My 9 Unexpected Minimalist Travel Essentials

Ana Goldberg
by Ana Goldberg

It has been almost a month since we started a new indefinitely long travel and left our rental in Belgrade. We downsized a lot and continue downsizing, as we move places.

Today I want to share some non-obvious things we packed for our minimalist travel – things that might be a bit surprising for a minimalist, but that serve us very well regardless. In the end, I will also share a couple of things that I regret not putting on our minimalist travel packing list.

Small foldable plastic crate

1. Small foldable plastic crate

In our daily routine, we use the crate for artwork and packing cards, but now in our short-term rentals, it has become a crucial organizing tool. We use it to keep things we do not want to get out of our sight.

In our previous stays, we lost some stuff because the host had left so many things lying around on the shelves, the floor, and all kinds of surfaces, that it was hard to keep our belongings separate.

That is why having one box or a crate for small things is very useful. I also use this crate to carry my current knitting project around. We packed it because it is multifunctional, light, and compact.

2. Kitchen apron and tea towels

Cooking at home saves money and is oftentimes much healthier. I prefer cooking in an apron to protect my clothes and I use kitchen towels all the time: as a replacement for oven mitts, for drying cookware, for covering freshly baked cookies, for wrapping bread, for wiping surfaces, just anything.

As we have stayed in approximately thirty short-term rentals, by now we know how rare it is for a host to offer a kitchen towel, not to mention an apron. We packed these because they are extremely functional, light, packable, and super easy to maintain.

Doorstop alarm

3. Doorstop alarm

This is an extra security tool for those who stay in hotels or Airbnb. We bought it right before we left, and luckily the alarm had not gone off and we were not intruded. This makes a lot of difference in bringing a feeling of safety.

We made the mistake of watching “The Rental”, which is a scary movie about intrusion, right before leaving, and it definitely induced some anxiety. This doorstep definitely makes it feel so much better and creates a sense of being protected.

The alarm signal is very loud: we have once set it off unintentionally, and trust me, it is impossible not to hear that. So this is for sure an extremely useful and relatively compact item that in my opinion is a must, even for extreme minimalist travel.

4. Handmade garlands

These are very easy to put on and immediately make a place feel more like home. They are light, packable and easy to maintain.

5. Enamel Moomin cups

These are children's size, not a primary necessity, and not foldable, but they are so cute. We bought one during our first week in Serbia, and another one during our last week in Serbia. We actually use them every day for drinking water, and they make our temporary home feel cozier.

Linen placemat

6. Linen placemat

I carry this from my Siberian home and I cherish it a lot. It could be used as a tea towel, but I am so scared of staining it that I just use it for decoration.

And now let’s move on to the minimalist travel accessories that we did not think of or did not deem worth taking, and are now regretting that decision.

7. Kitchen knife

Good sharp knives for cooking are so rare in short-term rentals. In the apartment we are staying in right now, there is no knife at all. In the previous one, there was just one huge butcher-type knife, and even that one was blunt. In the apartment before that, the kitchen knife was broken.

At the moment, we use a Swiss knife blade for cooking, but we are trying to find a small kitchen knife to add to our luggage.

Travel blanket

8. Travel blanket

Now that the seasons are actually changing, it is getting pretty cold. I personally did not even believe that it would ever happen, because this summer was the worst summer in my life. In any case, now we need extra blankets, and most short-term rentals do not provide that.

I hope to find some affordable fuzzy travel-size blankets, as they will be super handy to have. Besides, for a highly sensitive person, it is essential to have something that you can wrap yourself up in. Luckily, in this current apartment, we have a big throw that I use all the time.

9. Travel extension cord

A travel extension cord is a wonderfully useful thing to have for digital nomads like us, or anyone traveling with laptops. First, it is safer for electronic devices, and second, it eliminates the space limitations.

In our previous apartment, when my laptop battery would die, I had to go to the bedroom and work on the floor there, because that was the only way to charge my working device. I have no idea why we did not think about bringing an extension cord, but it was just yet another lesson learned.

Minimalist travel

As a friendly advice to anyone who travels and has to stay in hotels and Airbnb, I recommend having that door stop alarm, travel blanket, and extension cord. Everything else that I mentioned in this video is just personal choices, things that make my life as comfortable as it can be in current circumstances. Of course, I am excited to see how this adventure unfolds and what lessons we will learn.

What are your surprising travel essentials? Have you ever had to travel without something crucial for you? How was that experience? Share in the comments below!

Join the conversation
  • Mary Ann Mary Ann on Dec 25, 2023
    A few plastic grocery bag’s for trash, wet things etc.some zip lock bags 3 sizes washclothsIbuprofen a.couple postage stamps, envelopes, notepadA towel & Paper towels for the car A basket with handles to put all in the back seatto have quick access to some things as you travel in and out
    • Maria Maria on Apr 12, 2024
      Do not forget the old fashion manual can opener… that should old be in your emergency bag.
  • Faith Faith on Dec 25, 2023
    zip lock bags for sure!!!!