It is no secret that I love to travel. After spending years abroad, moving every year consecutively, and travelling a ton, I’ve come to appreciate being able to travel without all the heavy baggage. I’ve talked about how I figured out that I could live a year on everything that fits in two suitcases, and I’ve also figured out that I can travel for a week or more with everything I can fit into a carry-on bag. It is such a liberating feeling walking around with the bare minimum and still having a great time - if you’ve experienced it, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I had an opportunity for readers to suggest blog topics, and minimalist travelling came up, so this post is for you! Here are some of my tips to enjoy a minimalist travel experience. Fair warning: I am incredibly low maintenance. I don’t wear makeup, and I can wear the same shoes all season long, every single day. As long as I don’t stink, and look more or less put together (I do have hot mess days), I’m satisfied. The good news is that you can make what I will be sharing work for you! Minimalism looks different for everyone.
I’ll explain a little at first, but if you don’t want to do allllllll the reading, scroll down to the bottom for a simple packing list.
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Pack only necessities
Do not, and I repeat, do not bring something just for the sake of having it. Make sure you absolutely need it. This even applies to your wallet! The only things that need to be in your [tiny] wallet are your credit/debit cards (+ an emergency card just in case), your ID, and some cash is good to have. Gift cards to stores you won’t be at don’t need to come. Neither does your library card, other membership cards, or the picture of your boyfriend - you have your phone for that. *wink
Depending on where you’re going and what you’re doing, you might be able to eliminate a lot of toiletries! You really do not need to be lugging around a hair dryer, straightener AND a curling iron when you’re backpacking across Europe or visiting a friend for the weekend (chances are they have a hairdryer too…) Take only what you need, and take only small amounts of it. You can buy these amazing travel sized bottles to refill your favourite products that may not come in smaller sizes. The travel-sized aisle in Target is amazing - but don’t go overboard (note: though the folding toothbrushes are great, I do opt to bring my bamboo toothbrush everywhere I go [get your own here!]). I will advocate for one amazing piece of travel-sized bliss, however: this amazing razor (since shorts are lighter than pants, right? Haha).
Versatile, Versatile, Versatile!
Make sure the items in your bag can be used more than once! If you’re going to a wedding, that may be a different story, but try to get a lot of use out of everything you pack! When it comes to your clothes, make sure the pieces work together in several different ways to stretch out your outfit possibilities without taking more. I usually travel to places where I do have to look more or less presentable. Having pieces that work both casually and can be dressed up is really helpful!
Light, Light, Light!
This is key! The lighter your necessities are, the easier it is to cart them around. Consider your electronics and shoes especially, as those can get heavy. I usually take one pair of closed-toe shoes (and wear them as I travel) and pack sandals depending on where I’m going and what I’ll be doing. If I travel by plane with a carry-on, I pack a small lightweight bag for day trips.
Don’t pack more than a week’s worth of clothing
If you’re staying longer than a week, that’s okay. Take some quarters for the laundromat, or ask your host if you can borrow their washer. Worst case, use a sink. I’ve done it, you can too. Pack fabrics that dry easily when you choose the hand washing method. I do take 7 pairs of underwear though, despite seeing many people who suggest only 3 or 4 and washing them every day. I just like fresh underwear to last as long as possible, haha. Honestly, no one is going to be bothered if you pack 6 pieces of clothing to wear. They won’t notice!
Quality is important
Herein lies the key! I never knew how important quality was until I stopped looking at the price tag and started looking at pieces that will last. This is especially important for things you’ll be using a lot like shoes and water bottles.
Comfort vs. Luxury
You want to be comfortable! Walking around everywhere for a week is not going to be fun in your highest cutest wedges! You'll also want to be sure to wear comfortable clothing for the same reason. Yes, you will be travelling and there is no reason you shouldn't be able to use everyday items as normal (to be comfortable!), but think about the things you could probably do without.
Choose Luggage Carefully
Make sure you get quality luggage that is appropriate for your minimalist trip. A backpack might be sufficient for you. I personally like having a carry on size piece with wheels, because it makes getting around airports and train stations easy for me. I do pack a small backpack in this though, for day trips when I don't have to take everything with me. Packing cubes are also really helpful with packing minimal amounts - if they are in your budget.
My Basic Travel Necessities:
- large scarf (perfect for the plane!)
- 3 tops
- 2 bottoms
- 1 dress/skirt (the trick is to make sure they all go together to maximize outfit possibilities and that they are lightweight - easy to wash/dry)
- 1 or 2 pyjama
- undergarments (2 bras + 5-7 pair underwear),
- bathing suit if needed
- shoes (sneakers + sandals - again depends on what I’ll be doing)
- socks (2-3 pairs)
*these will get you by nicely, but consider the following: commit to doing laundry of some sort, add or subtract depending on the length of your stay, consider sticking to one colour palette, and there really is no need to go out and buy something new. Choose from what you already own - you might be surprised at what is in your own closet :)
Toiletries (travel sized!):
- bar soap
- Mini razor
- shampoo/conditioner (may be optional depending on where you’re going!),
- Body lotion
- Contact solution (travel sized, of course)
- Any medication
- Hand Sanitizer/sanitizing wipes
- Nail Clippers
- A couple band-aids (these come in handy!)
- Peppermint Essential Oil (good for headaches and motion sickness!)
- I don't wear makeup, but you might - choose only essentials
- Computer or Tablet
- Any charging cords (if two devices use the same cord, only take one)
- Camera (next level: just use your phone!)
- Water Bottle (this will save you so much money!)
- Minimalist Wallet - only the essentials: passport, credit cards, cash
- microfiber towel (lighter and dries quickly but optional depending on where you’re going)
- Earplugs (optional)
- Extra reusable bag (good for laundry, etc.)
- Packable daypack (so you aren't carting your carry on everywhere)
- I always bring a small Bible, but you could use your phone app
What are your packing essentials?