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.


“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” -Confucius

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 lightly you pack if you’re travel partner isn’t. You’ll still be waiting for checked bags and maneuvering luggage through crowded streets. You’re ultimately a team. Do what you can to help each other out.


Souvenirs can be complicated depending on the type of trip you are taking. Heading to Nashville for a trade show? You likely won’t be tempted to bring home a Starbucks Nashville coffee mug. And if you are, head on back to my first ever blog post and let’s just start there.

But then there are those big trips. When we visited the south a France and Italy it was a whole different story. We traveled half way around the world and visited secluded spots many people will never see. We abandoned our kids for eight straight days and they expected some goods in return!

Come on, even I was tempted. I mean, I’m typically pretty “anti-souvenir,” but what can I say? On that last day, I was just a girl, standing in front of the Florentine leather market, asking her husband to buy her a bag.

When appropriate, we indulge with intention. We avoid knick-knacks and cluttery souvenirs. We bought Raegan a necklace and Jameson an Italian soccer jersey. This lady got herself a bargain priced leather tote for her much loved computer, and Paul came home with his consistently favorite souvenir, absolutely nothing.


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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Declutter Your Life

It’s time to stop managing our families and start leading them!

2 years ago I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off. I had no capacity to mom on purpose.

Living with less has gifted me time, space and some much needed perspective of what truly matters most. Below is the link to my FREE Beginner’s Declutter Like a Minimalist Guidebook. It takes a deeper look at the 7 Steps to getting started highlighted in my popular post, Declutter Like a Minimalist.

Declutter Like a Minimalist Guidebook




How to Pack Like a Minimalist