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Minimalist Travel: Genius Hacks & How To Travel Light with Only the Essentials

Minimalist woman traveler with Kibou fanny pack minimalist bag

Travel always involves stuff, doesn't it? Especially when you start planning and packing for an upcoming trip.

Kids or no kids, it's difficult to go anywhere without certain items. You may find yourself throwing your favorite sweater in your travel carry-on. Or you may want to slip in another pair of shoes for that "what if" dinner that's a little fancier.

The added stuff can quickly result in a heavy suitcase with barely any space if you're not careful.

But regardless of the trip type, you can be a minimalist packer. It just takes being intentional and having a plan.

If you landed here on this blog post, chances are you're entertaining the idea of packing light and taking less stuff on your next trip. And if that's true, the good news is, we're here to help you do just that.

What does “minimalist travel” mean?

At Kibou, we’re focused on carrying less and doing more.

When we think of minimalist travel, we think of embracing more experiences and minimizing the amount of stuff weighing us down and preventing more fun.

Minimalist travel should be about adventuring with only what you need, right? It could be as far as traveling to Southeast Asia, backpacking through Europe, or remaining local and seeing amazing sites right in your backyard.

Whatever the end destination, minimalist travel should be easy (not complicated). And you can define what "minimal" looks like for you.

Kibou fanny pack minimalist bag for travel in the city

Minimalist Traveling and Your Mental Health

When you think of a minimalist approach to traveling light, your mental health can benefit too.

Fewer things to carry physically also means fewer things you're thinking of mentally.

And who doesn't cherish having less to think about these days? (I know I do as a working mom of two.) It's nice to slow down when you can, especially in a world where your plate is overflowing with to-dos.

Minimalist traveling can do that for you.

Save money

Having less you're carrying on your trip, means you're spending less. Simply reducing what you need on a trip can have a positive effect on your wallet. Who said travel had to be expensive?

When you think like minimalist travelers, it doesn't have to be.

Worry less

When you have less to carry, you have less to choose from. This means you have less to worry about because your decisions are simpler.

For example, if you only have two clothing items from your favorite brand, it doesn't take long to get ready. Choices become easier because you're limited with what you've already packed. Talk about simplifying before ever leaving home!

See more sights

With fewer items to haul around in a small bag, you can bet on seeing more during your trip. Fewer items mean less needed time to pack and unpack. Which means more time to explore or wander.

Waste less

And living like a minimalist on your trip makes you waste less. You can create an exact packing list eliminating all the unnecessary things and taking just what you need.

Aren't you ready to start packing?

Kibou fanny back minimalist bag for minimalist travel

Minimalist Travel Hacks

Before taking off for your trip, it helps to have a few minimalist travel hacks up your sleeve as well.

Wear your heaviest clothes on the plane

You can save space in your travel carry-on luggage by wearing your bulky coat and heavier shoes through the airport. Not only will the layers help you stay warm on those cooler flights, but by wearing the items that typically take up more room in your carry-on, you free up space. (Definitely a minimalist packing win!)

Use packing cubes

Packing cubes are great for both organizing what you have and packing for two weeks if needed. Pack minimally and maximize available space with several different options of packing cubes.

Rely on your smartphone

Your smartphone can be a small device delivering huge value while traveling. From helping inform you about the weather forecast to directions on where to go, it's a compact device you can easily carry on your trip to stay connected and informed.

Just don't forget your charger!

Choose a personal carry-on that doubles as a travel day bag

When traveling, you want a personal carry-on bag designed to hold exactly what you need and nothing more.

The Kibou Everyday Carry Bag Bundle is your travel bag solution. It's complete with our Bou-Boo Bag first aid kit, too. Talk about enough storage to hold the things you need (credit cards, cash, ID, passport, keys), with a bonus for wet wipes when you need to clean up in a pinch.

Kibou fanny pack minimalist bag for minimalist travel

Select a lightweight bag to carry the bulk of your things

Pick a lightweight, smaller bag large enough to carry just what you need but within the size dimensions to count as carry-on luggage. It's what minimalist travelers most recommend and makes sense for both shorter trips or adventures lasting several weeks. Say bye-bye to checking your luggage at the airport.

Travel with a journal and pen

A minimalist packing tip, perhaps not mentioned enough, is packing a journal and pen. When traveling, you never know when you need to jot down a thought. Your laptop sleeve may be hard to reach, or worse, your laptop is dead. Good old-fashioned pen and paper will never let you down.

Minimalist Packing Essentials on Your Minimalist Packing List

Remember, you want to make minimalist packing work for you. And some of these items come down to personal preference if you see them as essential or not. But again, that's the beauty in minimalist packing - you can pack light on your terms.

Essential items:

  • cell phone
  • minimal bag (like our Kibou vegan leather bag) for holding essentials
  • passport/visa
  • cash and credit cards
  • insurance and healthcare documents
  • second copies of your passport/visa/documents
  • cell phone charger

Kibou fanny pack minimalist bags for minimalist travel

Minimalist Travel Packing List

The end goal is to challenge yourself to pack less.

In addition to the essential items above, your perfect minimalist packing list wouldn't be complete without incorporating these other minimalist packing items as well as your travel wardrobe and toiletries.

Other helpful minimalist packing list items:

  • earbuds or wireless headphones
  • small first aid kit (our Bou-Boo Bag fits in any bag)
  • reusable water bottle (this collapsible 12 oz water bottle is a cool minimal packing accessory)
  • a single set of eating utensils (knife, fork, and spoon)
  • 3-5 medium-sized Ziploc bags
  • computer, cameras, and other tech gear

Travel capsule wardrobe

Pick a color pallet you feel good in and that easily goes together.

You could lean more toward neutral colors like black, gray, white, or tan. Whatever your color combo, just love how you feel in the minimal items you take.

Entire wardrobe for your minimalist packing list:

  • sweatshirt or light jacket
  • 2 tops (1 top can be a button-down shirt to double as a cover-up)
  • 2 shorts
  • one pair of long pants
  • 3-4 pairs of breathable underwear
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • extra bra
  • swimsuit (optional)
  • sunglasses (optional but recommended)

Dry toiletries for packing light

It's a good idea to have a packing cube or smaller toiletry bag dedicated to dry toiletries only. It could include:

  • hairbrush or comb
  • glasses (if needed)
  • deodorant
  • floss
  • minimal makeup (mascara and light foundation potentially)
  • q-tips
  • razor
  • nail files and clipper
  • tweezers
  • medications/vitamins

Kibou fanny pack minimalist bag for travel abroad

Wet toiletries for packing light

In a separate bag, you can pack your wet travel-sized toiletries.

Packing them in a transparent plastic zip bag is helpful for two reasons. First, it tends to be easier to clean if there's a spill. And second, a small clear bag is helpful when trying to get through airport security and keeping your travel-size liquids all in one place.

Wet toiletries for minimal packing could include:

  • soap*
  • facial cleanser
  • toothpaste
  • sunscreen (pocket-sized great for travel)
  • contact solution
  • face/body lotion*
  • shampoo and conditioner*

If you're staying in a hotel, items like soap, lotion, shampoo, and conditioner are available for your hotel stay. Which means fewer things you need to pack for your trip. But it's always a good idea to call and check ahead of time if you're unsure of what will be provided.

Kibou fanny pack minimalist bag for minimalist travel

More Minimalist Packing Tips

As important as it is to know what to include on your minimalist packing list, it's just as important to know what NOT to include.

If you want to pack minimally, below are more minimalist packing tips to consider.

Unnecessary stuff to help you travel lighter:

  • Avoid taking several pairs of shoes (wear one pair and pack one pair)
  • Don't carry a heavy bag with all your things (research lightweight bags)
  • Leave behind bulky coats unless you anticipate traveling to very cold climates
  • Skip laundry detergent and purchase locally when you need to clean clothes

Again, it's your trip and your choice to be like a minimalist as much or as little as you like. But when you travel light, you can bet you'll have more room to enjoy the experience.

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