The more I travel, the more I am obsessed with creating the perfect minimalist packing list.
I started travelling solo with a 75-litre backpack that literally broke my back. But I thought I needed everything!
Then I graduated to a 55-litre backpack which I thought was a huge feat. Then I downsized even more and put all my belongings into a 33-litre backpack.
And for the last five years, I’ve been travelling with a 24-litre backpack which is actually advertised as a daypack. I can manage one bag living with that backpack and can live for a few weeks and even up to 5 months.
So after travelling solo for more than 19 years, I can honestly say I am closer to creating the perfect minimalist travel packing list and I am going to share it with you in this post.
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Tips on creating your own minimalist travel packing list
After years of travelling and revising my minimalist packing list, I can honestly say I am quite happy with my current minimalist travel packing list.
As a budget-conscious solo female traveller who works remotely, it is important for me to have a minimalist travel packing list where I can fit all my belongings into a carry-on that weighs less than 7kg. I like having a small backpack so I can move around easily and also I can save money from checking in my luggage.
I use the following minimalist travel packing list for almost all my trips. But mind you, I mostly go to warmer destinations like Singapore and Bali and do not have any particular activities in mind (i.e. multi-day hiking, snorkelling, etc). And the travel packing list is tailored for females (I am not familiar with what toiletries or other things men have to bring).
Please use this minimalist packing list as a guideline to create your own packing list. Everyone has their own personal likes and dislikes and your trip may require you to bring certain items that are not part of this list. Use this list as a base and build on your own minimalist packing list that suits you.
My Minimalist Packing List for Females
Whether I’m leaving for 2 weeks or a few months, this is how I start packing:
I use two bags for every trip: my travel backpack and my travel daypack.
And I have 4 groups of items:
- Travel Capsule Wardrobe
- Dry and Wet Toiletries
- Other Necessities
- Items for Travel Daypack
Below I outlined each of these 4 groups of travel items in detail and include photographs of the actual items in my backpack. Keep reading and find out exactly what I bring for each trip.
1. Travel Capsule Wardrobe
I always start packing one of my most important travel essentials: my mix-and-match minimalist travel capsule wardrobe. I roll all my clothes into two small packing cubes and put my shoes in a shoe bag.
Here are all the components to my travel capsule wardrobe (see list below and photo above):
- 2 Tank tops
- 2 pairs of shorts
- Set of clothing for sleeping/working out
- 4 Underwear
- 2 Bras
- 1 pair of socks
- Nike Free RN Flyknit sneakers
- Birkenstock Mayari Sandals
- Havaianas Slim Flip Flop Sandals
2. Dry and Wet Toiletries
My minimalist toiletries are separated into two different bags: one for all my dry toiletries and another for all my wet toiletries.
First, I use my Muji hanging toiletry bag for all my dry toiletries:
- Lush Seanik Shampoo Bar*
- 2 Chapsticks
- Nail clipper
- Diva Cup
- Cotton pads*
- Bobby pins
- Safety pins
Then I put my wet toiletries in Muji clear case which is excellent for storing travel-sized toiletries. The transparent toiletry bag replaces the re-sealable plastic bag at airport security screening.
I separate my dry and wet toiletries because of airport security checks. Each passenger must take out all the liquids, gels and aerosols (in bottles 100ml or less) and put them in a transparent bag. And you have to take it out of your carry-on luggage for x-ray screening. So having a separate transparent toiletry bag is really handy.
These are the toiletries in my transparent toiletry case:
- Facial cleanser*
- Face cream*
- Contact lens solution*
- Contact lens case
*Note – I only bring enough products for a few weeks. I will have to replenish these items at my destination or make my own DIY eco-friendly toiletries.
3. Other Necessities
There are other necessities that are not part of the mix-and-match wardrobe and toiletries. These items are little gadgets and knick-knacks that I can’t live without and are always part of my minimal packing list.
See the main picture of this blog to see these items:
- Universal travel adapter
- Xiaomi selfie stick/foldable tripod with Bluetooth remote
- First aid kit and medicine
- Canvas bag for groceries/laundry
- Laptop charger
- Mobile phone charger
- Set of utensils including fork, spoon, knife, chopsticks and metal straw
- 5 medium size ziplock bags (not pictured)
4. Items for Travel Daypack
And finally, I put things that I never want to lose in my Fjallraven Re-Kanken travel daypack. Even if I lose my travel backpack (unlikely because I don’t check-in my backpack but *knock on wood*), I would still have these essential items with me. It is harder to replace these travel items so I rather have them with me at all times.
Plus, I like to have these essentials close to me when I am on the plane so I can have access to my laptop, book, travel document, etc. These items are:
- MacBook Notebook 12″ + laptop bag
- Samsung Galaxy Note 10+
- Muji blank notebook
- 2 Muji pens
- Coach wallet/wristlet with cash, 2 credit cards, 2 ATM cards
- Small pouch with passport, backup cash ($100USD), 2 headshot photos, paperclip (for changing SIM cards)
- Squeeze water bottle
- Prescription eyeglasses + case
Minimalist travel: how I put everything together
It is important to get a lightweight backpack especially if you want to pack everything in your bag and weigh less than 7kg.
I love using my Wanaka Adapt Backpack because it is light, has 3 main compartments and it fits my Muji packing cube perfectly (I didn’t plan that!) Even though the backpack is advertised as a daypack, I love using it as my regular travel backpack.
Since there are 3 compartments, here is how I organize my travel backpack:
- Top pouch: other necessities like first aid kit, medicine, canvas bag, utensils, extra ziplock bags
- Main compartment: 2 packing cubes, dry toiletry bag, and wet toiletry bag (placed on top so I can take it out for security check at the airport)
- Bottom compartment: shoes and other necessities like chargers, selfie-stick, universal adapter
Final words on a minimalist packing list
If you want to travel like a minimalist, I would encourage you to use my minimalist packing list as a guideline and create one that works for you. I think the best minimalist list for travel is the one that suits your travel style and your needs.
And if you are into hiking, you can also use the same principles to create a minimalist hiking gear list.
Part of creating a minimal packing list is to challenge yourself to pack less. I know it is easier said than done, so please don’t be discouraged and keep trying. It definitely takes a bit of practice.
Let me know in the comments if there is anything you are struggling with or you have other minimal travel packing tips you want to share yourself.