An Adventure is Calling How to Pack Like a Minimalist
Minimalist Travel,  Our Adventures

How to Pack like a Minimalist

An Adventure is Calling How to Pack Like a Minimalist Blog

How to pack like a minimalist! Sounds fun, right? (I’m not making a joke…anything related to minimalism excites me!) 🙂 My husband and I consider ourselves minimalists (and most of our loved ones would agree). Minimalism can be defined in so many different ways, but ultimately, we try to live intentionally and avoid clutter. We have plenty of items, but each item brings us joy and has a purpose.

We may earn money or products from the companies mentioned in this post. We only recommend products and services that we love!

I’m excited to share my tips for packing like a minimalist! But first, let me tell you what this blog post is not about. It is not about packing for a month-long trip with 1 shirt. It is not about wearing the same sweater for 3 weeks. I’m not going to tell you stick to a specific number of items. If those limits work for you, then great, but I think it is important for each traveler to determine their limits on their own. It is not about refusing to check a large suitcase (although I prefer using carry-ons when possible!).

It is about planning ahead, thoughtfully considering what you pack, and determining what you actually need.

I haven’t always packed like a minimalist, and I sometimes still struggle to avoid over-packing (especially now that I have a baby!). Some trips are easier to pack minimally for than others. Packing minimally for warm weather destinations has always been easy for me. I packed for an entire week in Kauai in a carry-on and still had room to spare, but I struggled to fit into that same carry-on when I packed for 3 days in Washington, D.C. in the winter (I did it but didn’t have room to spare). Swim suits and flip-flops are easier to pack than winter coats and boots, but packing minimally is always an option.

My hope is that you’ll find some inspiration. Whether you’re planning to pack in a small backpack, a carry-on, or a large suitcase, this post is for you!

How to Pack like a Minimalist

  1. Plan To Do LaundryAn Adventure is Calling How to Pack Like a Minimalist Laundry

Just Do It!

I have read countless blog posts and travel discussion threads on how to keep clothes fresh after multiple wears, how to avoid getting clothes dirty on excursions, etc.

…And I’m over here wondering why people don’t just plan to do a load of laundry? This is one of my biggest tips for packing like a minimalist. Just plan on washing your clothes! Don’t feel like you need to pack 30 shirts for a month-long trip to Europe or even 7 shirts for a week.

Are you going on a trip for a month? Plan to pack 7 days worth of outfits. Going for a week? Pack for 4 days. I do realize that there are situations in which this won’t work. Some travel destinations simply won’t have laundry options available, and that’s ok! My point is, if you can do laundry, plan on it. It’ll make packing and traveling so much easier.

Research Your Options Before You Go

When we travel for more than a few days at a time, I almost also filter my Airbnb rental search by selecting a “washer” and “dryer”. It is so convenient to have access to laundry machines while traveling. Having them inside your accommodations allows you to wash and dry while eating breakfast, getting ready for the day, or while you sleep.

If you aren’t staying in a vacation home, you still have options. In Killarney, Ireland, we paid 5 Euro at our hostel for them to wash, dry, and fold one load of laundry for us. We dropped off our bag of clothes at the front desk before we left to explore the town, and it was ready when we got back that evening.

Many hotels also offer laundry services (for a fee). Some hotels have laundry rooms on each floor for self-service (usually coin or credit card operated). If all else fails, you can always go to a laundromat. These tend to be why people don’t want to do laundry on vacation, and I get it. First, you have to sit there and wait while your clothes wash and dry (when you really want to be out exploring). Second, they can be expensive in areas with high tourist volumes. But at the end of the day, I would rather spend a few hours doing laundry than over-packing and lugging around a huge, heavy, uncomfortable suitcase as I move from place to place (or possibly worse, wear dirty clothes for a majority of my trip).

What about detergent?

Many places with laundry services (whether its an Airbnb, hostel, hotel, or laundromat) will have laundry detergent. In a vacation home, it’ll probably be free to use. At a laundromat, you’ll probably have to pay a little extra (or purchase it out of a machine). If you’re like us and are picky about our laundry detergent (I have an allergic reaction to nearly all typical laundry detergents), you can bring along some laundry detergent pods. They are typically very small and easy to pack. We do not use pods at home (they aren’t eco-friendly), but I will bring them along (we often get free samples, so I hold on to them for travel).


  1. Make a List & Create a Capsule Wardrobe

An Adventure is Calling How to Pack Like a Minimalist Capsule Wardrobe

What is a Capsule Wardrobe?

Capsule wardrobes are often key to a minimalist lifestyle. Capsule wardrobes typically consist of clothing items within a similar color scheme, so the items can be easily mixed and matched. I personally tend to purchase items that are black, navy, burgundy/maroon, and olive green. A person with a serious capsule wardrobe wouldn’t want to hold on to a pair of pants that only matches one shirt.

People approach capsule wardrobes differently. For some, it means only owning 10 clothing items. For others, that number is 30. And for others, that number is 100. And for minimalists like me, I don’t keep track. I just make sure each clothing item sparks joy, has a purpose, is used regularly, and fits (with plenty of room in spare) in my closet and dresser.

How to Create Yours!

If you don’t already have a capsule wardrobe, creating one for travel is a great way to start! Choose a color scheme and select pieces that can be mixed and matched (i.e. 2 pairs of pants that can be worn with all 4 shirts or blouses). This will help you pack minimally, and you’ll leave the pair of shoes that only matches 1 shirt at home.

It’s important to make a list before you start packing. Consider how many days you need to pack for (keep laundry options in mind) and then list how many shirts, pants, skirts/dresses, suits, shoes, underwear, etc., you realistically need during that period of time. You will (obviously) need to consider the weather when doing this (don’t pack your favorite sundress if you’re headed to Antarctica). If you determine that you need 3 long-sleeved shirts, just choose 3 favorites. Never start packing by opening up your closet and just grabbing your favorite items. This is the fastest and easiest way to ensure that you’ll over-pack.

Since everything goes with everything, you can change up your outfits throughout the trip and avoid feeling like you’re wearing the exact same outfit over and over again.

What To Wear on the Plane

It’s common to suggest that people wear their heaviest items on the plane when they travel. Wear your tall boots and warm coat, and it’ll save space in your luggage. This is great advice, but I have a note to add: consider where you’re going over the entire course of your trip. Will you only need that warm winter coat for the first few days of your trip before you head to warmer weather? If the answer is yes, make sure you leave space in your luggage to add that coat later. You don’t want to get stuck wearing it (or carrying it) the entire time because you didn’t do this.

  1. Use Packing Cubes

An Adventure is Calling How to Pack Like a Minimalist Packing

Why They are Great!

If you haven’t already jumped on the packing cube wagon, don’t wait any longer! I cannot stress the importance of packing cubes enough! I love them. Packing cubes are great for so many reasons. First, they keep your suitcase organized and prevent things from getting lost. Second, they condense the amount of space your things will take up in your suitcase. Really, they are amazing!

My Recommendations

We use two different brands of packing cubes and love them both for different reasons. These ones by Eagle Creek were the first ones I ever bought (about 5 years ago). I love that they are high quality and durable. The material is breathable and machine-washable. I’ve used mine more times than I can count, and they are still like-new.

Our other favorite packing cubes are made by Gonex. I bought a set after reading multiple positive reviews. They are less expensive than the Eagle Creek ones and the material is more like canvas. The thing that makes them great is their ability to compress items even further with their extra, compression zipper compartment. I highly recommend both brands!

  1. Consider What You Can Buy There or Do Without

An Adventure is Calling How to Pack Like a Minimalist Open

Can You Buy it There?

This is a great way to save space in your luggage! If you’re traveling somewhere for a month, then by all means, just buy your toiletries there (just pack what you need to get through the first day or two). If you must pack shampoo/conditioner/etc., consider using these silicone bottles. I have these and love them- they have held up well! Never, ever pack full-sized bottles of anything (unless it is a crucial item that cannot be re-bottled or purchased on your trip).

Food should be considered here. As someone who has multiple food allergies, I always travel with snacks (it is very hard for me to find snacks in airports and traditional grocery stores that I can eat). That being said, I also do my research ahead of time and see what I can buy once I’m on my trip. If they have stores that can fit my needs, then I know I don’t need to pack snacks items to last the entire trip.

What Can You Do Without?

On the same note, consider what you can do without. Can you survive without your luxury shampoo and just use what they offer at the hotel? Do you really need 3 full sets of eyeshadow palettes? What about those 5 pairs of shoes you have sitting by your suitcase? 3 different hats? You get the picture… scale down and be willing to go without.

People who live a minimalist lifestyle full-time will not struggle with this as much as people who don’t. I get it. I haven’t always been a minimalist. Bring the things you truly need, but try to consider what you can survive without. I promise that it will lead a more relaxed trip.

A lot of people fear that they will forget something important or regret not having something. In most cases, you’ll be traveling to a destination with stores. You can buy a hairbrush, socks, vitamins, or eyedrops there.  If you’re traveling to a remote location and truly won’t be able to purchase any items there, then I encourage you to start making your list early on to avoid forgetting things during a last-minute packing fiasco.

The Road Trip Dilemma

A note about road trips: I find that it is hardest to pack minimally for a road trip, because we have a car that we can pack full of things (versus traveling by airplane). In these cases, remember to make a list and stick to it. Consider where you’re going and what you’ll really need. Our extended families love to play board games when we are together, so it’s not uncommon for us to travel with a few of our favorite games. That being said, I’ve recently start paying attention to the amenities listed on our vacation homes (Airbnb makes it so easy!). If the home has games listed, then we trust the description and leave ours at home. They probably won’t have our favorite games there, but we can discover new games together while we are there and avoid the clutter in our car during our trip.

  1. Plan Ahead if You Want to Bring Home Souvenirs

An Adventure is Calling How to Pack Like a Minimalist Souvenir

What Souvenirs Do You Actually Want?

I recently wrote a blog post called “Souvenir Ideas for Minimalists”, and it has done really well! It’s been encouraging to see that minimalism to something that people are striving for. If you would like to bring home souvenirs but want to avoid clutter, I encourage you to check out that post for inspiration.

Leave Plenty of Space

Now, for the souvenirs that you do buy- plan ahead. If you’re traveling to Tuscany and know you want to bring home a bottle of wine, be sure to leave room in your suitcase. If you’re traveling to New York City or Paris and plan to splurge on a few new fashionable pieces for your wardrobe, make sure you leave space (and better yet, pack few clothing items with the intention of buy new, fun pieces there).

Whether your items are large or small, you need to make sure you can get them home. It would be a bummer to have to ship items back home separately (that could be pricey!) or purchase another bag to put it in on the plane (and pay the corresponding baggage fee) all because your suitcase is filled with a bunch of stuff you brought from home and possibly never even used.

When I do buy souvenirs, I try to buy them toward the end of my trip. That way I won’t have to lug them around from location to location. It also allows me to keep an eye out for items I might really want, and then only go back for the best options at the end.


I enjoyed sharing my tips, and I hope you’ve found some inspiration! I would love to hear what your thoughts are on packing like a minimalist. How do you approach packing?

An Adventure is Calling Signature






Pin for later:

An Adventure is Calling How to Pack Like a Minimalist Blog



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.