The Art of Travelling: How to Pack like a Minimalist
Once upon a time I was a chronic over packer. For years, I went through the same routine: sitting on my overloaded suitcase to zip it shut, lugging that backbreaking bag from city to city, and eventually realizing half the items inside had gone untouched.
Long story short, I’ve finally learned how to let go of all that baggage (literally) and travel minimally.
But minimalist travel, like minimalist living, requires intention and care in determining which objects are essential and which are extraneous. I’ve broken it down into four areas to consider: suitcase, electronics, toiletries, and clothing. Throughout, I also share a few simple tips to ease your packing woes.
Starting from the outside and working in, your suitcase is the first thing to consider when you want to travel like a minimalist.
Unless you’re going on a backpacking trip, replace your oversized, softshell suitcase for a good quality hardshell. Hardshell cases tend to last longer, which means they are both financially and environmentally friendly.
The temptation to overpack is too prevalent when you have a soft shell case that expands in all the right (read: wrong) places. If you do tend to be an over packer, opt for a smaller suitcase so you have no choice but to pack minimally for your travels.
Packing tip: Put your heaviest items closest to the wheels of the suitcase for easy maneuvering.
Now that you have your luggage, let’s move onto the fun part: packing. The first step is to sort items by category: electronics, toiletries, clothing, and personal items like your wallet, passport, tickets, and phone. Once you’ve parsed down what you actually need, these items can be put into their own individual pouches or cases for easy access and organization.
Can you imagine we once travelled without a slew of technology in our bags? It’s hard to picture jetting off without the many electronics that have become an intrinsic part of our every day routines.
The electronic devices you need is going to depend on the nature of your trip. Is it business? Adventure? Unwinding? Aim to bring your phone and at most, one other device. Plan ahead by putting your documents on a Cloud to access from any device, or load music and ebooks onto your phone so you can leave your iPod and eReader at home.
To avoid digging through your bag to locate a long lost charger or headphones, place everything into a small bag to store in your luggage.
Packing tip: Twist ties or rubber bands are a useful way to keep cords wrapped up and in their place.
Toiletries often seem to occupy more weight and space in our luggage than we wish to allocate.
When packing your toiletries, carefully consider which items you’ll need (and actually use) during your trip. Do you really need that charcoal clay facemask you’ve been wanting to use for months? Probably not. Once you’ve figured out what you need, bring only one of each item.
Invest in multi-purpose products like two-in-one shampoo and conditioner or coconut oil for removing make-up and moisturizing your skin and hair.
Packing tip: To prevent leaking, cut out small squares of plastic wrap, unscrew the cap from each bottle, place the plastic wrap over top and screw the lid back on. Place liquids into a clear ziplock bag for extra security.
Last up is clothing. Lay all the clothes you want to bring on the floor in front of you. Begin creating piles, stacking your items into outfits. Pack two tops for every bottom. This means you should have roughly half as many piles as the number of days of your trip. Limit yourself to only two or three pairs of shoes (I’m talking to you, girls).
As you make your piles, create a separate stack behind you for all the items you originally laid out, but simply don’t need. Be realistic and be firm. When you’re finished, this pile will go straight back into your closet.
Packing Tip: Neutrals and basics make it easy to combine outfits while still looking put together.
Now it’s time to pack your bag. Start by filling your shoes with underwear, socks, and belts. Use a plastic bag to cover the soles before you place them at the bottom. Then, roll the rest of your clothing and layer on top. Bulky items go first, followed by lighter pieces. Put any clothing that is easily wrinkled on top.
Packing tip: Place a few dryer sheets amongst your clothing to keep it smelling fresh.
The key to packing like a minimalist is to eliminate the things you just won’t use. Once you’ve mastered this skill, you’ll find packing (and travelling) a whole lot simpler. Good luck!
What tips and tricks do you have to ensure you travel minimally? Let us know in the comments below.