By Juliette

Packing Like A Minimalist: Pro Guide

how to pack like a minimalist

It’s amazing to think that one book could possibly change your life. But that’s exactly what The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing did for me. I suddenly lost the need to keep possessions simply for the fact that they were already in my home. I no longer found value in myself by what I owned or surrounded me, but rather what was within me all along. And while cleaning through bedrooms and closest and abandoned desk drawers was relatively straight forward, the more difficult aspect was leading a minimalist lifestyle here on out. Getting rid of stuff was the easy part, staying that way would end up being a bit trickier. Once I was able to detach myself from items, I was better able to tune into what I actually needed, making packing for trips and adventures that much simpler. If you’re looking to let go of access weight and travel with the lightness of only necessity, read below on how to be a minimalist both on the road and at home.

Start Small
If you establish which minimal carryon suitcase you’re going to use, you already are setting up the boundaries for what you will bring. Identify which luggage meets your airline’s restrictions and make that the be-all-end-all of your packing choices. it can be easy to overdo it when pulling out a t-shirt here and a jacket there, before you know it you’re having an all out WWE match against your bag’s zipper. Instead, Place items into your case as you pack and when it’s reasonably full, you are done. If you’re sitting on it to get it to close, reevaluate what put you over the edge.

Coordinate Your Outfits
Often times the trickiest part of minimalist travel is planning outfits in advance. Since I’m not one to do this in the normal life, I’m sure as hell not going to prepare what sundress and sandals I’ll feel like wearing on three Thursday from now. To make sure I don’t look like I got dressed in the dark, I stick to a color palette for the entire trip and limit patterns to one of two items. When my trip is more adventure based, I stick to earth-tones and lots of black bottoms to mix and match tops. When I’m heading to a city, I bring in more bold bright colors that work well with each other. And, of course, my favorite go-to is a jumper of romper, one item of clothing, no matching necessary.

Share the Responsibilities
If you’re traveling with more than one person, there are certain items that you both don’t need to waste space for. Chargers, travel adapter, camera, etc. are just some of the things you can divvy up between the crowd. This requires pre-planning your packing list so you’re not left in rural Austria with no way to access an outlet, but a little more effort now will save you big when you’re fighting for every square inch in your backpack.

Research Your Destination
Although there are certain items we bring on every trip (passport, emergency snacks, cellphone), a lot of what we bring will depend on the locations we’re visiting. You’re swimsuit won’t do you a lot of good for Canada in February, but will surprisingly my necessary in Iceland at the same time (three cheers for hot springs!). Research all of your destinations to ensure you’re not only packing what you need, but not bringing useless items that won’t see the light of day. Also keep in mind the expectation in certain cities. While tank tops and shorts are a uniform here in the U.S., cardigans and long pants might be required in other parts of the world out of respect, even if the temperature does soar. A suitcase going to Tokyo, Japan and suitcase going to Marrakech, Morocco will look very different.

Let Go of Routines
While certain routines can often provide you the balance and comforts of habit, routines can also restrict us into a particular way of living…that might not be the most minimalist friendly. Consider if you wake up every morning, shower, blow dry your hair, straighten it, and hairspray it to your heart’s content. While this ritual works at home, carrying all those items with you not only adds literal weight to your luggage, but also forces you to continue in this pattern. Travel is the perfect opportunity to break free from your anticipated daily tasks and reset the boundaries. Whether it’s letting your hair go natural, or enjoying local meals rather than bringing your own snack bars, invest in

Make Friends with Multi-Use
Shampoo and conditioner aren’t the only match-made-in-cosmetic-heaven duo that can be combined into a single product. Opt for products that have a multitude of uses to limit the amount of bottles and items you need with you. Sunscreen + moisturizer, charger + adapter, backpack + tote purse. I even often bring an electronic reader to keep all my guide books and pleasure reading in one space

Leave Objects, Take Memories
Minimalism is more than what you pack, but also what you bring with you when you return. It’s essential to remember that you don’t need souvenirs and trinkets to recall the special moments of a trip. Opt to simply take photos, or mental pictures, of moments you want to cherish and allow those to be your key to unlocking past adventures.

What object can you never travel without? Have you jumped onto the minimalist bandwagon?


Cynthia del Río

4 thoughts on “Packing Like A Minimalist: Pro Guide”

  • Packing lighter is a thing I’ve been moving toward for a while now. I used to only ever travel with a giant suitcase, but I’m now very much part of the carry-on only club and I love it. I try to write down what I pack & don’t end up using or wearing on a trip for future reference and that’s definitely helped me pack smarter.

    • High five girl! The carry-on club is such a freeing lifestyle. I’m a big list maker as well, keeps me from overpacking for sure. Enjoy your next trip!

  • I love these tips! My husband and I are looking to live out of our car for a while and travel the US, so I’ve been looking at ways to live more minimally. These are all really helpful!

    • Props to you guys! That’s awesome. I’m in the process of collecting a series of books on minimalism for a post later this summer, I’ve certainly gotten sucked into this way of life 🙂

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