How Minimalist Traveling Can Mean A Relaxing Holiday

How Minimalist Traveling Can Mean A Relaxing Holiday
Summer is here for us and we have a few trips planned out. Traveling used to be overwhelming and exhausting for me, but now that we’ve edited down so much of our material possessions, trips are significantly easier.
Vacation for many families means parents are exhausted, children are cranky and everyone is looking forward to going home and getting back to normal.
Embracing a minimalist mindset when you are planning out a trip means you can come home feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. Which is what vacation is all about!
Pack light:

  • 5 days clothes. It means that if we’re visiting friends we do laundry at their house or we use the laundry facilities at a hotel. Even if that isn’t available, I don’t mind stopping at a laundromat. I know that bothers some people, to take an hour out of their trip to do laundry- but not having carry so much luggage around is freeing. I’ll take an hour at the laundromat to hauling around a huge suitcase any day!
  • Limited toiletries. Going to visit friends or staying in a motel? Use the soap/shampoo that is there. I take only things that aren’t hygienic to share (razor, toothbrush, etc).
  • Versatile shoes. This might be a little difficult, but if you have a capsule wardrobe, you can take clothes and shoes that will work for casual wear as well as an evening out. Make sure they are comfortable to be in and wearing them with more outfits won’t be an issue.

Limit activities:

  • Embrace slow travel and don’t have a packed schedule. It means not having certain activities to do every day. There is no need to try and cram every super-cool available activity into your trip. Pick a reasonable amount of days to plan an outing, and leave the other days open to relaxing and experiencing normal life in that area of the world.
  • If you are visiting friends and family- do just that. Don’t worry about certain entertainment, movies, schedules, etc. Eat together, talk together, just be together and let that be enough.


  • Use a simple camera. Phones these days take great pictures and if you want to leave your phone at home, take a good quality point and shoot camera. Unless your hobby and reason for travel is photography, be in the moment, enjoying it, rather than always snapping a photo of it. You basically only need one picture per outing/trip to bring back those fond memories.
  • Avoid souvenirs. Let your memories be in you, not in your stuff. There is no need to purchase souvenirs for people back home either. If you want them to know that you miss them or think of them while you are away, send a postcard, handwritten note, or jot them an email. If you absolutely have to get souvenirs, let them be consumable: spices, candy, chocolate, etc. from different regions are a great way to remember the trip, or share the experience with others.

Eat simple:

  • Utilize the grocery store. Not saying that you can’t eat out, but eating in is calm and inexpensive. Simple meat sandwiches or a meal of fruits, cheese and cold cuts are filling and take very little prep work. Stay in a motel that has a fridge in the room, or keep a cooler with you. For road trips keep simple foods in a cooler and stop whenever and wherever to have a meal. Local parks and picnic areas add to the experience.
  • Eat lighter. Avoid fried foods and fast food meals. Restaurants in the United States are often full of meat and fat, and without a good balance of veggies, it makes for a heavy feeling and seems like too much work to really enjoy the area.

Go places you will enjoy:

  • Mountains, beach or theme park? Everyone has certain places that they enjoy most and really feel like they have had a vacation. Don’t feel guilty about not going to the expected family vacation destinations if they stress you out. For our family, Brian and I get stressed out in the heat, being in crowds and waiting in lines, so clearly, a trip to Disneyland would be no fun. Instead, we camp in the mountains and sit around a campfire. I’m sure our children would like a theme park,  but I want them to remember fun calm parents when they think of family vacations, not frazzled, irritable, angry parents.

What are your tips for traveling as a minimalist? Share in the comments below.

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I created a FREE Facebook Group - feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group and I share videos each week on YouTube


  1. JaneH on 06/16/2015 at 8:04 pm

    So true, is nice to both relax and have some adventures!
    For every major trip, we purchase a Christmas ornament. When we trim the tree, it’s a precious time revisiting memories and passing them on to the kids, but without adding clutter all year long.

    • Lindsay on 06/16/2015 at 9:14 pm

      What an amazing idea! 🙂

  2. Susan on 06/16/2015 at 9:21 pm

    Yes! This is how we have chosen to travel the past few years. With 6 boys and a mama who cannot eat out most places (we have celiac disease and a couple of severe allergies) the grocery store and the cooler as well as prep before hand make traveling with the family a little more sane. Last year we went to the Allegheny mountains for a 10 day trip to celebrate my sister’s wedding. We stayed in a cabin with my other sister and 4 of her kids. It was the best family trip we have ever done. We fished, hiked, cooked out, enjoyed the campfire, and had an great party after the back yard wedding. All of the kids still say that it was the best trip ever.

  3. Sam on 06/16/2015 at 9:33 pm

    There is a lot of great advice here but I think visiting a laundromat would be well over an hour and would really ruin my vacation. I hate schlepping too but I don’t think it has to be one or the other. I bring enough clean underpants for each day of the trip and everything else can be worn more than once.

    • Karen T. on 06/19/2015 at 5:28 am

      Agreed. Unless you have an infant and/or are breastfeeding, I see no reason why everyone can’t wear their jeans & tee shirt for at least two days before changing. Bring enough underwear and socks (though you can wash those in the sink and hang to dry overnight, if it becomes necessary), and you should do fine. So for a week long trip, we each bring 3 outfits (jeans & top) — of course, we’re wearing an outfit too — a lightweight jacket or sweater (just in case), 7 undies and socks each, bathing suit, nightwear. This fits easily in a backpack, with room for a phone or ipod or tablet or a book or small game or a favorite stuffed animal. Everyone has their own backpack. If the trip includes a dress-up event (like a wedding), then everyone’s dress up outfit is put in a hanging bag I have, which can be laid flat in the trunk while traveling and hung up right away when we arrive. So few items do bring a great deal of sanity — less schlepping, less to remember (so we rarely leave anything behind).

  4. Denise on 06/18/2015 at 9:14 am

    We “eat in” the entire week we’re at the beach, and there are about 12 of us (with extended family). So we prep meals at home before we leave, transport them in a cooler, then pull them out of the fridge/freezer throughout the week. It is a bit of work ahead of time, but totally worth it when we’re there. This way, we can spend time with PEOPLE instead of in the small and inefficient kitchen 🙂
    Also, we eat a hearty breakfast, then pack sandwiches for the beach. I have a sturdy container with a lid for snacks, and a cooler designated only for drinks (juice boxes, water, and an occasional soda for parents) that we also take to the beach. All of this is packed ahead of time, which saves money and frustration 🙂

  5. Liz H on 06/18/2015 at 1:22 pm

    I learned from our past few trips that I never wear all of the clothes that I bring. So I now limit it to one bag and I know I will re-wear clothes. Our girls share a suitcase. We rent a house or condo and cook in most of the time due to food allergies (Celiac) which is less expensive and much more relaxed than a restaurant with 2 five year olds! Our vacations revolve around the beach so that’s what we spend most of our time doing. This year it will in Charleston and we will visit friends, go to the beach, the aquarium and maybe see a planation. Otherwise it’s chill. I want to relax on vacation, not run around for a week. I could do that at home!! This year I found a place I can take my dog too so I get to take walks on the beach with my little buddy in the morning too! It saves us on paying for a kennel as well. My husband wants to take our girls to Disney in a couple of years but I have zero desire to go there. I went once with my older kids and it was a nightmare. Not what I’d call a vacation. I’m wondering if they have a spa I can head to while he takes them around, lol.

  6. Tara on 06/18/2015 at 4:45 pm

    With a husband who travels overseas and kids who have been on school exchange programs and mission trips we have enjoyed eating all kinds of snack foods and candies. They bring home their favorite prepackaged snacks and treats along with strange to us foods. Sometimes they will have stories to share about the food or they picked it up because it looked interesting. We enjoy hearing about their adventures while sharing a part of the culture they experienced. It sure beats collectibles that need dusting.

  7. Melissa @ All Around Oz on 04/01/2017 at 3:04 am

    Great post. we always tried to have a ‘day off’ from doing things after two or three days of being out about. we would laze by the pool, read a book or take a nap. i like you don’t mind doing a load or two of washing whilst i’m away.

  8. Sam on 04/01/2017 at 5:31 pm

    For the laundry, we have used a fluff and Fold service at a local laundromat on longer trips. You drop off your bag in the morning and by evening everything is clean and nearly folded. It’s usually charged by the pound, and it feels REALLY indulgent.

  9. Esther Uramkin on 05/08/2017 at 4:01 pm

    Love this information. I travel often and travel light. Once while flying in little plane to remote area had very restrictive weight for suitcases. It was great lesson! Best vacation ever and least amount of stuff.

  10. Susan on 06/17/2017 at 6:58 am

    We stay at an AirBnB or something similar where we rent a condo and just do laundry there. Also, when we go on a trip the souvenir I always buy is a pair of earrings. They’re easy to pack, easy to store when you get home and every time I put them on I remember my trip. Also, doing laundry at a laundromat isn’t too bad. I’ve done it in Europe and met some very interesting people that way.

  11. Barb S on 10/22/2018 at 2:37 pm

    Utilizing packing cubes has helped me pack less. I went up throwing a lot less extra in when I pack by day. I can also easily pack multiple people in one suitcase when they have their own cubes; one for each kid’s clothes and one for pjs.
    When you travel often, it is worth it not to rifle through everyone’s bag each morning and night to find things.

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