5 Tips to Make the Most out of your Family Vacation without Overpacking

If you have travel plans this summer these minimalist vacation packing tips will help you save space and money.

Are you planning a family vacation this summer or have some fun travel plans on the agenda? Today, I’m going to talk about how to pack for your summer vacation without overpacking. Also, how to make sure that you have enough to wear and can enjoy your vacation and not worry about those pesky luggage fees.

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Memorial Day is an unofficial kickoff to summer for many people, even though officially on the calendar summer is still several weeks away.  School is pretty much over for everybody at this point and the weather is already really warm. Most city, community, or neighborhood pools are usually open on Memorial Day weekend. For many of you, it may be your first time of travel in the summer season.

As we move through this season and start going places, I know the tendency of many of us is to overpack. I can remember the first time I ever went on a cruise. I was so excited because I’m one of those people who really likes the formality of sitting down to dinner. I don’t want to do the work behind it, but I want to get dressed up for it. I was so excited that I overpacked so badly! 

They tell you when you read the articles preparing you to go on your cruise, not to overpack. That you’re only going to have this tiny amount of space. You should just pack smart and only pack what you need. I didn’t listen.

I decided to pack two formal gowns for the formal dinners and three or four bathing suits plus all kinds of stuff for a cruise to the Caribbean. The amount of stuff that I packed was insane. It stands out in my mind as being one of those true over-packer nightmare moments. 

I know that it’s something that all of us really struggle with especially if we have the mindset that we need to look different every day and can’t show up in the same thing. Your vacation is definitely not the time to go with that mindset especially as luggage fees have often gotten more expensive. I know that some airlines now actually charge for your first checked bag, whereas it used to only be your second bag and beyond.

Minimizing the amount that you can pack, especially if you’re flying, is a big way to reduce some of your expenditure by packing everything in a carry-on. I have not flown in many years because I have so many young children and it’s really expensive but I still try to pack everything I need in a carry-on size bag because it forces me to have a limit.

I have to think smart about what I’m going to take with me. And it really just lets me enjoy the vacation instead of worrying about all these clothes I have to manage constantly. 

Today I would love to share five tips with you to help you pack smarter, pack better, and to try to get all those things for your vacation into that carry-on size bag. 

Minimalist Vacation Packing Tip #1: Choose a Color Story

My first tip for you is of course going to be color related because everything here starts with color. I want you to choose a color story. That just means creating a mini color palette from your larger one. Choose 2 neutrals and 1 or 2 colors for the items you’ll pack. I really like this suggestion for a trip that is 7 days or less. If you’re going to be gone for over seven days, you might be able to add another neutral in there.

For example, I might choose black and navy and then pink and purple to be my colors. For the purpose of packing light, you really want to reduce the number of colors that you’re taking because anytime you can reduce your options for color, it’s going to help you make everything that you pack go just a little bit further.

Minimalist Vacation Packing Tip #2: Consider your Vacation Purpose

The second tip I have for you for packing light this summer is to consider the purpose of your vacation. Now, I am the worst about doing this, especially when we go visit my family. My family owns acres and they live out in the country and I have been known on many occasions to pack something that I’m never actually going to wear while I’m there. 

I’m out in the country, we’re outside all day long. I need clothes that are comfortable, and much more leisure-oriented. I don’t need a silk kimono with beads. And yes, I have literally taken a silk beaded kimono to my parent’s house before and it sat in the suitcase the whole time I was there. I find this to be a big problem. The biggest problem for me is probably with shoes. 

Be mindful of what you’re going to be doing. Are you going to Disney? You need tennis shoes, not high heels. Are you going on a cruise? What do you need to take with you on the cruise? Don’t pack things that are not going to get worn. 

I have also packed a heavy cardigan in the summer and never ended up wearing it. I thought, oh well I might be cold. But I never actually was cold enough to wear it because it’s Texas and it’s a hundred thousand degrees down here all the time. Pay attention to where you’re going and it may just be one thing that you realize you don’t need to pack.

There’s usually at least one thing we pack that we have no use for and it doesn’t get worn on the trip. We pack it because we have some fantasy idea of what we’re going to do on vacation. This is why it’s important to be mindful of what you’ll be doing on your vacation. Don’t take up that space, that precious space with something that you don’t need when you can fill it with something that you do need. Like a second pair of tennis shoes if you’re going to Disney. 

Minimalist Vacation Packing Tip #3: Create a 7×7 Travel Capsule

Tip number three is to actually take the things we’re talking about, your color story, and packing what you need and use them to create a mini capsule for travel. Now, the way I like to do this is to think about the sort of a 7×7 concept.

I use 7×7 because when we do these number-by-number concepts, the idea is that you have a certain number of pieces of clothing for a certain number of days. I like to start with 7×7 because even if you’re not going on a seven-day vacation, it does give you a few more options to think about with your wardrobe. 

When we talk about making these mini capsules, these are wearable items. So these would be tops, bottoms, shorts, dresses, and any completer pieces that you bring. This does not include your shoes or your accessories or very specific activity-type things like a swimsuit. You can not count the swimsuit. If you’re going to be gone for 10 days, do it 10×10. If you’re going to be gone for five days, you could get away with a 5×5.

But those two extra pieces of clothing in a 7×7 capsule will give you a lot of variety and you can probably fit those in a carry-on. Whenever I travel,  I go for the 7×7 concept to make sure that I have plenty of stuff that I need to keep me going for the time that I’m there. 

For example, a 7×7 capsule if you were going to take tops and bottoms could include two bottoms, three tops, and then maybe two completer pieces. I typically wear only dresses so I usually take two dresses, three tops to layer, and then two completer pieces. Feel free to break it up in a way that makes sense to you.

Minimalist Vacation Packing Tip #4: Use Natural Fibers

You also want to consider your laundry capabilities while you’re gone. This leads to our next tip: choose natural fibers. I am such a huge advocate of natural fibers. I switched to Merino wool primarily several years ago, and I have never looked back because my laundry routine is simpler. I can travel easier because my clothes don’t have to be washed every day. I can just spritz them with some water and mix with rubbing alcohol if I need to and let ’em air dry overnight and they’re fresh as they can be the next day. 

This includes leggings and everything else. Some other natural fibers that you can use that have the same properties are linen and cotton. Both of these are great for traveling because you can re-wear the same items over and over and over again and get a lot of wear out of them.

This is one of the things that makes my 7×7 work so well. Nearly everything in there is a natural fiber, Merino wool. It works even in the heat of Texas summer! So choose natural fibers as much as you can. 

Minimalist Vacation Packing Tip #5: Wear your Heaviest Items on Travel Days

The final tip I have for you really here is sort of a bonus tip and that is to wear the heaviest items that you’re packing on your travel days. I find that even though I’m driving, I’m usually cooler in the car because I have the air conditioning blasting. I know that when traveling by plane or boat or anything like that, it’s going to be cooler for the most part. You can really get away with layering up quite a bit on those travel days.

In the fall and winter months, I’ll typically wear a full-length pair of leggings, the heaviest dress I have, the heaviest completer piece I have, and the biggest, largest pair of shoes that I have to travel. And the biggest jewelry that I’m wearing as well. Yes, maybe I look a little ostentatious but this does reduce the amount that you’re putting into your bag, into your carry-on, or your suitcase. It also allows you to put some things on to wear to keep you warm and comfortable when you’re traveling while saving space in your bag. 

Final Thoughts on Minimalist Vacation Packing

Those are my five tips. I will recap them for you. Number one, choose a color story. I recommend two neutrals and two colors at maximum. Number two, consider the purpose of your vacation. Only pack things that you actually need to wear. If you’re going somewhere and you don’t plan to swim, don’t take a swimsuit. 

Number three, create a style travel capsule. Specifically try a 7×7 capsule, which is seven items of clothing intended to be worn for seven days. And make sure you mix that up to have an even distribution. Number four, to make all of these tips work even better choose natural fibers. Marino, wool, cotton, and linen are great choices. 

Finally, wear the heaviest items that you’re planning to take with you on your travel days so you can save room in your suitcase. So if you’re planning a fun vacation this summer and you’re going to be doing some traveling, I would love for you to choose one of these tips to implement and commit to this summer to make your packing easier so that you can more fully enjoy your vacation and be present. You can stop being worried about the clothes you have to manage and spend more time with your family. 

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These 5 minimalist vacation packing tips will help take the stress out of packing so you can relax and enjoy your time with your family.

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