How To Pack Like A Minimalist | The Ultimate Guide For Your Next Trip

Take too many things away with you when you go on a trip? 


Yep, me too. 


Unfortunately for me, my passion for surfing involves me carrying large oversized luggage all over the world, so calling myself any sort of minimalist is a touch hypocritical… 


However, in recent years I have tried to adopt a more minimalist approach to packing for overseas trips… meaning I only take things I NEED and that will serve a purpose on the trip, anything else I don’t take. 


And I tell you what – It’s frickin amazing. 


So if you’re someone taking hours to pack with half of the items not leaving your bag on the trip, dive right into this post and find out how to pack like a minimalist. 


This way, on your next trip, you aren’t wasting any time packing or paying any unnecessary baggage fees. 

Table of Contents

What is Minimalism?

Basically, you can describe a minimalist as someone who lives with the bare minimum in the way of material possessions and things. 


In terms of travel, a minimalist is someone who takes one backpack filled only with the most essential items they need for a trip.

Why Travel Like a Minimalist?

When you travel as a minimalist, you free yourself from material possessions as much as possible. 


Whether you’re heading away for a week or travelling the world for 6 months, minimalism allows you to realise that so many things we have – we don’t actually need at all. 


When travelling, you’ll also have the benefits of; not worrying about lots of important possessions, carrying around tonnes of luggage or spending hours packing before a flight. 


You may even find, you want to adopt this sort of lifestyle even after returning from a trip…

How To Pack Like a Minimalist

Need vs Want?

Before doing any packing, be sure to ask yourself what you NEED and what you want. 


Write this down using two columns. 


You’ll likely find that the want column is a great deal longer than the need. Anything in the want column, you don’t need to pack.

Pack Multi-Purpose Items

Anything that can be used multiple times or for multiple purposes is fantastic for minimalist travel. 


For example, if you’re going away for a week and you need to look at emails, why not use your phone instead of taking your laptop? 


Or have you got a jacket, that doubles up as a going out jacket and one that can be used for hiking? 


Anything that can be used for multiple purposes is a minimalist winner.

Pack Only Things That Serve a Purpose

Anything you pack into your travel bag needs to serve you some sort of purpose. 


Whether it’s a Kindle to read multiple books, a laptop to work on or a pair of shoes suitable for all terrains, it needs a purpose. 


Everything in your bag needs to help you in some way, and if it doesn’t…don’t pack it!

Take 1 of Something

Personally, I’m now pretty good at this one! (Aside from the surfboards that is). 


Packing 1 item of each type of clothing is a great rule to use to ensure you’re really packing like a minimalist. 


By this, I don’t mean things like socks, underwear and tee shirts, because… hygiene. 


I mean you don’t need to be packing 3 jackets when all you really need is 1 good one. The same goes for shoes. 


The ‘1 of something rule’ is what I always try to stick by when packing.

Vacuum Pack

To make sure that I’m always travelling with just hand luggage (minus the surfboard bag) I try and vacuum pack my clothes. 


You can grab vacuum packs from Kmart or Target and they’re simple airbags in which you can vacuum out, meaning your clothes are packed flat and as compact as possible. 


This is a great one for making sure you end up only taking hand luggage, as the same amount of clothes can fit in a way tighter/smaller space.

Hand Luggage Only

As a minimalist, you should only ever take hand luggage. 


If you’re taking hold luggage as well (e.g. a suitcase) then you’re taking too much stuff! 


Most airlines allow 7-12kg of hand luggage, which should be more than sufficient for a minimalist traveller like you.

Avoid Souveniers

I never bring home souvenirs. 


Selfish as that seems, I find that bringing home souvenirs is just a pointless accumulation of more stuff. Both for me when travelling and for the friends and family I’m bringing it home to. 


Most souvenirs are cheaply made tatty items that stay stashed away in draws anyway. 


I only bring home photos and memories of everywhere I’ve been to. 


It’ll save you space in your bag and is another non-essential you don’t need to worry about.

Take 30 Mins Max Rule

It’s super easy to faff around for hours when packing and the whole process often gets made into a bigger deal than it needs to be. 


As a minimalist, you don’t need any more than 30 minutes to pack all your things for any trip. 


With only a few things to pack you really don’t need to be taking long to pack your bag. 


If you’re taking longer than this to pack, you’re probably taking too many things!

How To Pack Like a Minimalist - Summarised

After reading this post, I hope it’s helped (and persuaded) you to become more of a minimalist when travelling. 


There really aren’t many things you need for a trip, and to get a true experience of a place – you especially don’t need any creature comforts from home. 


Only pack things that serve a purpose and add value to your trip, anything else don’t take! 


Happy packing…

Dan Harmon

Dan Harmon

Hello! My name's Dan Harmon and I am a full time content creator and copywriter working freelance as I travel and surf my way around the globe. This blog is where I show you how to do the same.