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Minimalist Travel

How to Create a Minimalist Travel Wardrobe for Every Trip

Last Updated on August 26, 2020 by queenie mak

I learned very quickly throughout my travels that I need a minimalist travel wardrobe. Only because I like to travel as light, but also want to maximize all my outfits to create as many looks as possible.

Typically, I travel with a 7kg carry-on backpack with a few sets of clothes, a few weeks worth of toiletries, my laptop and other miscellaneous items. My favourite 24-litre minimalist bag can accommodate all of my belongings.

Perhaps the reason why I created my minimalist capsule wardrobe for travelling is that I don’t like shopping. I buy whatever I love and keep it for as long as I can. I’ve never been great at shopping. And I really don’t want to spend the time to figure out outfits when I am not good at it.

And ladies, sorry, this is not a blog post for people who like to take fancy photos for Instagram because my minimalist wardrobe list does not include multiple gorgeous maxi-dresses. They are so pretty. But I am too practical to pack something I can only wear once.

So if you want to learn how to travel light and create your travelling minimalist wardrobe for women ? Then keep reading!

 

 

 

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What is a Minimalist Travel Wardrobe?

A minimalist travel wardrobe is a cohesive set of clothing where you can wear it anywhere on your travels.

It can also be called a travel capsule wardrobe since it is a set of clothing where you can wear it any time and any season. By mixing and matching each piece of clothing, including top, bottom, outerwear, shoes and accessories, you can create multiple looks by the combination of clothing and also how you style your clothing.

Each person’s minimalist travel wardrobe will be different because we are individuals. We are different from one another.

But ultimately, the travel wardrobe style is minimal, but not boring at all. The pieces of clothing are timeless and classic and will work well with other pieces.

 

 

Why I like a minimalist capsule wardrobe for travelling

I love to travel light! I love being able to walk everywhere comfortably with all my belongings on my back. Which is why I always travel with my favourite minimalist carry-on backpack. I managed to pack all my belongings into a 7kg carry-on luggage, which also allows me to skip the airline baggage fees.

Moreover, I don’t want to worry about what I will wear every day. I will admit I am not a fashionista – I’m not good at shopping and buying clothes. By selecting timeless pieces ahead of time that can easily mix and match, I can always wear something I feel great about and not spend too much time worrying about how I look.

By being a minimalist traveller, I can save money, focus on the trip and be stylish at the same time!

 

 

 

My Minimalist Wardrobe

As a minimalist traveller, I only bring 3 to 4 sets of clothing for each trip. It doesn’t matter if I am going for two weeks or a few months, I bring the same things for every trip.

If I am not going somewhere with frigid temperature or places that I am doing a specific activity that would require me to bring particular clothing, I generally bring the same 3 to 4 sets of clothing.

I include my minimalist packing list for clothing. See below.

I like using this packing list because it saves me time from trying to figure out what I need each time I travel. And it also prevents me from overpacking.

 

My minimalist capsule wardrobe for travelling fit into 3 packing cubes:

  • 3 tops (1 t-shirt and 2 tank tops)
  • 2 pairs of shorts
  • 1 pair of jeans
  • 1 dress
  • 1 light sweater
  • 1 set of clothing for sleeping/working out
  • 4 underwear
  • 2 bras
  • 1 swimming suit
  • 1 sarong/scarf
  • 1 pair of socks
  • Sneakers
  • Casual sandals
  • Flip flops

 

With the packing list above, I can have at least 16 different outlets just by mixing and matching.

And if I want more options, I can use accessories and shoes to change up the entire look.

Plus I have two tops that have multiple ways of styling, which will give me different looks as well.

So, this is what I bring for every trip. Of course, this is what I need. But what you need may be different. You can use the list as your packing template and create a variation of your own minimalist travel wardrobe.

Here is a quick visual of what the packing template looks like:

Use my packing list as a guide to create your own minimalist capsule wardrobe for your next trip

 

 

 

 

How to create your own Minimalist Travel Capsule Wardrobe

It took me a while to figure out what I need to bring for every trip. So here are some tips that I put together to help you create your own minimalist travel capsule wardrobe.

 

 

1. Select clothing in solid colours, no patterns or prints, no trendy clothing

Choose clothing in solid colours because it is the easiest to mix and match. Therefore, no patterns, no prints, etc. Don’t pick anything pattern because it will be harder to mix and match and also it will look like you are always wearing the same things in your photos (even though you are, but you don’t want to make it obvious).

As for colours, you don’t have to pick the same colour for every piece or wear everything in black. There are no rules as to what colour goes with what these days. But start with selecting a few pieces in neutral tones and add colour to show your personality.

Personally, my clothing has a blue palette (jean shorts, jeans) with neutral tops (black) and a pop of colour (pink top). The visual packing list template (see above) resembles how my actual minimalist travel capsule wardrobe looks like.

 

 

2. Select clothing wear you can layer

By layering your clothing, you can create different looks. And by mixing and matching different pieces together, you can create various combinations of looks just by using a few essential clothing pieces.

And by dressing in layers, it is easier to accommodate different types of climate and temperature changes. A tank top or t-shirt can be worn in a warmer climate and cooler climate. When the weather is cooler, put on a sweater or a jacket. There is more flexibility with travelling in different climates when you are dressed in layers.

 

 

 

3. Buy quality essential pieces

High-quality clothing will last longer than clothing from fast fashion clothing stores. Even though you pay a little bit more upfront but your clothes will last much longer. Quality clothing will endure wear and tear, many cycles in the washing machine and still look pristine every time you wear it.

So do yourself a favour, invest in quality clothing. You will save more money in the long run, and you will help reduce the amount of old clothing going to the landfill. Your wallet and the environment will both benefit from you investing in quality clothing.

 

 

Some pieces from my minimalist travel wardrobe. The tops have multiple looks - they can be worn as a v-neck or round-neck tank top.

Some pieces from my minimalist travel wardrobe. The tops have multiple looks – they can be worn as a v-neck or round-neck tank top.

4. Choose pieces that have multiple looks or purposes

Your minimalist travel clothes should create various looks or have numerous functions.

For example, I have a strappy top where one side is a v-neck, and the other side is a round neck (see photo above). It creates 2 different looks. And it is long enough where you can tuck in your pants or skirt or leave it out. Therefore, 1 tank top can create 4 different looks. 

And I also travel with a sarong, which I use as a swimsuit coverup, a skirt, and a scarf. Sometimes I might even use it as a towel to dry off or a beach towel for suntanning on the beach.

 

 

 

 

5. Try not to bring anything in white

There were a few times I brought a white t-shirt or white bra on my travels. But somewhere down the road, the pristine white t-shirt and bra were strained with all the dark colour dyes from my other pieces in my travel capsule wardrobe.

Even though it is nice to have light colour pieces as part of your travel capsule wardrobe, but in reality, it is not practical for a travel wardrobe.

If you can minimize to only one item or nothing at all. It is easier to do all your laundry together, i.e. not separate colours and whites in separate loads.

 

 

 

6. Choose clothing that is easy to wash and maintain

Since I always travel light, it means I have fewer items of clothing. And it also means I am always washing my clothes.

And because I am regularly doing laundry, I want to make sure my clothing is easy to wash and maintain.

I like clothing where I can throw into a washing machine, that doesn’t need ironing and completely wrinkle-free. And it goes without saying that my clothing does not require dry cleaning.

Moreover, quick-dry clothing is especially appealing to me because I don’t have to leave it out to dry for a long time and I tend to visit places with high humidity, i.e. takes longer for clothing to dry.

So when you are putting together your travel wardrobe, make sure your clothing is easy to wash and maintain, so you are not spending all your time worrying about laundry.

 

 

7. Love every piece

If you love every part of your wardrobe, you will enjoy what you wear and take care of every single piece of clothing that you have. And you will feel great and confident every time you are out wearing your favourite pieces. 

If you love every single piece of clothing, you will love creating different outfits and looks. And you will feel confident wearing them. And just think of all the amazing photos you will have for Instagram!

 

 

 

8. Your minimalist travel wardrobe can be changed at any time

Just because I only bring 3 to 4 sets of clothing each time, it doesn’t mean I bring the exact pieces for every trip. Whenever possible, I swap a different top or different pair of pants to create different outfits.

Also, when some of my clothing is a bit worn out, I would donate it at a local charity and buy something else to replenish my travel wardrobe.

For every trip, I use the same packing template as a guide. I bring the same amount of clothing each trip, but I may bring different tops, bottoms, outerwear, shoes, etc. It can get pretty dull to wear the same things over and over again. So between trips, I switch it up and have fun with creating new looks with new pieces.

 

 

RELATED POST – My Minimalist Toiletries

 

Do you want to create your own minimalist travel wardrobe for your next trip?

Hope you can use some of my tips on creating your own minimalist travel wardrobe. It is a lot of fun finding key pieces where you can mix and match and create different looks.

Do you like the packing list template? Or would you bring anything else? Let me know in the comments below!

 

 

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About Author

Hi, my name is Queenie, and I've been a solo traveller for 18+ years and currently based in Hong Kong. Follow me on my adventures through Instagram and my blog!

7 Comments

  • Sam
    October 30, 2019 at 10:46 am

    Hi! I was just wondering, why do you only pack one pair of socks? Do you wash them daily? Do you find they dry over night?

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      November 1, 2019 at 10:27 am

      Hi Sam, I tend to wear open-toe shoes more than sneakers. And my socks are quite thin so its easy to dry when I wash them. Hope this helps! 🙂

      Reply
  • Christina
    August 28, 2020 at 11:46 am

    Hello! I find this blog helpful because I like to travel light in 7 kg. baggage. I have traveled solo also and I like to bring timeless and not trendy pieces of clothes that are easy to wash and dry. I am looking for ideas that makes my travel light and convenient. I am looking forward to travel again once this pandemic is over. Stay healthy.

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      August 28, 2020 at 10:02 pm

      Hi Christina, thanks so much for your comments! It feels really nice to pack very little and only travel with a backpack only. I’m happy you were able to find some inspirations for packing for your future trips. And I also can’t wait to travel again! Until then, stay safe! 🙂

      Reply
  • Nicole
    September 6, 2020 at 10:07 am

    Hello! What’s your packing list for cold weather travel? And do you wear some items from list on plane? Or have separate travel clothes? Thanks!

    Reply
    • queenie mak
      September 8, 2020 at 12:11 am

      Hi Nicole! This is more of a general packing list for warmer climate (because I tend to travel to warmer places). As for cold weather, I would use the same tips (no pattern, quality clothing, mix and match) and find clothing that is lightweight ie. down vest or down jacket. And I would definitely wear the bulkiest/biggest item on the plane so they don’t take up a lot of room in my backpack. The packing list should be tailored to a specific trip, weather, activity, etc, so it can best support whatever you need during your trip. But you can use the tips in this post as a starting point and build a perfect packing list for what you need. I hope this helps. Let me know if you have any more questions 🙂

      Reply
      • Nicole
        September 8, 2020 at 9:19 am

        Appreciate it! Thanks!

        Reply

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