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Packing like a minimalist – a guide.

minimalist travel Mar 13, 2020

What does packing like a minimalist mean to you? Constant repeat outfits? Just one bag? Potentially not having what you need when you need it?

I’m no expert, but having been a minimalist for 3 years, I feel like I’m finally getting the hang of packing light. If you’re interested in lightening your load while you travel, keep reading! Below I’ve compiled my top tips and the benefits of packing like a minimalist with just one bag. I’ve even shared pics from my most recent cruise where I fit everything into one backpack!

The benefits of packing like a minimalist

First and foremost, let’s chat about why you should consider packing like a minimalist. From free bags to sheer convenience, there’s lots of reasons to pack light.

1 – Easy check-in

For my recent cruise, I flew from Dallas to Miami on Spirit. I’m not a huge fan of Spirit, but they often have the best deals, if you can figure out how to work the system. One way to stick it to the man is to only bring what they call a “personal item”. In doing so, I saved about $80 in bag fees round trip. If you often buy economy flights or fly with airlines that still charge for bags, this could save you a nice chunk of change. Check out the video  to see my success! Take that Spirit!

2 – Easy to maneuver

Through the city

I remember the days when I would pack one huge suitcase for a trip with 2 outfits per day, all the toiletries I would never need and a bunch stuff I thought I couldn’t do without. I also remember how frustrating and tiring it was lug my stuff around. These memories are the most vivid in Italy where I literally had to drag my 35 (maybe 40) pound bag across cobblestone, to various tourist attractions and through the streets of Venice as I ran to catch a bus! I thought the 4-way wheels would make life easier, but ultimately it was just overbearing. I still own my big suitcases, but most of the time, I travel with 1 bag. Typically I use an over-the-shoulder bag, but recently, I’ve become enamored with backpacks. They are the perfect solution! They are small and conspicuous and they make it easy to get up and go.

showcasing a backpack on the beach
Me and all my belongings kicking it at Miami Beach

On tours

This is my favorite benefit. Do you have a quick layover or time to kill before your flight home? Packing light and/or with just one bag can make sightseeing and bag storage easy. With an over-the-shoulder bag or backpack you don’t need to worry about a hotel holding your bags. For example, during my 6-hour stint in Miami, I brought my backpack with me everywhere – on the tours, walking down the beach and restaurants. Many tour buses will not allow luggage, but backpacks and shoulder bags pass as a purse/small personal item! If you happen to bring a rolling bag, you may need a place for storage, but if it’s small enough, bringing your things with you for sightseeing could be a breeze. I loved that I didn’t have to worry about dragging a big bag(s) through crowds or standing out and looking like a tourist.

3 – Simple packing and unpacking

With one bag, you can be ready to go in a heartbeat. This gives you a little more time to enjoy your trip. It will likely also lessen your stress about leaving something behind.

4 – Easy access to what you need when you need it

When you have the ability to bring your bag wherever you go, you never have to worry about not having what you need. Let’s say after lunch I wanted to brush my teeth. Instead of having to make my way back to the hotel, I just opened my bag and made my way to the nearest restroom. How convenient! Having everything you need will save time and avoid pointless back and forth to the hotel.

Things to consider

So, how do you begin to slim down all the stuff that’s coming on your trip? Ask yourself the following questions. Working through this list will help you determine what is a necessity and what’s not.


1: Why are you travelling?

Work or pleasure? Often times, we pack unnecessarily for both. One easy way to lighten the load is to pack according to the purpose of your trip. Is this just leisure? Leave all the electronics at home. Is this for business? Consider how much time you’ll actually have to explore the town and pack accordingly.


2. What multi-faceted item can you wear throughout?

What’s the weather like where you’re going? Is there something you could bring for layering and wear each day? Things like bathing suit cover-ups and cardigans can be worn multiple times, which eliminates the need for additional clothing. For example, instead of packing a bunch of sweaters, pack things that you can layer with a cardigan day after day. This is also a great tip for limiting the number of shoes and jewelry you bring. Consider how you could get through your trip with just 2 pairs of shoes and 1 set of jewelry.

3: What color scheme or theme will you use for your trip?

Often times, we pack opposing color schemes, which requires us to pack more so that we always match. Instead of grabbing random items from your closet, consider what color scheme would allow you to mix and match as needed. For example, consider wearing neutral colors that pair well with other things. This will make it even easier to wear your multi-faceted jackets, shoes, scarves, jewelry, etc.

4: What is a necessity?

When it’s all said and done, are you packing what you know you need or just-in-case items? If you want to slim down, pack the necessities only.


5: Who’s going with you?

Are other people coming on this trip with you? Can you divide and conquer? Often times, my fiance, Sly, and I will pack one bag for our trips together and share toiletries. This makes travelling a breeze and avoids bringing duplicates.


6: Will you actually wear clothes everyday?

Let’s say you’re going to the beach. Are you actually going to wear real clothes every day? Or is it more likely that you’ll be in bathing suits. Planning on wearing suits? Pack less clothing. Just grab a coverup you can wear over and over again to get you through your days.

Tips for saving space

  1. Roll your items – rolled items take less space than folded ones. Roll your socks and underwear inside of your shirts and pants and save room!
  2. Use every nook and cranny – use pockets as best as you can. Leave no space empty.
  3. Wear the things that take up the most space on plane days – wear your big jacket or coat on the plane and then store it in an overhead bin. This way, it comes with you without taking up space.
  4. Pack and repack – it might not be great on the first try. Be creative and keep moving things around til you get it right.
  5. Use your whole body – can you carry your books, or other items? Can you wear something on your head? This is a great way to bring hats without taking up space.
  6. Only bring your necessities – an oldie, but goodie.

And that’s it! Using these tips will make packing, travelling and unpacking a breeze! See how I packed 6 days worth of clothing in one backpack in the photos below!

Here’s what was in my bag for my most recent trip (click to enlarge):

Which of these tips will be most helpful for you your next trip?

Que-so Goodbye, 


be free.


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