Whether you subscribe to the idea of a minimalistic lifestyle or not, learning to pack like a minimalist is useful. Budget airlines today have incredibly strict baggage allowances, and even some of the legacy carriers have tightened up on what you’re allowed to bring with you. If you don’t want to pay for extra suitcases (or in some cases, for anything at all on top of a carry on), you will need to learn to travel light.
These minimalist packing tips will help you travel for longer with less and not feel deprived:
Know Your Allowances
Packing for carry-on only is much tougher than packing when you are taking a 60-liter backpack. If you know how much space you are going to have before you start packing, you’ll find it a lot easier to make smart decisions. You can even find tips and packing lists from people who have a lot of experience with traveling light.1 Once you’ve enjoyed the thrill of hopping off the plane and going straight to passport check once, you’ll never want to check bags again.
Plan Your Activities
Think about what you want to do at your destination in advance. If you’re an athlete and you want to train while you’re away, then taking your sports gear with you might be non-negotiable. If you’re going to a conference where you will be networking, you will need smart clothing for the evening events. There’s little need to pack a lot of casual clothes for a work trip, and even if the destination is likely to be cold, do you really need several heavy sweaters and scarves if you’ll be in the hotel/conference center every day? Probably not.
Rebuy Some Items at Your Destination
For longer trips, you may find that it’s just as cheap to rebuy certain items when you’re at your destination. In fact, “pack less, buy there” is a common packing philosophy.2 There are some items that you might want to take with you, (medication that you can’t go a whole day without, for example) while others that you can travel with more efficiently. Instead of taking lavender essential oil bottles with you, for example, take a Sleepy personal diffuser. It’s small and light but will do the same job without the need for accessories.
Think critically about every piece you brin g. Small clothing that folds up easily is a better choice when you’re traveling light. If you’re taking technology with you, take one USB charger that you can use to charge multiple items. If you’re taking your laptop with you and you can charge your camcorder, phone, and tablet via USB, then leave all the chargers at home. You’ll be surprised at how quickly technology-related items add up to take up room.
Make Technology Perform Double Duties
Why pack two paper books when a Kindle is smaller and can carry your entire library? If you’re not someone who reads a lot but you do want to read on the train or plane, leave the Kindle as well and use your phone in “dark mode” so it’s easier on the eyes. Think about whether you need a phone, laptop, and tablet. If you aren’t going away for work, you probably don’t.
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Take less technology, and avoid paying the airlines extra fees for your luggage being over a given weight. Also, if you’re not an avid photographer, then you might not want to pack a camera. Most smartphones have pretty good cameras on them now, so save space in your luggage and use that instead.
Choose a Minimalist Wardrobe
If you have already adopted the idea of a capsule wardrobe in your day-to-day life, why take the whole wardrobe with you? Take advantage of the laundry service that will be offered at your hotel and pack enough to survive based on that.
In addition to the main tips above, there are a few ways you can make your luggage allowance go further:
- Pack clothing that will fold up to become small
- Use packing cubes to maximize the space
- Pack awkwardly shaped items inside your shoes (underwear and socks fit well)
- Take clothing that you can wear in layers depending on the temperature
- Wear bulky items while you travel so they aren’t counted in your allowance
- Make sure anything you travel with is machine washable
- Choose neutral colors and simple styles
- Check the weather forecast regularly before you travel and pack appropriately
Sometimes you might make mistakes when you’re packing. If so, try not to panic. Unless you’re going out into the jungle or desert, you’re probably going to be able to find shops that will sell something that you can make do with for the trip.
Indeed, while you’re shopping for a sweater, raincoat, or battery charger, who knows what else you may stumble upon or who you might meet. Going shopping for day-to-day items might not seem like the most exciting thing to do on your vacations, but it can show you a different side to your destination and can sometimes be a lot of fun.
Whether you’re going for a long weekend or a trip of a lifetime, these packing tips will help you travel light so that you can focus on the destination and not worry about your possessions bogging you down. Once you master minimalistic packing, you’ll be able to pick up a bag on a whim and go off and do something fun whenever the mood strikes you. That’s the beauty of a minimalistic lifestyle.
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