10 Essential Packing Tips & Hacks for Minimalist Travel

Exploring Alternatives Travel Packing Tips Hacks

We’ve been travelling for almost 5 years now and while it hasn’t always been easy we’ve definitely learned a lot along the way. To help you avoid some of the mistakes we made, like packing way too much stuff or having a passport stolen or damaged, we’re sharing our 10 best travel packing tips and hacks that will help you travel light, save money, and have an easier and more comfortable trip

VIDEO: 10 Essential Packing Tips and Hacks for Minimalist Travel


1. Clothing

It’s easy to get carried away with packing too many clothes for a trip. If you try to pack for every situation and occasion, your suitcase (or backpack) is going to weigh a ton and make your travel days frustrating and exhausting.

To minimize the amount of clothing we bring with us, we try to choose pieces that are all in the same colour scheme and style so they can be layered to create different outfits for different situations and climates.  We try not to pack any piece of clothing that doesn’t match with the rest of the wardrobe because we know it won’t get worn nearly as often.

In our experience, packing fewer clothes is always better and if we find that we’re missing something, like a warmer sweater, we can always pick it up along the way.

2. Water

After buying and throwing out countless plastic water bottles on our travels, we finally said enough is enough.  Plastic water bottles are a waste of money and plastic.  So we decided to get a portable and USB rechargeable UV water purifier (SteriPEN sent us one to try a couple of years ago) and now we bring reusable stainless steel water bottles with us and we can purify tap water wherever we go.

3. Books and Guides

Books and guides are easily the heaviest things we carry on trips. I used to travel with a large journal, guidebook, and multiple novels (I had 11 books in my backpack on my very first trip to Scotland!).

To downsize the book weight, we now try to bring smaller travel journals, we don’t bring guidebooks (we use our iPod and free maps from airports and train stations to get around), and we’re starting to try eBooks (free from our library) and audio books from Audible (our video sponsor!).  They’re offering a free 30-day trial to our followers if you want to try one of their audio books: http://www.audible.com/exploringalternatives

4. Staying Clean

When travelling, there are many times (for us at least) when we don’t shower as often as we’d like, maybe due to a 48 hour travel leg, a nasty hostel shower that we don’t want to use, or because we’re too busy/lazy (it happens more often than you want to know).

To stay fresh between showers, we use dry shampoo (the one in our video is from One Love Organics) and wet wipes (paraben-free). We also always travel with Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap because we can use it for everything: showering, dishes, and laundry.

5. Souvenirs

We stopped buying souvenirs for our friends and family because we didn’t like spending money on junk, carrying that junk around, and then giving it to friends and family who didn’t want or need more junk.  Instead, we try to send postcards to show people we’re thinking of them. It’s cheaper, less wasteful, and we feel that it’s more meaningful.

6. Passports

We’ve had a passport stolen in Rome, and another damaged by water just a couple of weeks ago. Replacing passports is annoying, inconvenient, and it can also be expensive.  Especially if we’re outside our own country.  After two losses, we’re not messing around with our passports anymore.

Now we’re going to carry them in a ziplock bag, tucked inside a passport pouch, and hidden in the sneakiest place we can think of.  Suggestions welcome ;)

7. Food and Snacks

Food and snacks at airports and in touristy areas are usually overpriced and not necessarily healthy. We try to pack our own food and snacks as much as possible (sandwiches, granola bars, hummus and crackers, oatmeal, roasted nuts, powdered greens, etc.) to save money and eat well.  But it’s important to check the rules about what you can bring and where.  We’ve had to surrender hummus, yogurt, nuts, baby carrots, and an apple at the airport (all on different occasions) because we forgot to check the rules, or because we wanted the food badly enough to attempt bringing it with us.

8. Electronics

When we’re not travelling for work, we try to bring just our iPod touch with us, and we use an earphone splitter so that we can both listen to music/videos at the same time (which inevitably results in a volume-control war).

We travelled for almost one full year with just the iPod & free wifi, and we did all of our hotel and flight bookings, and even a couple of visa applications on the tiny screen. It’s obviously not ideal but it saved us from lugging around a couple of laptops like we do now.

We also like to bring a universal plug adaptor so that we can charge our electronics wherever we end up.

9. Reusables

Travel has a pretty big environmental footprint and while we haven’t quite gotten to the point where we’re willing to stop just for environmental reasons (I am thinking about it!), we do try to minimize flying and we also travel with reusable containers to limit the amount of garbage waste we’re producing.

We bring stainless steel food containers (by Onyx), water bottles, and coffee mugs, as well as cloth bags and cutlery.  This allows us to pack our own food, save money, and avoid disposables.

10. Staying Healthy

We use natural remedies like oregano oil, garlic pills, activated charcoal, and essential oils to treat things like food poisoning, cold and flu, diarrhea, headaches, etc. We also bring strong anti-nausea pills because I get severely motion sick in cars, planes, buses — even a hammock once!

I hope our travel packing tips will help you enjoy your next big adventure to the fullest.  Have fun and happy exploring :)


13 thoughts on “10 Essential Packing Tips & Hacks for Minimalist Travel

  1. Marie-Claude

    Great list Danielle!

    I was intrigued by your UV water purifier. Do you have a link to share with more information regarding its use? An independent source would be nice!

    Thank you in advance,


    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi MC,

      Thank you for reading this post! I’ve shared a link to the SteriPEN website, and an independent review (including lab test results) done by another blogger. I hope it helps!

      We haven’t had lab tests done, but we’ve used the SteriPEN to purify spring water, water from a waterfall, and tap water during a water boiling advisory; and we’ve never gotten sick.


      Happy exploring :)


  2. Quentin

    Been following you around for about a year now.
    All your feedbacks have helped me a lot to prepare for my 1 year roadtrip in NZ (starting at the end of the month).

    Thanks a lot and keep your awesome work !

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Thank you Quentin! So glad we’ve helped in some small way. Have a great time in NZ!!

  3. Nicole

    This may sound like a basic question, and not really related to this post…. but what do you do with your mail when you’re constantly traveling? Do you have it going to a family member? I am a travel physiotherapist and am moving to different places every 3 months, and forwarding my mail all the time has proven to be quite a headache. Any suggestions?

    1. Danielle Chabassol Post author

      Hi Nicole,

      Great question! Mail is definitely a tricky part of being nomadic. To start, we switched to getting as many bills, appointment reminders, bank statements, and newsletters online instead of by mail. The rest of our mail is sent to someone we trust and they open our mail to let us know if anything important has come through. They can scan or take photos of whatever documents are important. There are also professional mail opening services you can use and they’ll scan your mail and send it to you electronically. We haven’t tried that ourselves but we’ve seen other travellers mention it. I hope that helps!

      Take care and happy exploring :)


    1. Esther

      Try to avoid anything with artificial fragrances. They are all carcinogens. Essential oils are the way to go.

  4. Baz Nicholson

    I found your vlogs on utube just be Christmas this year! Have to say I’m more of a tech guy but travel a lot from the uk to America And find your tips interesting and helpful. For when packing. Keep up the great work (vlog’s) (blog) and everything because people and take your advise and switch it over in to their day life’s like I’ve have. Great work Danielle

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  6. Sarah

    Hello, Love your videos. I came across your channel in youtube as I was planning a trip to Italy soon. I saw your husband’s long sleeve shirts, the plaid ones. I was wondering where you buy those? Are they comfortable and breathable and still good to wear for Italy during summer?

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