The minimalist movement has inspired tons of travellers to hit the road with only the bare essentials, giving families, staycationers, holidaymakers and nomads alike a new sense of freedom, simplicity and flexibility. A small self-contained caravan is perfect for this lighter mode of travel, forcing you to take only what you need and leaving your family free to focus on enjoying the journey instead. If you’ve ever had to pack light for a trip, however, you’ll know that embracing minimalism on the road is a lot harder than it sounds. We’ve put together this guide to help you separate want from need when you’re setting off on your next caravan trip.
Travel essentials: what you can’t do without
Minimalist travel favours quality experiences over a quantity of possessions. This allows your family to travel unhindered by excess physical baggage and spend less time packing and unpacking. Take the pressure off by getting organised a few days before you set off, then follow these tips to help you streamline your luggage and only pack the best minimalist travel gear:
- Try to pack no more than one week’s worth of clothing (ideally only 5-6 outfits) for each family member, regardless of how many weeks you’re going caravanning. You’ll more than likely use fewer clothes than you think. And, if you don’t, it’s much more practical to do laundry than carry half your wardrobe around with you.
- Instead of packing bulky items such as thick jumpers or coats, pack multiple thin layers that take up less space. Merino wool, thermal shirts or a light down jacket are great minimalist choices for when the weather turns.
- Limit yourself to no more than two pairs of shoes for each person – typically one pair of trainers and one pair of lightweight flats (sandals, boat shoes, espadrilles, Toms or flip flops).
- Pack fabrics that are quick to dry, such as wool or synthetic performance textiles. Microfibre towels also take up less space and dry faster than heavy cotton alternatives.
- To get the most out of your clothes, keep your colour palette simple with a few easy-to-coordinate shades. If all your pieces match, you can easily maximise the number of outfits you get from your wardrobe.
- Pack only travel-sized items – that’s what they’re made for, and you’ll probably need less shampoo and shower gel than you think anyway. Alternatively, squeeze your family’s favourite products into reusable travel-sized tubes and bottles.
- Limit yourself to one small bag for both your toiletries and makeup, if applicable.
- Unless you’re planning on working on the road, you shouldn’t need more than a smartphone, a charger, an external battery and a Kindle or ipad if you like to read during your downtime. Encourage the kids to leave their screens and gaming accessories at home and get back to nature instead.
- caravans these days have tv, power points, USB charging points and maybe even built in wifi- if you are considering purchasing a small self contained caravan, ask if you can have these features built in, helping to reduce the electronic equipment you need to pack.
Other absolute caravanning essentials will include:
- Credit cards and a little cash- coins for caravan park washing machines
- Sunscreen, insect repellant, matches for campfires
- Dishwashing detergent, plus sponges and tea towels
- A large bag for dirty laundry
- At least one smartphone with GPRS
- A travel first-aid kit, a torch, a few spare batteries
Travel luxuries: what you can do without
If you’re trying to pack light for travel, it can be helpful to remember what you can do without. Here are a few luxury items you can most certainly leave at home.
- Leave hard copy books, travel guides, magazines and maps behind. Instead, go digital and load your reading material onto your smartphone, e-reader or tablet.
- Don’t risk losing or attracting unwanted attention with expensive earrings, necklaces, watches or other pieces of jewellery. If you do want to dress up for a more formal night out during your trip, pack cheaper options instead.
- Unless you’re using something for work while you’re away, you can live without fancy gadgets like bulky zoom camera lenses, large laptops, electric toothbrushes, portable DVD players or coffee makers. Remember that for every piece of equipment you pack, you’ll most likely have to lug around a charger and cable too.
- Jeans are durable and can last days without washing, but they’re also heavy, take up a lot of space and take forever to dry. As such, try to limit each person to just one pair.
- Keep your large fluffy towels for the bathroom at home – they’ll only end up damp and smelly and take up too much room. Opt for super absorbent, quick-dry swimmer or microfibre towels instead.
- Remember that unless you’re planning on going completely off the beaten track or venturing into remote bushland, you’re going to be able to find most toiletries and essential items in a shop. So if you’re not sure whether you’ll need a particular item or not, err on the side of minimalism and don’t pack it.
Why are self-contained caravans perfect for minimalist family travel?
Small caravans come with many benefits that make them perfectly suited to family holidays. Self-contained caravans, in particular, are well suited to the simplicity and freedom of minimalist, self-sufficient family travel. Choose a caravan that comes with a shower and a toilet and you’ll have all the necessary power and water facilities on board to keep your family self-sufficient for days, as you won’t have to stop and look for showers or toilets on your journey.
This gives you unparalleled freedom on your travel route. You’ll be free to explore off the beaten track without having to hunt for a caravan park or camping ground for the use of their facilities. Plus, self-contained caravans can help you stretch your budget further as you can park up at low-cost or free campsites on your travels without having to worry about available amenities.
What is a self-contained caravan?
In a nutshell, a self-contained caravan can function without outside resources. To be considered self-contained, a caravan should have the following:
- a toilet (either portable or fixed)
- freshwater tank
- sink or basin
- wastewater hose
- grey/black waste tank
- Batteries and solar power
Caravans suited for minimalist travel
Some self-contained caravans such as the Crusader Lifechanger Bunkie MY20 also come with a full ensuite, as well as solar panels, and can include a clever slide-out kitchen.
If you are looking for a small caravan to travel light, you might be interested to check out these two models: