minimalist travel – Alaska

Mr. Smith and I are going on a ten-day trip to Alaska. We’ll be spending a few days in Anchorage, a few days driving around, and a few days in Fairbanks. I’m pretty excited about going to a new-me-place and meeting (finally) his extended family. I’ll write about how the trip went in a future post.

We very much love to travel and try to have at least one big trip a year and as many small trips as we can fit in with our schedule. This year, we’ve actually planned two trips. In February, we went to Madrid, Spain for five days and now we’re heading off to Alaska. For me, the challenge is to maximize the travel while minimizing the costs.

One cost that I avoid if at all possible is the checked bag fee. At $50 roundtrip per bag (also known as two tanks of gas or ten Starbucks lattes), I would rather not spend this money. Now, most other people seem to feel the same way and this has created quite the mess. Every time we fly, there are always too many bags for the overhead bin space and some people are forced to gate check their bags. For a long time, gate checking – while inconvenient – was free. However, several airlines have caught on that people were using this idea to get their bags checked for free. Devious, I know!

Personally, I would rather not deal with the hassle at all. Thus, enter the humble backpack that fits under the seat. With a backpack, you avoid both the annoyance of paying for checked baggage and the risk of being forced to check your bag.

But, wait! Didn’t you just say that you’re going on a TEN day trip? Yes, I most certainly did. When traveling with just a backpack, one needs to be a bit more minimal than the average traveler. I do have a secret to share with you: There are laundromats in other places. In fact, one of the AirBnBs we’re staying at has laundry facilities there. My biggest tip here is to pack what you need for four or five days and plan to do laundry mid-way through the trip. I usually pack clothes that can go in the same load of laundry so that we only need to do one joint load between us.

In addition to my travel outfit and purse, I’m taking the following:

  • 4 shirts
  • 2 sweaters
  • 1 pair pants
  • 1 sleepshirt
  • undergarments
  • toiletries
  • medications
  • iPad
  • charger
  • travel floppy hat
  • water bottle
  • to-go container
  • stainless steel straw

You might be wondering about the water bottle, to-go container, and stainless steel straw. Each of these are vital in my travel packing because I still want to create as little trash as possible – even if I’m not at home – and I’m still a frugal person. After getting through security, I refill my water bottle and then don’t have to worry about drinks. The to-go container is for just that. I often can’t finish an entire meal and will take what I can with me for later.

And there you have it. Ten days of travel in a backpack. One thing I would note is that this is obviously scaleable. If I was traveling for longer, I would simply plan on doing laundry a second or third time.

Would you consider traveling in a backpack? Let me know in the comments!


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