I Travel The World For A Living. These Are The Minimalist Packing Hacks I Swear By

Photo: @livefreewarrior

I recently completed a 10-day trip from Miami to Madrid, Spain; Madrid to Valencia; and back...without checking a single bag. As a yogi who travels all the time for work, I've found that packing light makes it so much easier to get around (and save money on baggage fees).

These are the five tried-and-true packing hacks that always help me fit everything into my carry-on—and still have some room for snacks:

1. Make packing cubes your new best friends.

I discovered these little space savers about two years ago when I started traveling more for work and needed a bit more organization in my life. They help you to organize your gear into different categories. I like to put shirts in one; shorts in another; and bathing suits, underwear, and sports bras in the other. Typically they come in packs of three or four, making it a perfect way to keep consistency within your carry-on for organization.

You can get either standard cubes or airtight, compression ones. Personally, I prefer the space-compacting ones, which can literally shrink your luggage down to half the size.

2. Roll your clothes.

When packing your clothes in cubes, roll everything! Let’s talk metaphorically for a moment: When you put a cereal or cardboard delivery box in the recycle bin, you save a heck of a lot of space when you break that box down, right? Same space-saving rules apply here. Not only does rolling your clothes create more room, but it can prevent them from getting wrinkled after hours of long travel. (Have I mentioned how much I hate ironing?)

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3. Keep up with a color scheme.

Limit your options from the start, and you’ll be way less likely to overpack. Studies have proved that when we intentionally limit our decisions, we free up mental space and live with less regret and anxiety. This is especially true with clothes, and some of the most successful people in the world (think Mark Zuckerberg and Obama) opt for capsule-style wardrobes.

I've found one of the easiest ways to pack clothes mindfully is to start with a specific color scheme. Selecting fewer colors cuts down on the amount that we're tempted to pack and leads to more interchangeable outfit options because most things will blend well together.

My favorite color palette? Black, white, and gray. It’s the perfect balance of neutrals with my color pop of choice: blue!

4. Travel-size toiletries.

There’s no need to bring your entire tube of toothpaste, favorite shampoo and conditioner, after-sun aloe vera gel, and makeup kit for a three- to five-day rendezvous. Most of the brands you love and use on a regular basis will come in mini sizes. The checkout area at Sephora is great for travel sizes in pretty much everything skin, hair, and makeup related. Or you can purchase small reusable containers and fill those up before each trip.

If you travel often, you may want to also keep a bag of travel shampoos or conditioners (or at least their empty bottles to be refilled) on hand in your bathroom to grab, go, and restock as needed.

5. Don't skimp on your personal item!

Your carry-on is the main focus when packing, but don't forget about your personal item! I always check out what the airline allows in terms of carry-on size before I board (here's a great overview for that) and fill my bag with my electronics, passport, headphones, water bottle, scarf, and (of course!) snacks! I always pack my own snacks, because most airlines have yet to get their act together in terms of healthy food options. My must-haves include melon and grapes for hydration on long flights, nuts, protein powders, Justin's nut butter packs, rice cakes, GoMacro bars, and dry oatmeal packets that I can add hot water to.

Check out what Sara and other jet-setting yogis name as their top travel destination here.

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