A Weekend Packing List for Quick Trips

Shannon Whitney

Heading out for the weekend? Use this weekend packing list to figure out what to bring on a short getaway. Pop everything into a small travel backpack and hit the road.

So, you’re heading somewhere for the weekend, maybe visiting friends or family, seeing a concert, cutting the rug at wedding or attending a graduation. Just Friday through Sunday and then back home again. Nothing too complicated, or open ended, about this trip. So, packing should be easy, right?

My biggest secret, and the hardest part for most people, is to pick out the clothes you’re going to wear each day before you leave. This involves a little research on destination, itinerary and the expected weather. Figure out what you’ll need and then take exactly that.

It’s tough to leave behind all the “just in case” items. I’ve packed workout clothes, thinking I might squeeze in a run, and once packed two dresses for a wedding so I could decide which one to wear when I arrive. In retrospect, I should have just spent 30 seconds and made the decision before I left.

The Setout Divide is perfect for your weekend away and short trips, a full-sized carry on is too much bag. You need something compact with enough packing space for the essentials. It’s never worth it to check a bag for a weekend and risk losing it for a day or two (which is practically your whole trip). Plus, you’re only gone for two nights. Here’s a basic weekend packing list based on the minimalist mentality that I’ve adopted for quick trips.

What to pack for a weekend getaway

Basic Weekend Packing List

If you’re just looking for a quick checklist, below is a basic weekend packing list you can modify for any type of getaway:

  • 1 pair of comfortable shoes for the entire weekend (boots, sneakers, or sandals depending on the trip)
  • 1 pair of pants or shorts to wear all weekend
  • 2 t-shirts or casual tops for Saturday and Sunday
  • 1 dressier top for Saturday night
  • 2 pairs of underwear
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • Bras as needed
  • Pajamas
  • Phone charger
  • Toiletry kit
  • Book
  • Earbuds
  • Eye mask
  • Water bottle

Optional add-ons for your weekend packing list:

Need more specifics? Scroll down for a more details on what when going away for the weekend, and tips to keep your list light and simple. But first, let’s take a look at what to pack it in.

Best Backpacks for Weekend Travel

Outbreaker Laptop Backpack $225

The Outbreaker Laptop Backpack is the perfect bag for a minimalist or long weekend getaway to Las Vegas.

At 27L, there’s just enough room for a couple of days worth of close, your essential electronics, and toiletries.

This bag will let you move smoothly through your travel day and spend more time at the pool or roulette table than you do standing around the baggage carousel.

Setout Divide $179

If you need a little more space, pack in the Setout Divide. It expands from 26L all the way up to 34L.

As someone who likes to do a little shopping in the endless malls between the casinos, I enjoy having the ability to zip open the expansion section on the Setout Divide and pack that new Desigual dress for the trip home.

The Setout Divide is the perfect flexible carry on for a weekend trip and light packers.

Weekend packing list: clothing

What to Pack for a Weekend Away

1 Pair of Shoes

You’ll need one pair of shoes you can wear all weekend. During the winter, I always bring a pair of  boots without heels. They’re sturdy for walking and work with most winter outfits.

For warmer trips, look for comfortable sandals or sneakers. Since they don’t take up much room, toss in another pair of sandals or flip flops if there is beach or pool time on the agenda.

Shoes or boots can be worn on the plane or in the car if you’re driving. Volia! No space used in your backpack at all.

1 Pair of Jeans or Pants

Most weekends, I will take one pair of jeans to wear the entire weekend, working my shirts and accessories around that single pair. Jeremy and Fred are talking up Outliers on the podcast, which would be the perfect pair of men’s travel pants if jeans aren’t your first choice. Plan on bringing them clean and taking them off only to sleep.

3 Tops: 2 Casual and 1 Dressy

Pack three tops in total. Choose a top for the day on Saturday, usually mine is some variation of a travel t-shirt or a casual sweater.

For Saturday evening, bring a dressier shirt that can still work with jeans. Think something you’d wear to a bar or restaurant. For men this typically means a collar. Ladies, it really depends on your look.

For Sunday, another causal top or t-shirt is perfect, or a simple, comfortable travel dress. Ladies, be sure you have the exact bra you need for each shirt.

1 Suit, Dress, or Occassion-Specific Outfit

If you’re going to an event, such as a wedding, graduation or show, you may need to toss in a dress or a suit (handy suit-packing tips here). This might be less efficient for packing, but do you really want to go to a wedding in jeans?

Accessories and Jewelry

As far as accessories and jewelry, bring what you’d usually wear with your chosen outfits. Unlike packing for a longer stay, no need for the mix’n match theory of having a couple of things that can be reworn. For three days, laundry is a waste of time. For three weeks, laundry is a necessary evil.

2 Pairs of Socks and Underwear

Because this is a short trip, you should pack the precise number of socks and underwear you need for 2-3 days. I recommend a spare pair of socks if there’s a lot of walking planned. Fresh socks can be a game-changer after a long day of stomping around.

Winter and Fall Getaways: Jacket, Leggings, Hat, and Scarf

For winter and fall weekend packing lists, or colder destinations, you’ll also want to make sure you have a warmer layer. Check the weather before you go to see exactly what kind of temperatures you’re preparing for. Then, grab one jacket you can wear for the full weekend, and thermal leggings to wear under your jeans. Also pack a hat and travel scarf just in case.

Pajamas and Book

Don’t forget pajamas and phone charger. I always forget pajamas and a phone charger. Be sure you also have a book or your Cards Against Humanity deck.

Phone, Charger, and Earbuds

When it comes to technology for weekend trips, ask yourself “Do I need that?”. Most weekends planned for fun (not work) travel, I get by with just my iPhone and charger. Bring a kindle or tablet if that makes you feel less techno-naked. Pack that laptop if absolutely necessary. Earbuds, I cannot live without; luckily, they’re light.

What to pack for a weekend getaway; weekend packing list

Toiletry Kit

As for toiletries, only bring what you’ll use, not everything under your bathroom sink. Essential toiletries you’ll always want to bring for a weekend getaway include:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Contact solution
  • Sunscreen
  • Basic makeup
  • Soap, shampoo, and conditioner (if not provided by your accommodation)

Confession: I use other people’s shampoo when I stay at their house. I also use hotel shampoo, c’mon it’s free! Sometimes I don’t wash my hair for a whole weekend and pack a baseball hat instead. Often that extra 30 minutes of sleep or breakfast is totally worth it.

Be sure to pack those personal items you don’t share or others may not use. For me that’s contact solution, hair gel, mascara, and toothbrush. Those are the core four things I need to look, and function, like a human.


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