Today’s blog post on minimalist backpacking is by our wonderful apprentice Sara Berberi. Congratulations to Sara on the completion of her apprenticeship.
When I was younger, I was one of those people that would have no idea what to pack, and I would say to myself, “What if I end up needing this?” I liked to have a lot of options. This kind of thinking led me to pack heavy in multiple large check-in bags. But, according to research, having more options can be a problem for your decision-making and happiness! Now, I’m a lot more selective in what I buy and what I pack for any of my travels and I’ll be sharing my tips below. So, here’s a guide on minimalist backpacking for any sort of vacation, from a weekend trip to years of travel.
Benefits of Minimalist Backpacking
First, minimalist packing is not about compromising on what you want. It’s about making smarter choices for an efficient trip. There are so many benefits to minimalist backpacking so let’s start with the airport experience. Your backpack works as a carry-on so if you travel hand luggage only you won’t be checking in a bag or worry about baggage fees, you won’t wait for baggage claim or deal with baggage loss. Already you’ve saved a lot of time, money and had a stress-free airport experience. Another amazing benefit to minimalist backpacking is that it’s so simple. Because you packed light, you’ll have an easier time finding things and every clothing item should match with one another which won’t leave you with unused stuff.
Minimalist Backpacking Tips
For minimalist backpacking, keep in mind these things: where you’re going, the climate, what you’ll be doing, and how long you’re staying. Select items that are versatile and go together with multiple things, such as denim jeans or a white tee. Generally, black, grey, navy blue, nude and white colors pair well with any clothing. For colder weather, pack layers to stay warm. When selecting your clothes, try to pack lightweight, quick-drying, wrinkle-resistant,and comfortable fabrics. When packing, rolling your clothes is more effective than folding because you can tuck them in any available space in your bag. If you’re having difficulty packing your belongings, ask yourself this: “What would be the worst situation if I didn’t have this item with me?”
If you’re traveling with your tech gear, bring your phone, laptop, chargers, external hard drive, and your camera – DSLR and lens/mirrorless/ GoPro. Also make room for your essential documents like passport, visa, insurance, and wallet, and don’t forget your personal essentials like medicine, contact lenses, or any other necessities.
When packing, check the weather and pack accordingly. Depending on the weather of your destination, wear your heaviest items on the day of travel; this can be your denim or leather jacket, boots, hiking shoes, coat, or your heaviest personal item/bag. Keep in mind that if you’re flying, your backpack should meet the carry-on travel requirement: 9” x 14” by 22” (22 cm x 35 cm x 56 cm).
Backpack – If you don’t have a travel backpack yet consider these below:
- Tortuga Outbreaker Backpack – the ultimate travel backpack, perfect for organization and a lot of padding/support.
- Nomatic Travel Pack – An alternative to the Tortuga. Water Resistant 40L Travel Duffel/Backpack, Built in Laptop and Tablet Sleeve, Lots of small details and organization
- Brevite Backpack – One of the best backpacks for people who travel with tech gear but still roomy enough for clothes. Durable and weather-resistant.
- KAKA Travel Backpack A cheaper alternative to the backpack above. Offers durability, versatility, a lot of room and organization.
- For extra organization, buy packing cubes.
- Do you love to travel? Are you tired of fumbling inside your luggage and unpacking everything to look for an item the same old way? Concerned you will leave expensive items in the hotel? Use packing cubes to sort, organize and find your things in a flash. Say goodbye to all your travel woes!
- These cubes are 26% thicker. We‘ve tested the other packing cubes on the market for thickness and durability. Compared to their 230D nylon or different polyester fabrics, we construct our packing cubes with 290D nylon fabrics - much thicker and more resistant, allowing you to use them every day.
- Waterproof fabric – another benefit of our packing cubes: they will prevent your items from getting wet. These packing cubes keep your stuff dry even if your suitcase or backpack gets wet.
Clothes – get a week’s worth of clothing and try not to bring clothing that only works for one type of occasion
- Merino wool shirts (expensive but invest in them if you’re a hiker, you’ll be in extreme weather, or not able to wash your clothes at any time)
- For Women
- For Men
- Five shirts
- Two pairs of shorts and two pairs of trousers (casual and good fabric)
- Two jackets
- One scarf (can also work as a wrap, blanket or pillow)
- Six pairs of socks
- Ten pairs of undergarments (tops and bottoms)
- One sweatshirt
- One swimsuit
- One pair of trainers
Minimalist Backpacking – Toiletries
- Toiletries – Pack only the essentials. You don’t need to bring the full-size bottle, but you can pour them in small containers. If you’re packing makeup, choose a natural look and your-must haves and pack them in a small bag. Don’t bring any hair tools. If you’re staying in a hotel, they provide you with a hairdryer, so just pack a hair brush and give yourself a blowout, go natural, or put it up.
I hope this list will save you time when you’re packing, but also will save space in your luggage. Most items listed above are unisex, unless specified for women or men. There is no perfect packing list because it all depends on where you’re going, the weather, how long you’re staying, and what you plan to do. Keep these four things in mind when you’re packing. Minimalist backpacking will seem difficult the first time but after your trip, you’ll realize how effective it was and even have items that you did not wear/use. Minimalist backpacking only gets easier the more you do it and worst-case scenario is you’ll just have to buy something at your destination.
Further Reading on Backpacking
- Top Solo Travel Destinations
- My Ultimate Round the World Packing List
- Wire Organiser for your Travels
- My Blogging Equipment
- Extreme Light Packing for Iceland
Don’t Forget Your Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is so important as it will help you with emergencies and unexpected costs on your trip. Make sure that you declare any pre-existing health conditions so that you are covered for those. Check your cover for accidents and medical care and also lost baggage or getting things stolen. Remember to report as soon as something goes wrong on your trip because some travel insurance companies require you to report something that you want to claim for within 24 hours. Read the fine print carefully when you sign up. I always recommend World Nomads. You can get a free quote here: