A Guide to Packing Minimally

We have a few weekend getaways coming up and it inspired me to do a short guide on tips for packing simply. I always used to overpack for trips, but after I lost my luggage on an overseas trip to Ireland, I decided I was going to travel as lightly as possible going forward. Here are a few ways I pack lighter and keep the process stress-free!

Do you pack in outfits or mix and match pieces? I’ve tried and like both—it just depends on the type of trip that we are taking! Check out the following lists below to see which method might work best for your trip.

The Outfit Method

Try using the Outfit Method when packing for a trip that:

  • Has a dedicated itinerary
  • Has no access to laundry machines
  • You are packing for others

When I am packing for my son, thinking of the types of outfits he’ll need each day helps me stay organized (it’s a little more unpredictable with a baby, but it helps me avoid overpacking).

Once you have all your outfits laid out, it’s time to organize them within the suitcase. I’ve seen many methods used—Ziploc bags, ribbons, elastic bands, reusable bags, or even just rolling the clothes! Choose whichever works best for you—personally, I like the rolling or Ziploc bag method because it allows me to pack the items more compactly.

The Mix & Match Method

Use this method to pack for a trip where:

  • You have access to laundry machines
  • You don’t have set activities planned OR the clothing you’re packing can work for any of the activities you have planned

Since this method doesn’t have outfit groupings, I tend to organize like with like and use packing cubes for efficient packing within my suitcase. I roll most of my clothing items for more effective use of space and lay larger items, like jeans or bulky sweaters, folded flat.

Now that you’ve chosen the method with which to pack the items for your trip, here are a few of my tried and true packing tips to get you started!

1. Create a Packing List

This is always my first step when it comes to getting ready for any trip (even just an overnight one!). I make a note on my phone with the bulleted checkmark list so I can check items off as they are packed. I make lists for myself and any other family members or pets that I am packing for, as well as a list of things that need to be packed in the car if we’re going on a road trip (i.e., snacks, extra water bottles, etc.).

Think about the basic items you use every day, the activities you’ll be doing, and if there are any trip-specific items you’ll need (i.e., a camera, sports equipment, gift cards, etc.). I recommend that you make this list at least a couple days before you leave (or if you’re a procrastinator when it comes to packing, at least do it the night before!).

2. Edit Your Packing List

It’s way too easy to add too much to your packing list! Get a little cutthroat and challenge yourself to take a few items off of it. Often when we pack for a trip, we pack for our “ideal selves”—be honest with yourself and don’t bring items that won’t be comfortable or work for the activities on your trip.

3. Use Your Note to Keep Track of Last Minute Items

I use the note on my phone until the moment we’re walking out the door! We all have those items that we need to use right until the time we leave. Add those items to your list and don’t check them off until you are walking out your door. That way, you can do a final check and ensure you have everything in those frantic last few minutes.

4. Lay Items Out Ahead of Time

This may not appeal to procrastinating packers, but this is another great technique to reduce the amount you’re packing. Even after editing your packing list, it can be difficult to visualize how much you plan on taking until it’s all right in front of you. I’m a visual packer, so I need to have items laid out before they go in the suitcase to determine how they’ll work for me on a trip.

5. Minimize Your Toiletries

Some people truly hate packing their toiletries, and I tend to agree—this is definitely one of the most tedious areas of packing for me as well! I like to take just the minimum I need to get by for my trip (i.e., what is the least amount of skincare, hair care, makeup, etc. that I need for this trip?).

In the past, I’ve gotten hung up trying to take everything in my vanity for “just in case” situations, but I didn’t even end up using those products! Bring a travel-sized amount, see if you can go without it, or plan to leave it behind and purchase it where you’re going if you find you truly need it.

I hope this helps you pack easier and with less stress—wherever your travels take you this summer, I hope you enjoy the adventure or time spent with family and friends!

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