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Minimalist Packing: How to Travel Light

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The article published on jalehmichelle.com

Minimalist Packing – A lot of the time, packing light really just means “wearing boring clothing”. And it’s NO FUN. Who wants to go on vacation wearing nothing but practical walking shoes and monochromatic cotton t-shirts?

Minimalist packing does not mean you have to sacrifice your fashion sense. You just have to learn how to pack smart, too.

Here’s all my best minimalist packing tips to create the perfect capsule wardrobe for travel!

Minimalist Packing Step 1: Create A Capsule Wardrobe

Basically, you want to bring really versatile clothing that you can mix and match. The idea is that most items can be worn with any combination of other pieces – to create a TON of different outfits from a tiny amount of clothing.

Think separate pieces, not outfits. Don’t pack “outfit for day 1, outfit for day 2”, etc. Consider every item individually and make sure that it’s versatile enough to pair with many of your other pieces, and still look good.

If you’re only going to wear it once, don’t bring it. Suitcase space is precious (and limited)! Don’t waste it. Make room for a piece that you can create multiple outfits with.

Bring neutrals, but throw in some color. There’s nothing worse than rocking up to your vacay with a monochrome wardrobe. Sure everything matches, but it’s no FUN!! Pick a couple accent colors like mustard yellow or mauve, and then build a complementing neutral wardrobe around them (beige, tan, grey, black, denim, etc).

Add textured pieces to make your capsule wardrobe more exciting. Instead of white denim, bring white eyelet shorts. Instead of a plain black tee, pick out a black swiss dot blouse. Find neutral pieces with a little extra pizzazz like embroidery or lace.

Don’t be afraid of prints! Stripes, florals, and leopard print are basically neutrals at this point – they go with EVERYTHING and are way more interesting than a plain t-shirt.

Here’s what I’d typically pack for a 2-to-4 week trip! You can create a TON more outfit combinations than you’d expect with this very basic 21-piece capsule wardrobe.

  • 8x tops (2x neutral tees, graphic tee, 2x neutral silk tanks, 2x colorful off-shoulder tops, 1x crop)
  • 2x skirts (denim mini, knee-length silk)
  • 1x pair jeans
  • 1x pair track pants (to wear on the plane + lounge around)
  • 1x jumpsuit/romper
  • 1x sweater/sweatshirt
  • 3x dresses (one plain, one patterned, one strappy silky throw-on)
  • 2x shoes (white sneakers, leather sandals)
  • 1x bag (neutral leather crossbody, either black or nude)
  • 1x floppy hat

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Minimalist Packing Step 2: Bring Lightweight Fabrics

All in a variety of nice, silky, lightweight fabrics. They took up literally no space in my suitcase, and added literally no weight.

If you’re going on a really long trip and can’t imagine only packing 10-20 pieces of clothing, go light. You’ll be surprised how much space you save!

Minimalist Packing Step 3: Space-Saving Packing Tips

If you want to cram a ton of clothing into a finite space, you’ve got to learn to pack VERY efficiently. And I can tell you from experience, most people have no clue how to pack properly. Packing is an ~art~.

The most efficient use of space is vacuum-sealing your clothes, but who the fuck has time or energy for that. The worst is standard folding. The best option is to roll your clothing.

Literally, just roll your clothes into little tubes and start cramming them into your bag. If you have sneakers or boots, stuff them with socks, underwear, or other small items to conserve space. Once you’ve packed your first layer of rolled clothes, stack a textbook on them or sit on them to compress them before you add the next layer. It’s stupid, but effective.

Packing cubes are the single most helpful item you can buy if you’re trying to pack light. They help you compress your clothing and squish out extra air, but more importantly they help you organise!! I put all my tops in one cube, all my bottoms in another, dresses in another, and have a bag with bras, underwear, socks, and swimwear.

Minimalist Packing Step 4: Choose The Right Accessories

I rarely recommend bringing more than two pairs of shoes, unless you are planning on doing some HEAVY-DUTY exercise or have a formal event (like a wedding) to attend. I’d say for 90% of my trips, my favorite comfy white sneakers and classy leather sandals have been more than enough.

The only time overpacking is good is when it comes to accessories. Bring some amazing statement earrings, cute head wraps, scarves, floppy hats – you name it.

I also suggest bringing two purses if you’re going on a long trip.

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