I’m a minimalist at heart, although my closet may not reflect that. It’s tough to give up clothes when you just know you’ll eventually have a time and place to wear that particular top. I keep up with the latest fashion and love dressing to the nines. If this is you, yet you’re a firm minimalist, please let me know in the comments how you go about. Especially for minimalist travel.
But here’s the issue: I’m in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with just a carry-on worth of items. I’m in the UAE during the summer. I’m in a place where countless beauty gurus and fashion bloggers live. Here I am with my plain cotton shirts and no makeup.
Why did I forgo the suitcase? After reading countless blogs on minimalism and traveling with only a carry-on, I gave it a try. It’s good practice for when I decide to solo travel and don’t want to be hassled with extra (or lost) luggage. And what’s better prep than bearing the summertime desert heat with a limited set of clothing? If I can handle the extreme, I can handle anything.
I’m staying in the UAE for a little over a month and then I’ll be flying to Banff, Alberta. What a difference in scenery that’ll be, eh?
My Minimalist Packing
Wear your most bulky items to the airport so that you can fit more items in your carry-on. I wore pants, a black top with a denim shirt over and my Nike Free RNs.
What I packed in my backpack (personal item)
I cheated a bit and threw my tripod in my sister’s suitcase (it was too big), but that shouldn’t be the case once I buy a travel tripod. Any recommendations?
Update: I bought the Vanguard 204AB tripod
What I decided to not pack
My goal of visiting Dubai is to explore, have an adventure and stuff myself with all the halal food options that I would otherwise not have in Canada (hello halal McDonald’s!) I had to take into account two things—can I be bothered to put on makeup every morning? What will my makeup look like after being subjected to scorching heat? I’ve decided to stay bare-faced for my trip for convenience-sake and have a little more space in my carry-on.
I love wearing heels and I had to think about this one. Although I have a rental car, I anticipate doing a lot of walking. What about the fancy places I’ll visit? I decided to just bring flat sandals and wear my black ballet flats to places I have to dress up. They’re easier to squeeze into a carry-on than unrelentingly chunky heels.
Time will tell if I end up regretting these decisions.
Minimalist Luggage Tips
I traveled with Saudi Arabian Airlines. Their carry-on weight limit is 7 kg. According to the Saudi Arabian Airlines website, the largest personal item that can be carried is a woman’s purse. My backpack is the Lowepro Mini Trekker Classic, which I thought would pose an issue, but the security checks sailed smoothly. The airline employee didn’t even check the weight or size of my carry-on.
Regardless, before you buy luggage and decide what to pack, always check the airline’s luggage weight and size limit. If you choose to travel suitcase-less, buy lightweight carry-on luggage to fit more items in it. The lightest and least expensive carry-on luggage I found was the Heys Xero. It’s only 1.7 kg and it’s made with polyester. However, I opted for a hard shell 2.6 kg Swiss Gear carry-on because I wasn’t yet sure if I would be packing my camera gear in my carry-on or personal item.
How my minimalism is going so far
It’s only day two in Dubai. I anticipate doing a lot of laundry given my limited set of clothing. The heat, given that I’m vacationing in the desert during summertime, is unbearable during the day. Bear in mind that I’m Canadian so I consider 5°C warm. If you live in country with a hot climate, traveling to Dubai during summer probably won’t be much sweat-inducing.
I’m staying at my aunt’s house so thank God for a washing machine and dryer. All buildings and cars are heavily air conditioned. So far, I’ve visited LuLu Hypermarket (the Walmart of the UAE) and short walks outside, from the parking lot to the building, are not bad. Some parking lots even have canopies to shade your car. I imagine most UAE locals go out when the sun’s down, but I doubt I’ll get to explore much if I stick to going out at dawn and dusk.
Update: Here’s my new blog post on how my minimalism attempt went on my UAE vacation.