Minimalism and travel are almost a perfect match. No-one likes carrying around a big suitcase with them everywhere they go, and if you plan on hopping from destination to destination, the luggage fees can become extortionate.
This is why it’s important to know what the essentials are as a minimalist traveler. My ultra minimalist travel packing list is pretty small, but it has everything I need when I have to travel light.
Our List of Minimalist Traveling Essentials – Complete Guide
Your minimalist packing list will vary depending on occasion, destination and various other factors. As long as you stay organized, you shouldn’t have any issues getting packed for your next trip.
So, what material possessions should you take with you when you’re traveling light? In Europe that carry on luggage weight limit can be as low as 7KG, which means you really need to stick to the bare minimum – here’s what I pack to save space
This is based on one trip for a period of fourteen days, but that includes one wash after seven days, so it’s essentially enough for a week without having to wash clothes. You may want to adjust and tweak this depending on how long you’re going for.
Your minimalist travel wardrobe will differ depending on your preference, but it’s often a good idea to stick with T shirts when traveling light as they fit into a single suitcase pretty easily. I stick to 8 t-shirts at the absolute minimum for a week of use.
Jeans & Shorts
Jeans are the secret to my minimalist traveling list, and two pairs of jeans can be reworn several times over. I also take 4 pairs of shorts with me when I’m traveling to sunnier destinations, as they’re comfortable enough for both exploring and just chilling in the daytime.
Eight pairs of undies for a week should be enough when it comes to underwear, with one pair spare. You should be able to tuck these into the sides of your bags around your main clothes to save a little space.
Sandals/pair of shoes
Comfortable sandals are one of the best investments that you can make when it comes to ultra minimalist travel, and if you buy the right pair, you can wear them almost everywhere. You can’t go wrong with Xero Shoes Sandals which are designed specifically for walking long distances..
I also like to take just one pair of men’s minimalist shoes with me on shorter trips (check here for women’s minimalist shoes!). This means that you need a pair of versatile shoes that can be worn for both smart casual occasions, but are also comfortable enough to wear for a full day of walking.
This also means that I pack a few pairs of small ankle socks into my suitcase too. Oh, and make sure to wear the shoes and pack the sandals, as they’re a lot lighter and can save you from adding extra weight to your bag.
Depending on where you’re going and what time of year it is, a jacket can be essential – I’ve been relying on my Arc’teryx for a few years now and it’s never let me down.
Make sure that it’s warm enough for cold climates, but still light enough to wear in the daytime. Waterproof is a good idea too – this gets worn instead of getting packed too.
For me, this includes my iPhone and its charger, my Airpods, my toothbrush, my passport and finally my minimalist wallet with my credit cards in it. That’s it – my ultralight packing list. You may also want a first aid kit if you’re cautious.
Though it may take you a whilst to travel light like a minimalist, packing light definitely does have its advantages. You’ll notice that I’ve left a few things like toiletries out of my list, which I’ll get to in a minute.
Minimalist Packing Tips for Traveling Light
After traveling light for many years, I’ve learned that it’s only the essentials that you want to carry with you when you want to pack light.
As long as you have money and clean clothes, you should be fine. Here’s a few of the things I’ve learned from traveling over the last few years.
Invest in high quality bag/suitcase
The key to being a minimalist traveler is getting the right bag for your needs and adapting your clothing items to fit into it. For me, I travel with a small 7kg suitcase that has just enough space for everything that I need to take with me.
Other people might need to consider a travel backpack, but I prefer to travel with just one bag in tow.
Use a Packing Cube
Packing cubes are the easiest way for you to separate your clothing items, either based on the outfit you’re going to wear or into t-shirts, underpants and shorts sections. These zip container packing cubes have become an essential part of my travel gear.
Leave your toiletries at home
One of my big secrets of my exact packing list is that I avoid having to organize travel sized toiletries and purchase them all locally when I get to my destination.
Getting used to simply using soap, shampoo and toothpaste can take a while, but when you have to fit everything into a tiny carry on bag, it’s either fewer clothes or less toiletries
Things like body wash and shampoo can be replenished easily in the vast majority of places that you’ll visit – they still have La Roche Posay in Thailand, you know.
Stick to solid colors
If you want to make sure that your outfits match no matter what, it’s wise to pick all of your clothes in the same colors. This means that your travel shirt will always match up with your travel pants.
It can also be a good idea to decide on a 7 day selection of outfits before you go, as when you start packing you can group all of your outfits up separately – this makes it quick to get your clothes for the day out.
Consider your tech
In the modern day, tech can mean that we have our entire life wrapped up in our devices. And a frequent traveler, the tech that you carry will often be the heaviest items in your luggage. If you’re a laptop owner, start packing with your laptop first and then work around it.
Don’t buy things just because they’re cheap
One of the biggest mistakes I made when I first started traveling is picking up new travel accessories along the journey – this has always been a mistake. It’s a better idea to bring back memories as opposed to material objects when you have barely any space as it is.
You may be able to get away with smaller items in your luggage. If there’s larger souvenirs you must have, you could consider shipping it home.
Hopefully my minimalist packing list helps you to decide which travel gear you need to take with you on your next adventure. Whether you’re going on a two week trip or a two month long trip, learning to live with less can be invaluable, and give you more freedom than you’d ever dreamed of.
If you’re worried about packing your entire life into one or two weeks of suitcase space, don’t be. Everyone has their own travel style that they work out over time, and you’ll work yours out the more that you travel.