Every seasoned traveller knows the pain of packing.
And never is the struggle more real than when you’re trying to condense everything you want to take in to the most minimal pack possible.
I swear by only ever backpacking with a maximum of 13kg – you can read why here – but the challenge then, of course, is not to get to your destination and realise you’ve left the most vital things behind!
So, if you’re having difficulty fastening the zip on your bursting suitcase, here are 10 incredible hacks to help you master the art of minimalist packing like a pro.
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#1 Only Take a Carry-On
If you give yourself no other option than a carry-on bag, you’ll automatically be in the mindset that you need to cut down on what you take.
This is a great starting point for minimalist packing.
Carry-on restrictions do vary slightly from airline to airline, so definitely check the dimensions you’re allowed before selecting your bag.
However, choosing to travel with a carry-on only (and sticking to that rule!) is a sure-fire way to keep your luggage volume down.
Not only will travelling light like this make your life much easier at the airport, but you’ll also save on baggage fees too – Double woohoo!
#2 Leave Space in Your Bag
Many travellers who are minimal packing pros repeatedly advise others not only to take a smaller bags, but also to ensure they don’t fill them to the brim to start with!
If you want to master the art of travelling light, then you should start off by packing a bag that’s least 10-20% smaller than the one you’ll actually be travelling with.
Pack this smaller bag with EVERYTHING you’ll need for your trip.
Then, when you’re happy it all fits, take out your slightly larger bag – the one you’re actually going to travel with – and transfer over all the items you just packed.
No more, no less!
Now you should end up with a bag that has all the luggage you need, but you also that little bit of extra room for souvenirs or things you forget and had to buy along the way. Genius!
#3 Research Your Destination
Any trip should always start off with a bit of research.
Not only will this help you gauge how much money you’ll need and what you want to see while you’re there, it is also crucial when it comes to mastering the art of packing like a pro.
That’s because knowing a bit about a destination is going to help you massively when trying to decide what you’ll need to take.
For example, will you be heading to the beach most days? Then you’ll want at least 2 great swimsuits and some good sunglasses.
Or will you have problems with bugs? Then make sure there’s enough room for your insect repellent and possibly a mosquito net.
A great way to get personal advice on a particular location is to check out travel blogs from those who have already been there.
** One of my favourite travel blogs, Her Packing List, is great for this **
This will help you work out what you’re going to need to take … and what you can leave at home.
#4 Consider Your Activity Plans
It could be that you’re travelling to a particular area because there’s something specifically you want to see or do there.
In this case, you’ll also need to factor any essential items for these activities into your minimalist packing list too.
After all, you don’t want to be heading somewhere for an awesome hike and then realise you didn’t pack your boots or water bottle.
Or be going on the safari trip of your dreams, only to discover you forgot your best camera lens!
Always make sure you check out all the necessary information to do with your chosen activities beforehand.
I then suggest starting your packing with any items you consider essential before seeing what else – if anything! – you can fit into your bag.
#5 Opt for Matching Colours
Opting for a lightweight wardrobe of items that complement each other will save you a lot of stress and help you keep your luggage volume down.
Going for neutral colours is great advice in this area, as clothes that can be mixed and matched easily with one another are a superb way of making sure you travel light.
#6 Pack with Versatility in Mind
If you really want to learn the art of minimalist packing, then getting to know the definition of versatility will be key!
The term versatility refers to the way in which the same clothing items that can be worn for a variety of occasions and scenarios.
For example, a simple day dress can easily be snazzed up for evening wear with the simple addition of some nice jewellery.
You can also get plenty of women’s lightweight hiking shoes these days that perfectly suit walking around a city as well as tackling a good trail.
Versatility can also be used to describe an item that has a variety of uses.
For example, my favourite travel item, the sarong, is super handy to pack not just as a stylish piece of beachwear, but also as a shawl, a picnic blanket, a scarf, a pillow or even a privacy curtain for a bunk bed
** Discover the 21 reasons why I always advise taking a sarong travelling here **
Look at the items you have in front of you when packing at home and ask yourself what other uses they could have. This will be crucial in getting the most out of your small amount of luggage.
#7 Forget the Daywear
We’ve all done it before – taken more outfits than we really need for a trip.
Therefore trust me when I say that the one area you can usually strip out some weight from your case is daywear.
When heading for warmer climates, bikinis, sarongs and flip-flops don’t take up a lot of room. You can bet this is what you’ll be living in throughout the day, so forget those 4 pairs of shorts and just take 1!
Conversely, if you’re going to be experiencing dropping temperatures, perhaps as part of a skiing break, then don’t forget you can always hire those huge coats and pieces of equipment while you’re there, so only take lightweight tops and leggings to wear underneath.
#8 Plan Each Day
If you’re trying to pack light for a shorter trip, perhaps a city break, then lay out all those versatile, matching items we discussed above in front of you, and plan an outfit for each day.
Decide where you want to go in advance and what you want to see, building simple outfits around it, so that not a single piece of clothing you take is wasted or superfluous.
#9 Material Matters
Some materials are naturally heavier than others, so try to stay away from cotton and leather when looking to harness your minimalist packing skills.
Instead, opt for synthetic materials which are built for speed and are incredibly lightweight.
You should also think about things like quality, thickness and wrinkles when you want to pack light.
The ideal types of travel clothing are durable, take up minimal space / weight and are relatively wrinkle-free at the other end, so definitely consider these factors in the packing process.
#10 Cut Down on Gadgets
Finally, if you’re going away for a travel experience (and not to blog as well!), then why not consider leaving the gadgets at home.
Yes, passing up your iPad and laptop during the packing process will save you a ton of weight and mean you can probably spend less on travel insurance too!
Now to take that advice myself HAHAHA!
World Nomads offers simple and flexible travel insurance. Buy at home or while travelling and claim online from anywhere in the world.
Alternatively, if you’re a long-term traveller, digital nomad or frequent remote worker seeking travel health cover, check out Safetywing’s Nomad Insurance policies.
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So I hope this blog post will be useful when it comes to minimalist packing tips for your next trip.
And don’t forget to let me know where are you heading away to this year in the comments below?
I’d love to hear from you…
4 thoughts on “How to Master the Art of Minimalist Packing Like a Pro”
Great article! Thanks for mentioning Her Packing List, too! We appreciate it 🙂
Hey thanks Brooke, love your site, so wanted to share with my readers! Glad you enjoyed the article 🙂
Most useful packing tip ever: nowadays you can buy almost everything anywhere in the world. On extended trips it’s easier to buy what you need on the spot than try to bring everything for the whole trip, and schlepping stuff around for weeks or even months while you will only use it for three days, or never at all.
Packing is all about learning to do with less and be comfortable with it.
Could not agree more Leo – this is my absolute mantra and it’s great to hear from those that agree! 🙂