One carry-on. One tote bag. One purse.
That’s all I bring whenever I travel anywhere (even when I’m traveling by car stateside). Packing minimal requires a little thought up front but it’s worth avoiding the headache that comes with dragging along a huge suitcase. Do you tend to pack too much and are not sure how to downgrade? Here are my tips on how to pack minimal, pack smart and STILL have room for souvenirs…
How To Pack Minimal and Still Have Room For Souvenirs!
TIP 1: Luggage to Bring
For my departing journey, I never check a bag. Instead, I take everything with me so that if any flight delays occur, my luggage is right there with me. The only time I check my bag is for the return journey when I usually have liquid items.
This luggage combination has served me well for many trips:
- 1 carry-on suitcase on wheels (TSA regulation size is 22″ high x 9″ deep x 14″ wide)
- 1 large tote with a zipper (preferably one that can slide over the extended handle of your suitcase)
- 1 purse with an across-the-body strap (for better security and comfort)
From here I place my valuables such as passport and money inside the purse and place the purse in the tote. Then I roll, baby!
When it’s time to return, I then use the tote to stow souvenirs that I don’t need to check.
TIP 2: Pack Garments That Can Mix, Match and Layer
I was able to get 8 outfits out of the garments I packed which included:
- Pair of black leggings
- Multicolored poly-rayon tunic
- Long-sleeved, roomy linen shirt (because it blocks the sun yet also breaths)
- 2 white tank tops
- Polyester knee-length dress with pockets (“Amelia Dress” from Lularoe)
- Long, cotton dress (for evening)
- Knee-lenth polyester skirt (“Cassie Skirt” from Lularoe)
- Short cotton skirt with pockets
- 3 pairs of socks
- 7 pair of underwear
- 1 bikini
- Cotton maxi skirt*
- Thin, cotton sweater*
- Knee-length cotton dress*
- Pair of walking shoes*
*The last 4 items I left behind. I’ll explain more on Tip 3!
On the plane, I layered up to keep from having to pack more items:
- Soft, tunic-lenth tee-shirt (“Irma Tunic” from Lularoe)
- Pair of grey leggings
- Soft, thin kimono sweater (“Lindsay Kimono” from Lularoe)
- Sandals (easy to take off for security checks)
TIP 3: Select Wrinkle-Free Fabrics
Polyester and poly mixes were my friend on this trip for these reasons:
- It’s wrinkle-free.
- It’s lighter and can roll up tight.
- It dries fast. (Most of our Airbnb’s had washing machines…but no dryers.)
- Even though the fabric is thin, it will keep you warm.
Can I just say that I am OBSESSED with this “Amelia” dress from Lularoe?
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Lularoe, it’s an independent fashion company (they’re famous for their butter-soft leggings). Lularoe clothing is only sold by independent fashion consultants either at in-home pop-up boutiques or online in private Facebook groups. Made in ethical factories in 7 countries, only a few thousand items are made in one design of fabric before that design is retired forever. No two consultants have the same inventory, so each garment is truly unique. To shop, contact a consultant !
Not only is this dress comfy, it’s classy shape can easily go from day to evening…and IT HAS POCKETS! Big, roomy pockets are a thing of magic, aren’t they?
Confession: I loved wearing this dress around on our first day in Florence so much that I washed the armpits, hung it up to dry and wore it the next day. It is now my “Florence” dress. 🙂
The Amelia dress is also a winning piece to wear at conferences. I wore it to the Haven conference this past August, and the pockets were a perfect place for keeping my phone and blog business cards handy.
TIP 4: Pack A Few Garments/Shoes You Don’t Mind Leaving Behind
My friend Kristy shared this tip with me and it’s my favorite packing tip. Leaving items behind means freeing up your tiny suitcase for souvenirs!
Case in point: When we went to England, I brought along some sneakers that had a little more wear in them but were on their last legs. Then, after I wore them all I needed to, I tossed them in the bin. This gave me room to pack jellies, tea and other British goodies.
On this trip, I did the same with this 7-year-old pair of shoes:
By the time I was ready to toss them in Rome, the fabric around the toes was ripping at the seams. Perfect timing! Farewell, shoes. You’ve served me well.
As for the four garments* I packed, I folded those up and left them behind in Positano. Doing this freed up a lot of space for my olive oils and jars of truffles.
TIP 5: Getting Breakables Home Safe and Sound
While waiting to get off the plane for the Haven conference, I got to watch the workers unload the suitcases. The literally were tossing them from the plane to the truck. You bet I kept this knowledge in mind when I packed my suitcase for my return trip from Italy!
Here’s how to make sure those breakables stay intact:
- Ask the shop/booth if they can bubble wrap your breakable item.
- Create thick shock absorbers by wrapping jars and bottles in your clothes.
- Pack your suitcase snug! This will prevent jostling between the breakables.
Feel free to go crazy on #3, guys. I’m talking poke underwear and socks into crannies, pad the sides of the suitcase with your travel guides, make sure every corner is padded up. So far, this method has delivered delicate china and countless jars of food safely and without a scratch!
Phew! 4 days, 3 posts…that’s a lot of writing for travel-weary Mrs. Smith. But it was all worth it if I could help you in planning your next adventure. In case you missed the other two installments this week, here they are:
Now go explore!!
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P.S. Looking for a consultant in the Abilene are? Click here!