Creating a minimalist packing list has become my obsession as I travel more. When I first started traveling alone, I had a 75-liter backpack that broke my back literally. My mistake was thinking I needed everything!
My next step was to graduate from a 25-liter backpack to a 55-liter backpack, which I thought was a great accomplishment. A 33-liter backpack contained all my belongings after I downsized even further.
Over the last five years, I have traveled with a 24-liter backpack that is actually advertised as a daypack. Living off of that backpack for a few weeks or even a few months is possible for me, as I can manage one bag.
My post today will share the perfect minimalist travel packing list I have created after traveling alone for more than 19 years.
What is Minimalist Travel, Exactly?
Here’s a tricky question I’ll try to answer before we move on. Traveling minimalistically to me means packing only what’s essential for exploring the destination comfortably. Similarly, ultralight backpacking emphasizes packing only the essentials while reducing the amount of fat carried.
However, minimalist travel does not have any set rules. A person’s essentials may not be necessary to another. Depending on who you ask, minimalism means different things to different people.
Minimalist travel, however you define it, allows you to move around the world with the most freedom. Less packing allows us to experience our journey without wasting time, space, energy, or money.
Limit your Toiletries
There is no right or wrong answer here, it really depends on your own personal preferences. Some people who follow minimalism closely may decide that the only piece of hardware they’re going to need is a toothbrush in order to practice minimalism.
For those who are new to traveling, it may be more convenient to bring miniatures of each liquid, cleanser, or tool that they will need. If you ever need these items, you can store them in a small toiletry travel pouch that will always be available.
It is a good idea to remember that you may not need every single balm and cleanser you use on a daily basis. You should also eliminate non-essentials from your list of toiletries. When you travel, you don’t have to wear makeup or have perfectly gelled hair, so figure out which products and habits you can leave behind.
Shoes and Accessories
There may be a difference in shoes and accessories depending on what season you travel to, as well as what activities you plan on participating in.
If you want to lounge comfortably on your trip, you should wear open-toed shoes like flip-flops or sandals. As you explore the world city by city, your walking shoes will likely become your best friends as well! For a night out on the town, you can add some boots or fancier shoes.
Jewelry, sunglasses, and hats are probably the first things that come to mind when you think about accessories. Accessorizing an outfit goes beyond adding the finishing touches. Accessories are packed by people for whatever reasons they provide value.
Choose your accessories wisely because there are endless possibilities with them! You may find it difficult to sort through a bag full of accessories when you have too many.
By doing this, we would be defeating the entire purpose of minimalism. In addition to adding flair, accessories should enhance your road trip experience.
Which gadgets to bring along
There are many different types of travelers. There are some travelers who only pack the bare minimum of gadgets to get by. To create content on the go, digital nomads carry a wide variety of equipment with them, including a DSLR camera, several lenses, a laptop, etc.
What are the best ways for digital nomads to pack all that fancy gear into a piece of carry-on-only luggage? As far as small bags with large storage are concerned, there are a variety of options available.
Don’t worry, you can still be a minimalist even if you have to take all your gear with you on your next flight. You can learn more about how to pack for a digital nomad by reviewing the Worldpacker’s packing list.
The Perfect Minimalist Packing List
For every destination, in any climate, for every occasion, here’s our ideal packing list for men and women! While there are some items on this minimalist packing list that are specifically for women, the majority of the items can be used by anyone who wants an idea of what to pack for minimalist travel.
To ensure you’re prepared for whatever life throws at you while exploring, I’ve outlined everything you’ll need to pack in your carry-on. You can buy any toiletry that is a liquid when you arrive at your destination instead of packing it. Make sure your outfit pieces can easily match each piece’s color scheme as you travel by washing your clothes every week.
- Credit cards/cash
- Water bottle
- There are three t-shirts (to be used as sleepwear as well)
- One tank top
- One blouse or button-down shirt
- A long-sleeved shirt
- One light jacket
- An outfit for a special occasion or dress
- Leggings (one pair)
- Pants, 1 pair
- A pair of shorts
- 2 bras, 1 sports bra
- Socks: 3 to 6 pairs
- Underwear for 6 people
- Swim trunks and bathing suit
- Windbreaker 1
- One packable down jacket
- Mini hairbrush/comb
- Mini loofa
- Nail clippers
- Contacts/contact solution
- Hand sanitizer
- Tiny first aid kit with bandaids
- Diva cup (for the ladies)
Makeup should consist of the three most frequently used products in your makeup arsenal. Here are some good starting points:
- Lipstick (for when you’re feeling fancy)
Shoes & Accessories
- 1 pair of walking shoes
- 1 pair of open-toed shoes
- 1 pair dress shoes
- Hair ties + bobby pins
- Ear plugs
- Dry shampoo
- Prescription medications
- Laptop, charger, external hard drive
- DSLR camera, lenses, batteries, SD cards
If you’re heading to the beach in Southeast Asia, or exploring cities in Europe in the winter, this minimalist packing list will suit you.
Yes, absolutely! During the packing and travel process, packing cubes can be a great help in a number of ways. To begin with, they help you keep your clothes in a more compact space. You can easily move all your clothes around while packing and fit them neatly into your suitcase since all your clothes are enclosed in a cube.
Ideally, a wardrobe should consist of three shirts and three pants, which would equal nine outfits. As an example, Abby Stone from Apartment Therapy suggests five bottoms and fifteen tops for a two-week vacation based on a similar formula. Depending on whether you are layering or planning to wash during your trip, you may be able to scale back the shirts.
It is important to coordinate all of the tops with all of the bottoms in your bag.
It is important that all outerwear items match all tops and bottoms.
Make sure your tops are thin enough to layer and have coordinating colors if you want to get lots of combinations from just a few items.
I encourage you to create a minimalist packing list that works for you based on my minimalist packing list. It’s important to choose a minimalist travel list that suits your travel style and needs.
You can also create a minimalist hiking gear list using the same principles if you enjoy hiking.
It’s important to challenge yourself to pack less when creating a minimalist packing list. Please don’t get discouraged and keep trying. I know it is easier said than done. There is definitely a learning curve involved.
Read More: Best Backpack with Compartments