Packing Like a Minimalist Traveler

Packing light was something that took me a long time to achieve. It was a gradual process from a large suitcase, to cabin luggage, right...

Packing Like a Minimalist Traveller

Packing light was something that took me a long time to achieve. It was a gradual process from a large suitcase, to cabin luggage, right down to a 19L backpack. A few years ago, I wouldn't even consider not taking a suitcase. I’d stuff it full to the brim with clothes, shoes, beauty products, and things I never needed but I’d take anyway “just in case”.

Once you’ve experienced the benefits of travelling with hand luggage only, it’s tough to go back to travelling with a suitcase full of stuff. Packing light makes you realise how little you really need, and how easy travel is when you don’t have a suitcase to keep track of. Now I’ve reached the point where I’m a confident hand luggage only traveller, I thought I’d share what I’ve learned about packing like a minimalist.



Before Packing

There are two ways to really narrow down the items you need to pack: what the weather will be like at your destination and what you’re going to be doing on your travels. There’s absolutely no point in taking evening dresses or hiking books if you have zero plans to dine at fancy restaurants or climb mountains. It sounds obvious but we’ve all been tempted to pack items “just in case” and it’s never worth it. If it’s something you won’t be using daily, can be purchased for under £20, and is readily available at your destination, don’t pack it and instead buy it if you need to. You really don’t need to pack as much as you think you do.



Pack A Capsule Wardrobe

Curate a travel capsule wardrobe by focusing on neutral basics; opt for pieces that are versatile and can be mixed and matched or layered for optimal combinations. Plan outfits so you know exactly how each piece works with others and how many different combinations it creates. Focus on what your activities will be and select your clothing based on that. Think about what your clothes are made from and how appropriate they are for hot or cool temperatures. Leave never worn items or statement pieces at home; choose clothing you enjoy wearing and feel comfortable in. A trip away is not a good time to be breaking in new shoes so opt for a pair that are reliably comfortable.

A good rule is to pack no more than two of the same item. Get comfortable with the idea of repeating outfits and wearing the same pair of shoes every day. Packing jewellery and lightweight accessories (on suitable trips) help keep outfits interesting and don’t take up much room in your case.



Packing Like a Minimalist Traveler


Simplify Personal Care

Do the work before you leave: streamline your skin care and beauty products to create a minimal yet effective routine. Consider sharing toiletries with whoever you’re travelling with or purchase them at your destination. Investing in multi-purpose products, a versatile makeup palette, and only having one of any product you need is the best way to ensure your personal care items are kept to a minimum when travelling. Only pack items you use every day, that way you won’t be overpacking on personal care products.



Roll Don’t Fold

The best way to make the most out of the limited space inside a backpack is to roll your clothes. Rolling is not only faster than folding, it creates less creases and saves space; it compresses your clothing making them easier to stack, allowing you to take full advantage of the space you have.



Use Packing Cubes

Packing cubes make accessing what you need as easy as possible. You can reach in and pull out a set of items without disturbing whatever else you’ve packed. Not everything in your bag needs to be compartmentalised but if you want to avoid having to pull everything out of your bag to access certain items, packing cubes will help.

I use the MUJI Garment Cases* to keep my underwear and swimwear separate from the rest of my travel capsule, and to keep my skincare and makeup easily accessible I use a separate cosmetic bag. You don’t need specialist packing cubes; make use of whatever you have, even tote bags can be used to protect clothes against dirty shoes or a simple cotton bag for storing lingerie.



Create A Packing List

After your first hand luggage only trip, create a packing list based on what you packed adding on anything you may take on other trips to different climates and removing anything you didn’t need. Your packing list can be adjusted for future trips depending on the destination, weather, and activities. Having a pre-tested list to refer back to makes packing for a trip so much easier since you know everything on the list is useful, it helps get rid of those “what if” thoughts and the temptation to pack things “just in case”.




What tips do you have for travelling minimally?
Let me know in the comments.



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