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How to Pack for a Weekend Trip

How to Pack for a Weekend Trip

Well, here’s another post I never thought I’d write: how to pack for a weekend trip. I’ve been a notorious over-packer ever since I can remember. It doesn’t matter if I was going away for three weeks or three days.

Actually, for some strange reason, packing for a weekend trip has always been more difficult than getting ready for longer getaways. It might be because most of the time when I travel, it’s for periods longer than two weeks.

I mean, I can’t help it. I just like to be prepared for every scenario and know that I have access to everything I need, at any given time. Being an over-planner and a control freak will do that to you. Strangely enough, I’ve noticed that my packing habits have improved significantly when I introduced a mindfulness practice into my life.

Whenever I had plans of going away somewhere, I’d always go shopping, buy a bunch of new outfits for every day of the trip. Then I’d stress about not having enough room for everything or about having to pay any excess or overweight baggage fees, if checking in bags. Mindfulness practice helped me shift my focus to things that actually matter- enjoying the actual experience of traveling, paying attention to absolute necessities, and a realization that the world really won’t come to end if I forget to pack my toothbrush or favorite lipstick.

Two things that were essential in learning to pack light and still bring everything I need: 1) making a list of all items I want to bring and 2) never, EVER, putting off packing until the very last minute.


How to Pack for a Weekend Trip


The best way to know what to pack for a weekend trip? Create a list of all the activities you’re planning to do. Any fancy dinners? Trip to the museum? Lots of sightseeing and walking around? Once you know exactly how you’ll be spending the weekend, you can very easily narrow things down. Having an itinerary written down will help you visualize everything you will need to pack.

It also helps to bring out any bags/suitcases you’re planning to take when deciding what to pack for a weekend trip, so that you can know what you’re working with. Ease and comfort should be your key criteria here. I’ve learned that lesson when I traveled to Poland with a huge shoulder handbag filled to the brim with all my “necessities.” I had everything in there from my in-flight toiletry bag to my laptop. By the time I made it to my gate, my back and my arm were stiff and I was already in pain, sweating and feeling uncomfortable. Not a great way to start an 8-hour flight. Since then, I always bring my velvet Aimee Kestenger Backpack instead (similar to this one). If I really want to bring a large handbag, I fold it up in a dust bag and keep it in my carry-on. Much easier and a lot more comfortable. My favorite light travel blanket always makes the list too, since I’m pretty much always cold.

I’ve been loving Away Luggage and can’t recommend it enough. I have both The Large for longer trips and The Bigger Carry-On. I bought both last year before our trip to Europe- numerous flights and trips later, they’re still in perfect condition. They’re lightweight, roomy, very easy to handle (which is very important to me especially when traveling alone) and come with a 100-day trial and a lifetime warranty. The large one is very roomy and comes with a big laundry bag so that you can separate your dirty clothes from clean ones. The carry-on has a portable charger option, and it always comes in handy when Mark or I have to charge our phones/tablets. Definitely worth the investment- a huge plus for them coming in many different colors. Mine are in blush pink, which makes it very easy to spot them at the baggage claim.


I’ve learned that starting with your absolute necessities is a good way to ensure that you don’t overpack. Listing laying out all the essentials will help you to not leave them behind and visualize how much room you’ll have left for everything else. These include your electronics and chargers, cameras to capture memories (I always travel with my Instax and store my photos in an album like this one until I get home and frame them) medications or supplements, toothbrush + toothpaste, glasses/contacts, any documents you might need (passports, tickets, addresses) underwear, socks, etc.

Makeup is one thing, but when it comes to skincare I keep it simple and either buy travel-sized versions of my essentials such as cleanser, moisturizer, sunscreen, and body wash or use little reusable containers like these to make sure I only bring as much as I need. Or, you can get a little travel set like this one that has pretty much everything you need for skin and hair care. Although it can be tempting to use up those samples you might have sitting around, I wouldn’t recommend trying any new products when traveling. You never know how your skin is going to react, so stick only to products you’re familiar with.

How to Pack for a Weekend Trip

Superga “Cotu” Sneakers are my weekend trip must-haves- I buy a pair almost every summer and pretty much live in them the entire season. Simple, cute and they go with everything from jeans to delicate dresses. Most importantly, they’re very comfortable. 


Before deciding to pack/bring something, take a minute to think about whether or not you really need it, or can do without it for three to four days. A good example is me always bringing my laptop with me. It’s definitely a necessity for longer getaways, but during short weekend trips I usually end up using my laptop for things I can easily do from my phone (like checking emails, making sure my bills are scheduled to be paid, etc.). You also probably don’t need four different pair of shoes just for a short weekend trip.

How to Pack for a Weekend Trip

I like to bring a small card/cash holder since my wallet is bulky and I don’t like to drag it with me everywhere, especially when using a small handbag.


As far as clothing goes, anything that is lightweight and can be easily layered will help you stay prepared for different weather conditions. One absolute must for me is a comfy pair of jogger pants to travel in. Make + Model have great basics and their Good Vibes Jogger Pants are the comfiest and softest thing, ever. A light windbreaker or a faux leather jacket is also a good item to pack. If traveling by plane, try to wear some of those bulkiest items, rather than packing them, as they can take up a lot of that precious carry-on space. I’m a shoe girl, so I always feel tempted to bring way too many pairs of shoes with me, and they can also take up a lot of room. One pair of comfy walking shoes should be enough- to travel in and for any walking around/sightseeing you plan on doing (that’s always Superga for me). A pair of black jeans and/or chino pants are always my “bottoms” basics. A dress, skirt and nice camisole or a button-down shirt, a pair of cute sandals or heels are also good items to bring if your plans include experiencing the nightlife.

How to Pack for a Weekend Trip

My beauty department basics usually include travel-sized skincare, cleansing spa water clothes, a spot-treatment for sudden breakouts and other beauty-emergency minis like pre-soaked nail polish remover pads, a pair of tweezers, and Patchology’s Travel Treatment Kit to keep my skin happy while traveling.

I talked about Henry Charles makeup bags many times before and they’re amazing for storing your beauty products and tools, and keeping them cozy and safe while traveling.  


To minimize the number of clothes you bring for your trip, go for things that can be easily transitioned from day to night. Focus on pieces that are versatile and can be used for multiple outfits. Light layers are easier to store and mix and match while deciding what to wear. A good, basic white tee is always a good staple- you can wear it with jeans or shorts during the day and dress it up in the evening by adding a boyfriend blazer. Madewell’s Northside Vintage Tee is one of those great multitaskers, I love pairing it with Topshop’s Chuck On Blazer. Black and white might seem a little boring, but both are my favorite colors. It’s such a classic and timeless combo- matching different items is also much easier if most of the clothes you pack fall in the neutral palette. Sometimes, when packing, I use these multitaskers to create a handful of outfits and take a mirror selfie with my phone to help me remember the outfit and make things even easier for myself.

I am definitely not a “one product” kind of a girl, but I do like to narrow things down to a few beauty multitaskers. Okay, so I don’t really like to do it, it’s more out of necessity since bringing my entire vanity for a weekend getaway is not an option. One tinted moisturizer, mascara, brow pencil, and a lip balm or a lip gloss is enough for a “day” look. I also like to bring one of my favorite foundations and a favorite nude lipstick in case I have plans to have dinner somewhere nice. Instead of an eyeshadow palette, I like products like Bobbi Brown’s Shimmer Brick in Beige. It is a cheek product, but I love using individual colors as eyeshadows.

As I mentioned at the beginning, making a list of all my necessities is the most important thing that helps me narrow things down when I pack for a weekend trip. I’ve always been an over-packer and this helps ensure both that I don’t forget any essentials and that I don’t end up bringing too much stuff with me. I stick to things that are versatile, minimal and easy/light to pack. So, again, these are the things I like to focus on:

  • Bags + Luggage– what will you use to pack for a weekend trip? How much room are you working with? Will you need to bring a handbag, an evening bag, a backpack?
  • What are your essentials?– which electronics will you absolutely need to bring? Don’t forget your chargers, medications, toiletry necessities such as a toothbrush, cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen, sunglasses, and so on.
  • Be realistic– do you really need four pairs of shoes for a 3-day trip? Will you really have time to actually power up your laptop?
  • What’s the plan?– what’s on your itinerary? By knowing exactly what experiences you’re looking forward to, you can easily plan your outfits accordingly (do I need to be comfortable while walking around all day? Will I need to dress up for dinner and drinks in the evening?)
  • Focus on the basics + multitaskers– light, neutral pieces can be layered and styled very easily. Multitasking items can be used to transition from day to night effortlessly. A lot of makeup products can also be used as multitaskers and not bringing your entire makeup bag will save you a lot of room.

Do you tend to overpack, even for those short trips? Any other tips on how to pack for a weekend trip that you’d add to the list?


  • Reply
    Lisa Autumn
    June 7, 2019 at 8:42 am

    Such a useful guide girl! I always try to pack as light as possible so this is perfect :)

    x Lisa |

  • Reply
    Lauren Victoria
    June 11, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    I needed this packing post last week before I went away for the weekend! I always overpack so I definitely need to work on steamlining my packing x

    Lauren |

  • Reply
    June 17, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    Such a well written post, then again its coming from Paula, the perfectionist. I have been such a hoarder and over packer but with kids you never know. But I have gotten so much better over the period of time and excessive traveling.

    Totally agree on NEVER putting off packing until the last minute, its the worst idea. Love, love, love your makeup bag.

    Saman || Beautydetour

    • Reply
      Paula @
      July 7, 2019 at 9:40 am

      Aww thank you so much Sam!! You are so sweet!

      I can only imagine that with the little ones you have to be prepared for every scenario! Putting off packing until the last minute is definitely a good way to bring in some unnecessary stress haha.

  • Reply
    Natalie Redman
    June 20, 2019 at 7:22 am

    Really want an instax!

  • Reply
    Huong Vo
    July 10, 2019 at 5:24 pm

    Great tips, love! I’m SO like you. I overpack a lot because a girl’s gotta have OPTIONS! I just change my mind so much, lol! I’m going on a short weekend trip this coming weekend so this definitely came in handy for me. I must say I’m loving your Henry Charles makeup bag! It looks like it holds a ton of stuff for what seems like a small bag!

    She Sweats Diamonds

    • Reply
      October 15, 2019 at 10:30 am

      Haha yes, we definitely do sound alike! :) Love that makeup bag, it fits so much and is so sturdy. x

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