Packing is a skill, and it’s one you’ve probably perfected if you travel often. But if you’re a novice like I once was, today’s blog is going to help. Let’s break down what to take in your bag, how to save space when packing, as well as other helpful tips peppered here and there to make the most of your Journey to Travel. Our goal is to adopt a minimalist frame of mind, bringing along just the necessities, leaving behind the “maybe I’ll wear this” or “maybe I’ll use this” mindset. Let’s start by discussing some minimalist packing tips and how they can affect the rest of your trip.
Minimalist Packing Tips
First things first: what kind of luggage are you taking? There are suitcases, backpacks, and even hybrid pieces that try to meet all of your needs in one. Here’s a secret: the luggage you choose won’t make or break your trip, but there are certain advantages to each type, which you should consider.
Suitcases are the traditional “vacation” piece of luggage. They’re big, can hold a lot of stuff, and have wheels on them which means weight is less of a factor, although they can be clunky to move around. On the other hand, a backpack is smaller and will be carried on your back, which means you’ll have to consider how much stuff you want to realistically carry around with you, but they are really convenient to travel with and can save you tons of money and time at the airport. Lastly, there are hybrid bags that can be both carried on your back and dragged along on wheels, which can be handy if you’re having trouble compromising. Any of these options can work well, but what I have always used is a small to medium size backpack and/or a duffle bag, depending on the length of the trip.
If you’re going to be staying in one location for a long time, a suitcase is the best bang for your buck. It gives you lots of room for what you want to bring, and you won’t be moving it around much. It will be worth the extra cost to take it on the plane, if that’s your mode of transportation.
For those who intend on hopping around from one location to the next, a carry-on size backpack is ideal. It will be big enough to carry only the essentials, but you will be able to move easily enough through various cities and you won’t have to pay to take the bag on the plane, which can save you a significant amount of money if you’re on a budget. When I went backpacking in Europe, I flew about 15 times on budget airlines, i.e., RyanAir and EasyJet, which charge for a bag. My carryon was small enough to be qualified as a “free item,” so I never paid to take it anywhere. My yellow 22 cubic Liter North Face bag, which you see pictured, plus a tinier daypack, were my only belongings for a 2 month trip.
A Note On Minimalism
Adopting the minimalist attitude and utilizing these minimalist packing tips when I go on my trips makes the entire ordeal much more enjoyable. Although my outfit choices become limited, I have much less stuff to carry around and fuss with. For example, I took only a single pair of shoes with me, which meant I had to walk with, go out in, and hike with the same pair of shoes for two months. Surprisingly, they held up pretty well!
We tend to get packing-crazy if we’re rushed and overthink things. If this is your first trip, you’ll probably end up packing some things you’ll never end up using, and if you’re a seasoned pro, you can recall how many things you packed but never used on your past trips. Take a look at each of the minimalist packing tips categories below and review them when you start to pack.
For clothing, consider two things: climate and purpose. Will the climate in your destination(s) fluctuate so much so that you’ll need both warm-weather and cold-weather clothing? Chances are slim. Focus on bringing pieces that will function well for the expected weather, and simply budget for unexpected surprises. As for the purpose of your clothes, think of what you will be doing. If you’re going to be doing physical activity, check out our post on travel workout outfits. Keep in mind that you’re going to want as many versatile pieces as possible, including some semi-formal outfits if you intend to partake in the nightlife. For the minimalist, simply pack one week’s worth of outfits and do laundry once a week. I have done it on several occasions, it’s not as much of a hassle as you might think.
Packing Tips: When it comes to making your bag, try the roll-up method. Simply roll up your clothes into small bundles and stuff them into your luggage. This saves space as you can pack tighter, plus it helps to keep your clothes from wrinkling as much.
If you’re anything like me, your trips will include a lot of walking, which means comfortable footwear is important. Ideally, you already have a pair of shoes that are comfortable for you to walk in, take up minimal space, and can be used for a variety of functions, but if you do not, it is worth the time and cost to find some that are. As I mentioned earlier, I took only one pair of navy blue walking shoes with me for my entire 2 month trip. They suited me well, and I have no complaints, although I must say, investing in a good pair of sole inserts helped to make them more comfortable for those 12 hour days of nonstop walking. If you will be needing them, and you have the space, bring some casual sandals for the beach, for using in shared bathrooms in hostels, or for lounging.
Our gadgets are such a big part of our lives today that, for many of us, they are essential. If traveling with your phone, ensure you pick the best international phone plan for your needs. If you’re planning on taking a laptop for work or for leisure, take one that’s going to allow you the flexibility to work anywhere, at any time. Additional travel gear that can come in handy is a good, quality camera and a battery power pack. If photography is not your biggest priority, but you’d still like to take quality shots, go for a good compact point-and-shoot, such as the Sony A7s.
Medication & Toiletries
-Don’t pack them. Unless your medication is necessary for your well-being, leave it at home. You can find everything you are looking for, whether it’s for headaches or cramps, at your destination, even those that aren’t very developed. I would carry a couple tylenol pills or dramamine for the travel to your destination if you are prone to headaches or motion sickness. The same thing goes for toiletries, you will find all that you need at your final destination; theres’s no use in hauling that around for no reason.
Some other essentials for many travelers are things which you may find superfluous. This is a small list of suggested items to pack, but it is by no means exhaustive nor necessary.
- Linens (can be useful when hostel hopping)
- Water Bottle/Canteen
- Jacket (weather-dependent)
Remind yourself that packing is only one small part of your trip and it certainly is not at the top of the list. Barring forgetting sensitive medications or documents, or some other necessary item, you can find everything you’ll need at your destination, so don’t concern yourself with packing too much, instead focus on the upcoming experience and what that can bring. I hope these minimalist packing tips have helped you better prepare for when your departure date hits and your long awaited Journey to Travel begins.