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minimalism travel

What’s in my bag? – Minimalist packing tips

I leave for Berlin in just a few days. While I’m excited to start this next chapter in my life, I’m still sad to leave Scotland. Fortunately, I’ll be back in December so I just need to get over it!

When I moved to Scotland 6 months ago, I had two bags packed full of my belongings from the States. I sold everything else I owned and became a minimalist out of necessity. Now I can’t imagine living any other way.

This is my packing list for my 6-month adventure across Europe.

Clothing.

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  • Xero shoes – barefoot sandals
  • Tote bags – 2
  • Soap nuts – I use these instead of detergent. They are completely natural, chemical-free, sustainable, and easy to use.
  • Bras – 3
  • Underwear – 7
  • Socks – 3 pairs
  • Short sleeve shirts – 4
  • Tank tops – 2
  • Long sleeve shirt – 1
  • Trousers – 2
  • Shorts – 1
  • Hat and scarf

The outfit I wore while taking this photo isn’t pictured (obviously). I’ll also wear my boots and jacket liner at the airport.

This is my entire wardrobe, save for a few jumpers, two pairs of trousers, and a pair of trainers. I’m leaving these with my boyfriend. These items will still be useful to me once I return to Scotland in December, so I didn’t want to get rid of them just yet. If I had to, I could bring them to Berlin as I have plenty of space left in my bag, but I don’t expect I’ll need warm jumpers this summer.

Pro tips:

  • No matter how long you are travelling for, don’t pack loads of clothes. You can always do laundry at your destination, whether it’s at a laundromat, your host’s flat, or in the hotel room sink.
  • Don’t bring extra fancy clothes ‘just in case.’ If you do decide to visit a fancy place on your trip, purchase an outfit at your destination.
  • If you are unsure whether you should bring an item with you or not, just ask yourself these questions:
    1. How often will I wear it?
    2. Is it worth taking up space in my bag and worth the extra weight?
    3. Could I purchase something similar at my destination if I really need it?

Personal Hygiene.

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  • Waterproof container for a bar of soap
  • Compact mirror
  • Nail clippers and tweezers
  • Hair ties, comb, and brush
  • Tooth powder and toothbrush
  • Allergy medicine
  • Moon cup
  • Body brush
  • Sunscreen – 2 bottles
  • Ibuprofen
  • Earplugs
  • Epilator
  • Towel
  • Homemade lip balm – a 50/50 mixture of cacao butter and coconut oil

I’m a minimalist in the beauty routine department. I just don’t care to use stuff that isn’t necessary. I don’t wash my hair with shampoo, can’t stand to wear makeup, and never wash my face.

Pro tip:

  • Don’t stock up on toiletries right before your trip. Bring just enough to hold you over for the first night. You can pop into a local shop and buy more.

Important stuff.

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  • Laptop and charger
  • Camera, charger, and cables
  • Battery – for charging my phone while I’m out and about.
  • Empty water bottle
  • Wallet – mainly used to store my passport.
  • Phone charger and headphones
  • My favourite book
  • Sunglasses
  • Pen and marker
  • Lock with keys – to secure my belongings in hostels.

Other important things not pictured:

  • My phone, since I used it to take this photo.
  • A copy of my passport – just in case my passport gets stolen.
  • My wallet containing my photo ID, credit card, debit card – I also take photos of these just in case they get stolen. That way I can contact my bank quickly.
  • Print outs of boarding passes, flight information, and rail tickets.

Pro tips:

  • You don’t need to bring foreign currency with you as there are plenty of ATMs available and most places take debit cards. Check with your bank about international transaction fees.
  • Depending on which part of the world you are visiting, you will need an outlet adapter. These are necessary for charging your phone or laptop. (I need to purchase one on arrival. I have a 3-prong one for the UK but need a different one for Europe.)
  • Pack for the best-case scenario. Don’t worry about ‘what if?’ situations. If you end up needing something like an umbrella during your trip, pop into a local store and purchase one.

I’m all packed.

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Everything fits with room to spare! I always do a ‘practice run’ of packing my bag several days before my trip, just to make sure everything fits in an organized fashion. I also pack things I don’t need immediately at the bottom of my bag. My travel documents and phone charger will be packed last so that I can easily retrieve them.

I packed my smaller backpack within this larger black bag. I’ll keep this bag with me as I’m out exploring the city. It’s essentially my purse. It carries my water bottle, wallet, phone, and anything else I need.

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It looks like I’m almost ready to go!

Do you have any packing tips to share?

By Lisa

In Oct. 2014, I quit my job and started downsizing my life by selling and rehoming all my belongings. Even though I’ve moved around all my life, I officially left the States in Dec. 2015 and have been travelling abroad ever since. I hope to inspire you to simplify your life so you live with intention. I’m an avid writer, videography enthusiast, and a major foodie with a passion for sustainable living.

8 replies on “What’s in my bag? – Minimalist packing tips”

hello! I am curious about epilators; I have never used one and don’t know much about them. I would like to try one but I am scared that it will be painful. Does it hurt? Do you think it is better than shaving? (last longer? take less time?) And do you think it is easier for traveling than shaving is?

I always have a thin pashmina with me; handy for keeping warm on chilly evenings, and very useful to cover my shoulders or head when I’m visiting temples and mosques.

Being far taller than the average person wherever I’m living, I can’t rely on being able to buy clothes, so I pack three magic skirts, which give me the option of eleventy bajillion outfits!

I don’t bother with paper books – I have my iPad, upon which is my entire library! 🙂

The pashmina is an excellent idea! I’ve never heard of magic skirts but just Googled it. That is definitely something I’d be interested in finding for myself. I just hope I can figure out how to wrap it every which way…haha! iPads or Kindles are the way to go, for sure! I love real books but they are too heavy. Minimalist problems! 🙂

Soap nuts are amazing, I’ve been using them for about 3 years now.

You will love Berlin, so much vegan food here and it’s not too expensive! As a tip, a lot of galleries and exhibits are free to visit on Mondays, if you like art and are on a budget 🙂

Yeah soap nuts are great. I like the way they smell too, way better than artificial detergent! and thank you for that tip about the art galleries! I will definitely take advantage of that. 🙂 I’m always down for free stuff to do.

Compression bags can save loads of space on clothing and soft goods. I like the ones you don’t need a vacuum for, just seal the clothes in the bag and roll and squeeze the air out!

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