The ultimate Checklist for a Weekend Getaway

Weekend trips seem to be the easiest to pack. But in the end they are always the hardest.

A weekend should be easy. The journey is short, the weather won’t vary much, and you probably know what you’re going to do.

But packing light for a weekend trip can be a challenge. We all tend to pack as much as will fit, not just what we need. Whether you’re traveling for a weekend or a month, you’re likely to fill your backpack or suitcase. If you have the space, start adding stuff you’ll never need, like an extra pair of shoes or a just-in-case outfit.

Your stuff will expand to fill your bag.

To counteract this tendency, stick to a checklist for short weekend trips and pack a small bag.


3-day weekend checklist

stuff-packing-weekend-trip

Let’s start with a quick checklist for a three day, two night weekend getaway. The packing list below assumes you leave on Friday, stay Friday and Saturday nights and return home on Sunday.

For clothing, we have included your travel day clothes (or flight clothes) in the checklist.

  • 1 pair of shoes
  • 3 suits
  • 3 sets of underwear
  • 3 pairs of socks (1-2 pairs if you’re wearing merino wool socks)
  • 1 set of pajamas
  • Toiletry bag
  • Water bottle
  • Phone, charger and earphones or headphones
  • Book or Kindle
  • Swimwear for women or men

Consider at least one “fun” outfit depending on your plans. When you put on your make-up—especially when you don’t have to—a cozy dinner can feel like a special occasion when you’re traveling.

Optional additions

  • Jacket
  • Eye mask and earplugs
  • Hat, scarf and/or gloves for winter travel

Daily travel wear

The outfit you wear to travel should be the heaviest outfit of the trip, especially if you’re flying. Wear your largest, heaviest clothes – jeans, sweater, boots, jacket – to save space in your bag. If you get too hot, you can always remove a layer after takeoff and store it in the overhead bin or under the seat in front of you.

If you’re flying, your travel gear should include a light jacket with zipped pockets. The pockets provide extra space for things like your wallet, phone, chapstick, boarding pass and other essentials for the day of travel. The zippers keep your belongings safe as you go through airport security.

Shoes

Shoes are always a challenge when packing. It’s easy to convince yourself you need a second pair, even for a three-day trip. Resist this temptation. Instead, pack one pair of shoes that you can wear all weekend. Your shoes should be comfortable enough to walk in all day, but also fun enough to eat out.

In winter, opt for warm, comfortable boots. Sandals or sneakers work well in nicer weather. For the beach or pool you can always add flip flops if needed. Most fit in the water bottle pocket of your backpack.

Electronics

Be careful not to pack too many electronics. For such a short trip, you can leave your work computer at home. Since you’re either driving or taking a short flight, you can also skip the tablet. Your flight may be too short to watch a movie after all.

A Kindle is my go-to in-flight entertainment for short trips. You also have your phone and earbuds if you prefer to listen to music or a podcast.

Toiletries

As for toiletries, only bring the essentials. If you can live without it or survive a day or two with another brand, leave it at home.

Choose a hotel or an Airbnb that provides the basics so you don’t have to bring soap or shampoo.

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Contact fluid, if necessary
  • Basic makeup, if needed
  • Soap, shampoo and conditioner (only if your accommodation does not provide them)

Consider pooling resources and sharing the pack with your travel companions. Does everyone have to bring their own bottle of sunscreen or can one person bring a bottle that everyone can share?

If you forget something, just grab a cheap option at your destination. You can take leftovers home so you don’t waste time.


Checklist for a long weekend

black hiking backpack near white Fujifilm instax mini camera near black leather boots, red half-zip jacket, gray pocket watch on white map

If you stay in on Sunday night and go home on Monday, use this list.

  • 1 pair of shoes
  • 4 suits
  • 4 sets of underwear
  • 4 pairs of socks (2 pairs if you’re wearing merino wool socks)
  • 1 set of pajamas
  • Toiletry bag
  • Water bottle
  • Phone, charger and earphones or headphones
  • Book or Kindle
  • Men’s swimwear

Optional additions

  • Jacket
  • Eye mask and earplugs
  • Hat, scarf and/or gloves for winter trips

Checklist wedding weekend

For weddings, you may need to pack a little more.

You will need an extra pair of shoes and one or two extra outfits so that you are always appropriately dressed. In addition to wedding attire, think about what you’ll need for the rehearsal dinner or Sunday morning activities if those are part of the festivities.

  • 2 pairs of shoes (1 pair for the wedding, 1 pair for everything else)
  • 5 outfits (1 casual outfit for each day plus the wedding and rehearsal dinner)
  • 3 sets of underwear
  • 4 pairs of socks (3 casual, 1 dress)
  • 1 set of pajamas
  • Toiletry bag
  • Water bottle
  • Phone, charger and earphones or headphones
  • Book or Kindle

Best weekend backpack

We recommend packing a bag made for travel—not just an old duffel bag in the back of your closet—especially if you’re flying. You need a bag that is suitable for packing, getting through security, and accessible during the flight. Depending on how and what you pack, we recommend two options.

Why you should pack for a last-minute weekend trip

Last minute packing sounds sacrilege, especially for organized travelers. But listen to me.

You don’t need to pack much for a weekend getaway, so you don’t need a lot of planning or packing time.

If you wait to pack until the night before your trip, you can work even more efficiently. Check the weather at the last minute so you know it won’t change (much). By then, you’ll also know your weekend plans and be able to pack and dress accordingly.

You don’t have to worry about “just in case”.

Pack a small backpack and limit yourself to one outfit (or less) per day.

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