Ditch the Checked Luggage—Here's How to Pack for a Weekend Getaway Minimally

How to Pack for a Weekend Trip

Efficient packing doesn’t seem like a skill until you realize that you can easily pack your entire closet for a few days away. And while it’s no simple feat to organize a week’s worth of luggage, it’s a true accomplishment to fit everything you need for a weekend into a carry-on.

If you’ve spent some time reading my travel stories, then you know that I grew up with parents who taught me never to check a bag. This lesson stuck with me when I spent a college semester in Prague, and then it was perfected when moved to London a few years later.

The trick I learned from restricting myself to light packing is to be strategic—everything that gets tucked away should be versatile, minimal, and light. The two things you should ask yourself is, “Do I need this?” and “How many ways can I use it?” The answers should help you create a carry-on that’s easy to manage while you’re on the go.

Here’s a cheat sheet of what to pack for a weekend trip, from the gear you need to the clothes and makeup to wear. Hopefully these 15 essentials will still leave you with enough room for souvenirs.


Away Carry-On $225

Fits everything you need into one stylish suitcase.

Zip Top Transport Leather Tote -
Madewell Zip Top Transport Leather Tote $188

This should hold everything you need to keep on hand, including a light jacket.

Envelope Leather Shoulder Bag
Mansur Gavriel Envelope Leather Shoulder Bag $895

Pick a small crossbody bag that holds only the essentials so that you’re not held back during adventures throughout the day.

JJ Power Travel Packing Cubes $19

These packing cubes will keep you from bringing too much stuff.

Vanity Kit Leather-trimmed Cosmetics Case
Anya Hindmarch Vanity Kit Leather-Trimmed Cosmetics Case $370

Fit all of your toiletries in one place with a cosmetic bag—bonus points if there’s a hanger.


The Perfect Summer Cropped High-rise Straight-leg Jeans
Madewell The Perfect Summer Cropped High-Rise Straight-Leg Jeans $100

High-waisted jeans are versatile, flattering, and can be worn while traveling—saving you space in your bag.

Polka-dot Georgette Wrap Dress
Ganni Polka-Dot Georgette Wrap Dress $235

I try to pack one dress that can work for either formal or casual occasions.

The Crew Tee
Hanes x Karla The Crew Tee $48

Most of what I pack is on the minimal side, and that’s especially true of a standard white shirt. My general rule for packing clothes is that they have to be versatile enough for multiple outfits. It’s best to stick to a color scheme, if you can.

Women's J.crew End On End Sleep Shirt
J.Crew Women's End on End Sleep Shirt $68 $45

The less room pajamas take up, the better. So consider packing the sleep shirt, which can be rolled for extra efficiency.

Tournament Leather Sneakers
Common Projects Tournament Leather Sneakers $405

Because shoes are particularly bulky, only pack the ones you know you’re going to wear multiple times. You probably won’t need as many shoes as you think.


Soy Face Cleanser Mini 1.7 oz/ 50 mL
Fresh Soy Face Cleanser Mini $15

I pare down my nighttime skincare routine a lot while traveling, and for me, this cleanser makes up the difference.

Radiant Creamy Concealer Mini
Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer Mini $13

All the makeup I bring along is travel size, including my concealer.

Quip Copper Metal Electric Toothbrush $50

A powerful electric toothbrush that’s also stylish and efficient.

Stowaway Take Flight Set $89

This cosmetics company’s whole philosophy centers around space-saving products, including this travel-ready set.

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