5 Rules for Minimalist Travel From the Marie Kondo of Packing

Photo: Unsplash/Stil

Trying to anticipate everything you might need for a wellness retreat or long-weekend getaway in a geodesic dome—and then getting it all to fit into your carry-on—is one of the least-fun parts of traveling. But it doesn't have to be, according to minimalist Fumio Sasaki.

The Japanese organizing guru, who's been touted as "the next Marie Kondo," believes a pared-down lifestyle begets good vibes. "Happiness isn't the condition of having money or material things but a state of mind,” says the author of Goodbye, Things, a new guidebook for getting rid of excess in your life. (Sasaki tested his theory by giving away everything he owned, save for 150 must-have items, like a bed, laptop, and a few pairs of pants.)

"I believe that the fewer things I need, the more freedom I have."

His advice? Hold onto the bare-minimum of what brings you bliss. "I believe that the fewer things I need, the more freedom I have” explains Sasaki via a translator. And that rule applies both at home—and on the road. Scaling down “allows me to enjoy traveling more because I’m less hung up on not having my usual favorite items with me." Plus, just think how many healthy snacks you can buy with that $25 baggage check fee.

Ready to lighten your load? Here's a handful of minimalist travel hacks Fumio Sasaki swears by.


1. Put energy into what you're doing, not what you're bringing

Traveling's all about the journey, so the less baggage you bring with you, the better. "I used to think I had to have this shampoo and that hair wax, but now that I no longer care, I can enjoy being outdoors more,” Sasaki says. 

2. Skip the big suitcase

"If you have less luggage, you can travel farther without getting tired,” says the organizational guru. "I no longer use a suitcase—even when traveling abroad—because I want to focus on what I see and enjoy the trip itself, rather than drag [one] around.”

3. Multipurpose items make the best travel buddies

The two birds-one stone mindset applies here, too. "I always bring a thin Japanese towel called a tenugui,” Sasaki reveals. “It dries in only a few hours. I also use it as a bandanna; it’s totally multifunctional.” Look for other items in your closet that can pull double duty—like that cropped sports bra or a wear-everywhere pair of sneakers.

"If you can be at peace with the idea of getting something if and when you need it, you can pack lighter."

4. Know you can pick up items in a pinch

“There are so many things we're tempted to bring on our trips 'just in case,’” says Sasaki. "However, unless you're heading to a particularly remote place, if you can be at peace with the idea of getting something if and when you need it, you can pack lighter.”

5. Bring home memories instead of memorabilia

"We're all tempted to buy souvenirs because we don’t want to forget the fun memories of the trip," he says. "If it’s a meaningful experience, however, you can always [recall] it without the object.” Plus, there's Instagram, which doesn’t take up any extra space in your carry-on.

Some things that should definitely make your minimalist packing list: these handy, stress-reducing travel gadgets and Behati Prinsloo's on-the-go exercise essential

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