Packing for travel used to be a big ordeal.
Luggage space was a precious resource, even for a weekend trip. With my luggage stretched at the seams, I’d pack three to four times more clothing than I’d need. The luggage was carry-on sized, but it’d feel as if there were also several large bricks packed inside.
It was embarrassing—getting on the plane with my overstuffed carry-on. My upper body strength wasn’t as strong back then, so I’d dread the task of putting my bag in the overhead container. Often I’d be unable to lift my luggage without assistance from someone. The anticipation was a downside to the otherwise fun parts of travel.
Since I embraced minimalist packing, the whole process has been a breeze.
The main reason is in the packing although my strength has improved since then. I now only pack what I actually need. Rather than coming back home with half of my outfits unworn, it’s only one or two pieces if I haven’t worn everything.
Minimalist packing is lighter, faster and more efficient. Compared to before, I spend much less time packing and unpacking.
It has also allowed me more options. I can easily fit additional items in my bag. Opening and getting something out is no longer a potential explosion. For easier transport, I’ve switched over to a backpack instead of the typical roller-bag luggage. Not only that, I have no apprehension about being able to lift my bag into the overhead container.
I’m sharing a few tips on minimalist packing for greater luggage space and ease of travel.
1) Count the number of outfits you need
When packing for a trip, I count the number of days and nights of travel. I also list out the expected or planned activities during the days, and do a quick check of the weather.
This helps me plan out how many and what types of outfits I need. Each day generally requires an outfit, but I account for wardrobe changes based on planned activities during the day. For example, if there will be an evening wedding, I may pack a casual outfit to start out and a fancier dress for the evening. If there’s a pool at the hotel we’re staying at, I may add a swimsuit and cover-up.
Because of my preference for traveling comfortably, I usually wear workout clothes to travel in and change upon reaching my destination. Toss in the sleepwear, and maybe an extra outfit in case I spill something on myself (it happens)—and I’m ready to go.
2) Choose pieces that can mix and match
For greater flexibility and options even with fewer clothes overall, I try to choose clothing pieces that can mix and match. Yes, that means that you’re likely to wear some clothes (such as a pair of jeans or shorts) more than once.
One pair of jeans can be paired with three different tops for three outfits. Flip flops or ballet flats can work across all outfits.
I prefer to have bottom clothing pieces (think pants, shorts, skirts) as neutral colors so I can add in some top pieces that provide patterns and a pop of color. I keep to a palette so it’s easier to pair jewelry, my purse and other accessories.
3) Make a list of the essentials as reference
I go through a list of essentials on an excel document each time I pack. This helps me ensure I’m packing all the things I need.
This list has made packing infinitely easier and less stressful. There’s no more forgetting of the deodorant or make-up bag—emergency situations that often result in a hasty trip to the store. You cut down on having duplicates of certain things because you had to get a replacement during your trip. More importantly, I no longer worry about if I’m forgetting something.
I even include items on the list as suggestions, so I can consider if it makes sense to bring them depending on the trip I’m taking. Items like sunglasses, hat, daypack, umbrella or rain jacket. On the list are also tasks I generally like to have done before leaving the house. These include checking the locks on windows, closing the blinds, adjusting the temperature, taking out the trash and such.
These tips have significantly streamlined the travel prep process for me. With the more frequent trips my husband and I have been taking, they have been a time- and space-saver when it comes to preparing for travel. I’d love to know any ideas you have on minimalist packing, or how these ideas work for you. Happy packing and traveling!