I love a weekend getaway even more than a long trip away (you can cram so much in… plus, I like being home and don’t love leaving Tyrion for long stretches) but they can be tricky to pack for! For a shorter trip like a long weekend, I always try to pack as light as possible. Minimalist packing is not something that comes easy to me but I also hate carrying a lot of stuff with me. And if I’m flying somewhere, I refuse to check a bag and pay baggage fees – I need a small sized bag that will fit in the overhead bins. So my small luggage forces me… I have to pack light. (Seriously though: short trips never really require that much stuff, and you save money by not checking your bag, too!) I’m also terrified of airlines losing my luggage. It happened once before… never again! Plus I love my carry on bag... she’s so pretty!
Today I’ve rounded up the best tips on how to pack light for a shorter weekend or week trip – these hacks will have you traveling light without feeling like you made any sacrifices.
How to Pack Light for a Weekend Away
tip no. 1: Packing light means packing strategically.
Make a packing list to ensure you have everything you need. Lay everything you want to bring out first before you pack. Place the bulkiest items (sneakers, pairs of pants, jeans, etc) at the bottom of the suitcase (toward the wheels) and save the smaller, lightest items like socks, underwear, and bras to fit into random spots (I always stuff small items into my shoes, for example). If you’re bringing a hat, stuff the crown with small soft items and place it flat on the base of the suitcase. Then pack everything else around it! I’ve packed like this fore the past couple years and it makes a big difference – you’d be shocked how much space it frees up!
tip no. 2: Pack separates that can easily be mixed and matched!
I am such a dresses girl so this is hard, but I really find that packing pieces (tops + skirts and/or pants) that can mix and match a) takes up less space in my suitcase and b) is so much more versatile! You’ll save space AND have more potential outfits.
tip no. 3: Prevent Wrinkles!
You know those plastic garment bags from the dry cleaners? They are actually a godsend for preventing wrinkles when you pack. I always save my plastic bags to reuse when packing. Pack your delicate items inside a plastic garment bag and gently fold as you usually would to prevent wrinkles!
tip no. 4: keep a pre-packed toiletry kit on hand.
Fill it with all the products you need (don’t forget a razor + tweezers) so that you don’t have to worry about doing it (or lugging your full size products). If you have full size products you can’t bare to leave behind, buy a set of travel bottles like this one and decant your full size products into smaller bottles. Again though, do this ahead of time! I keep mine up to date – when I get home from my adventure I refill my kit with anything I used up so that it’s always ready to go and I don’t have to think about it when I pack for my next trip.
Make this step extra fun/an excuse to try new things by signing up for a service like Birchbox. Those samples are perfectly travel sized! For a longer trip (a week or more) when I have a checked bag I will bring full size toiletries but it just doesn’t make sense for weekend trips or when I’m trying to travel light. This is my go-to toiletries bag – I keep it pre-packed with everything I need so that I can just throw it in my luggage and GO!
tip no. 5: Invest in an outlet extender!
This is one of the best tips I’ve gotten. An outlet extender (I have that exact one) will turn an outlet into a multi-USB hub; eliminating the need for multiple plugs.
tip no. 6: Pack from the “bigger” section of your wardrobe.
This tip comes from my good friend Hitha (who wrote a whole book about packing!) She says, “Pack from your “bigger” section of your wardrobe – flights will make you bloat, and I know I love to indulge in the local food when I travel. Your stretchiest jeans and most flattering tops will serve you well as your travel wardrobe (as does a good mumu dress – throw on a denim jacket and ankle boots to transition it to fall!)”
tip no. 7: Bundle your clothes instead of rolling them!
And instead of packing cubes, try using space saving compression cubes to fit more clothing in a smaller amount of space. You will save space and be more organized… it will be much easier to find your packed items when they are bundled together.
tip no. 8: Keep your jewelry organized and protected
I have two really great tips to share here. First, if you’re packing delicate necklaces, thread the chain through a paper straw to keep it from getting tangled. Second, use Glad Press N Seal to keep everything organized and in one place! (Lay things flat on one layer and then cover, press, and seal!) Then you can layer the jewelry between soft items – no need to bring a travel jewelry case.
tip no. 9: Limit your shoes
Shoes take up too much space… and they’re heavy! When packing for a weekend, I always limit myself to two pairs of shoes. Usually my gold birks (summer) or a cute pair of sneakers that can be dressed up (like my beloved Vince Warrens), + boots or a heel depending on the trip. I wear whichever pair of shoes takes up more space.
What are your favorite ways to travel light!? Tell me in the comments section!
Photography by Allie Provost.
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Thanks for the tips, Grace! I definitely suck at packing myself, haha. I always end up overpacking! Too many outfits to just choose one… ha!
Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog
I hear you! Hopefully these tips help!
Great tips! Interesting note about the press-and-seal. I used a carry-on for a 2-week trip to Japan by following the 10×10 capsule wardrobe approach. I Absolutely loved traveling light, and I didn’t care so much about repeating outfits. I was able to do laundry in my hotel mid-way through my trip which worked out perfectly.
What I was planning to pack:
What I wore:
Thanks for sharing!!!!
That bag is SOO good! I would pack light solely to use that and have it all fit.
Ha ha, seriously! I love it so much. Best purchase in a while.
Great suggestions! My go to is the Tom Bihn Aeronaut 45 because I love the backpack and cross body options and it fits in the overhead or under the seat since I like to get on the plane at the absolute last minute but that’s another post 🙂 I try to wear my bulkiest item/s on the plane and take a small amount of laundry soap/detergent in case I need to hand wash items.
Oooh I will have to take a peek at that! LOVE the detergent tip! I’ve been known to wash my workout clothes in the sink with shower gel; lol.
Why have I never thought of an outlet extender?! That is so GENIUS!
My Style Vita
Right!? One of my most fav purchases!!!
I am very into this AWAY bag. I travel mostly for business and am wondering if this could double as a laptop bag to go into the office. Is it too big for that? Love your blog and podcast!
I think it’s probably too big. But that could just be me. It’s a little boxy (awkward to tuck under your arm) and I like something a little more slim for the office that tucks under my arm, if that makes sense?
Yep. Makes total sense – and what I sort of figured. Thanks! And happy birthday!
One thing I always do is to pick a certain color theme for clothes and pack only things that fit into it – usually either navy or black. That way you’re not needing a million different accessories – for instance, you can wear the same shoes and outer layers (jackets/cardigans/scarves) with pretty much everything you brought. It ends up simplifying packing and getting ready in the morning while you’re there!
Another thing is don’t be afraid to do a quick load of laundry while you’re on the trip, if facilities are available. I avoided this for years and always felt like I had to pack an outfit for every single day I was on the trip (even including one two-week trip to New Zealand!), but once I finally embraced the concept of doing one quick load mid-trip it was a game changer for my packing. 🙂
I love that – so so smart!!!!!
Okay love this tip of packing from your “bigger” section of your closet. We all know those pieces, ha! So smart. Also, my #1 problem is rarely the clothes, it’s my giant pre-planned always ready to go toiletry bag that I just can’t seem to edit down. I think I need to come up with a weekend toiletry bag and commit to editing it down big time. I do not need ALL THE THINGS for 72 hours.
an indigo day
Yes! I totally agree.
Great tips – Keeping a pre stocked toiletry bag is such a pro move and totally changed the game for me. I ended up upgrading my travel bottles to cadence capsules because I had one too many product explosions (hate the mess & wasting product!)
That is so smart. I love Cadence’s capsules too – they’re so efficient (and cute!)
I am a dedicated light packer. I refuse to check a bag, even for a 3+ week trip. I try to also only bring 2 pairs of shoes. Minimizing a makeup/skincare routine helps. The Container Store carries the best travel containers (by Nalgene). They have several different styles and sizes that DO NOT leak. For jewelry and other tiny products, I have pill containers that separate. They are great for organizing little things plus medicine.
I bring the famous TIBAL multi charger as a backup battery and also bring an ANKER multi-USB port. It’s similar to your outlet extender but is a little more compact.
I also try to schedule a blowout before a trip so I can avoid washing my hair and can majorly reduce any hair products, tools, etc.
Oh my gosh YES to the pre-trip (or if going to New York I get one there) blow out… saves so much space as my hair products and tools take up a lot of room.
I try to pack a bag that is small or foldable for souvenirs/anything I purchase— I usually get through with the extra bag by throwing my purse in it when boarding and then smushing it under the seat! I also use packing or compression cubes. But since they are usually jammed so tight, I take pics of the clothing I have so I know what I have to wear without forgetting about it. I wear molded cup bras and they take up a lot of space (DDs anyway) so if i bring an extra one, I try and stuff thing into the cups or pack gingerly on the top, because a dented cup with a thin shirt over it is a real photo ruiner.
I love these tips, thank you for sharing!!!
I pretty much only wear black when I travel so everything matches, but shoe style is where I struggle. I try to limit to three (one pair of sneakers, flats and heels) but I always wish I had more options with me. Always!
I hear you!!!! I’ve gotten better at making it work but always miss my shoes when I travel.
I don’t do packing light. Checked baggage all the way!
Haha, good for you. To thine own self be true.
I save the beauty product samples for shorter travel, even slimmer to pack and toss when done!
I do that too!!!!
One trip to Europe years ago I packed everything in a carry on for 8 days! One funny tip: I packed my 8 -10 oldest panties and threw them away each night! Ha. Then I had a tiny space for a souvenir on the trip back!
Hahaha that is amazing. Thank you for sharing!
Thanks for sharing so many useful tips! I just have no idea how to pack light for my coming weekend escape. And your writing really helps me a lot. Thank you again for the endeavors that you have made in writing this article.