Minimalism | Tips For Packing Extra Light

There was a time when I was notorious for packing at least half of my closet into a suitcase. If I remember correctly, I once packed five pairs of shoes for a two-week trip. Five pairs of shoes. There was just something attached to trip preparation, some sort of anxiety, that prompted my desire to pack as much as I could in case there would be a reason I wanted or needed it. I wanted options. Soon enough, I came to the realization that many of the items I packed went unused the entire trip. I packed them for nothing and I unpacked them for nothing. Those items took up space in my suitcase that could have been used for something else. Needless to say, I've luckily fled from that mindset and I have come up with a few tips for packing lighter to share with you. Whether you're packing for a European getaway, or skipping town for a weekend on the coast, mastering the art of packing light can and will relieve some of the stress in preparing for your next trip. Here's the ultimate guide for a more minimalist packing mentality.

Plan ahead
Begin by writing a list of everything you anticipate needing. Look at a calendar and go day by day, writing down what you intend to wear. Do this a few days in advance so you have leeway to wash any clothes ahead of time you may need to bring. Proper preparation is so important and I can guarantee you it will make all the difference in starting your experience on the right foot.

Lay everything out
Before packing anything into your suitcase, lay everything out on your bed so that you can see just what you have chosen. Organize items into clothing categories, creating piles of shirts, pants, and so on. Once you've finished, try to take away at least half of everything. Sort through the piles, keeping half and putting half back. Combat that nagging desire to bring that extra pair of jeans. As you determine what makes the cut, keep in mind the items' thickness, weight, and tendency to wrinkle. Try leaning more towards wrinkle-free, light, and less space demanding clothes. Shoes can be a little tricky so pick all-occasion pairs and limit yourself to 2, but 3 at the very most. My go-to's are typically athletic sneakers for exploring and a simple pair of slip-on sandals or boots (of course this will completely depend on the temperature season).

Choose a color palette
Pick a color palette for your trip and stick with it. This makes mixing and matching outfits so much more easier and effortless, and can extend the use and versatility of your garments significantly. A general rule of thumb for packing light is to select neutral shades. If basics aren't really your style, you can bring an eye-catching color and work around it. This will also allow you to bring fewer accessories which can help to save a lot of space.

Roll it up
Once you know what you are going to bring, it's time to pack it all away. A trick I've learned for maximizing space in your suitcase is to tightly roll clothing, rather than folding it. You'll be surprised with how much room you'll save. Rolling can also assist to prevent wrinkles if done carefully. Place heavier items on the bottom of suitcase or bag, and place lighter items on top. If you are bringing a heavy jacket, or any bulky items that could take up unnecessary space, consider wearing them on the plane.

Do Laundry
I know this one may not sound fun, but many avid travelers swear by it. If your trip is longer than one week, still just pack for a few days and wash your clothes for further use. Finding a Laundromat is so much more simple than lugging around a heavy suitcase that is bursting at the seams. Doing laundry before you get home will also mean you have less to tackle after you've unpacked.

As far as makeup goes, bring only what you need. Don't bring five eye shadow palettes for color options and don't bother bringing two tubes of mascara.  One small makeup bag should suffice. Instead of bringing a hair curler and hair straightener, choose one or the other, or don't bring either. Embrace that natural hair. For personal entertainment, keep it simple. You're going on a trip so let that be entertainment enough. I like to bring a book for the ride there and back, and a journal sometimes to document my trip.

Packing minimal will not only mean you have less to pack and unpack, but you will also have less to lug around and possibly lose. It will simplify your trip in certain aspects so much. There really is something to be said about bringing only what you truly need.

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