How to Pack Like a Minimalist:
5 Items to Make Your Travels Lighter, Simpler, & More Joyful

Posted by Samiha from

March 2019

If you know me, you know that I always have a bag half-packed and ready to take off at a moment’s notice. The bag, Quechua’s Arpenaz 30L, has been perfect for me for trips of up to 30 days, no checked baggage required. With my minimalist habits, I’m sure this bag will be sufficient for longer trips as well.

But what I really want to tell you about is what’s in my bag. I’m quite giddy as I write this because, after traveling for years, I have finally figured out what my essential items are. I’m a no-nonsense, straightforward gal who prefers to travel light and spend more time exploring than planning. Knowing this about myself has made packing a task that takes minutes, not hours or days.

So, from one minimalist globetrotter to countless aspiring minimalists, I am here to share with you my essential items for making life on the road simpler, lighter, and more joyful.

1. Compression Sacks

Compression sacks are amazing. I can’t imagine ever packing without them. They’re basically large plastic bags with little slits for ventilation that let you vacuum-seal your clothes without the need for an actual vacuum—perfect for the road when space is limited. All you have to do it insert your clothes, zip up the bag, and roll it until all of the air has left the bag. It’s actually quite fun to watch a pile of clothes go from bulky to flat in seconds. My favorite compression sack is from Eagle Creek and I’ve had it for four years now. This giant Ziploc bag has been everywhere with me, keeping my clothes compact, clean, and easy to access for weeks on end. It’s also great for going through airport security with my backpack because I don’t have to rummage through a bunch of random things to take my laptop out. I’ve also tried smaller compression sacks for short trips, but none have been as durable and sturdy as the Eagle Creek bags.

2. Power Bank

Power banks are a no-brainer not only for travel, but for everyday emergencies. I have been using the Mophie Powerstation Plus Mini for a while and I adore it. The Mophie power bank not only recharges my iPhone fast, it’s super sleek and light, unlike other power banks. It has a micro USB cable with a detachable lighting tip built right into it, so I don’t ever have to carry extra cables to charge my devices or those of travel companions. I really love this product for being functional and nice to look at and can’t recommend it enough.

3. Down Jacket

I used to think down jackets were silly and made people look like marshmallows. I used to be stupid. If you asked me if this jacket sparks joy inside me, I would emphatically say yesssss. As someone who gets cold easily, letting down jackets into my life was one of the greatest acts of self-care that I have ever practiced.

Down jackets are awesome because they:
– are super light and fold down to where they barely take up any space.
– can double as a soft pillow for airport naps, long bus rides, the beach, etc.
– provide extra pockets! The interior pockets are perfect for travel documents.
– are perfect for layering when flying or in places where the temperature changes throughout the day.

For all of these reasons, my Uniqlo Ultra Light Down jacket goes almost everywhere with me, even in the summer. Therefore, I am always prepared for any gust of cold wind that may come my way.

I would like to conclude this section by stating, once again, that down jackets are awesome and everyone should own one.

4. Microfibre Towel

Like down jackets, I was definitely late to the microfiber towel party. I used to carry a full-size terrycloth towel around the world with me…or no towel at all. In retrospect, I can’t believe I didn’t think to search for an alternative sooner, because regular towels are not only space-killers when packing, they also take forever to dry.

Since switching to microfiber towels for traveling, I can’t imagine ever carrying a regular towel again. Here are some of the reasons why microfiber towels are amazing:
– usually fold down to be thinner than a book.
– dry very quickly and can be used to dry clothing in a rush.
– are great for beaches/pools/budget hotels without complimentary towels.
– work as a blanket in cold buses or for airports! Pairs well with a down jacket.
– are generally inexpensive. I use this one, but there are many options available out there.

5. Quechua Arpenaz 10L Backpack

Any backpacker worth their salt knows about or owns one of these inexpensive, yet incredibly convenient little bags by Quechua. It is the perfect daypack and I actually carry mine around almost everyday no matter where I am in the world. It’s perfect for my laptop, for an extra set of clothes, and/or just snacks for the beach. Since it’s only 10 litres, the Quechua Arpenaz backpack also folds small, making it easy to carry inside of my travel backpack. Admittedly, these bags were originally designed for children, but that hasn’t deterred true travelers from seeing the benefits of having a compact and durable daypack.

But would you believe me if I told you that I’ve also used just this bag as my travel backpack? It’s true! This cute little daypack has held up just fine for week-long trips that I’ve taken to warm places. I’ll bet that if you add in a compression sack, this backpack can go even longer by itself. Isn’t that impressive?

Optional: Burdie Takeoff Tee

While not a minimalist must-have, the Burdie Takeoff Tee is a must-have for the minimalist writing this. This simple, high quality wash-and-wear tee goes with almost anything, so it’s always useful on the road. But more importantly, it reminds me to keep being curious, to keep moving.

Different people have different needs and ways of traveling, and much of my own knowledge is based on years of experience. I know I haven’t created the ultimate packing guide here, but I can assure you that none of the items I’ve listed above with make your life harder or require you to spend absurd amounts of money. Whether you are jet-setting or road-tripping, what these items will do is make your bags lighter and put your mind at ease.

What do you think of my list? Do you already use items that I’ve mentioned? I’m always looking to update the contents of my backpack to be lighter, more functional. I’d love to know about any awesome travel accessories that you use and love. Please share them in the comments.

Samiha is the co-founder of, a seasoned traveler, and, sometimes, a professional organizer. Follow her adventures @redmotorazr.

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