By: Devin VonderHaar
Before taking a trip, being the type A planner I am, I do a good bit of research for each trip. I look through the temperatures each day, what we plan to do each day with a rough itinerary which will later inform my packing decisions. I read through blogs on the places were going to, instagram + yelp for dining choices, beautiful locations to get photos of, and ideas for activities. I also create a google map for each trip, so that I can visually map out the plans + see how long travel will take between destinations.
I am a big proponent for booking airbnbs over hotels, it feels more like home and theres so much more value in an airbnb. Research the area you’ll be staying in- what is nearby, is there a grocery in walking distance, activities, mass transit options available, will you need a rental car etc. I keep this itinerary with all the plans for each day in a note on my phone for easy access. The more informed you can be, the better your packing will be. And ultimately, the more relaxing the trip will be.
Take the number of days of the trip, and divide it in half for the number of outfits you’ll need. No extra outfits! You’ll always wear less than you think you will, and it just wastes space. In college I once took a trip to Tucson for two weeks, with only a single backpack. My group was shocked but you’d be surprised how much you can fit in a small bag when you pack minimally.
Because I always choose airbnbs, I have access to laundry services, which means you will need less clothing and no laundry when you get home! It’s a game changer that will save you time and energy later.
Now that you have a rough sketch of the itinerary for the trip, lay all of your items out in one place to figure out outfit choices. I typically do the packing process on my bed.
Be you regardless of where you’re going.
Growing up, I used to stress alot about packing because I was trying to be a different version of myself on each trip I went on. When you are trying to impress someone else, or express who you are only through the clothes you wear its harder to pack. Now, I wear essentially the same things every trip I go on because I live everyday with a 33 piece capsule wardrobe. When you have less, you can spend more time on the experiences and humans in your life that matter.
First choose your staple items. Please note that I’m basing everything off a typical 5-7 day trip for this article. Depending on the season + local weather, I will pretty much always bring a pair of jeans, and 1-2 casual leggings or shorts. I bring one nice outfit for a nice dinner out, but generally I’m a hygge kinda lady. Wear the exact same outfit on travel days. Don’t waste an extra outfit just for the plane. And I always bring a sweater or hoodie for travel days, because I’m always cold on the flight. Comfort is queen!
Choose outfits in a coordinated color palette. As a minimalist, I love warm tones so on any given trip I will have a white, cream, rust + blush tones in my tops palette. For bottoms I typically choose neutrals in denim, tan + hunter green. I like placing each outfit together so I can visually see how everything looks together. Again, when you have multifunctional pieces, any two tops + bottoms can easily go together, so this simplifies the process as well.
You can even take photos of outfits laid out to keep on your phone, so you know exactly what you’ll wear each day.
For shoes I always bring one casual sneaker, easy to slip on and off for travel days + one nicer pair -boots in the colder months or sandals in the warmer months. Again, comfort is queen. Bring shoes that fit, are durable and can go anywhere your travels take you. Slip on leather sorels are my go tos. I like to pack small items like undergarments inside of my shoes and fit them inside of each other to maximize space.
When it comes to physically packing the items, I like to pack a full outfit together, folded konmari style. Because I have multiple tops that will pair with the same bottoms, I keep them all together. It maximizes space + saves you time. Plus you can see everything you’ve packed at a glance.
When it comes to accessories, keep it minimal. I wear two necklaces and a few rings daily and I rarely wear earrings, so theres no need to pack jewelry. If you do want to bring jewelry, I recommend wearing whatever you will bring on your travel day, perhaps packing a pair of earrings for your nicer outfit. Remember you’re on vacation, no one knows you so you can rewear outfits, including accessories! When you truly love the items you own, you won’t need to pack a bunch of things.
Something I always recommend to clients is to keep a toiletries bag packed in your bathroom or linen closet, so that cuts down time and you’re ready at a moment’s notice. My toiletry bag contains a quip toothbrush, mini toothpaste, face wash, moisturizer, sunscreen, contact solution + contact case, glasses case, dry shampoo, q tips, medications + supplements. Inquire with your airbnb or hotel on what toiletries are provided, another easy way to cut down what you bring with you. I keep a hair thing on my wrist at all times, and keep it pretty natural with my hair, so no need for extra products there. If I’m wearing makeup, which is a rarity, I’ll bring a concealer that doubles as light foundation, mascara, and a tinted moisturizing balm.
Elect to bring your iPhone over a full camera setup, leave bulky electronics + tech devices at home. I keep an extra apple watch + phone charger rolled up + ready in my desk for ease of packing. I also love bringing an iPhone mini tripod for photos. Download audiobooks to your phone for the plane ride and a journal to collect your thoughts each day. Always bring earplugs + an eye mask - you never know what the sleeping situation could be like, and solid sleep is so important for a successful trip.
Bring a reusable hydroflask or similar container for water and/or coffee or tea. Its an easy way to be more sustainable + always be hydrated. And always bring a good amount of snacks with you, no matter how long the trip is. Airport food tends to not be the healthiest, and its extremely overpriced.
Another reason to love airbnbs is access to a kitchen! Keeping travel affordable + healthier in my experience is always helped by going to the grocery + cooking most meals at the airbnb. Plan a few nice meals out, which will allow these meals to feel like nicer experiences. Do your research to ensure you’re spending wisely. And make sure you read reviews before you book! I once booked an airbnb in NYC a block from time square. Needless to say, we didn’t get any sleep that night and ended up wasting alot of money switching to a hotel the next day.
When you need a rental car, I love using turo, its like airbnb for rental cars. They tend to be much more cost effective than airport rentals, and more options available.
And when you get home, unpack as soon as you arrive! Its a ritual I’ve always maintained, and because everything is clean and folded already, I can put my clothes directly into the drawers, and unpack in 20 minutes.
I hope that you find these tips helpful and use them to create a more meaningful + minimal experience on your next travel destination! Bon voyage!
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