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There's nothing clumsier than a bulging suitcase full of 'just in case' items dragging behind you through the streets of a new town, especially if the streets have cobblestones. What's worse is packing three extra outfits, but forgetting to pack your underwear.
Packing like a minimalist helps you avoid these crucial errors and sees you gliding through an airport like a well-seasoned traveller with a feather light suitcase, ready for anything.
It's not about compromise or only wearing Kathmandu either. I believe in bringing nice things, but choosing the ones that don't require ironing, or can be dressed up three different ways. Here's my tried and true tips for packing like a minimalist
Ø For adventure-trips; A backpack is a great option — on wheels is better. I got mine for $280 on sale at Kathmandu. Unlike many backpacks where you jam your clothes haphazardly from the top down, this one unzips from the top for neat packing. Wheels aren’t for everybody, but they’re a good all-rounder if you’re bouncing from European airports to more intrepid third world countries.
For standard airport-to-hotel journey’s; the obvious choice is a small black hardcover Samsonite, which wheels when it’s upright too.
Coconut oil — doubles as moisturiser, makeup remover and cooking oil. Put it in a smaller 100ml jar before you go.
Doctor Bronners 18 in 1 — it’s body wash, kitchen and laundry detergent and more. Need I say more?
Shampoo bar — Comes in a metal tin which you can bring in carry on. Doubles as soap. Won’t leak in your bag.
Essential oils — Tea tree is a compact antiseptic for small wounds. Lavender has similar properties but doubles as a relaxant when on flights.
Citronella and light long travel pants — Mozzies get you at dusk and dawn even if you’re wearing citronella, so you’ll need pants too. Light pants are a must particularly tropical countries, whether you’re exploring temples or need something comfy for the plane.
For the plane:
Eye patch and earplugs — for the plane and hostels, a good sleep is everything.
Peppermint tea — Compact natural anti-nausea. Calms nerves and digestion. A must when you’re in countries where rice is eaten for breakfast lunch and dinner.
Kindle — a million books in one and when you travel you tend to get a lot of book recommendations and never follow through, but with a kindle, it’s possible!
Turkish towel — packs into nothing and it’s makeshift picnic blanket.
Tote bag — doubles as a laundry bag, flattens to nothing.
Mooji collapsible day bag — perfect if you’re planning on doing low-key hiking or travelling Europe from a base country and only want to bring carry on.
Fill2Pure waterbottle — The extreme water filter is designed for third world countries so there's no excuse to buy plastic waterbottles! If you know you can get filter water where you're going, I like this one buy The Source Bulk Foods.
A Cotton Sarong — it may seem basic and unnecessary, but this magic item comes in handy on nearly every occasion. It provides privacy when tied to a bunk if you’re an intrepid traveler cutting costs on budget accommodation; it protects you from potentially grimy beds, is a great towel, particularly in the tropics. Simply wrap yourself after a shower and walk around semi-naked until you’re try, or can be bothered getting dressed. Other uses include, a picnic blanket, a sleep mask on the plane if you forget one, a scarf if the wind has a bite to it.
Shoes (I tend to stick to three pairs of shoes when travelling):
Burkenstocks — Flip-flops are for rookies. Burkenstocks can be worn from beach to low-key hike. Affectionately known to me as off-road sandals. They may not always be pretty, but they’re every seasoned travelers favourite shoe.
1 pair of active shoes — for exercise and long days of walking. make sure they’re light and collapsible.
1 pair of flat tan sandals — goes with every item in your suitcase and packs down to nothing, need we say more? I love these ones by James Smith (there are no affiliate links in any of this for those wondering).
Packing light for warm weather:
Stick to a simple colour palette e.g. my fave is black, white and an earthy colour of yellow. Throw some denim in there for good measure of course.
One denim jacket — durable + light
One thin jumper — mainly for airplane or when in high country and when you put your denim jacket over it and wear a sarong as a scarf, it’ll keep you warm enough in slightly cooler climates.
One puffer jacket — can be rolled into a small bag and takes up no room. Good for exercising/hikes and unexpected drops in temperature. I got mine from UNIQLO.
Thin mostly cotton clothes — it doesn't crease, it's durable and dries quickly if you’re travelling the tropics. I roll all of my cotton clothes in a suitcase and it packs down to nothing.
Stuff you don’t want to forget:
US bucks — most places have ATM’s these days, but if you end up in a pickle, everyone speaks in US dollars.
Converter — don’t forget your phone charger means nothing in another place, nothing worse than forgetting this fine detail
Additional extras (for those on long intrepid voyages)
Incense (and holder) — this may seem the opposite of minimalist, but I’ve learnt that anything that makes you feel mildly 'at home' on long voyages is gold, especially your accomodation has a musty stank to it.