Minimalist travel for the modern family

Minimalist travel for the modern family

Whether you’re backpacking in the forest or jet setting to a tropical paradise, minimalist travel can help remove unnecessary stresses.

There’s something very freeing about packing light. You travel with only those things that you really need.

I’ve heard of minimalist travellers sawing their toothbrushes in half to get rid of extra weight. Most of us don’t need to be truly minimalist. We want some of our possessions with us and we don’t have time to be sawing toothbrushes in half!

Minimalist travel for families means packing efficiently. As parents we do need certain things. However, we don’t want to be weighed down (literally and metaphorically) by excess possessions.

Booking your holiday with minimalist travel in mind

1. Book a checked bag

You may have got travelling with carry on down to a fine art before kids. With kids it’s worth paying for a checked bag. Even if you pack light it’s still an extra bad to haul around.

I love the moment that I get rid of the suitcase when we’re at the airport. We usually try and bring one or two rucksacks with us for carry on. That’s it.

After we check the suitcase(s) we can go through security without lugging around a lot of baggage. If we need to shop at the airport it’s much easier. Then we don’t need to fight to the front of a Ryanair queue just to get some cabin space.

Honestly, you’ve got enough to manage on a plane with kids. Save yourself some trouble and get rid of the bulky bags.

2. Book accommodation with a washing machine

Having a washing machine means that you can pack light. We only take 4 or 5 days worth of clothes with us on any given trip. Sometimes less. It can mean the difference between taking two suitcases and one.

Minimalist travel packing tips

1. Pack light when it comes to toys

Minimalist travel - entertaining a 2 year old on a flight with 3 cups and 3 cards
Entertaining a toddler with 3 cups and 3 cards

Children need far fewer toys than you’d think on holiday. They’re going to a new environment, which is interesting in itself. We bring toys for the plane/train and a few books to read at night. That’s pretty much it. For more about which toys to bring on trips, click here.

2. Be practical when packing

We’ve all been on holiday with shoes for every outfit, only to wear one pair for the entire trip. Think about what you really need when you travel.

I usually take one pair of good, supportive trainers and one pair of lighter shoes. Then I make sure any nicer outfits match my light shoes. This means less weight and less stuff to sift through. A definite bonus if you’re living out of a suitcase.

3. Make lists of what you pack and then keep them for subsequent trips

I do a list for every trip I go on. I do a list for myself and then one for each of my sons. When I go on the next trip, I then have a list of things to pack that just needs updating. It’s a great way to pack light. As well as making packing easier, it makes me accountable for what I bring. I think back to the last trip and consider whether I actually used each item on my list. If I didn’t, it gets removed for the next trip.

Trello is an awesome resource for lists. Start your list on one card and then move items to ‘packed’ as you pack them. Then for the next trip just move them back again.

Shopping for minimalist travel

1. Buy lightweight versions of everything

You don’t need to go and replace your entire wardrobe, but from now on, when you buy something, think whether you can get a lighter version of it. Rain gear is a good example of this. It is expensive, but if you can buy Gore-Tex equipment, then it’ll be lightweight and take up less luggage space.

2. Invest in a good suitcase

Suitcases can add several kgs onto your luggage, so it’s worth investing in a lightweight one. We also always buy ones that can be rolled on four wheels rather than two. This makes them a lot easier to manoeuvre, because you can push them rather than drag them.


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