8 Easy Steps to Pack Like a Minimalist

Inside: Here you’ll discover how to pack like a minimalist in 8 simple steps. This is part two of a three part series discussing the why and how of traveling like a minimalist.

“He who would travel happily, must travel lightly.” -Antoine De St. Exupery

As a self proclaimed “hoarder of memories,” I can truly say that traveling lightly makes each memory sweeter. When we pack less, we stress less.

Becoming a minimalist has allowed me to be more present at home and the same goes for our vacations.

Learning how to pack like a minimalist starts by fully understanding the benefits. For more on that, don’t miss my previous post, 6 Best Reasons to Travel Like a Minimalist.

pack like a minimalist

8 Easy Steps to Pack Like a Minimalist


Packing can easily look like a last minute frantic attempt at escaping an impending Zombie Apocalypse. It’s chaotic, rushed and disorganized.

“Grab the shoes! All of them! HURRY! They’re coming!”

Without a packing strategy, you’ll second guess yourself and ultimately end up taking more with you than you need. Packing early offers you time to strategize and pack intentionally.

I suggest that about a week before your trip you start laying out items you may want to take. I know, I know, who has time for that?

You do! It takes just a moment or two a day and it’s well worth it.

Simply set aside the items you’re considering taking as you come across them, or as they come out of the wash. Take a moment to glance through your slowly accumulating pile as you go about your week, adding and removing as necessary.

Apart from my “fixed packing list,” I’m done packing 48 hours before a trip.


A fixed packing list is a checklist of items you take with you no matter what kind of trip you are headed on. I have mine saved in my Google Keep app.

How to Pack Like a Minimalist

On my list are items such as a phone charger, medications, contacts and of course my grey cardigan. (It’s practically my third arm! If you’ve ever met me the odds are good I was wearing it). These are items I absolutely don’t want to forget, but can’t really pack prior to the day of.

I reference this list during those last thirty minutes before walking out the door to ensure that I’m not forgetting something important. It helps keep the packing process stress free.


Consider the type of trip you are headed on and the type of person you actually are.

We are not “hit up the clubs” kind of people, so there is no reason to pack as though we may become them on a vacation. Are you really going to exercise on vacation? If not, ditch the work-out attire. Consider opting for a barefoot beach run or some in room yoga. (If you just gagged at the thought of being barefoot in a hotel room, I feel you! The struggle is real).

Running shoes take up a lot of space, so be honest with yourself and leave them behind if you likely won’t use them.


This is the single most important thing you can do to limit the number of clothing articles and accessories that you take with you.

How to Pack Like a Minimalist

In an effort to keep this blog post as concise as possible, these travel articles have morphed into a three part series.

Read, How to Pack a Capsule Wardrobe for strategies to pack and curate a capsule wardrobe.


I know this is somewhere between obvious and obnoxious. We all want to be as comfortable as possible on an airplane. However, is it really worth it to check a bag so you don’t have to sit on your coat or wear your boots for a few hours on a flight? I argue no.


TSA is a helpful motivator here. A handful of three ounce bottles is all you get if you’re traveling with only a carry-on.

I find it hardly seems worth it to pay to check a bag in order to bring my favorite volumizing spray.

My husband and I consolidate our toiletries. Which pretty much means he smells like a girl on our vacations. Thankfully, he doesn’t mind. We also rely heavily on our hotel bathroom body wash and lotions. They may not always be the best stuff, but again, body wash isn’t worth a checked bag.

You can simplify further by packing small make-up samples rather than full size products and only take the essentials.

Travel size contact solution has been surprisingly difficult for me to find, but I’ve recently discovered the secret stash. Your eye doctor! Hit them up for a sample!

I’ve always taken the “less is more” approach to make-up, so this is pretty easy for me. I wouldn’t know how to wield an eye liner, lip liner and contour brush if my life depended on it. Maybe I’ve always been a make-up minimalist.

How to Pack Like a Minimalist


My husband’s clothes take up a lot more space than mine. He hasn’t jumped on the men’s capri pant and v-neck tank top trend yet (and for that I’m quite thankful).

Because of this, it can be more difficult for him to fit it all into a backpack.

I make room in my backpack for a pair of his jeans, our toiletries and any books we may bring along (Electronic and audio books are a great alternative to packing a stack of your must reads).

It doesn’t matter how little you pack if your travel partner is overpacking. You’ll still be waiting for checked bags and maneuvering luggage through crowded streets right along side them. Remember, you’re ultimately a team. Do what you can to help each other out.


We used to always bring a souvenir home to our kids and because of that they grew to expect it. We’d arrive home, dispense our hugs and then our goods. It was “tradition.”

I’ve come to realize there is no need to spend our travel time searching for souvenirs nor our luggage space to bring them all home.

Instead, we’ve started bringing home small, consumable gifts for our kids to try. We’ve brought home macaroons from Paris and honey from the Smokey Mountains. We find it to  be a fun way they can experience our trip without adding unnecessary clutter to our home.

On family trips we opt for unique experiences over spending money on new stuff.


Practice makes improvement (because I’m learning that perfect isn’t a thing) when it comes to packing lightly. I’ve grown more efficient at rolling my clothes tightly and narrowing down what I really need.

Our first attempt at traveling like minimalists was almost a year ago on our family spring break road trip. I made a few mistakes and found myself in an Ohio Wal-Mart buying socks, a bathing suit and a lifejacket for my youngest. #thirdchildproblems.

It taught me that no matter what I leave behind, I can find it on the road. While it isn’t ideal to have to purchase extra items, it can be done in a bind. If the temperature unexpectedly drops you can buy a scarf or a sweatshirt. If a tidal wave pulls your flip-flops to sea, I’m quite confident you can find another pair. Relax, you’re a tough cookie. You’ll figure it out. 

How to Pack Like a Minimalist

I learned a lot and the adventure of it all is contagious.

The benefits of traveling lightly are many. They allow us to see more, do more and relax more. And that, my friend, makes for a beautiful vacation.

Don’t Miss These Travel Related Posts:

Why to Travel Like a Minimalist

How to Pack a Capsule Wardrobe

8 Easy Tips to Simplify Traveling With Kids

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Messy Minimalism, Available Where Books Are Sold

Sick of the clutter, but not quite sure “minimalism” as you know it is for you? You’re probably right. Minimalism as you know it, probably isn’t for you. It wasn’t for me either.
Because of that, Messy Minimalism was born. Messy Minimalism is a doable, grace-based approach to living a clutter free life. It frees you up to embrace the mess, live with less and create an imperfectly perfect home for you.

For more information on Messy Minimalism head to MessyMinimalism.com

How to Pack Like a Minimalist

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