Minimalist Packing 101

For the most part, none of us consider ourselves to be good packers, do we? Every trip I go on, no matter how well I think I’ve packed, I find myself frustrated at one time or another by over or underpacking.

My go-to method is to pack as little as possible. Even still, I usually end up re-wearing half of my clothes and neglecting the rest. Although I’ve now developed a system for packing, whether it is for a flight or the car, what I want/need to bring still varies so much based on where I’m going and how I’m traveling.

That being said, I have attempted to give some of my favorite universal tips to help choose what clothing items you’ll want to bring with you. It is based off of what I would wear, but can easily be adapted for a masculine wardrobe as well:

  • If you are going to a warmer climate, choose to bring one pair of either black or denim jeans, but not both. You’ll most likely only wear them a couple of times at night, and either are easy to dress up or down. If you’ll be in a cooler climate, bring a pair of dark wash, light wash, and black jeans and you’re set!
  • If you wear shorts, bring a pair of light wash, dark wash, and black shorts (or white if you’d rather) and leave the pair that only goes with that one top. Colorful and patterned shorts are fun, but they limit their own versatility.
  • The same idea for shorts goes with skirts– choose a couple that you can wear with multiple outfits and change up, but ditch the ones that you can only wear with one outfit. Even if they are “soooo cuuuute“, space in your suitcase or backpack is precious.
  • Bring two or three dresses that you love and feel great in, but leave the ones you’re iffy on. If you don’t like the way you look in maxi dresses at home, that is probably not going to change on the road.
    • Personally, I’m a dress person in both real life and in my travel life. I usually bring 3-5 of them on trips and end up hardly ever wearing shorts or pants. If it’s cold, just add some leggings or tights! They’re so easy to pack and I don’t have to worry about matching them with anything but my shoes, which I usually do before I leave anyway. Which brings me to the next point…
  • Comfortable shoes!!!! This is such an obvious one, but it’s so so important. If your feet are out of commission, you’re basically out of commission.
    • For warmer climates, I usually bring a pair of sandals that can be dressed up or down (I like Born), a pair of hiking/”comfort” sandals (TaosBetula ((cheaper Birkenstock)), or Chaco are some of my favorites) to walk around the city or actually hike in, and a pair of sandals to slip on at the beach or in the hostel shower (I wear my Pali Hawaii “jandals” all. the. time.).
    • When it’s colder, I’ll bring a pair of waterproof Chelsea boots and sandals for the hostel. On my last trip to London, I brought a black pair of boots I had gotten at Old Navy for $12 and put in some Chaco boot insoles that I had pulled out of a pair of boots I had gotten on Ebay. They were soo comfortable and easy to style.
  • Tops are tricky, but you can’t go wrong with bringing a couple tank tops, short-sleeved, and long-sleeved tops in varying neutral colors. I keep mine as basic as possible so that they can be dressed up or down with jewelry or outerwear.
  • Speaking of outerwear, keep it simple! I can’t be caught leaving my house on a trip without a jean jacket, which goes with everything. I recently got an embroidered one from Primark and cannot believe how much I wear it, especially on cooler nights. In the winter, I often wear a vegan leather jacket with a sweater underneath for extra warmth.
  • If you are going to be in cooler temeratures, bring a couple sweaters–one that is open and one that is a pullover (again, in neutral colors!). Both of these can be paired with dresses and jeans!

So, here is the final list:

  1. Black or denim jeans (1-3 depending on climate)
  2. Black or denim shorts OR basic skirts (1-3 depending on climate)
  3. Dresses (2-3) that have been chosen to match your shoes
  4. Hiking, walking, and hostel sandals OR boots and sandals (depending on climate)
  5. Jean jacket and leather jacket
  6. 1 cardigan and one pullover sweater
  7. Underwear (I didn’t address, but you hopefully know how much you’ll need)

So there are my basic packing tips! My style becomes even more simplified on the road than it is at home (even though it is always pretty simple). If you’re someone who likes bright colors and hates the thought of only wearing black, white, and grey, add some color into your suitcase! Just remember to pack items of clothing that can be worn and re-worn so that you get the most out of all of the pieces you haul around with you.

Happy packing!



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