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Hi, I'm Georgina! A coffee-loving adventure enthusiast here to share my favorite travel tips with you! My goal is to inspire others to get out and explore this wild planet by camping, hiking, or wandering around a fun new city!

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  • Georgina D'Angelo

5 Tips for Minimalist Packing for Travel

Updated: Feb 1

5 Tips for Minimalist Packing for Travel | Alpacka My Bags Cover

Packing for travel can be a nightmare. It can easily become the most stressful part of planning a trip. You can be so excited to be heading to the beach or going hiking in the mountains, and then you realize you actually have to pack for that trip. Excuse me while I try to fit my whole closet in one bag.

After many trips, I’ve learned from my own packing (and not packing) mistakes. I was a chronic overpacker; like sitting on my suitcase trying to close it without breaking the zipper kind of overpacker. I learned how to pack minimally and still have everything I need to enjoy a trip, so I’m going to show you how to do it too!

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5 Tips to Become a Minimalist Packing Pro

1 | Use Packing Cubes

My number one tip to help you pack minimally for travel is to use packing cubes. Not just any packing cubes, but these compression packing cubes. Because they compress, you can fit more clothes in your bag than you can without them.

They can also help you stay organized by keeping your clothes separated by category. Instead of shoving all your clothes in a bag, roll them nicely into compression packing cubes and organize them by tops, bottoms, undergarments, etc.

You'll be thankful for the organization when you get to your destination.

2 | Wear Your Bulky Items

To avoid your biggest items taking up all the space in your bag, wear what you can! For example, if you’re traveling somewhere cold and are bringing a coat with you, wear it or carry it instead of trying to squeeze it into your bag.

Or if you’re bringing boots, wear those and pack your smaller sneakers in your bag. If you have an event you need a specific outfit for on your trip, pack this outfit first so you know you have space for it, and go from there.

3 | Pack Mix & Match Outfits

Instead of packing one separate outfit for every day of your trip, pack tops and bottoms that you can mix and match. Like if you have a pair of pants that you can wear with 2 or 3 tops, you won’t need to bring as many clothes and will end up saving space in your bag. 

If you pack mix and match outfits, instead of having to pack an entire outfit for every day of your trip, you can pack multiple outfits with fewer pieces. You can have 5 outfits with 2 bottoms and 3 tops for example.

If you think you’ll need to do some laundry while you’re traveling, pack these laundry soap tabs that dissolve in water. They hardly take up any room and you can do a bit of laundry wherever you have a sink.

It's best to bring more tops and fewer bottoms if want to avoid laundry. Pants can often be worn multiple times before they're dirty or smelly.

Tips for Minimalist Packing For Travel | Woman in Snowy City

4 | Avoid Large Items If Possible

I mentioned above that if you do need to bring larger items like a coat or boots it’s better to wear these items rather than packing them. However, if you won’t need these items at your destination, I recommend skipping them altogether. 

If you need to take a bulky item, see if you can find a more compact version. For example, instead of bringing a huge winter coat, opt for a slightly thinner one and wear layers underneath.

Another great way to stay warm without a huge winter coat is to wear multiple layers. If you have on a tank top, t-shirt, sweater, and jacket, you'll be just as warm if not warmer than you would be with just a sweater and a coat.

Thinner layers like that are easier to pack than a bulky coat.

5 | Lay Your Clothes Out & Pack Less

Once you have picked out all of your clothes for your trip, lay everything out on your bed or the floor (somewhere you can see everything all at once). Now it’s time to narrow it down. Try your best to take 2 to 4 things out of the pile and leave them at home.

You always need way less than you think when traveling. There have been many times I’ve packed like eight tops and only worn the same three. 

Another tip, pack clothes you know you like. You don’t want to get to your destination and put on a new top to find you dislike it. If there’s something you’re unsure of as you look at your clothes laid out, it’s a sign to ditch it and wear it when you get back.

Minimalist Toiletry Packing Tips

Often I find that my toiletry bag takes up more space than anything else. If you also find yourself in this situation, check out my tips below. I’ve recently started following these and it has helped so much to decrease the size of my toiletries!

1 | Use Travel Containers

This might be a given, but using travel-size toiletry containers will a) allow you to bring your favorite toiletries on the plane and b) save you lots of room even if you’re not flying to your destination.

Once you have your toiletries in travel containers, I recommend you put all of these in a ziploc bag and then into your toiletry bag to avoid spills. If your trip is only a few days, try using contact lens cases to hold a small amount of shampoo or face wash for example.

2 | Leave the Basics

If you’re staying at a hotel (or even Airbnb), there’s a good chance your accommodation will supply shampoo, conditioner, and body wash. Always check before you go though.

Don’t worry about bringing these from home; you’ll save space in your toiletry bag and won’t have to worry about bringing them back.

If you do find yourself in need of these basics, they're found all around the world. Shop at your destination for a small bottle of whatever you need. This way you don't have to fly to or from with these basics.

3 | Compact Makeup

Unless you need all your makeup for a specific event, bring only your makeup necessities. If you can, you should also put your makeup and toiletries in one bag. If you are a makeup wearer, you can also look into buying mini versions of your favorites. You can often find mini mascaras, blushes, eyeshadow pallets, etc.

I also suggest packing your makeup in with your toiletries so you're only bringing one bag. This might help you downsize too and only bring the necessities.

Tips for Minimalist Packing For Travel | Packing Toiletries

Minimalist Travel Packing List

This minimalist travel packing list is best for 5-day trips. If your trip is shorter, bring fewer clothing items, and if longer, try to only bring more if you need to.

  • Shirts (4-5)

  • Bottoms (2)

  • Undergarments (5 each)

  • Pajamas (1-2)

  • Jacket (1)

  • Shoes (1-2)

  • Toiletries

Best Carry-on Suitcases for Minimalist Packing for Travel

1 | Best Overall Coolife Luggage

This carry-on suitcase is the best overall for minimalist packing for travel. It has two main compartments inside to organize your clothes, as well as several smaller pockets.

The front is a pocket designed to hold your laptop and other necessities you might need while on the plane making it an all-in-one carry-on. No need for a personal item (i.e. purse or backpack).

Best Overall Minimalist Carry-on Luggage | Gray Suitcase

2 | Best Set Joyway Carry-On Luggage 3-Piece Set

If you want to gift yourself (or a friend!) the ultimate carry-on luggage set, let it be this one! The Joyway 3-piece luggage set comes with a hard-shell carry-on suitcase, a travel bag (personal item), and a toiletry bag.

The travel bag is designed to sit on top of the suitcase making it easy to bring on the go. Remember to check your airline's bag restrictions.

Best Set of Minimalist Carry-on Luggage | Suitcase, Bag, and Toiletry Case

3 | Best Budget Option Travelers Club Spinner Luggage

If you don't want to spend a fortune on a new carry-on suitcase, you don't need to! This is the best budget option for a carry-on suitcase. For less than $50, this simple yet efficient suitcase will fit all your needs in it.

The two main compartments inside will help you organize your packing cubes. It has a 360° wheel system making it easy to take anywhere.

Best Budget Minimalist Carry-On Luggage | Periwinkle Suitcase

Things to Consider With Minimalist Packing

While minimalist packing for travel is attainable and often the best way to pack, there are a few things to consider before you leave for your trip.

Weather Changes & Needs

What is the weather like at your destination? If it’s rainy, you should bring a compact rain jacket and ankle rain boots (wear these on the plane). If you’re visiting multiple locations, is the weather different in each place? You might need a coat in one place and not in the other.

Try to pack layers for colder and varying weather. Instead of filling up your bag with one giant coat for example, pack layers to stay warm and be able to dress comfortably for changing weather.

Start with a base layer like a tank top or t-shirt, then a long sleeve or a sweater, then a waterproof or lightweight jacket. 

TIP: If you are bringing a rain jacket and your destination is on the colder side, you can stay surprisingly warm by wearing a rain jacket over a sweater and long sleeve shirt.

Browse these destinations' packing lists:

“Minimalism” is Subjective

Some people’s minimal packing might mean taking the bare necessities, while yours might mean taking less than you usually do. These minimalist packing tips for travel are here to guide you into becoming a lighter packer. 

You might not be comfortable with leaving so many things at home, but knowing you’ll be okay with less is a start! It took me several trips to be comfortable with packing minimally.

My top tips for anyone when it comes to minimalist packing for travel is to 1) pack less than you think you need and 2) use compression packing cubes.

However, if you need specific medicine or shoes, etc. don't skip them and make your trip miserable. You know if you 100% need to bring something with you.

Airline Bag Restrictions

Before you head out on your adventure, check your airline’s bag restrictions if you’re flying. Some airlines allow carry-ons as well as a personal item. Others only allow a personal item and charge extra for other bags.

If you have a travel credit card, you might also get a free checked bag. It’s good to know exactly what type of bag you are allowed to fly with before you start packing.

While most of us want to avoid spending unnecessary money, I always travel by this rule. As long as I have my wallet, my phone, my charger, and my passport (if necessary), I’ll be good!

If you leave something at home or find yourself in dire need of something, you’ll have the necessities to find that thing and purchase it.

Basics like toiletries, clothing, and bags are found in every country. While they may differ slightly, you’ll be able to find something if you truly need it while traveling. And 9.9 times out of 10, you won’t end up needing to buy anything extra.

So pick out a few outfits, find what mixes and matches, lay everything out, wear your bulky items, and pack all your clothes in compression packing cubes. It’s time to start your adventure, and this time a heavy bag won’t be delaying you from anything!

You can now become a minimalist packing pro with these ultimate tips for minimalist packing for travel. Send this post to a friend who is also on the overpacking struggle bus, they’ll thank you later ;)

You might like to read next...

Tips for Minimalist Packing for Travel | Alpacka My Bags Pinterest Cover


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Hi, I'm Georgina, adventure enthusiast and creator of Alpacka My Bags. I'm here for all of your travel and adventure planning needs! 


I've been exploring this beautiful planet since I was a child, so I decided it was time to share my travel tips with others to enjoy. After college, I knew the "traditional career path" was not for me.


I needed to travel and explore what this world has to offer. It sounds cliché but you do only live once. So I made going on adventures a priority, and soon realized that I wanted to share them with others so you can enjoy them too! 

My passion is spreading the travel bug and showing others that travel is attainable and so worth it. From itineraries to camping tips to packing lists, Alpacka My Bags has you covered!

Join me, and often my partner and my dog, as we find exciting adventures and travel recommendations for you! If you've been bit by the travel bug just as I have, I hope you find my tips useful for all of your future travels.

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