The Minimalist’s Guide to Packing - Tips and Tricks for Global Spring Travel

digital nomad packing guide minimalism

It’s springtime, and for many, that means time for a trip!

Be it business, pleasure, a mix of both, maybe spring break, family vacay, bachelorette party, or backpacking through Europe, regardless of your trip’s purpose, they all require the same task...


*Dun dun duuuuun*!!!

No one enjoys being “that travel buddy” who shows up with three bags for a three day trip full of unnecessary stuff that the entire group ends up hauling around.

And I get it, it’s sometimes tough to make a decision about what to bring. I mean, a girl has to have options, right? Sure, but that doesn’t mean we have to bring everything but the kitchen sink.

When I (finally) experienced traveling light myself, I fully understood how it makes my experience smoother, allows me to explore more given I am more mobile, and saves me money with the ever increasing airline baggage fees.

After all, the purpose of the trip is to see something new, make memories, and connect.

So stop worrying.

Packing doesn’t have to be all that bad. Use this list to relieve some of the pressure, reduce the pain, and get to the best parts about trips, the FUN and ADVENTURE!

TIP: To get started, turn on some tunes!

Not only will it boost your mood, but it will also remind you to pack your portable speaker (and corresponding charger!). I love my purple BoomBot by Boombotix. Mine has been with me since 2012, so long that they don't even make this build anymore! These things are great though. They are bluetooth and auxiliary cord compatible, put out great sound, affordable, shock proof, water resistant, compact and rechargeable. What more could a music loving minimalist ask for??

TIP: Make a list.

I personally have a list started sometimes months in advance from my trip, but that’s just how my brain works.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still not packing until the night before, but it helps me to have an ongoing list on my phone, then anytime something pops into my head I think I might need, I can add it to my list and reassess later to see if I really need it.

It helps to organize your list into:

  1. Must have
  2. Would like to bring
  3. Maybe, if there’s room.

These three categories above will help you make some decisions when your suitcase begins to fill up quicker than expected.

Keep in mind though, these categories will fill up differently for everyone and for different types of travel.

For example, if I’m going backpacking through southeast Asia, I want lightweight, breathable clothes that keep me covered.

But, if I’m taking a weekend business trip to Chicago, it’s possible I’ll be packing a different type of wardrobe but I definitely won’t forget my travel steamer.

My favorites for any trip are Tysa and Flynnskye. These ladies design the most comfortable and chic items, and they barely take up ANY space in my suitcase. And for me, their clothing works for beaches, backpacking and business. #winning

(Pro tip: Follow your favorite companies and designers on social media to catch their sales and pop-up trunk shows!)

For me, regardless of the type of trip though, I still have some “must haves” that come with me on every escape:

  • My camera. I’m a photographer, so my camera and lenses go everywhere. This tends to take up a decent amount of space (and weight!), but it just means I have to really cut down the rest of my list. At the end of the day, I’d rather have less clothes if it means another lens will fit.

  • One small journal. While some people stick to one brand or style, I usually go with what I can find on sale that is still travel friendly. My best find lately has been the 3-pack Piccadilly notebooks I find at Barnes and Noble, usually on sale for less than $6! That’s under $2 per notebook! Wahoo! I then write the addresses of friends and family on the last page for easy access when mailing postcards and letters. If you’re not a pen and paper type, there’s actually an app that you may prefer instead. Check it out here.

  • A hat. My batman baseball cap has been with me for 9 years, and I love it. Keep that face protected from the sun, and when you’re headed home at the end of your trip and don’t feel like washing your hair, a hat does wonders.

  • My chargers and cords. This is a no-brainer these days, however, these are often times the most commonly forgotten items.

  • Back up batteries (yes, actual batteries) and power banks. There are varying shapes and sizes of power banks, and cheaper isn’t always best. The two most important qualities are: 1) is it sleek, not too bulky so it’s easy to pack and travel with and 2) does it actually hold a significant amount of charge to give my devices some juice. Here’s a great, up-to-date comparison of some common portable power banks. As for batteries, check your other electronics to see what you might need. AA and AAA are usually a safe bet, but headlamps (see next item) oftentimes use lithium batteries. Here’s a great quick reference from REI for different batteries.

  • My headlamp. No matter where you go in the world, even in the most developed of cities, you never know when the power might go out. And who knows, on some of your adventures you might end up somewhere where you are carrying your bags up the side of a mountain, because the stairs to your room are carved out of the rock face itself, and there’s no lights on the path and you need your hands free to help with luggage and balance. Believe me. You’ll be SO happy you have a headlamp that’s easily accessible in the top of you bag to just put on your head so you can stumble safely. New to headlamps? Check out these helpful hints.

  • A First aid kit. I hope I don’t need to explain this one.

(See my co-founder and Rebel + Connect Director of Events, Summer Weirich’s list here!)

🤘⇧ Click to Join! ⇧🤘

🤘⇧ Click to Join! ⇧🤘

TIP: Pick the right suitcase.

For a trip like the aforementioned adventure through southeast Asia, a backpack might be more appropriate. However, for the business trip to Chicago, you might prefer a small rolling bag. For spring break, or a weekend getaway with the girls, a small duffle bag might do the trick. If you’re a photographer like me, you may like a sleek bag that still takes care of all of your gear.

Whatever it is, be sure to pick the bag that fits your needs best. If you know you don’t like to carry anything on your shoulders or back, then go with a rolling bag for sure.

Luckily, it seems like everyone these days is designing “the most functional travel bag ever!”

Here’s a list of bags specifically designed for minimalists.

TIP: Know your baggage fees.

Once you pick your suitcase, know your airline’s baggage rules for both checked bags and carry-ons.

Be sure to subscribe to our blog to catch my stories about the craziest things i’ve done to avoid paying airline baggage fees. Note: I don’t recommend it, instead just know the rules!

TIP: Check the weather.

Spring travel doesn’t necessarily mean warm. For example, ski trips are often times enjoyed in the spring, but given the location of ski mountains, you need more layers.

Layers are key when you are unsure of weather and temperature: one base layer, one light jacket, one heavier jacket.

In February for example, when I was traveling from Atlanta to Phoenix to LA to Steamboat Springs then back to LA and finally home, I needed to be prepared for all sorts of weather.

If you know the weather is going to be warm though, you can avoid those items, and probably do with just a rain jacket. My co-founder Summer has some great jacket suggestions here!

TIP: Now, let the good times roll!

No, don’t leave yet! You’ve gotta pack your bag! But I mean, roll it all up!

I was skeptical of this suggestion, until I tried it myself. You can fit significantly more in your bag when you properly roll everything up. Take a look here:

As you roll and stuff, roll and stuff, the previously mentioned categories (“must have,” “would like to bring,” and “maybe, if there’s room”) can really help shrink your suitcase down.

When you realize you’ve pulled an assortment of short-sleeve, long-sleeve and sleeveless shirts totaling 15 tops for a 4 day trip, you’ll be able to see what you truly need to keep.

The key is to think travel essentials. Keep it simple, and pack items that you can hand wash in the sink if necessary, that can be layered if you get hit with cooler weather, or that can be paired with various items to give you a minimal but still versatile wardrobe while traveling.

TIP: Keep your cords and travel documents separated and organized.

When packing your bag, some people like to keep cords and such organized, for both peace of mind and easy access.

If you didn’t pick a suitcase that comes with extra zipper compartments and such like the NOMATIC Travel Bag, you can pick up a small bag that does the trick and fits your personal style.

This becomes more sustainable than say plastic Ziploc bags for compartmentalizing and organizing your bag.

TIP: Consolidate your liquids and gels.

Travel bottles are by no means necessary, but when keeping it minimal, they are great. And if you are gone a while, you can simply refill them along the way as needed.

I highly recommend IKEA’s travel bottles because they are rectangular rather than round, so they fit together nicely, saving space in your bag without making a dent in your wallet.

TIP: At the end of the day, if you forgot something, you can always buy it, be it from a thrift store, local market or retail store.

And remember, on your return home, packing gets a WHOLE lot easier!

So, just “git ‘er done,” get your trip started, and ENJOY!

Do you have any packing tips and tricks? Please share in the comments below!

This is part two of a two-part series. To read or listen to part one, click here.


Rebel + Connect creates custom retreats for remote teams. A Colorado based company owned and operated by Charlie BirchRachel McGehee, and Summer Weirich, we operate remotely and service clients from all over the globe. Join us as we create cultures of meaning and celebrate human connections in a digital world!

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