Minimalist Travelling for the Non-Minimalist

Since I moved to Australia five years ago, I’ve been going back-and-forth between Brisbane and Auckland every couple of months. Subsequently, I’ve become really, really good at packing and determining exactly what I need for a short trip. I wouldn’t necessarily consider myself a “minimalist” – but I’m definitely not a hoarder type either. On the minimalist spectrum, I’d consider myself as someone who is happy to get by without a lot of stuff, but feels more prepared and comfortable when I over-pack. I used to be the type of person who would pack a full suitcase for a seven-day trip, and now I can comfortably fit all of my essentials into a carry-on bag, and still feel prepared for any situation.

I have to say, travelling with only carry-on luggage is very freeing. Not only is it slightly less expensive, but you can just hop off the plane when it lands and head straight for security without wondering if your bag has been lost during your flight (it’s happened to me before and it totally sucks). It also means you have way less fear of someone planting drugs in your suitcase or taking your bag by accident, because your carry-on is with you at all times. The general rule for carry-on is you’re allowed one 7kg bag and also one “small personal item”. Here’s my packing list for a seven-day/short summer vacation:

The Basics

These are self-explanatory: enough underwear and socks to last you every single day of the trip. No matter how minimalist you would like to pack, do not skimp on these; you will regret it.

The Essentials

These are things you will need to survive the trip. I like to take two pairs of jeans (wear the most comfy pair on the plane), one pair of shorts, a casual dress, a fancier dress for nighttime, three t-shirts, and one nicer top. Roll them instead of folding them to save suitcase space. This might not sound like a lot for seven days, but remember: there will be a laundry somewhere and you can clean your clothes. If you’re worried about outfit repeating, just get creative – if you swap out your tees with one pair of jeans, that’s already three outfits. For footwear, I always go with a pair of comfy shoes (something to work out in like Adidas Ultraboosts aka the world’s most comfortable shoe), a pair of booties that you can wear with jeans to dress them up, and a pair of heels for dancing in.

When it comes to toiletries, I always pack my toothbrush, but I usually just steal my boyfriends’ toothpaste and skincare.  If you’re staying in a hotel, the hotel will have these too. If you need some ideas on what make up to bring, check out my top travel beauty must-haves here.

The Extras

These are things that will elevate your trip – you don’t need them, but they might make the trip a little more fun given that you have a bit of free space/weight left in your suitcase.

Polaroid camera + film, a bikini, a book, sunglasses, and one gym outfit if you know for sure you’ll work out during your trip.

Small Personal Item

 I usually exploit this a bit because it’s so ambiguous, and I’ll take a backpack in addition to my 7kg bag. Within this backpack I have all of the items that I’ll need on-hand for the flight: my passport and tickets, my phone plus a charger, my wallet, lip balm, a pair of headphones, and a scarf in case it gets cold on the plane. I always bring a pen, too, so you don’t have to awkwardly borrow someone else’s when filling out departure/arrival cards.

Happy travelling! Caitlin xx


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