Last updated on May 13th, 2020; Published on May 9th, 2018

When I showed up in Morocco with a 60L backpack strapped to my back and another 10L baby bump of a day pack to my front, I couldn’t have been prouder. I had packed all I needed for a 16-day trip into these two bags. They were both full to the brim and almost bursting out in their seams but I had packed just two bags and I felt proud.


Then I walked out of immigration and saw Mark. And his (single) backpack. It was smaller than mine, but still equipped with all he needed for the entire duration of our trip.  Needless to say, I discovered I still had a few things to learn about packing lightly for a trip. So here’s a list of some things I took away from that trip to help JJC’s like me pack like pros.

JJC – Johnny Just Come. Nigerian slang used to refer to a newbie or novice.

Choose a small bag…

The smaller your bag is, the less tempted you’ll be to pack every single item you own. And trust me, the temptation is real. I find myself packing items I think I might need but then, I end up not using them. Having the right bag forces you to cut down to the bare necessities.

For a while, I struggled to find the right sizes of backpacks in Nigeria I needed. Eventually, I got a Deuter backpack – for longer trips and a Jansport laptop backpack which I now use for shorter ones.

Both feel great and come with a lot of advantages. For one thing, I get to skip long waits at baggage claim and I also get to move freely as I hop from one destination to another.

Another tip is to research your destination…

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It makes sense to put in as much effort into checking out your destination as you would when searching for cheap flights. There’s no point packing a giant coat for a trip to a place with really hot weather. If you know what to expect, you can save space in your luggage by packing only what you need. And that bring me to tip #3;

Pack multi-use clothing

A key to minimalist packing is to pack versatile items or pieces you can wear in different ways. Items like Jeans, blacks and neutrals colored clothes are always a good idea. You can mix and match few pieces of clothing to generate multiple outfits.

Plan out your activities

Planning out what you intend to do during your holiday can also affect what and how you pack. I mean, do you really need those heavy hiking boots when we all know you’re not going to hike anything?! Having an idea of the different activities you want to partake can help to streamline what you pack. And remember, these places we’re visiting also have stores. So, worst case scenario, you can get what you need when you arrive 🙂

Share the responsibilities

benin republic grand popoFinally, sharing is caring! If you’re travelling with someone, you can always optimize the spaces in each other’s bags.

What are some of the things you do to make sure you don’t pack more than you need to for a trip? or is minimalist packing just a myth to you? 🙂

JansportTravelwithaPenThis post was written in collaboration with Travelstart Nigeria. Travelstart offers cheap flights from Lagos to New York and other destinations around the world.
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