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In Praise of Being Underprepared for Travel


In Praise of Being Underprepared for Travel
For digital nomads, business travelers, and anyone consistently on the move, there seems to be a curious unwritten law: preparedness is next to godliness. Expert travelers -- the thinking goes -- are prepared travelers. Those with the most gadgets, apps, tools, and clothes are supposedly better equipped to handle any and all circumstances, no matter how unlikely they may be.

Here at Arcido, we gravitate towards a different mode of thought. While it's important to not just wander into a new country with nothing but Havaianas and an unopened Lonely Planet, there's also a certain degree of satisfaction in being methodically underprepared. Switching over to a more minimalist travel style means more than lighter packs. In fact, being underprepared often has a positive impact on your wallet, your schedule, and your emotional well-being. Here are some more reasons as to why we're in praise of being underprepared for travel.

Streamlined Decision Making

The first and most obvious thing to knock off your packing list is excessive clothing. Packing excessive clothing -- whether it's two pairs of jeans that serve virtually the same purpose or a fleece coat that you know won't be of use in the jungles of Vietnam -- is a cardinal sin.

Once you decide to pack only what you need (or even less), you've unsubscribed from the challenge of coordinating an ideal outfit. Getting dressed takes less than a minute, and you're out the door without any lingering thoughts of what could have been. This applies to more than just clothes, too. When you have limited things to choose from, decision-making is made easy.

Less Brought, Less to Lose

This one is pretty straightforward. Arguably the best thing about underpacking is the fact that you're less likely to lose a valuable item. Hone in on the handful of essential items that work well in various situations and leave the rest at home.

Using What the Locals Use

The locals in your planned destination were doing just fine without titanium sporks and the gamut of gadgets you have in tow. Leaving behind your treasured items and traveling underprepared means you'll be forced to make do with what the locals do. In fact, rummaging around local markets searching for something you need can lead to some exciting finds and unique experiences. Have you ever tried the toothpaste in Namibia? Neither have I, but what if it's way better than the Colgate we're used to?

Ditching the "What if?" Mentality

The dreaded "what if?" attitude is one that can put a significant damper on your packing protocol and your trip in general. Dreaming up highly-unlikely, one-off situations and preparing for them is no way to go about your travels. Will you need the bulky watch that shows the tide chart for your trip to land-locked Mongolia just in case you happen to stumble across an ocean? Probably not. The raincoat you have packed for a trip to Chile's Atacama Desert? Best left at home. Plus, if the universe decides to unleash a downpour on one of the driest places on earth, do a little rain dance and enjoy it.

Less Physical Weight = Less Emotional Weight

We're still on the hunt for scientific evidence, but we'll venture to say that there's a direct correlation between the physical weight you carry while traveling and the subsequent emotional weight. When exploring a new destination, the last thing you want to be doing is worrying about all that extra stuff. Having your valuables divided between your backpack, your hostel locker, or checked bag, and your money belt is a recipe for a mental breakdown. If it were up to us, we recommend sticking with one bag and enjoying the benefits of being blissfully unprepared.

Written by Dillon DuBois






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