As the world keeps showing us “more is more”, when it comes to travelling I believe “less is more.” That’s why I’m working on perfecting a minimal packing routine that can make my time before, during, and after a trip to be efficient and not be weighed down by things (#exBorderlineHoarder). My beginnings with minimalism came to be as result of moving between 2 continents twice (USA and Morocco) for my Peace Corps service and within Morocco a handful of times. Each time I started to feel the weight and anxiety of having so much crap. I had to pay extra money to get extra luggage allowance, rent a large car to move boxes across country, hurt myself from carrying too much weight on my back, and the exhaustion in each move where I realized I didn’t recognize half the things I owned.
Noooooo more! In the past few months, I’ve started to experiment with some minimalism techniques and practices such as following Marie Kondo’s methods for decluttering (I’m obessed now) and making a conscious effort to use less and use the stuff I have before re-purchasing or replacing things. When it came to packing, I just got tired of carrying so much and being weighed down on trips with lots of moving around with my things. Girl you don’t need 3 back up outfits and extra shoes -_-. So if you’re like me and are looking for ways to make traveling easier with some tips on how to pack like a (psuedo/reformed whatever you wanna call it) minimalist with just your carry on, just keep reading!
1.) Pick a Sturdy Carry-On
Travelling like a minimalist means you do NOT want to check in a suitcase. Having a checked bag means extra weight you have to carry arounf and also having to wait on line to check it in and also to pick it up at baggage claim. Depending on how far and how long I plan to travel or if I need room to bring stuff for other people or bring goodies home for myself, I will decide if I want to use both a carry on rolling suitcase and backpack.
For flights on airlines like Ryanair, where you can get charged for any little overage on your carry on allowance, I try to stick to just my backpack. Personally, I swear by my Eagle Creek Gear Hauler. This one is slightly darker than mine but thought I’d share the reference. I bought it for when I joined the Peace Corps in 2014 and traveled all over Morocco, Europe, and on trips back to the U.S. and it doesn’t look a day old. (Side-note while this a blog to help you travel with less, I want to note that I’ve managed to carry roughly 30 lbs/15 kilos on trips where I needed to max out my allowance.)
2.) Consider the Destination
This seems like a no-brainer but pack according to the season in the location you’re going to. Hot places mean light clothes so you can get away with taking less clothes so they don’t weigh you down. For places in winter or just cold overall, wear your heaviest clothes (sweater, snow jacket, boots) on your outbound and returning flights so you don’t have to take up space in your luggage. Also, unless you’re going to a special event where you have to wear a specific outfit (ex. bridesmaid/wedding dress), try to pack only basics that you can jazz up with your accessories or make-up or shoes.
3.) Plan Your Outfits
For any trip, I take I divide the total number of days by 2 and that’s the max amount of outfits I plan to pack. If space is really tight or longer trips, I’ll divide by 4 and make sure that every 4 outfits can be mixed and matched to create “new” looks without sacrificing space. Also, I try to keep shoes to one pair of comfy sneakers and cute flats/sandals or flat boots and one pair of heels. Less shoes, less bulk. You can take pictures of each outfit combination as well to keep track of them and also cut down time getting ready while travelling.
4.) Reuse Your Travel Size Toiletry Containers
Travelling with carry-on luggage, you can’t carry anything anything over 3 oz/100 ml. You can invest in empty toiletry containers that sell for a few dollars/euros like these TSA approved Silicone Travel bottles Set and fill it up with your favorite shampoo, conditioner, face wash, makeup remover etc. But check your medicine cabinet before you do to find if you have any product samples with containers you can refill once its empty so you don’t have to pay for the container. So for example, I occasionally get toothpaste samples for free or in a pitch end up purchasing the (usually) more expensive trial size. But if I can find an empty container that is smaller than the carry-on limits, I’ll use it to fill it with toothpaste or cream hair products or makeup remover balm.
5.) Roll, Roll, Roll
When you’re finally ready to pack up your clothes, fold each shirt, skirt, leggings, jeans or item of thin fabric in half and roll it up tightly and layer on top of each other. Easy and you’ll have minimal wrinkles. For bulky sweaters, I tend to wear them to not take up space (and I get cold on flights) but if I can’t or don’t want to wear them, I’ll just fold them in half.
There you have it. Those are my 5 quick tips for minimalist packing in a carry on. If you’d like to check out how I packed for a 4 day trip from Morocco to Spain in the winter check out my video below.