How to pack minimally

Travel essentials

1. Be decisive

How many times have you come back from a trip and not touched 25% of what you brought? I’m definitely guilty of it and I pride myself on being a light packer. Most of us pack with a “who knows what I’ll need” mindset, but I challenge you to flip that because it is YOU that dictates what you do, so decide before you go. Decide ahead of time if you want to have a fancier night out and pack accordingly. Decide on what you’ll wear each day with the help of the weather forecast and stick to it, liberating yourself of the time spent deciding each morning. Don’t pack more than what you need for a week even if you are staying longer and just wash and reuse if need be.

2. Invest in travel accessories

We don’t all have the money to buy the latest high tech travel gadgets but there are three things I swear by: a universal adaptor, a 100ml toiletry bottle, and a large macpac travel towel. My universal adaptor means I don’t need different adaptors for trips where I’ll be visiting different countries and I don’t need to buy multiple adaptors full stop. It’s compact and convenient, and I just rotate my electronics when charging. Shoutout to all the hotels for my toiletry bottle repository. When I’m travelling really light, I just fill the one bottle with 3 in 1 soap and use this for showering and even handwashing clothes. Lastly, my beautiful towel. I bought it before I backpacked solo in South East Asia for a few weeks. I bought the XL in a loud orange colour which I love and whenever I need a towel travelling I always bring it. I multipurpose it as a beach and shower towel because ain’t nobody got space for both.

3. Pack to fit the bag

You know what bag you are going to take so pack to fit this. If you have a hold bag but you know you want to buy stuff to bring back, take this into account. If all you’ve got is a carry on, get a bag that adheres to airline requirements, stick to what fits in this, and make compromises to be able to fit all your necessities. When I was backpacking in SE Asia for 3 weeks all I had was a big backpack (not a travelling backpack) but I didn’t want anything bigger so I made it work. I wanted to be able to keep my bag with me on transport (e.g. overnight buses) to avoid any possible thefts and I didn’t want to have to carry anything too heavy on my back as I wasn’t really sure what my plan was. I needed security, comfort, and mobility so I picked the bag and made all my packing choices around this.

4. Match wardrobe to weather

It is obviously easier to pack lighter if you are going to a warm climate, however, focusing on layers if you go somewhere colder or where the temperature varies means you can still keep your wardrobe minimal. You don’t need 5 chunky space-eating sweatshirts, just take 1 or 2 and take lighter t-shirts to go underneath. Invest in a good but light cagoule/windbreaker if you’re expecting rain. I love travelling with running shorts and sport leggings when I’m in hotter destinations because they barely weigh anything and keep you really cool, whilst being the ideal gear for any more active adventures.

5. Leave gadgets at home

Focus on your destination! Unless you NEED your gadgets for work, take active steps to switch off and leave them behind. A phone can pretty much do everything these days and there are some with pretty stellar cameras. Don’t get me wrong, it depends on the kind of trip you’re doing. If photography is your thing, awesome, go all out with the cameras, but if it’s a weekend trip away, ditch the laptop, ipad, etc. You’ll be fine, and it’s nice to disconnect.

6. Relax your standards

I am talking both hygiene and fashion. Unless you’re going on a more bougie trip where the intention is to look good and live in luxury, keep it simple. Stick to basic comfortable clothing. This doesn’t mean you have to dress poorly but don’t wear a new outfit everyday, reuse tops and bottoms. Leave out unnecessary accessories or shoes. Evaluate what your priorities are here. They may be different for you, but for me it’s always about the trip and never about what I wear. In terms of hygiene, particularly if you are backpacking, let’s be honest, your standards won’t be the same as back home. You may have to re-wear some tops a few more times than you would at home before washing. You may find yourself not having showered in a few days. You may find yourself rummaging through your backpack for the least dirty thing (definitely have done this), but it’s part of the experience.