Summer Minimalist Packing List

Summer Minimalist Packing List

Tired of carrying heavy luggage?? Minimalist packing will change your life!

Recently, I went on a 3 day trip and I wanted to try something new. Usually, I pack for every situation and every “what if” scenario, but this time, I took the minimalist’s road and packed as light as possible. Packing light is one of the best things you can do for yourself when traveling, especially if you’re only taking a carry-on and will have to carry it most of the time. Because I was traveling to Catalina, I knew I would be doing a lot of walking around the island, which included walking to my hotel from the boat docks (about half mile). Although the walk wasn’t long, I was happy I wasn’t lugging around a heavy bag in the hot sun. (If you’re planning a trip to the island, check out my post for things to do).

Choose Your Luggage Wisely:

For this trip, I packed my Outdoor Products Ripcord Hydration Pack  (Amazon says it’s 3.6 L + 2 L hydration pack compatible so I had about 5.6 L of space total). I chose this bag for its versatility – it can be carried around town and because it has waist and sternum straps, it’s a great hiking backpack too. First, I love single bag travel; less stuff to lose. Then, I would always recommend a backpack over a rolling bag; yes, rolling bags are easier to pull around, but it’s a hassle to lift them over curbs and stairs and maneuver around crowds. Next, choose a bag that fits your needs. Don’t pick your largest bag by default. The larger the bag, the more stuff you find to fill in it, and more often than not, you don’t need half of it. With every item you pack, think about these things: is it multi-functional? Is it something you really need? (Check out my post Less Is More to see how I came to this mindset). Every trip is a learning experience!

Length of Trip:

This list is for three days. For week long trips, I would add about three shirts and a pair of pants. For trips longer than that, I would pack the same amount as I would for a week and wash clothes.

Minimalist Packing

Here is my summer minimalist packing list for a three day trip:

  • 1 romper
  • 3 t-shirts (wear one, pack 2)
  • 1 pair of active tights
  • 1 pair of flowy pants
  • Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket (packs into its own pocket!)
  • Bathing suit and rash guard
  • Sports bra and underwear
  • Reusable water bottle and cutlery & reusable bag
  • Sony a7R camera w/ 24-240mm lens + batteries/tripod
  • Notebook & pen
  • Buff/scarf
  • Toiletries & first aid
  • Portable Charger (this one is great because it can charge my phone, e-reader [if I bring one], and camera 6-9 times)
  • Smartphone and charger
  • Food! (optional)
  • Towel (good idea for beach locations; I use a camping towel that packs up super small)
  • Playing cards (optional)
  • Goggles (specific for this trip so I wouldn’t have to rent snorkel gear)

In Transit Clothes:

  • T-shirt
  • Light plaid long sleeves
  • Tights
  • Hat, sunglasses, & watch
  • River sandals and socks
  • Sea bands (great for anyone who gets sea sick!)

Things I would leave behind next time:

  • Tripod – although this is great for group shots, my specific tripod is bulky and inconvenient to carry around
  • 1 Shirt – I still ended up packing more clothes than I could wear
  • Fanny pack – I intended to take this as a small day bag, but I only used it once, and could have easily carried my backpack instead

A Note About Shoes:

girl standing by rock wall

In the past, I would have packed sandals, flip flops, and athletic shoes, but my river sandals served all purposes on this trip. These sandals have a good enough grip to hike in, were great for rocky shores, and could be worn in the water. By packing only one pair of shoes, I saved a lot of space and weight.

When Choosing Clothes, Consider:

Pack clothes that can be layered and interchanged. This way you can travel with less and not look like you’re wearing the same clothes. Ropers/dresses are also great space savers; they pack up super small (roll you clothes instead of folding them) and serve as pants and tops! You can always wear a shirt or pants over the romper and spice up your outfit. For pants, I wore my tights and packed a pair of flowy pants that I wore at night, but could also be worn out. This way, I had two pant options plus a pair of shorts (as part of my romper). Scarves are also great travel necessities; they can be worn in so many ways! Check out this video by 5-Minute Crafts to see what I mean.


When it comes to jackets, pack one that is not too heavy. Instead, chose a shell/wind breaker and layer clothes under it to keep you warm. Because this is a summer packing list, you may not even need a jacket depending on your destination. I’m always cold, so personally, I like to bring a jacket along. I typically pack the Patagonia Nano Puff Jacket (synthetic fill) because it is warm, yet super light and it can pack into it’s own pocket. Don’t go out and buy things you don’t need, but if you are currently in the market for a new jacket, I would recommend this one, but choose the one with a hood and pockets! I made the mistake of not doing so and now my hands are always cold.


Cameras are a very personal choice. Some people prefer to stick with their phones, while others choose to bring DSLRs. Phone cameras have gotten really good and can take decent pictures. I love photography, therefore I chose to bring my Sony a7R. There are ups and downs to both choices. Phones/point and shoot cameras/action cameras are lightweight and easy to carry around, whereas DSLR’s tend to be bulky, although they do give you a better picture quality. My camera is mirrorless and actually a little smaller than my phone, but becomes big and heavy due to the lens I’m using. Polaroid cameras have gotten popular now as well, and you may choose to bring that. All in all, pack whatever adds value to your trip. The best camera is the one you use!


Save the planet with reusable utensils! I always bring my wooden spoon and fork, a cloth napkin, and a reusable straw & bowl; and a reusable bag for groceries. Some people feel like it’s too much work or feel embarrassed, but it’s totally worth it if I can limit plastic waste. Why use a carryout container when it’s life span is less than an hour? Bring your own bowl or container for take out and leftovers! Let’s give back to Mother Earth.


Save money by bringing your own snacks (I love fruits and trail mix) and breakfast foods (oatmeal and/or bagels are easy to pack).



NOTE: the product links in this post are affiliate links, meaning I would earn a small commission if you decide to purchase any of these products. I own all of these products and value them greatly; I would never recommend a product I have not used or do not value.

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