recommend going to the market and picking up your own breakfast items, such as eggs. Or, better yet, try some intermittent fasting :D. Post on that coming soon.
Particularly in Greece, we noticed that the dishes are not served as complete meals, but salads, meat dishes, and so on. So, we would often order a Greek salad and one meat dish to share. It was absolutely enough food.
Eat an apple a day.
Seriously. Traveler’s constipation is as much of a thing as traveler's diarrhea, especially if you are traveling by air, so fibre and water will be your best friend.
Just because you are offered free snacks and beverages on your flight doesn't mean you should take them.
Practice your minimalism by saying no to free food on short flights, as it is usually not the healthiest. With a little planning, you can bring your own healthy snacks. Bring a large water bottle as well, and refill between flights. Two tiny cups of water is not enough to replace what you are losing during the flight due to the altitude and extremely low humidity.
Go when the crowd is sleeping.
Sometimes, you can’t help but be where everyone else is while traveling, like the village of Oia on Santorini at sunset.
BUT most of the time, you can avoid the crowds by heading to the sights in the morning. Many times, we would arrive somewhere just in time to explore the sight and take photos with no one around, before tour bus after tour bus would arrive and people would be crawling everywhere.
If you can't avoid going when everyone else is,
Be patient and respectful of others taking photos.
If you step aside and let them get a great pic, chances are, they will do the same for you. Be creative! The photo below was taken with droves of people walking just below the frame.
Schedule some down time.
Remember that this is your time to relax! If you are constantly on the go, you may feel like you never really got a break. I know I could have used one more chill beach day :D.