Living Simply: Minimalism in Traveling

Summer is a big time for traveling. Family reunions, summer camp, beach vacations, however you and yours decide to spend your summer months, odds are you’ll do some of it away from home.

My husband and I have done a bit of traveling ourselves this summer. We recently took a trip to New Jersey to visit my in-laws, and we had a wonderful time (thanks for asking! 😉 ) But even this minimalist discovered that she has some adjusting to do with regard to packing. So here are a few tips I’ve picked up (and some of these I learned the hard way!)


1. Only pack what you actually use on a daily basis.

I know this one sounds silly in its obviousness, but bear with me. I broke this rule when I went digging for some jewelry to take along. I packed a little case with a necklace, a pair of earrings, and a bracelet. Not so bad, right? But guess how often I wore them? About as often as I do when I’m at home, which is to say not at all! The little case didn’t take up much space in our suitcase, but I felt dumb toting it around for no reason. Chances are that you’ll be every bit as inclined to dress (and accessorize) normally when you’re on vaca. If you don’t use it at home, you’ll probably not use it away. either.

2. Don’t stress about duplicates.

If your destination includes a hotel, you probably won’t need a hair dryer, or any basic toiletries. Most hotels offer sundries such as toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, and razors. Think of how much less we would have to bring from your bathroom cabinet at home if we’d take advantage of these freebies! If you’re staying with family, you may find you don’t need to bring towels, hair appliances, or too many extra clothes (assuming your relatives have a washer and dryer). And for that matter…

3. Pack clothes you don’t mind wearing more than once between washes.

Are you the type to wear jeans twice before washing them? Do you have a cardigan you sport for a week before tossing in the hamper? Pack these sorts of items before the ones you feel the need to clean after every single wear. Additional tip: if you don’t know for sure you’ll need close-toed running shoes, stick with sandals. No socks to pack!

4. Relax.

Vacation is about recuperating from the day-to-day. If you find that your regular preening routine stresses you out, leave it at home! Rock a ponytail for a few days and use the time you’d spend with a hair straightener on a cat nap.  Bring only the barest makeup essentials and don’t worry about the heat or surf making your mascara run. Breaking from the high standards to which we hold ourselves can be the best kind of vacation.

5. Don’t over pack things to do.

One thick book (or an e-reader) can get you through an entire trip just as well as a bag full of DVDs. If you’re the type that likes options, fill up your iPod or tablet, and leave everything else at home. Your suitcase will thank you.


What other tips do you have for your fellow travelers this season?


4 thoughts on “Living Simply: Minimalism in Traveling

  1. I’m always falling behind on reading magazines, even though I only take a couple. I like to take them along for trip-reading, then leave them for other travelers. That goes for paperbacks as well — I take the ones I’m ready to read and pass along. Hopefully I’ll graduate to an e-reader one of these days (too frugal so far).

  2. I just recently got back from a trip to Tampa, FL. The one rule I always have to remember, is to leave some room in your suitcase, for those things that you receive/buy while away on vacation. Always works for me 🙂

  3. Your timing is perfect! I’m heading on a road-trip with the kids next week and I’m notorious for over-packing…will do my best to minimize, especially since we’ll be staying with relatives along the way. Thanks!

  4. My favorite site about minimal travel is It’s such a complete site, offers countless tips, and helped me learn to pack for an indefinite period of time in just one small carry-on, and be ready to travel anywhere in the world (3rd world & its particular challenges) included! I used to over-estimate travel needs & often ended up never using all the stuff I packed, but no more!

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