13 Tips for Traveling Like a Minimalist this Summer

“Let your memory be your travel bag” – Alexander Solzhenitsyn

Embracing a more minimalistic approach to packing can make traveling even more enjoyable. Packing lightly doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice style. I always want to have everything I need without feeling weighed down. The key is thorough planning, lots of practice and following some basic principals. To be a light packer, you must first follow four simple rules:

  • Always make a list.
  • Never pack more than you can carry.
  • Never bring anything you don’t need.
  • Always plan your outfits in advance.

Isn’t it annoying when you return home from vacation or a business trip and find various things that remained buried in your suitcase the whole trip that only added extra weight and travel clutter for absolutely no reason? Embracing a more minimalist approach to packing can make traveling even more enjoyable. Here are 13 tips toward achieving this goal.

1.  Make a packing list.

Since you’re cutting down the things you’re bringing, it’s smart to make a list of the actual essentials. This way you don’t forget anything absolutely necessary. Be selective with your list, and don’t add gratuitous items that you don’t need. You can do this!

2. Plan your outfits ahead of time.

Instead of throwing in every article of clothing you’ve ever owned, count the number of days you’re going to be gone, and plan your outfits for each day (and evening if necessary) When making an itinerary plan outfits accordingly. That way you will have a better understanding of what is really needed and what can be left at home.

3. Bring things that don’t wrinkle and are multi-purpose.

Clothes that can be dressed up or down are key for keeping your packing light. I always try to bring items that are appropriate for different occasions. As Karl Largerfeld said, ““One is never over-dressed or underdressed with a Little Black Dress.” This premise has been the inspiration for Jennifer Croll’s Los Gatos California boutique called The Little Black Dress. Jennifer’s jersey dresses, tops and pants are perfect for travel and available not only in black but a wide array of colors. They are fashionable, versatile, wrinkle free, and machine washable. I always travel with at least one or more of her creations.


4. Pack only the essential toiletries.

Don’t pack items that come with your accommodations. Most hotels provide shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, and a blow dryer. If you’re not staying somewhere that will have toiletries, or you have certain must-have favorites, put them in the smallest size container that is appropriate for that product.

5. Don’t bring things you think you “might” need.

You probably won’t need them, and unless you’re going somewhere where you absolutely won’t be able to buy them, skip bringing extras of the same item and instead just take care of keeping track of what you did bring. Color coordinate so that everything can be paired and used for several different occasions.

6. Pack a pair of shoes that go with several outfits.

Cat Perkins ShoesPack or wear a pair of shoes that they can be dressed up or down and are comfortable for walking. Think: black ballet flats or low-heeled boots. Shoes take up a lot of suitcase space, so the fewer pairs, the better. Cat Perkins has the shoes everyone will be traveling with this season. A beautiful stylish shoe with one bottom and interchangeable uppers.

7. Don’t travel with tech you don’t need.

If you’re going on vacation, embrace it and avoid working. If you must work bring a tablet instead of your laptop. If you need a keyboard, Logitech has a great wireless keyboard for travel that is compatible with most tablets and takes up less space than your laptop.

8. Ebooks instead of physical books.

You can load up a Kindle or the Kindle app with endless books without taking up any suitcase room at all. It’s a no-brainer even for those of us who much prefer reading paper instead of digital content.

9. Wear your heavier clothing on the plane.

If you’re flying, wear your heavier/bulkier shoes and sweaters on the plane (bonus: you won’t freeze when the airplane AC is blasting). That way, you don’t have to stuff a giant jacket into a small bag, and you’ll still get to bring your favorite pair of shoes on the trip without worrying about them weighing your luggage down.

10. Roll your clothes and/or use packing bags

This is minimalist packing 101: instead of folding your clothes, roll them tightly up (like a sushi roll). This is more efficient space-wise and helps keep clothes from wrinkling. Eagle Creek has a whole “Specter” packing system that contains a variety of translucent pouches that will fit everything. Check out this Container Store video for packing a carry-on with clothes for 10 days.

Container Store Video

11. Choose the right suitcase or bag.

Select a bag that is spacious but compact. I prefer an expandable carry-on. They are small enough to put in an overhead compartment, but the extra space allows for some wiggle room.

12. Bring a space-saving travel pillow

Rather than a foam travel pillow consider an inflatable neck roll like this one from Air Comy. It takes up less space than the foam version.. It’s contoured neck support makes it comfortable. A soft micro-velvet pillowcase is easily removed and laundered. Another feature is that it is inflatable and deflatable with the push of a button. Blow it up and it collapses in seconds by simply pressing the air release valve. It stores compactly in a color coordinated satin lined packsack that comes with a carabiner for attaching to luggage.

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13. Bring a back-up battery for your cellular devices.

Walking around all day drains your phone, especially if you’re relying on it to be your GPS to explore new places. Remember to pack a compact external battery or and a car charger if you’re taking a road trip.

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