Your next big vacation is right around the corner… All of a sudden the bed is covered in clothes for every possible scenario and event. Three of four pairs of jeans, all of your favorite pairs of shorts, stacks of t-shirts, dress shirts in every color, and work out attire for every day. Next you move onto finding shoes that’ll work with every outfit, countless toiletries that you never use at home but you MIGHT need while on the road, and the hair dryer with the special diffusers and airflow concentrators that you MUST have even though the places you’ll be staying at have already mentioned that they have these products for your use.
Now it’s time to pack! You go into the closet and grab your largest piece of luggage and start filling it with all the “necessities” only to find out that half of your stuff is still sitting on the bed when that bag is full. You go back and grab a second bag and fill it full wit the left over must have items. Finally, you’re ready for your trip! You and your entire closet…
STOP THE MADNESS!
It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I decided it was time to make a change and challenge myself to take only what I really needed, instead of everything that I thought I might need. Through the process, I’ve been able go from traveling with a big rolling duffel, an international‑sized carry on, and a big backpack, down to traveling with nothing more than a small international‑sized backpack/duffel. What’s even crazier? I’ve been able to do sixteen day Round‑The‑World trips and multiple one to two week long trips by traveling this way.
There are countless benefits to traveling like a minimalist – saving on baggage fees being one of the big ones for people that don’t travel frequently. Then you can add benefits like piece of mind and the security of knowing your bag is going to make it to its final destination because it’s in the cabin on the plane with you or it’s close to you on the train. There’s also the time saved when you don’t have to wait for luggage to appear at the airport – and then of course there’s the benefit of not having to haul all that luggage all over the place when you’re on the road!
How do I do it?
Packing like a minimalist takes time and a little bit of research.
Step 1: Know where you’re traveling and the purpose behind the trip. If you’re going to an all inclusive resort in the Bahamas you need to pack differently than you would if you’re visiting a ski resort in the winter. That’s a given, but you should check and see what the weather is like at that time of year and what kind of activities are planned during the trip.
Step 2: Make a ‘NEED’ and a ‘WANT’ Pile. This is when you need to be honest with yourself about what you really need to have. I’ll use an upcoming 12 day trip as an example… I am currently planning on visiting a part of the world that is hot and humid, and the forecast is showing rain for each and every day until late July. I have three pairs of jeans that I love and really want to bring. Chances are though that I probably won’t be wearing jeans that often with temperatures hitting 100+, so instead of taking all 3 jeans I pick the pair that will work with a good variety of outfits and put those in my ‘need’ pile, the other two pairs go to the ‘want’ pile.
Start doing this with everything you plan on bringing until you get down to what you KNOW you have to have for the trip. Items like jeans and shoes take up a lot of room so really focus on slimming down that NEED pile. The great part about this process is once you get everything packed and find that you have extra room, you can take some of those extra items and pack them in if you really want.
Step 3: The Vacuum Bag Revolution! One of my absolute favorite travel products I was recently introduced to is the Nomatic Vacuum Bag. In the simplest of terms it’s a bag with a one way valve built in so as you squeeze the air out it compresses everything down. It’s a simple concept but it’s helped me maximize the amount of space I have in my travel bags. When I’m packing these bags I focus on finding items like t-shirts, extra shorts, underwear and socks (mainly items that can get a bit wrinkly without it being a big deal). After I pack it full I start to squeeze out the air until there isn’t any left, seal the valve, and it’s ready to go – taking up around half the space or less!
Want one? Visit the Nomatic website HERE! Click on Accessories and you’ll see it!
Step 4: Toiletries I’ve traveled with so many people that bring monstrous sized bottles of shampoo and conditioner, giant bottles of hair spray, and never-opened jumbo tubes of toothpaste. Minimize it! Not only is TSA going to take away all those ‘potentially hazardous’ items if they’re in your carry on, it’s also a huge waste of space! Why do you need two months worth of shampoo for a one week trip? These days there are travel sized bottles for practically everything. Find some travel sized bottles, fill them full of the products you need, and save all that extra space!
The Final Step: Pack That Bag! Let’s be honest… There are countless ways to pack your bag and countless videos on how to save the most amount of space. You can roll your clothes, you can fold it inside out and tuck it into itself, you can learn from a master or origami and turn your clothes into a swan, it doesn’t matter! You need to find the method that works best for you! I used to love the rolling methods that I saw on YouTube, but they took so long that I just went back to a method of folding everything into a nice neat pile and finding the perfect spot for everything to fit. Just do what works for you and your luggage bag!
Congratulations! Your bag is PACKED! You’ve done it! You’ve gone from bringing a 30 day supply of clothes for your 10 day trip to packing what you actually need and a little extra! You, my friend now know how to Pack like a Pro!