Minimalist backpacking is no easy task, but adopting a few tips and tricks when it comes to how and what to pack can make it easier. When we pack, we often overpack because the ‘what ifs’ of life come to mind. But, at the end of the day, minimalist backpacking is the way to go.
Why? Most travelers find that packing light has more advantages than bringing everything you own on your next trip. Benefits of light packing include saving some money on checked baggage at the airport and having less weight to carry around which can really get you down if you’re moving frequently. You also learn to appreciate the things that you have and know exactly what you actually need in life.
Minimalist Backpacking Tips
Here are some of our favourite tips for carrying your life on your back without being weighed down.
1) Use a Smaller Backpack
One sure way to travel light is to use a smaller backpack. Using a smaller backpack, or small luggage of any kind inevitably leads to a few good things. You’re kind of forced to be organized (more on that later), finding things is easier, and you won’t be able to buy unnecessary things. A 40L or under will allow you to travel with just cabin luggage with no worries of being charged extra, a favourite among travellers is the Osprey Fairpoint.
2) Have a Travel Day Pack
Travel daypacks are the way to go in the world of backpacking or traveling in general! A day pack makes the perfect carry-on bag for your flight to keep all of the essentials handy like a change of clothes, snacks, and more. Once you arrive at your destination, it can be used for waterfall hikes in Laos or for a day of work in a Croatia cafe.
3) Use Packing Cubes
Earlier, we mentioned being organized. Packing cubes are smaller bags that fit inside of your backpack or luggage and they will change your life! Not only do they keep your things tidy, but they allow you to fit more in your bag. You can use these to sort your clothes and store smaller items that otherwise get lost in your bag like socks and phone chargers.
Before purchasing your packing cubes, it’s a good idea to think about what you’ll use them for and the sizes that you’ll need. And, of course, you can always purchase more and change it up later if you need to!
4) Pack Versatile Clothes
While you may have favourite pieces you wear regularly, try to put that idea aside when you’re packing for your next trip. Packing clothes that can be mixed and matched is key for minimalist backpacking! Neutral coloured clothes are best for this.
That flattering black shirt you have that looks good with most bottoms is a better choice than the floral top that you can only wear with one pair of jeans. If you’re someone who doesn’t typically like to be neutral, pack some fun jewellery and scarves because that takes up much less space in your bag!
5) Lay Everything Out and Put Half Away
It can be so easy to want to pack all of your Instagram-worthy clothes and everything you may want ‘just in case.’ So, go ahead, and lay it all out. Then, ask yourself which items take up less space, are less likely to wrinkle, and go well with multiple pieces.
Slowly get rid of what items don’t fit the criteria and remember that you’re not leaving these things forever. Besides, you’ll want pictures of all your cool experiences no matter what you’re wearing!
6) Ask Yourself These Questions
When you’re making the decision of what to bring and what to leave, ask yourself these questions:
Do I love it or is it a ‘just in case?
Will I definitely wear or use it on my trip?
Can I wear or use it more than once on my trip?
7) Wear Your Bulky Items While Travelling
Depending on where you’re travelling to, you may need some heavier items. Instead of taking up space in your bag for your jacket, sweater, and sneakers, just wear them! While you may be warm as you make your way to your destination, you can always take layers off when you get cosy on the plane. Not to mention, aeroplanes are known to get chilly!
8) Don’t Bring Non Essentials
You may love that coffee mug you drink out of every day, but there’s a very good chance you won’t need that on your trip. Try to get honest with yourself about what items you will be perfectly okay without while you’re exploring a new place. Chances are you’ll end up ditching those things as you go so you may as well hold on to them for later or donate non-essentials.
Things to leave at home:
- Full-size toiletries: Travel-size toiletries are good for saving space and can be brought in your carry-on. It’s always good to research where you’re going to see what items you could buy there and which items to maybe bring an extra of. Some handy eco-items like a shampoo bar/conditioner and solid deodorant can save you tons of space and will last for ages.
- Lots of snacks: Of course, snacks in your personal bag are a must for the flight, but one of the best parts of travelling is trying new food! When you’re ready to leave just buy new snacks at the local supermarket.
- Valuables: Leave valuables like excess cash, credit cards, and expensive jewellery at home. Not only will this ensure that you won’t lose them, but it also saves space in your bag.
- Hair Tools: Personally, I learned this lesson fast. Not only do hair tools take up a ton of space, but they’re also heavy. Typically, when we are travelling, we are so excited to do the next activity that we don’t even care to spend too much time styling our hair.
Most accommodations provide a hairdryer and if you want to be sure you have one on hand, you can pack a mini travel hairdryer.
9) Research Your Destination
Knowing what to expect in regards to weather and a culture’s preferred attire can allow you to plan and pack accordingly. If you know it’s going to be rainy, you’ll know to wear your raincoat on your flight or make room to roll it up in your day pack.
On the other hand, some cultures require you to be more covered than your home country may so it’s always good to be prepared for this with a shawl and long, lightweight pants. A pair of sandals is a good option if you’re in and out of temples or visiting a country during monsoon season, plus they’re lightweight to pack.
10) Adopt a Minimalist Mindset
When we think minimalist, we think simple and free. Have this mindset when packing. The simpler things are, the freer you’ll be to get the most of your trip. The less you pack, the less time you’ll spend finding things, picking an outfit, and reorganizing when it’s time to repack.
Here are some great books on minimalism and sustainable living to help you adopt a minimalist mindset in every aspect of your life. Quite often you’ll get so used to living like this you’ll no longer enjoy having an excessive number of possessions even when you’re not travelling helping you save money and space.
Final Thoughts on Minimalist Backpacking
It takes time to become a minimalist backpacking pro. However, practice makes perfect. Eventually, it’ll become second nature to organize your packing cubes, bring only the necessities, and get creative with mixing and matching outfits.
Read More: Are you ready to book your next flight? Check out our list of 7 ways to find a cheap flight!