11 Backpacking Travel Hacks – DIY Packing for Ultra Minimalist Travel

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Packing minimally will make your vacation more fun and less stressful. Trust us, ultra minimalist travel is the way to go without-a-doubt! And if you haven’t ever packed minimally before, bringing only what you need on your adventure, then we are here to help you out. Our backpacking travel hacks will help you become a minimalist traveler.

Traveling can be difficult, an especially stressful when you have a few giant pieces of luggage along! You’ll wait in the long lines at the airport at bag check and baggage claim, and then have to lug a huge suitcase everywhere you are going. Wouldn’t it be easier to just pack a backpack? Or maybe a carry-on at the most? Yes!

But you have to bring everything you need on the trip… How do you get everything you need on your trip into a backpack or carry-on? By using these DIY packing travel hacks!

Having some extra space in a bag, and having the perfect travel snacks along, can be a LIFESAVER on your vacation! Over the years, we have learned a lot of secret packing hacks on our travels, and picked our 11 favorite to share with you!

On top of that, we will give you our recommendation for the best minimalist travel backpack. This bag will help you on your ultra minimalist travel adventure, wherever you are headed around the world!

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  • Girls Guide – How to Pack Light for a 2 Week Trip – Full Packing List
  • Guys Guide – How to Pack Light for a 2 Week Trip – Full Packing List
  • Our official Travel Bucket List and tips for making your own bucket list!

11. Roll Up Your Clothes

If you aren’t rolling your clothes to pack them, you are doing it wrong. This saves SO MUCH space. We didn’t believe it until we started doing it, and it is pretty shocking when you do it for the first time.

I have a challenge for you doubters out there. Pack an entire bag full of clothes the way you normally do it, by folding and stacking. Now unpack your bag and re-pack it with the exact same clothes, but this time roll the clothes tightly (like you would roll a sleeping bag) and then pack them. Did you save space? If the answer is no, then you’re either a terrible roller, or you’re lying.

Tips on how to do the Ranger Roll, from travel+leisure:

To properly roll your clothes, lay the item of clothing out flat. Then fold the bottom two inches of the item inside out so it creates a type of pocket along one side of the clothing. From the opposite end, roll the item tightly until you get to the pocket you’ve created. Fold one side of the pocket over the roll, securing it tightly.

10. Use Contact Cases for Liquids

Coming in at number 10 on our list of backpacking travel hacks for ultra minimalist travel solution is a way to save space on the liquids you bring along: pack them in a contact case!

We HATE having to bring entire bottles of liquids and gels on trips. They are heavy, take up a TON of space, sometimes get stopped at security, and you usually don’t even come close to using them all!

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What is the solution? It’s right in front of your eyes! Your contact cases. These small storage containers are a perfect size for you to bring face lotion, sunscreen, acne cream, and so much more. They are super easy to pack and most even have a locking mechanism which is perfect when you are bringing it in a backpack!



 

Photography Equipment

 

We absolutely LOVE photography, and sharing pictures! These are the cameras we use on all of our adventures. The drone and GoPro help us get cool new perspectives (underwater, in the air, wide angle) and the Rebel we use on a day-to-day basis for most of our shots!

 

Full disclosure these are affiliate links. If you click them and buy the products we get a little bit of money, which helps us keep providing content to you for free!

Click to See our Travel Gear Recommendations

 



 

And the best part is you don’t even have to wear contacts to use this trick! And if you don’t want to use contact cases, you can use small travel bottles instead.

9. Pack Some Snacks!

We love food. You love food. Everyone loves food. Where should you not buy food? The airport! Airport food is expensive. Airport food is usually unhealthy. And airport food almost always comes with a wait in a long line.

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Skip the line and the dine on some fine snacks that you brought along! Our favorites are pistachios, beef jerky, and our guilty pleasure: gummy bears (the Albanese brand is to DIE for).

When you buy in bulk ahead of time, you’ll spend less on food and be able to eat wherever and whenever you want! Just pack a little bit and you’ll be able to save space. And if you have leftovers, then you have some great grub to bring on a hike or walk around the city!

More from travel+leisure:

Eating healthy while traveling is no easy task. If you’ve ever found yourself at an airport ordering a burger for breakfast when a cup of oatmeal is what you would normally have, you know what we mean.

And once you board the plane, it gets even more challenging. First of all, airlines (especially low-cost ones) overcharge you for pretty much every item on the food and drinks menu. And even if you don’t mind paying up for a sandwich, you can never be sure how or when it was made.

Thanks to the Internet, though, there’s a very easy (and much cheaper) solution to this problem — buy your favorite healthy snacks in bulk and grab a couple of packs from your kitchen cabinet on your way out to the airport.

8. Put Undergarments in Shoes

Don’t make this weird. We don’t mean for it to be weird. There is so much unused space on the inside of your shoes when you’re packing! What better way to use it than to stuff your socks and undies down in there!

If you would like a layer between your undies and shoes, then just throw them in a little ziplock bag! Or another way to use the space in your shoes is to put your jewelry in them.

7. Pack Jewelry in Saran Wrap

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Do you wear jewelry? Read this! No? Skip to number 6. Coming in at number 7 on our list of backpacking travel hacks for ultra minimalist travel: pack jewelry in saran wrap.

Why? First, it keeps your jewelry untangled! You can individually wrap each item, and then put all of the wrapped jewelry in a bag! You’ll save at least 15 minutes of untangling your necklaces and bracelets.

Second, it’ll stay clean! On multiple occasions Julie’s earrings have poked a hole in a bottle, or somehow a bottle has opened, causing the bag to be a MESS! You will be able to avoid those shenanigans by wrapping your jewelry in some saran wrap!

6. Pack Mainly Neutral Colors

Clothes will take up the most space in your luggage. Any DIY packing tips that reduce the number of clothes you bring along will help immensely, and using neutral colors will do just that. You’ll be able to wear clothes in multiple outfits without the colors clashing. The best people we know who practice ultra minimalist travel use every single article of clothing a few times in multiple outfits on each trip!



 

Travel Accessories

 

Here are our best recommendations for travel accessories to complete any trip! We are ALWAYS looking for great deals and shopping on a budget. We swear by these accessories!

Click to See our Travel Gear Recommendations

 



 

The obvious reason for this is that you’ll pack fewer clothes! We know you want to look fly on your trip, and want to pack a poppin’ wardrobe to boot. We are here to tell you that you DO NOT need to pack your ENTIRE wardrobe to look and feel like a million bucks on your trip!

You need to start by packing neutral base colors. Pack the stuff that you can dress up, but also feel comfortable in. Some leggings and jeans will be a no-brainer for you ladies.

Next, make sure you have at least one or two popping colors for each day of your trip. Make it items that go well with a few of the neutrals you’ve packed. We both know you’re going to want options when you’re getting dressed each morning.

Finally, make your jewelry the cherry on top. If there’s anything that can make your outfit a showstopper without taking up a lot of space in your bag, it is your jewelry. Bring a few options!

5. Use Binder Clips to Cover Razors

Have you ever ruined a razor by packing it without a proper cover? It scratches on all your other toiletries and then gives you some nasty razor burn on your trip. We have a solution hiding in your desk drawer! Covering your razors with a binder clip will protect your razors, and everything around them, during your vacation.

4. Put Shower Caps Around Shoes to Keep Clothes Clean

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This is especially good if you are going to be hiking or doing a lot of walking around the city. Your shoes are GOING to get dirty, and you do not want that dirt to make it onto your white shirt or brand new pants.

What’s the solution? Get a couple shower caps to keep the dirt from making its way from your shoes to your clothes! Shower caps are super cheap when bought in bulk online, and you can even reuse them from trip to trip!

3. Put Cash in an Empty Chapstick Bottle

This is an excellent DIY packing tip for ultra minimalist travel. It accomplishes two different things: saving space and preventing theft!

Keeping your cash in a discreet place is especially important if you are worried about pick-pockets. Your money will be hiding in plain sight in your empty chapstick bottle! As a bonus, it is a really easy way to keep all your cash in one place in your pocket or purse. Your bills won’t be floating around and be tough to find when you need them most.

Here are some instructions on building this from manmadediy (see article for pictures):

  1. Use up or remove any extra lip balm, then insert a small screwdriver or other lever between the twisty knob and the bottom and the rest of the tube. 
  2. Then, separate the tube into each of its component parts. The little carriage thing at the top should come off pretty easily with the bottom removed. If not, you can use pliers to pull it free.
  3. Then, cut the threaded shaft free from the knob above the the little raised ridge that helps it stay in the tube.
  4. Lastly, snap the knob back in place, and you’re done!

You could use this anywhere you want to keep some emergency cash on hand without advertising it: your car’s glove compartment, your purse, brief case, or daily carry bag, your desk at work, etc. It makes a great solution when you’re traveling or camping, and since it uses a recycled materials that most of us have lying around in drawers and pockets all over the house, you can make as many as you want. 

2. Put a Dryer Sheet in Your Bag to Keep Clothes Smelling Fresh

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Any DIY packing tips that keep you smelling great are a must. You don’t want to be smelly walking around the airport, or have a suitcase that you can smell from 10 feet away! Coming in at number 2 on our backpacking travel hacks is a must: use dryer sheets to mask the smell.



 

Clothing We Love

 

You need clothes to travel. Heck, maybe you don’t. We don’t judge. If you want to hop around the world in your birthday suit then go right ahead! But if you want to cover up, here are a few of our favorite clothing items we love, and we think you’ll love too!

Click to See More Recommendations

 



 

This one we had to learn from experience. We took a trip to Zion National Park in Utah. UNBELIEVABLE scenery, such a beautiful part of the world. However, in the 100 degree heat the sweat was flowing… That did not bode well for the smell of our clothes and backpacks on the way home (sorry, people who had to sit next to us…).

Ever since that trip, we have brought a few dryer sheets along in our bags, and haven’t had the same problem yet! These bad boys basically soak up any bad smells and keep your clothes and bags smelling fresh!

1. Pack an Empty Water Bottle That You Can Fill Up After Security

What is the worst thing to buy at the airport? Water. Why? Because it is free, people! FREE! Five finger discount! All you have to do is pack a water bottle to fill up at the fountains once you’re through security.

Our favorite is the 32 oz Gatorade squeeze bottle. It is squishy enough that it will fit into the side pocket of any bag, and it holds enough water to last at least a whole flight. What’s better? This thing costs about as much as 2 or 3 bottles of water at the airport. 3 uses and you’ll pay it off! And it is a PERFECT hiking water bottle, also.

Best Minimalist Travel Backpack

We have an Osprey 65 liter backpack that also doubles as a duffel. This backpack holds a TON of stuff, and we have always been able to use it as a carry-on.

The other great part about this backpack is that it is Osprey. Osprey makes great backpacks that last forever and are comfortable to carry. We’ve had these for a few years now and they still look as good as the day we got them. You will not regret buying an Osprey backpack for your travels.

This is by far the best minimalist travel backpack for ultra minimalist travel. All of our DIY packing trips will do wonders in helping you bring everything you need along in this bag.

Osprey Minimalist Travel Backpack

There You Have It

Those are our 11 favorite backpacking travel hacks for ultra minimalist travel and our recommendation for a minimalist travel backpack! Did you enjoy them? What are your favorite hacks that you’ve learned on your trips? Share them in the comments, we would love to hear from you!

Other Articles You Might Like

  • Girls Guide – How to Pack Light for a 2 Week Trip – Full Packing List
  • Guys Guide – How to Pack Light for a 2 Week Trip – Full Packing List
  • Our official Travel Bucket List and tips for making your own bucket list!

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