A Minimalist’s Packing List for a Tropical Vacation

When was the last time you wore everything you carried on vacation with you? Just think about it for a second: you finally got the week-long holiday to Seychelles. Goodness knows you deserve it and because you will be going for 4 nights or 5 days. You decide that you will need about two suitcases worth of stuff. So that is what you pack and carry.

Only, when you get there, you realise that:

  • You didn’t really need that dinner gown because you can simply order in or go out and find a much-acclaimed kiosk that does impossibly good crab or lobster.
  • You haven’t worn that pair of jeans once because it’s too hot out.
  • You’ve only worn your beach sandals throughout the stay.
  • You’ve hardly been out of your bikini/beach shorts.
  • Everything else is still neatly packed inside those suitcases. In fact, you haven’t even opened the second one that carried all the “what if I need them” clothes.

The truth is, whenever you are visiting a tropical location like the Seychelles or Malindi, chances are you aren’t going to wear everything you think you will and you won’t change as much as you assume you will. That’s just the truth.

Yes, you will go through a lot of deodorants, bikinis/beach shorts and sunscreen but you will not need that pair of jeans or formal wear as much as you think you will!

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Why consider packing for the beach like a minimalist?

Beach sandals and hat

There is something to be said about packing like a minimalist even when going on vacation (perhaps especially when going on vacation)

For starters, when you travel with just one bag, you won’t run the risk of having to spend more on your airfare because there will be no extra luggage to pay for unless you carry a tonne of souvenirs from your destination. In which case – carry on (no pun intended).

Secondly, it will give you a chance to free yourself from your “materialistic shackles in the form of fine clothes”. You are going to a tropical location with beautiful white sandy beaches – walk around in your bikini/beach shorts; show off that beach-body or lack thereof, who cares? You on vacation! Be free! (Okay, maybe that was a tad melodramatic but you get the point).

Beach suitcase

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, you will quickly begin to realise that it’s more about enjoying the destination. You know: the culture, meeting new people, experiencing the country itself and just living in the moment as opposed to taking a million selfies with different outfits for Instagram.

That being said, here are some tips on how to pack like a minimalist the next time you head out to Lamu.

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Tips on how to pack for the beach like a minimalist

Tip 1: Get a smaller bag

This is a mental trick: the less space you have the fewer things you will carry. By getting a smaller bag (make it a backpack or a suitcase that weighs less than 7kgs when full) you will be forced to think critically about everything you want to carry.

Does that pair of trendy loafers really serve a purpose on this trip? Maybe not. Besides, you don’t have space. Carry the sandals instead.

Beach bag

See how that works? Neat trick, no?

Tip 2: Only carry “maximum usage” apparel

Okay, so maybe you will need to carry that pair of denim after all. Packing for “maximum usage” calls for a critical analysis of both your style and every piece of clothing you own.

Here’s the trick:

  • Women: Instead of carrying a dedicated cover-up, how about carrying an oversized button-down shirt (preferably white). This can either be worn on its own as a cover-up or over a pair of jeans (even shorts) as a full outfit. You could also carry a pair of jeans that goes with everything instead of carrying that trendy one that never seems to go with most of your tops.
  • Men: A pair of jeans (black or stonewashed blue) and a safari shirt or t-shirt.

By doing this, you will have clothes that can offer you double usage without taking up too much space in your small bag. And you will still look trendy!

Tip 3: Rely on history and leave out the “just in case I need it” items

Yoga on the beach

Go back to the last time you went on a beach vacation: what were some of the items you carried with you thinking you will “absolutely need them” but ended up not using? Chances are those are the same “just in case I need them” items that you won’t use this time either. You know:

  • That sweater just in case the tropics turn out not to be too tropical.
  • Those khaki pants that are “hardy enough for travel”.
  • That extra dress…just so you have it with you.

Leave all of these out. You didn’t use them last time, you are probably not going to use them this time!

Tip 4: Watch out for those toiletries

This is a tricky one. Today, most people are going to stay at an Airbnb. The best places always provide standardised toiletries such as toothpaste, bathing soap, shampoos and such. The only problem is that you may have a specific preference. If so, then try as much as you can to only carry miniature versions of what you use.

Remember, there is a good chance that you won’t need all the balms and creams that you use on your day to day routine while on vacation. Holidays are strange like that; they get you out of your comfort zone. Carrying miniature versions of your toiletries makes them easier to stuff in one travel pouch that won’t take up too much space.

Tip 5: Plan it all out

Beach wear

Finally, the easiest way to pack like a minimalist is to only carry what you are sure you are going to wear. Lay it all out. If you are going for five days, then plan out your outfits for those five days. Anything that falls under the “what if I need it” column should not make the list. Five days will call for five outfits or less. Yes, minimalist packing is that brutal. If you happen to get uncomfortable with how little you are carrying, just tell yourself this: “if I need it, I will buy it there”.

That is yet another mental trick: you will end up not buying it because you would rather use that money on something else. A local delicacy for example. What that shows you is that you didn’t really need it after all.

Do you have any neat minimalist’s packing list tricks and tips? Share them with us n the comment section below.

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