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Packing for a trip can be a fun activity but it can also feel like a chore. If you read my post about picking a backpack, you will know that I used to bring everything with me when I travel. I didn’t know what I needed to bring and how to organize my backpack. Because of inexperience, I would fill up my 75-litre backpack on each trip! Far from being a minimalist but I’ve come a long way since my first solo travel experience!
For the past eight years, I’ve been travelling with my Osprey Talon 33L backpack. I LOVE my backpack! There’s nothing else I would rather use than to use this backpack. It has been proven entirely reliable, and it can withstand all types of conditions. I’ve used this pack for many short trips and even while I slow travel over many months and in different climates.
And I try to bring less and less each trip (if that is even possible). As a minimalist, I only bring my essential items, and I am thrilled with having so little during my trips.
During the last few trips, I rolled and tucked away all my clothes in three packing cubes which resulted in a half-empty pack after all the efficient organization.
So because I have been bringing fewer items on each trip, I thought I could try a smaller backpack. I’ve been contemplating the idea for the last two years, so I’m finally taking the plunge.
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Upgrading from a 33-litre pack to a 24-litre pack
I know what you are thinking. Is it really “upgrading”? Ha! Maybe for some of you, this might be a downgrade.
But for me, it is definitely upgrading to the next level. The next level of packing efficiently and minimally.
I feel I am ready to make this upgrade because my backpack was semi-empty during my last few trips. Yup, I had room to spare in my 33L backpack.
Moreover, I’m going on a shorter trip (seven weeks only), and there isn’t a whole lot of temperature fluctuation. This might be the best time to experiment on the new backpack since I am just bringing clothing for a warm climate (i.e. smaller and less bulky).
Minimalist travel backpack: Wanaka Adapt Backpack
I purchased the Wanaka Adapt Backpack through the Kickstarter program awhile ago. If you watch the US Amazing Race show, there was a father and son team who won season 24. The son of the duo, Connor O’Leary, designed the pack and sold it in Kickstarter.
The pack is 24L which is smaller than what I currently have. I researched a bunch of brands and sizes, and there isn’t any other size between 24L and 33L. So the natural progression of downsizing from a 33L would be anywhere between 20 to 24L. Because I only fill up to about half of my current 33L backpack, I should be okay regarding size (theoretically).
I like the backpack because it doesn’t have a lot of straps and it looks very compact, i.e. every nook and cranny can be fully utilized. It is advertised as a travel daypack, but I use it for backpacking. Also, it comes with a fanny pack that can also be transformed into an adventure sling, and a separate insulated compartment that doubles as a camera bag and a cooler.
I wrote a full review of the Wanaka backpack, the best carry-on minimalist travel backpack. Check it out!
How to pack less for your next trip
I wasn’t always a minimalist traveller. I’ve had to hone in my minimalist packing skills for many years.
But you don’t have to be a minimalist to try these tips. If you are someone who finds yourself always overpacking for each trip, then keep reading.
Here are some minimalist tips on how to pack less for your next trip:
- You want to start with “upgrading” your luggage or backpack. By “upgrading,” I mean to use a smaller suitcase or backpack. If you are physically restricting the actual spacial capacity, you are already winning!
- As for your belongings, start by taking all the things you want to bring and lay them out.
- Take away half of the clothing that you laid out. So if you took six t-shirts, only take three. Do that for all of your clothing. Ideally, you want to create your minimalist travel wardrobe that consists of three to four sets of clothing that you can mix and match.
- Next, take out some necessities, but you can easily replace them at your destination. Such as regular size toothpaste, big bottles of shampoo and conditioner. You can bring smaller versions of them and use it for the first couple of days and buy the rest. This rule is especially true for long-term travel. There is no need to bring items you can easily buy at your destination.
- Take out the “but I might need these later” items. Such as:
- umbrella (I used to travel around with one and realized I never use it)
- hair dryer, curling iron or hair straightener (I travelled with a hair straightener before but it died during my last trip. Somehow I managed to find another way of fixing my hair, so I no longer need one)
- headlamp (unless you are going on a camping or hiking trip or know you need it)
- extra batteries for your headlamp and other devices
- camera (I even took out my camera because I have a reliable camera on my Samsung Note 8)
- other credit cards, bank cards, loyalty cards (you only need two credit cards and two ATM cards. Don’t take your loyalty cards because you cannot earn reward points from abroad)
- basically, any travel gear that you might think you need
- If you have a handheld luggage scale handy, weigh your bags to make sure it is under the allowable weight. Check the weight restrictions for your airline. Airline regulations change quite a bit so make sure you check before each trip.
- And if you still have too many items, layout everything again and see what else you can take out. Put some thoughts into the things you are bringing with you. Ask yourself the following questions for each item you are carrying. Be critical in the selection process.
- Will you be using them every day?
- Or even a few times during your trip?
- What can you live without?
My new and improved minimalist travel packing list
I’ve revised my previous packing list to the new and improved list.
For my upcoming trip, I am spending seven weeks in Japan during late summer and early fall. And clothing takes up the majority of your backpack so editing this list is crucial. Here is my minimalist packing checklist:
*Note – I only have sufficient toiletries for few weeks. I will have to replenish some items at my destination or make my own DIY eco friendly toiletries.
- MacBook Notebook 12″ + charger + laptop bag
- Samsung Note 8 + charger
- Universal travel adapter
- Xiaomi selfie stick/foldable tripod with Bluetooth remote
- Squeeze water bottle
- First aid kit and medicine
- Moleskin Notebook
- 2 pens
- Canvas bag for groceries/laundry
- Necessities: passport, money, 2 credit cards, 2 ATM cards
- Longchamp Le Pliage Neo Small Bag as my day bag
Why I love having a minimalist mindset when it comes to packing
I’ve always enjoyed living minimally. I don’t feel having little material items will lessen any experience. In fact, I think having less allows me to focus on the experience and not be distracted by stuff.
Also, a lot of airlines are changing their policies about overhead cabin regulations. Some airlines charge a fee for checking in luggage. So travellers are bringing more things on board which makes overhead cabin space very limited and competitive. Some airlines even set a limit of 7kg for all your bags that you want to bring on board. 7kg is not a lot!
My new 24L backpack is small enough as a carry-on travel bag, so I don’t have to check in my bag when I fly. While I save money and time from not checking in my bag, I can easily manoeuvre around with my new minimalist travel bag! I rather carry less and focus on the journey itself.
Are you ready for the minimalist travel challenge too?
Do you feel like you always overpack when it comes to travelling? And do you want to focus less on all the things you are bringing and allow yourself to focus on the journey itself?
You can try to embrace minimalist travel for your next trip. It feels pretty liberating, and it frees up a lot of clutter from your life. And who doesn’t want to carry an ultralight bag? I have to admit though; I didn’t pack the lightest bag as my first trip. It takes time and practice to hone my minimalist travel packing. So don’t be discouraged and keep trying. You will notice an improvement each time. So keep at it because it will improve your travel life!
Did you like these minimalist packing tips? Let me know in the comments below!
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last update: May 25, 2018