A minimalist packing list is a simple concept where you only pack what is essential for your trip.
Packing minimal is practical for any vacation and is easily one of the best things you can do if planning a long-term trip.
Since each individual has their own needs, there is no exact list of what to pack. But the rule remains the same: start off with a small backpack/luggage, don’t pack any “just in case” items, only a few days worth of outfits, and pack versatile clothing and travel items.
My rule to the minimalist packing list concept is simple. If I can easily walk 3 or 4km with all my travel essentials, then I’m good. If not, then I have over packed and have unnecessary travel items.
LONG TERM MINIMALIST PACKING LIST
Pack enough clothes/outfits for 5 to 7 days. Unless you are going somewhere isolated, having enough clothes for a week is enough. Once you gather a few dirty items send them for the laundry.
Here is a summary of what I pack for hot tropical destinations. If travelling in cooler climates, replace each summer item (T-Shirt or shorts) with warmer clothes (sweater/winter pants). And add 3 extra layers for any tops.
QUICK BREAKDOWN FOR LONG TERM PACKING
- 5 T-Shirts or 5 sweaters
- 3 thermal vests (cold climate)
- 4 bottoms shorts or pants
- 1 Winter Jacket (if needed)
- 1 zip up hoodie (if needed)
- 1 swimwear (if needed)
- 7 pairs socks and underwear
- 1 or 2 casual pants (for him)
- 1 or 2 casual shirts (for an occasional splurge evening)
- 1 or 2 dresses (for her)
- 1 microfiber beach towel (if needed)
- 2 soap bars (also keeps everything smelling good in backpack)
- 1 flip flops (if needed)
- 1 walking shoes/sneakers
- 1 light casual footwear
Merino Wool Clothing
If you are looking for versatile clothing suitable for any destination and climate, be sure to have a look at merino wool clothing. Merino wool is a type of wool that keeps warm in cold climates and feels cool in hot temperatures. This wool is also moisture-wicking and won’t smell even after days of use even if doing high-intensity activities.
6 x How to’s – Long Term Minimalist Packing
The thread below will help you create a minimal packing list versatile enough to suit your needs on your long term trips or vacations.
Although each trip is unique and would be impossible to create a good for all guide, the concept remains the same.
Tip – Keep these points in mind before you start packing:
4 to 5 days worth of outfits, outfits versatile enough to mix and match, pack a smaller version when possible (think of shower gel or soap bar)
Here are 6 ways to keep your packing list minimal.
1. HAVE AN IDEA OF YOUR TRIP
Although it would be almost impossible to plan a long term travel trip in advance, you will probably have an idea of what destinations you are visiting.
The reason for this is to get a perspective of what things you will mostly doing and therefore know what to pack for a long term trip.
Create your minimalist packing according to what your preferences are while travelling. So if hiking isn’t your piece of cake, don’t pack a pair of hiking boots just in case you go on a single hike.
2. PACK IN ADVANCE
Having the time to think about your minimalist packing list is beneficial since you will have the time to eliminate anything unnecessary that you packed.
I usually pack about 3 days in advance. In the time between packing and my travel date, I have the time to go through what I have actually packed.
Usually, more essential items come to mind which are then replaced with a less important travel item.
3. START WITH LESS PACKING SPACE
One of the main reasons we over pack is simply because there is available space.
By replacing larger luggage or backpacks with something smaller and more practical, you are bound to focus more on what is really essential.
4. IF IN DOUBT – DON’T PACK IT
In the early days of my travels, I noticed a recurring pattern.
Every travel item that I packed “just in case I need it”, I never used.
So whenever I am in doubt I don’t pack that particular travel item. Travel items that are really essential, I don’t have to think twice about before packing.
5. THE LAUNDRY
Most hotels, hostels, resorts, or any other accommodation offer a laundry service.
So unless your trip is just a couple of days and you can pack an outfit for each day in 1 travel bag, ask your accommodation for their laundry service.
4 to 5 outfits will be enough and once you have 3 sets of dirty clothes send them to get cleaned.
Using a laundry service is the only way to keep your travel bag minimal if traveling for over a week or an extended amount of time.
6. MINIMISE WITH ALTERNATIVES
- For most items in your travel bag, there is probably a smaller version, something more versatile, or an alternative. Pack a smaller beach towel, trousers over jeans or choose a soap bar instead of bottled shower gel.
- Minimise your list of toiletries. There is no need to pack all your toiletries. Most accommodations offer shower gel and shampoo anyway. If you really need to pack toiletries, consider packing a soap bar and travel size shampoo and buy more along the way.
- Cleansers and moisturizers. Buy travel-size versions of any cleansers or moisturizers. If not possible, transfer enough for your trip into 100 ml travel bottles. If you run out, you can always purchase from your destination.
Long story short – Jacqueline once packed 2 huge face cleansers. These were supposed to last an entire year but eventually they leaked, almost entirely emptying the bottles while checked in on a flight.
- Single-use travel gear. In some destinations, you may need certain travel gear that will only be used once. However, there is no need to pack these items. If there is an attraction that needs certain gear, I am sure there will be a rental store offering what you need. I have found rental stores for jackets in hot climates, gas masks for Ijen Crater, and every beach worth snorkeling had rental stores for snorkel gear and fins.
- Footwear. Footwear is probably the largest item on any packing list. However, there are multiple styles of footwear for any activity. Try replacing any leather walking shoes with mesh sneakers. Or bulky hiking boots with a smaller shoe version.
PACKING CLOTHES FOR TRAVEL
The clothes you pack will take up most of your available space. So pack wisely and only pack clothes that serve more than one purpose.
Packing dual purpose clothing is one of the best ways to create a versatile travel wardrobe.
To create a versatile travel wardrobe stick to single neutral color items. This way you can easily mix and match between all your items and create multiple outfits.
To add some contrast to the outfit, pack a colorful scarf. Other than an accessorize, a scarf can double as a way of keeping warm on cooler nights and to cover your shoulders or knees in places of worship.