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Minimalist Travel

How to Create a Minimalist Travel Wardrobe for Every Trip

Last Updated on November 27, 2020 by queenie mak

Packing for a trip can be difficult especially if you are trying to travel light. Often, overpacking is a result of bringing too much clothing. I know, I’ve been there!

And while I embrace minimalist travel, I want to make sure I bring enough clothes so I don’t have to constantly do laundry and look like I am always wearing the same thing in photos.

After many years of travelling on my own, I have finally figured out the perfect minimalist travel wardrobe. If you want to challenge yourself to pack less and create your own minimal travel wardrobe, keep reading, and I’ll show you exactly how.

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What is a Minimalist Travel Wardrobe?

A minimalist travel wardrobe or capsule travel wardrobe is a cohesive set of clothing where you can wear it anywhere on your travels. You can create multiple looks by mixing and matching different pieces of clothing.

But each of us will have different items in our minimal travel wardrobe because we re individuals and have our own unique style.

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

Benefits of creating a minimalist capsule wardrobe for travel

I love to travel light! I love being able to walk everywhere comfortably with all my belongings on my back. I pack my capsule wardrobe, travel toiletries and other necessities into my favourite carry-on backpack. Then I weigh my bag to make sure it weighs less than 7kg (so I can 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 and feel great about it.

And I love how I can save time and save money as a minimalist traveller and focus on the trip and look stylish at the same time!

Minimalist wardrobe for women

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.

Plus, the clothing I selected are the perfect pieces for a travel capsule wardrobe for summer weather.

And 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, my travel wardrobe stays pretty much the same.

How to create a capsule wardrobe for travel

I actually follow this capsule wardrobe packing list every time I pack for a trip. I save a lot of time and quite honestly, a lot of headaches. And it also prevents me from overpacking.

For my travel wardrobe, I roll each item into two small packing cubes and put my shoes in a shoe bag. Here is my minimalist wardrobe list:

With the clothing list above, I can have at least 16 different outfits 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 this minimalist clothing list as your packing template and create your own capsule wardrobe for travel.

Here is a quick visual of what the travel capsule wardrobe for women looks like:

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

Related Post – My minimalist travel packing list: my 10 must-have items

How to create your own minimalist travel capsule wardrobe

It took me a while to figure out what type of clothing and accessories I need for my trip. I have a comprehensive packing list where you can use it as a guideline to build the perfect packing list for your trip.

And here are additional tips that can help you to create your own minimalist capsule wardrobe.

1. Create a mix and match travel wardrobe with clothing in solid colours

The easiest way to create a mix and match travel wardrobe is by selecting clothing in solid colours. Which means don’t pick anything with pattern because it will look like you are always wearing the same thing in your photos (even though you are, but you don’t want to make it obvious)

Moreover, 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.

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

2. Layer your minimalist clothes for style and to stay warm

Build your travel wardrobe by selecting clothing that can be worn in layers. If your mix and match travel clothes can be worn in different combinations, you can potentially have a variety of looks just with a few key 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 essential pieces.

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. And somewhere down the road, the pristine white t-shirt and bra were strained with the dark colour dyes from other pieces in my travel capsule wardrobe (I bet it was from my jeans!)

Even though it is nice to have light colour pieces as part of your capsule travel wardrobe, but in reality, it is not practical for a minimalist travel wardrobe. You’d have to separate your laundry or handwash your white top.

So if it is possible, don’t bring anything in white.

Related Post – Mindful Gifts for a Minimalist Traveller

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 your laundry.

7. Love every piece of your travel capsule wardrobe

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 your Instagram!

8. The pieces in 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.

Do you want to create your own minimal 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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