Weekend Packing List For a Quick Escape

Shannon Whitney

So, you’re heading somewhere for the weekend this spring, 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.

Here’s a basic weekend packing list based on the minimalist mentality that I’ve adopted for quick treks. It’s never worth it to check a bag for a weekend, you risk losing it for a day or two (which is practically your whole trip) and you’re only gone for two nights.

My biggest secret, and the hardest part for most people, is to plan before you pack. 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. Easy, right?

It’s tough to leave behind all the “just in case” items. I’ve packed workout clothes, thinking I might squeeze in a run. I knew I wouldn’t make time in those 48 hours, but I couldn’t shake the “maybe.” I’ve 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.  Two summers ago I took a jacket to New Orleans in June. Needless to say, I did not wear it once.

The Tortuga Air or a similar backpack is perfect for your weekend away, here’s what you’ll need inside.


Like Drake, let’s start from the bottom. 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 in your backpack at all.


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 uniform if jeans aren’t your first choice. Plan on bringing them clean and taking them off only to sleep.

Pack a top for the day on Saturday, usually mine is some variation of a t-shirt or a casual sweater.

For the 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.

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?

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

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.

Because this is a short trip, you should pack the precise number of socks and underwear your need for three 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.


Depending on where you’re going, it’s important to check the weather the week of the trip to see if you’ll need an extra layer. Grab a jacket or thermal leggings to wear under your jeans if cold is predicted.


For a weekend, ask yourself over and over, “Do I need that?”

Most weekends planned for fun (not work) travel, I get by with just my iPhone.  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 are light.


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

As for toiletries, we have a helpful post here. Once again, bring what you’ll use, not everything under your bathroom sink.

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.

Alright you’re ready to go! Here’s the full list:

  • 1 pair of comfortable shoes for the entire weekend (boots, sneakers or sandals depending on the trip)
  • 1 pair of jeans or Outliers to wear all weekend
  • 2 tshirts or causal tops for Saturday and Sunday
  • 1 dressier top for Saturday night
  • 2 pairs of underwear
  • 2 or three pairs of socks
  • Bras as needed
  • Pajamas
  • Phone charger
  • Toiletry kit
  • Book
  • Earbuds

Other stuff you may need

  • Baseball hat
  • Jersey dress
  • Dressy clothes for an event
  • Jacket
  • Thermal leggings
  • Tablet or laptop
  • Daypack


Heading out for the weekend? Here’s the packing list to cover a short getaway.

Start with a pair of shoes and a pair of jeans. Build the rest of your outfits around these staples. Remember, it’s only two nights. Pack exactly what you’re planning to wear.

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