How to pack for any trip like a minimalist

No matter how long or short the trip, this is what and how I pack. This also works for families and solo travel.

I grew up traveling so I have packed a suitcase many times. Then when I got married, my husband was gone on work trips often, and I had to learn to pack a bag on short notice. I now have a simple formula I follow when packing bags for trips. The best part is it stays the same no matter how many people are going or how long the journey is. Here is exactly how I pack my luggage for every trip.

1: Choose your Luggage

Depending on the trip you are going on, you may opt for a backpack, a rolling suitcase, or a duffel bag. I go for a backpack if I can fit everything I need.

Invest in a high-quality, lightweight travel bag or suitcase that meets your needs. Opt for a size that encourages minimalism rather than excess. Suppose you fit everything into a smaller bag. In that case, you’ll save money on baggage fees and enjoy the convenience of traveling with less weight.

Here are 5 bags I personally love to use on trips:

  1. The North Face Backpack
  2. Patagonia Duffel Bag
  3. NOMATIC Backpack
  4. THE NORTH FACE Stratoliner Note: I do wish this had 4 wheels. That is the only thing I do not like, but I use this for every trip we go on as a family.
  5. LEVEL8 Elegance Carry

2: Create Your Capsule Wardrobe

The key to minimalist packing lies in creating a capsule wardrobe. Select a few essential, versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched to create different outfits. Choose neutral colors that complement each other, and consider clothing made from quick-drying and wrinkle-resistant fabrics. Stick to a limited number of tops, bottoms, and shoes suitable for various occasions and climates.

Check out the Bucketlist family on Instagram; they do a fantastic job at creating a beautiful capsule wardrobe for all ages.

Stick to a Color Scheme:

Choosing a cohesive color scheme is critical to ensuring all clothing items can be easily mixed and matched. Opt for neutral colors such as black, white, gray, beige, and navy, as they are versatile and can be paired with various other colors.

Focus on Versatile Basics:

Include basic, essential pieces that form the foundation of your outfits. These can include a well-fitting pair of jeans, a black or navy skirt, a neutral-colored dress, a few solid-colored tops, and a lightweight jacket or cardigan. Choose items that can be dressed up or down and layered to accommodate different weather conditions.

Prioritize Multi-Purpose Items:

Select clothing items that can serve multiple purposes. For example, a lightweight scarf can be worn as an accessory, a wrap, or a blanket during travel. A versatile button-up shirt can be worn alone, layered over a T-shirt, or tied around your waist for a casual look.

Mix and Match:

Once you’ve selected your clothing items, experiment with different combinations to create various outfits. Try to maximize the number of outfits you can create using the fewest number of items. Layering, accessorizing, and switching up shoes can significantly expand your outfit options.

Shoes and Outerwear:

Shoes and outerwear can occupy significant space in your luggage, so choose wisely. Opt for a comfortable pair of walking shoes or sneakers worn with different outfits. Consider the weather conditions and pack a lightweight, versatile jacket or coat that can be layered over your outfits.

3 Pack Toiletries Efficiently:

Toiletries often take up unnecessary space in your luggage. Minimize their size and weight by using travel-sized containers or purchasing toiletries at your destination. Another option is to check if your accommodation provides basic toiletries, reducing the need to pack them all together.

4 Embrace Laundry (and deodorant)

If my travels are longer than 5 days, I plan for Laundry.

Doing Laundry while traveling can help you pack lighter and extend the usability of your clothing. Here are some tips on how to do Laundry efficiently during your travels:

Check Accommodation Facilities:

Before you travel, research your accommodation options and determine if they provide laundry facilities. Many hotels, hostels, and vacation rentals offer laundry services or have coin-operated washing machines and dryers on-site. This convenient option allows you to do your Laundry without leaving the premises.

Pack Travel-Friendly Laundry Supplies:

Pack a few travel-sized laundry essentials to be prepared for Laundry on the go. These may include a small bottle of laundry detergent or laundry sheets that can be easily dissolved in water. Consider packing a portable clothesline or a few travel-size laundry detergent pods for hand-washing.

Examples of my go-to travel laundry supplies

Laundry Sheet

Laundry Tablet

Travel clothesline (if you have time to air dry, or you have clothes that cannot go in the dryer, or you are in a country where they do not typically use dryers)

Hand-Washing Method:

Hand-washing your clothes is viable if you need access to laundry facilities or want to save money. Here’s a simple method to follow:

  1. Fill a sink or basin with water, ensuring it is at an appropriate temperature for your garments.
  2. Add a small amount of laundry detergent and mix it well.
  3. Submerge your clothes and gently agitate them in the water, paying attention to any stained or soiled areas.
  4. Let your clothes soak for a few minutes, then rinse them thoroughly with clean water.
  5. Gently squeeze out excess water and hang your clothes to dry. You can use a travel clothesline or even hang them in the bathroom.

Use Local Laundromats:

Suppose you’re traveling for an extended period or have a large amount of Laundry. In that case, finding a local laundromat can be a convenient option. Laundromats typically have self-service washing machines and dryers that you can use for a fee. It’s an excellent opportunity to experience local culture while handling your laundry needs.

Consider Laundry Services:

If you prefer someone else to handle your Laundry, consider using laundry services in the area. Many cities and tourist destinations have laundry facilities where you can drop off your clothes and pick them up clean and folded at a later time. While this option may be more expensive, it saves time and effort.

Pack Wrinkle-Resistant and Quick-Drying Clothes:

When selecting clothes for travel, opt for wrinkle-resistant and quick-drying items. These types of clothing are easier to wash and dry, especially if you’re relying on hand-washing or using limited laundry facilities.

Plan Laundry Days:

To stay organized, plan specific days for doing Laundry during your trip. This way, you can ensure you have clean clothes when needed and remain supplied with clean options. Consider laundry days when you have a relaxed schedule or during more extended stays in one place.

Carry a Laundry Bag:

A separate laundry or waterproof bag designated for dirty clothes is essential for keeping your clean and dirty items separate. It helps you stay organized and prevents unpleasant odors from seeping into your luggage.

Remember, doing Laundry while traveling is an opportunity to embrace the local culture, adapt to new experiences, and pack lighter. Following these tips, you can efficiently handle your laundry needs and enjoy fresh and clean clothes throughout your journey.

Have an organizational system.

When you travel with one or two bags, you need an organization system so you do not find yourself digging and throwing things around.

Everything must have a place and be put back in its place. Trust me, this will save you.

You can use packing cubes if that is in your budget, or you can use ziplock bags, grocery bags, or trash bags; whatever you have access to will work.

I like to have a system in my carry-on backpack where the things I need most often will be at the top of the bag. The most annoying thing is digging through my bag in my tight economy seat, and everything is falling out because I was lazy and didn’t create a system.


Packing like a minimalist is an art that allows you to travel more comfortably, efficiently, and mindfully. By adopting these tips, you can streamline your packing process, reduce stress, and thoroughly enjoy travel experiences. Remember, the actual value of travel lies in the memories you make and the connections you forge, not the number of items in your suitcase. So, pack light, pack smart, and embark on your next adventure with a minimalist mindset.

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