How to pack like a minimalist with only a carry-on bag?
I rode on my first plane when I was 14 years old. I was traveling to Washington, D.C. to see our Capitol with a group of friends and the second that plane took off, I was hooked. My parents did not fly often, but they encouraged us to explore the world as much as we could. I knew nothing about travel and, as I mentioned, I was not traveling with family so my guidance was limited.
Always an adventurer, the idea of traveling did not scare me and I always tended to jump into things with little fear. Planning? That was on the back burner when I was that age. I didn’t think much through and true to an adventurist, I flew by the seat of my pants. Once I got hooked on traveling, I learned pretty quickly that I needed to start planning to make my trips less stressful and more enjoyable.
After I got a taste of traveling, I knew I wanted to incorporate it into my life in every way possible. I have always made it a priority to attend family trips and take vacations but also held career positions where I was provided the opportunity to travel. Realizing quickly the benefits of traveling lighter, I began to love it even more.
AT THE AIRPORT
No matter how long the trip, or where I’m headed, in the true minimalist style you can see me wandering through the airport with my crossbody bag and my carry-on roller suitcase… And that is all folks!
How is that possible? What if you’re gone for an extended period of time, you can’t only pack a carry-on roller suitcase!
Oh, honey, but you can.
It may seem odd or even impossible to some that a businesswoman can travel that light and still look professional, but it is possible. I spent a 3-week span away from home at one point in my career. It was specifically for work but it was a healthy mix of business and personal. Implementing the tips below helped me manage the stress of being away from home for an extended period and helped me focus on necessities and not overpack.
Traveling seems to be a word that encourages many people to cringe when they hear it. Whether it be because it’s exhausting, takes planning, envisioning the idea of cramming all your stuff in a small bag or whatever the reason it stops many people from jumping on a flight.
As with many things, I believe it is about perspective. If you are viewing it as work, it will become work. If you view it as an adventure, you will feel differently.
Depending on what stage of life I have been in I travel quite different. I have traveled single, married, married and breastfeeding infants, alone, traveling with a family of 4, traveling with friends and all these require different preparation. However, the benefits to packing minimally in a carry-on bag outweigh the stress of multiple bags of luggage any day and I have outlined some of my best tips and they can be applied to traveling at any stage.
Imagine the freedom you will feel walking past the carousel looking at all the people waiting for their checked baggage, hoping it is there. Imagine for a minute knowing where all your belongings are at any given moment because they are within arm’s reach. You will never again have to fret about lost luggage.
I want you to love traveling as much as I do, so hopefully, my minimalist traveling tips will help you through your next traveling adventure!
You might like:
Traveling solo – 5 things you will gain from a solo adventure
1. Don’t check your bag at the airport
Only pack a carry-on bag and if necessary a small personal bag/purse. Regardless of where you are going or how long you are staying, commit to this and it will set the stage for easy, minimalist style travel. You will save money on checked baggage fees and time on waiting for your luggage to come around the carousel. And, not to mention the time saved waiting for lost luggage and never having to hear the words “we lost your luggage” again, in addition to eliminating the stress of managing multiple bags. If you are traveling with someone, only allow a carry-on bag per person. (This goes for kids too!) My daughter and son typically share a bag, which we as adults also do if we are traveling for a shorter period.
If you need car seats or anything like that, I highly recommend renting them. We have done this many times and it is safer than allowing your car seat to be tossed around with checked baggage. Plus, the rental fees are minimal and completely worth it.
2. How to pack your small carry-on bag
Packing a small carry-on bag can be tricky, especially with all the TSA regulations, but it is possible! I have laid out a detailed example below.
If you are gone for 7 days, to a warm climate pack the following:
- 2 of your favorite shorts
- 4 of your favorite shirts
- This alone equates to 8 outfit choices!
- 1 pair of pants
- 2 sundresses
- 1 workout outfit
- 1 pair of ‘fancy’ shoes, 1 pair of flip flops
- Swimsuit and coverup
Now, remember, this does NOT include the outfit you will be wearing as you travel. That is a strategy itself that I will expand on in a minute.
Then, when you are ready to pack them, roll your clothes. This is an old hint, but a good and necessary one when you are packing light.
Regarding your toiletries, pack the following in your carry-on bag:
(and remember the rule of 3 oz bottles of liquid)
- Face wash & moisturizer
- Foundation and powder
- Blush & brushes
- Eyebrow pencil
- Hairbrush, comb & ponytail holders
- Toothbrush & toothpaste
This should fill no more than a small plastic bag the size of a Ziploc.
You might like:
Minimalism for beginners – how to get started
3. How to dress for your day of travel
It is very important to remember your outfit for travel should be multiuse. That’s why I always dress in layers. Typically, this eliminates my need to pack some of the things I listed above and instead wear them. Also, planes fluctuate in temperature quite a bit so keep that in mind as you prep your outfit.
- Leggings (typically my favorite Lululemon pair that I will also use for my workouts while I’m gone)
- Tank Top and Sports Bra
- Workout sneakers and socks
- I wear all the jewelry I will need the whole trip and this is always stud earrings, rings, and my simple necklace. All of which do not require me to remove them during my interaction with security.
4. Crossbody bag or purse
As I mentioned before, I always pack a cross body bag and carry that along with my carry-on bag. This consists of all the things I need easy access to that I will need as I’m traveling.
- Driver’s License/Passport or both
- Credit and/or debit card
- Health Insurance card
- Ipad (if I opt to bring my laptop instead, I place that in my carry-on bag)
- Reading material
- Vitamin C tablets or drink mix
- Travel Pillow
- Tylenol (as I tend to get headaches much too often and this is a necessity)
- Water bottle (that I fill after I get through security)
I don’t carry ticket stubs as I have all my flight information loaded on my airlines’ app on my phone.
Traveling light has always been a priority to me as too much stuff causes me anxiety, and inevitably I will forget something somewhere if I have too much stuff. It’s that mom brain doing wonders for me again. The old saying holds true for me “less is more”!
I hope you find these tips helpful and they free your mind of the unnecessary stress of packing! Traveling is an experience you will never regret or forget, don’t let anything hold you back. Especially the dreaded part of packing!
You might like:
10 things I stopped buying since I started being a minimalist
Angel is a creative soul who documents all of her loves in life through writing, design, and photography. She believes perspective is everything and you can overcome anything in life with a little sip of positivity and changing your perspective. Also, she is a firm believer that we were never born to be normal. Life was meant to be unsteady, and we all have the same power of influence, so use it wisely. She is a wife to a man bun hottie, a mama to a spunky 3-year-old girl and an endearing 1-year-old boy.
Post on minimalism and motherhood on her blog – Minimalism and motherhood: Is it even possible?