I know the feeling as a traveller. When you’re preparing for your upcoming trip and packing your suitcase or backpack, there’s so much excitement around what to bring, but as you get closer to figuring out all the clothes you want to bring, you start laying them out on your bed and you’re stumped.
Is it too much? Are you packing too little? FOMO ultimately kicks in and you almost always end up packing too much but trust me that’s a bad move. I’m here to help you with my set of minimalist travel packing tips that’ll make your life easier.
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Tips on Minimalist Travel Packing
Rule #1: Pack light
Easier said than done right? I’ve travelled enough to know that you ALWAYS regret bringing too much for a trip. Can you think of a time when you came back from being on the road and thought to yourself “I’m so happy I’ve had to lug around this giant suitcase around”.
At the end of the day, what will make you unhappy and frustrated when travelling is when you have to drag your 25 kg bag from place to place and you’re tired, the weather is sweltering, and the ground is unbelievably uneven or cobbled. This is why minimalist travel packing is so key.
It’s not an easy transition but like how flight attendants share their technique for packing light, I’ve found that travelling with only a carry-on or a 40-50L backpack makes life so much easier. You become that much more nimble and flexible when you travel light. It means you can tackle stairs and cobbled streets that much more easily and public transit becomes more viable.
Rule #2: Pack in layers
So how exactly do you pack light? Well a lot of it comes down to versatility. This means that you don’t have to have an outfit for every single situation or activity you do. I do this by bringing layers on the trip.
This works well because it means that you change your bottom/base layer everyday but the other layers that you mix and match on top don’t necessarily need to be washed every day. That’s why I can get away with having just one hoodie, fleece, and of course jacket when I travel.
Layers are awesome because it gives you flexibility as well so if it’s hot, you only need your base layer but as the days get cooler or warmer, you adjust by adding on or subtracting layers.
Rule #3: Roll your clothes
If you’re looking for the most effective way to pack clothes into a small space, you need to learn how to roll your clothes. It’s honestly a big reason why I can cram in so many t-shirts into my carry-on sized suitcase with the help of an organizer.
I roll everything from shorts, pants, t-shirts, buttoned-shirts, underwear, you name it!
This is a key to minimalist travel packing so your clothes take up way less space.
Rule #4: Don’t pack what you’ll already have at your destination
You don’t have to bring everything and the kitchen sink with you because most likely you’re going to a place that has a lot of what you need already. So why double up on things when it’s already waiting for you there. The best example of this are toiletries such as body wash, shampoo, and conditioner.
If you’re staying at a hotel, they will always have these waiting for you. Maybe I’m just not that picky about that stuff but I am totally okay to use those for a few days rather than bring my own. The same goes for towels.
Rule #5: Hand wash your clothes along the way
The reason why I’m able to pack a lot less socks and underwear and to some extent shirts and pants is because I will always hand wash my clothes throughout the trip. It isn’t a glamorous job but that helps you save a ton of space.
If you’ve never hand washed your clothes at a hotel before, it’s actually quite easy. For me, the key is to do it as you travel so you never have to wash a big batch in one night. Also factor in how many nights you have at one location because if your clothes don’t dry in one night, you want to try to avoid travelling with damp clothes in your bag.
The other key to success for hand washing is to pack dry-fit or quick-dry type of synthetic clothing. This material dries insanely fast especially if you properly wring it out in a towel before hanging.
Rule #6: Use organizers
My inner neat freak is on display here but I just love having different bags, pockets, and zipper organizers to keep my bag as orderly as possible.
Some organizers like the Peak Design packing cubes and Eagle Creek Compression Sacs are great to keep your clothes nice and compressed and others are just there to keep your stuff together so you know how to find them when you need them.
It provides sanity to the chaos because the last thing you need when you’re travelling is to try to figure out where your plug adapter might’ve filtered through your stuff in transit. Use colored stuff sacks to organize your things by category.
Organizers keep things tight, tidy, and well…organized!
So that’s my take on how I travel so light and pack efficiently. I’d love to hear from you though. Everyone has different tips and tricks and I totally get that everyone travels differently so what are your best minimalist travel packing tips?
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Travel Resources For Your Next Trip
If you’re in the process of planning your trip and putting together your itinerary, these are genuinely the best resources that the Going Awesome Places team stands by 100%.
Airport Parking: You’ll need a spot to leave your car at the airport so why not book a spot at a discount. Use code AWESOME7 to get at least $5 off at Airport Parking Reservations or Park Sleep Fly packages.
Hotels: Our go-to is Booking.com because they have the best inventory of properties including hotels and B&Bs. The exception is Asia where Agoda always has the best prices. TripAdvisor is also useful for reviews and bookings.
Vacation Rentals: Airbnb is the market leader but you’d be surprised how you can find cheaper deals on the lesser-known VRBO.
Travel Insurance: Learn how to buy the best travel insurance for you. This isn’t something you want to travel without.
- Insured Nomads – Popular insurance provider for frequent travelers and comes with great coverage and special perks.
- RATESDOTCA – Search engine Canadians looking for the cheapest insurance including multi-trip annual policies.
- SafetyWing – A perfect fit for long-term nomads.
- Medjet – Global air medical transportation.
- InsureMyTrip – Best for seniors, families, and those with pre-existing conditions.
If you need more help planning your trip, make sure to check out our Travel Toolbox where we highlight all of the gear, resources, and tools we use when traveling.