I’m aware of minimalist living, but minimalist travel? The concept of light travel or as I see it: with carry-on luggage only (without checked-in luggage) never looked and sounded so alluring. Firstly: your luggage never goes missing, secondly there’s no chance of anyone tampering with or miss-handling my bag, the check-in process is much smoother and lastly, I can travel as swiftly as possible without having to lug a huge suitcase through; terminals, boats, bikes, taxi’s, ubers and the like.

Moo and I are attempting to travel light for all our future trips and our recent trip to Sri Lanka was the first attempt.

I’m a little nervous to tell you, for me it was a huge failure.

For starters, even though my bags were the right dimensions (note the plural), I still had too much weight (12kg) combined with hand luggage. For most airlines, the maximum you can travel with is 7kgs for carry-on.

This was going to be much harder than expected, I thought I’d packed so well and to be honest the majority of ‘essentials’ in my hand luggage was food, prepared by me, so I guess I only have myself to blame.

But I did learn some valuable lessons on how to pack light:

First: De-Clutter Your Life

I recently read the book ‘Slow’ by Brooke McAlary which completely shifted my perspective about the objects (stuff) I currently surround myself with. I highly recommend it for those feeling the weight of modern day pace. De-cluttering a wardrobe at home makes for easy packing when traveling abroad. Once you discover what goes with what – stick with a colour pallet and add accessories. Also! Try to limit toiletries.

Packing light
My minimalist (overnight) toiletry bag!

Don’t Be a Bag Lady

It all starts with the right bag. My biggest problem was that I had two bags that were around 30 litres each and both were half full. Investing in a good bag/suitcase/backpack with a reasonable size and weight (I feel like 40 litres for most trips lasting between two and ten days) is the secret ingredient. Note: Packing cubes are exempt from this point. Packing cubes are bloody amazing.

What If?

If you’re packing anything ‘just in case’ there’s a 99% chance you won’t use it. This always happens to me in the make-up and jewellery categories. These days I keep it super light, as you can see below.

Travel light make-up
My minimalist traveler make-up bag.

Weigh It Up?

Invest in scales at home so you’re not caught out at check-in, like me. The scathing look Singapore Airlines shot me at check-in was enough to make me change my habits alone. Packing light all hangs on the final weight!

Capsule It

Create a wardrobe capsule. I’ve recently discovered Daria Andronescu, she is a YouTube whizz and has totally changed the way I approach my wardrobe, shopping and when packing light. Essentially how it works is…

Basically, (the vacation packing) method has only 3 steps. First, you should understand what you’re planning on doing on your vacation and divide your capsule into 2 to 4 categories. Step two is to calculate how many outfits and items you need for each category. Step three is just planning and preparing the outfits ahead. This will help you finalize the list of items you’re planning to take with you. Source: Daria Andronescu

For a two week vacation for example she puts together a beautiful capsule including six tops, four dresses, four bottoms, one cardigan, one sweatshirt, three pairs of shoes & three bags. The result? 14 beautiful outfit combinations. So simple!

Daria Andronescu, Wonder Wardrobe
Stress Free Vacation Packing Wardrobe by Daria Andronescu.

Fail to Plan? You’re Planning to Fail!

Write a list, lay everything out, then halve it. My worst packing mistakes happen when I’m shoving things into a bag without actually seeing what I’m taking. Naturally I forget to bring that bra that suits that top – Nightmare!

Cut It Right Back

Avoid over packing with things like underwear, tops and socks. All of these items can be hand washed while you’re away.

People are always shocked to hear that I trekked 922kms through Spain with only two shirts, two shorts and three pairs of underwear on the Camino de Santiago (among a few other necessities). I had an organised system and I’ve never felt more free (of stuff) in my life.

The simplicity of having only what you truly need is something I think we all need to explore a lot more of.

If you have any other tips to travel light or on minimalist travel, please let me know! I’d love to hear from you.

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