California Mexico Packing Lists


Puerta Vallarta Weekend

I’m asked often how I pack so lightly. While minimalist packing can require some forethought, it’s a decision you will never regret. Benefits of carry-on only travel include beating everyone else on the plane to customs, kissing baggage claim goodbye, and not making yourself stand out as a target for scams or crime. Minimalist travel is more than this, though. It’s the freedom to go anywhere, unobtrusively with all that you need at your fingertips. It’s freeing, and easily obtainable.

Pictured above: all the clothes I need for 4 days & 3 nights in Punta Mita, Mexico. (Not pictured: olive green cardigan for the cold plane)


Perhaps the easiest trial run for minimalist travel is to pack for a long weekend beach getaway in a small backpack. As you embark on this quest, remember that it’s not about how many things you can fit into this backpack, but how empty you leave it. The idea is to choose each item you bring with consideration, and utilize each item in multiple ways while on your trip. The packing list detailed below weighs in at under 6lbs, including my backpack itself, a Tom Bihn Synapse 25, an incredibly designed backpack the size of a schoolbag.

The clothes above are inclusive of what I’m wearing on the plane. As you can see, my items follow a coordinated color story, and all of the separates are interchangeable. My outfits and shoes transition easily from poolside to dinner. I chose a small and versatile purse which will serve me on the beach, and on excursions.

Paring down toiletries can be a challenge, especially when it comes to makeup items. I’ve narrowed my travel makeup routine down to a minimum with high-quality products that don’t overshadow my natural look, and stay put in the constant humidity I seem to thrive in. (Not pictured: Bare Minerals duo makeup brush — powder brush on one side, eyeshadow on the other.)

Minimalist makeup kit

What else is in my bag?

– A good book (on this trip, it’s Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn)
– Cole Haan sunglasses
– Slimmed down version of my wallet
– Passport & confirmations
– iPhone & charger (in-flight entertainment + camera)
– Bucky eyemask & earplugs
– 1oz each of Redken Clear Moisture Shampoo & Conditioner
– “The Detangler” mini hairbrush, assorted hair clips, ties & pins
– Travel-size toothbrush & paste
– Contacts & solution

That’s it! My Tom Bihn backpack is only about 1/3 full for this trip. In fact, my husband and I could probably get away with combining bags. However, I look forward to the treat of not fighting with strangers for an overhead bin, and instead sliding my bag under the seat!


Packing for a beach getaway? Where are you headed? What are your must-haves?