Minimize Travel Luggage: 5 things to do WITHOUT

Minimize Travel Luggage: 5 things to do WITHOUT

When I first left to go overseas, I sold or donated all my belongings, departing with a suitcase and skateboard under my arm. Ever since, I can’t help but de-clutter and minimize travel luggage every time I go abroad.

Minimize Travel Luggage

Next stop Canada and this time I’m only taking a carry-on backpack.

You’ve probably heard of minimalist travel packing, right?. Incredible feats of travellers minimizing their whole life’s belongings into a tiny backpack they sling over their shoulder and travel with a carry-on lifestyle. That’s pretty brutal if you’re new to the game. Ever tried packing your entire life into a carry-on bag, it’s exhaustingly tough. Anyway, minimalism isn’t an on and off switch. You don’t have to start with the extreme. I first went overseas with a suitcase. Several trips later I just take a backpack. Simply de-cluttering the non-essentials is a great way to take a step toward minimalist travel.

You know what things you certainly need, but here’s a quick list of 5 things to do WITHOUT to progress towards your minimalist travel lifestyle.

#1 Large Bag Size

Do without a large bag.

If you’re taking a large bag overseas, you’re going to be tempted to fill all that empty space with non-essentials you won’t need. Try to think carry-on size. Or reverse engineer with the goal in mind – imagine a bag you would like to pack for your upcoming trip, then downsize that by half. Find a bag that will truly challenge what you think is conventional packing. If you’re unsure where to begin, go try on some bags at the store, or buy a bag and test pack it at home. Try to fit the essentials in and eliminate any ‘what if’s’ or ‘just-in-case’ items.

I personally travel with a 40L Osprey Farpoint backpack. It’s carry-on size and my stuff weighs in at about 7kg. Mountain Designs (if you’re Aussie) has some great 40L bags and Kathmandu’s Wayfarer is a handy pack too and is carry-on-able.

Minimize Travel Luggage

My partner’s 55L Kathmandu pack that I took for an adventure in Myoko.

#2 Cotton Clothing

Do without Cotton and Denims

Cotton clothes get stinky after a days use and are slow to dry. Denims are even worse cause they weigh a freaking tonne. 1 pair of jeans will suffice. Travelling simple doesn’t mean you have to be unfashionable, but we’re not gonna be making a statement. Aim for simple designs with good materials.

I think the ideal material for travel is merino-wool and/or blends. Merino is naturally odour resistant. It has a huge capacity to absorb and wick away moisture until washed. It stays warm in the cold and breaths in the heat. They are expensive, but can one or two tops can go a really long way. I have a friend who has one that’s pushing 10 years, it’s pretty wrecked but she swears by it. Polyesters or Nylons aren’t bad either but I find they need to be washed more frequently.

Minimize Travel Luggage

Merino Nylon blend hoodie from Mountain Designs

#3 Electronics

Do without the peripherals

Depending on your hobbies and length of trip you can easily do with fewer electronics. Digital SLI Camera? Your iPhone can almost live up to the job. Instagram will still look pretty enough. Even a huge pair of headphones can be simplified to some nice in-ear earphones.

Electric Toothbrush? Maybe you’re only away for a few weeks and a manual one will do. Personally, I love Eco-Toothbrush and it’s my go to. Speakers, Shavers, Mouse/Keyboard, Ethernet Adapters, Spare Cables, What else could you do without?

#4 Shoes

Versatility trumps variety

For 6 months on exchange, I recall taking 5 different pairs of shoes? Leather shoes just in case of that one formal event, UGG boot slippers, three different kinds of shoes for different outfits. In the end, I wore the same shoe 90% of the time. The others were a waste of space.

Depending on where you’re going, I’d regress to a pair of thongs/sandals, and a pair of casual sneakers. A versatile set of sneakers that are good enough for smart casual use, walking a tonne or exercising will go that extra mile.

Try Sketchers, a pair of Converse, Onitsuka Tigers, Vans, or Lacoste sneakers.

#5 Household Goods

Do without that Umbrella, Sleeping Bag, Moka Pot and Pillow.

Keep the homely things to home. There’s a reason why you’re travelling and it’s likely to do with new experiences, letting go and exploring new ways of living. Ask yourself if it’s a ‘just in case’ item, and if it is – do without it. I’ll admit it’s dumb – but one trip I took an AeroPress and a Moka Pot… turns out I can only make one coffee at a time.

Minimize Travel Luggage

Sorry AeroPress… You had a good run but you’ve been donated to safe hands now.


It takes time to plan and declutter your baggage. But the feeling of weightlessness is more valuable. Every time I’ve shifted countries I’ve constantly found ways to minimize my belongings and do without the ‘just in case’ items I rarely used.

And I encourage you to do the same. Minimalist packing doesn’t have to be a yes or no thing, but a spectrum, and a way to reflect on what items truly add value to our lives, and what things are worth letting go of.

If you know someone who could take the time to declutter their travel life, why not share this with them and give them some tips?


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