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Minimalist Packing: One Week in Tokyo

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All of my travel dreams have just come true because I am headed to Tokyo with my chef brother, Max, and youngest daughter, Emilie, for a week of eating All Of The Things. Max is the ultimate minimalist (read about that right here) and he always inspires me to pack even lighter than I normally do.

For this trip we are flying direct on the new budget airline ZIPAIR which translates into great-deal-but-only-one-small-carry-on- allowed (15 lbs or less) plus BYO food, snacks, and water. Luckily the weather looks mild and lovely (hello, cherry blossom season!) so packing light will be easier than ever. Read on for my full minimalist packing list…

minimalist packing listLinks: 1 Stylish Sneaker / 2 Lightweight Trench (I also LOVE this one)/ 3 Everyday Jean/ 4 Crossbody Bag / 5 Classic Tee / 6 White Jean/ 7 Casual Sweater / 8 Chambray Shirt / 9 Trucker Hat

Click here for more of my favorite capsule wardrobe essentials.

What I Packed

I always pack based on activity, and since this trip is primarily about walking and eating, I was able to pack versatile (and very casual) staples to mix and match. My uniform for the trip will consist of easy separates (jeans and blouses or t’s) layered with a light sweater or trench when necessary. I typically wear leggings and a cozy sweatshirt for long flights, and I always bring a decent sized tote on the plane as my hand luggage so I can stow all of the essentials including snacks, water bottle, laptop, toiletry bag, and chargers.

In My Handbag

Laptop, headphones, iphone, the best portable charger, and charging cords (no adapters necessary for Tokyo)

Wallet with passport, health card, CC, and Yen (handy to have cash for train and tipping)

Plane snacks gum and water bottle

Vitamins and medications

Toiletry Bag (I used this structured pouch which can hook onto any bag and doubles as a chic clutch)

In My Toiletry bag

I packed only the following items: Dental floss, mini toothpaste, mini toothbrush, deodorant, face wash, SPF, vitamin C moisturizer (I use day and night), mascara, my favorite lip and cheek tint, and a small jar of raw coconut cream for hydrating hair, nails, and skin. I have no problem using hotel shampoo, conditioner, and body wash which helps lighten the load.

In My Suitcase

I use this carry-on bag (with front pocket!) with these packing cubes

Tops (7)

Chambray Shirt (1)

Jeans (2)

Light Trench

Socks and underwear (10 each)



Mini Heated Styling Brush

Compact Travel Umbrella

To ensure the smoothest travel experience possible, I refer to this international travel checklist:

Check Passport Expiration / Pack Travel Plug Adapters (not necessary from US-Japan) / Order Foreign Currency / Alert CC Company of Travel / Check International Data Plan with Phone Company

I also make sure to learn about the place I’m visiting so I can be respectful of cultural values and norms – i.e. the mask mandate has been lifted in Japan, but the vast majority of people continue to wear masks in all indoor situations, on public transportation and in the city streets so I made sure to order some to have on hand.

I hope this list inspires you to pack lighter on your next trip – nothing like feeling both prepared and footloose and fancy free when you’re in a new city!

Want to check out what we’re eating, seeing, and doing in Tokyo this week? Follow my adventures on Instagram right here.

And safe travels to my fellow travelers!

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14 comments on “Minimalist Packing: One Week in Tokyo

  1. I have a medical education class in Boston.
    Can you help w a capsule wardrobe ? I’m 5’6
    170 pounds . And usually in scrubs.

  2. Be sure to try the coconut oil to see if it works for y as deodorant. One less heavy item. Also something I do only when I travel is count out x amount of cleanser wipes and stash in a baggie.. may also be less space consuming 🤷‍♂️

  3. If you pack travel detergent and a portable drying line, you can get away with packing even less (Wirecutter has compact recommendations) and wash a few items in the sink after brushing your teeth; they’ll dry overnight while you’re sleeping. Instead of traditional pajamas, I’ll pack leggings or soft shorts and a tank, which can double as clothing in a pinch. A scarf is also handy for drafty planes and for visiting places that require a head covering (like houses of worship).

  4. I doubt you need SPF, every hotel I stayed in Tokyo offered toothbrush/paste, comb, qtips, floss and something to sleep in. I’d also leave the umbrella at home. Easily purchased for 500 yen at 7-11, may not rain/alot of hotels will loan you one.
    Would recommend staying in Shinjuku ward, close to the JR station.
    Your gonna have an amazing time 😀

    1. Thanks for the tips! Didn’t realize my hotel would provide a sleep set – next time I’ll skip the PJs!x

  5. I am surprised at how many socks, underwear and tops you are bringing for only 7 days. Good merino socks and shirts can be worn multiple days without smelling or getting gross. And unless you are moving hotels every day, underwear can be washed and hung to dry. I just go pony tail and avoid bringing the hair styling items and skip the makeup. But I get it – for some people that’s just a little too little!

    1. So funny! It ended up being perfect for me and my carry-on was half empty so it was nice to have a little variety. I don’t love doing laundry when I travel if I can avoid it but I hear your point! x

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