When it comes to packing for a weekend trip, the contents of your suitcase (or backpack/duffel, if you’re flying Spirit) will depend what you’re doing. But whether it’s a ski trip, a wedding, a thrilling outdoor adventure, or a beach getaway that dictates you pack mostly bathing suits, you’ll want to consult a list of all the items you could possibly want in your arsenal, and narrow it down accordingly.
Some things you can leave off your weekend packing list, however. This includes any toiletries you could go a couple of days without, especially in lieu of whatever the hotel has: shower toiletries and hair-styling tools included. Can you use the hotel blow dryer instead of your own? Probably. Can you go even further by forgoing shaving supplies for a couple of days? Not a bad idea—but it’s ultimately up to you, and what you will need once you’re in the destination.
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Here’s what to think about bringing for your weekend getaway, and what to leave in order not to overpack, from toiletries to gadgets and beach necessities.
What to Pack for a Weekend Trip
Think about what you’re going to actually be doing and plan outfits for each day to narrow down your clothing needs. You can do the same with toiletries, electronics, and essentials: What will your few days away actually demand? Only bring those things.
Items that you might usually bring but can forget about for a few days include a first-aid kit, shaving supplies, your full-size makeup bag (maybe just put the essentials into a smaller sleeve) or bulky shaving kit, and the unnecessary bathroom items that you can get for free at the hotel, like moisturizer, shampoo, conditioner, and a comb.
Aftersun/aloe and bug spray might also not be necessary—or could be available on site wherever you’re staying. Because most weekend trips aren’t international, we’ve left off most medications and similar over-the-counter items you can easily buy if you end up needing them.
- Toothbrush and toothpaste
- Hair-styling products
- Glasses and/or contact lenses/solution
- Makeup/makeup remover/any other face necessities
- Feminine hygiene products
- Medicines/birth control/vitamins you need daily
- Hand sanitizer
- Sunscreen/lip balm with SPF
- Disposable wipes
If you’re taking a beach trip, the packing gods rejoice: Most necessities are small and worth throwing in your bag. Just forget the bulky items like a beach umbrella, beach chairs, snorkel gear, and floatation devices (what hotel doesn’t have these nowadays?). Don’t bother with coolers or beach safes unless you’re driving, and towels can also probably be found at the resort. The only few things left to consider are:
- Waterproof phone case
- Portable speaker
- Bathing suits
- Collapsible beach bag
If you’re not planning on heading to the gym, forget the athletic shoes and workout gear and walk everywhere instead. In fact, try to narrow your shoes down to one pair that you can wear the whole time. Leave behind pricey jewelry you might lose and won’t need for a few days. But don’t skimp on clothes, and ones you love to wear—you’ll want to be comfortable so you can focus on the destination. It’s unlikely you need all of the following, but here’s what to consider:
- One pair of versatile, casual shoes
- Light jacket/sweater
- Small purse/clutch
- Athletic shoes
- Workout gear
Every trip demands a reusable water bottle and some snacks for the road, but you can probably leave behind longer-trip necessities like a laptop, emergency contacts, and an itinerary (or just keep the latter info in your phone).
- Water bottle
- Credit cards
Aside from the usual phone, chargers, and maybe a small tablet for reading, go light on the electronics for a few days—you don’t have too much time to explore, after all. But if you’re flying with strict weight limits, as most weekend-getaway flights are basic-economy, you might also want to stash a portable luggage scale in your bag.
- Cell phone
- Electronic chargers
- Headphones or earbuds
- Portable luggage scale
Other Weekend Getaway Packing Tips
What’s Essential: If you only leave the house with a tote bag’s worth of things, they should be your wallet (ID, cards, maybe some cash), whatever toiletries you require (medications, toothbrush/toothpaste, and makeup and/or face and hair creams you need daily), and a handful of versatile clothing items you love to wear. All of those things can fit into a pretty small amount of space, basic-economy restrictions be damned.
Secret Weapon: Packing cubes that are on the smaller side can help compress everything you need and organize it by type. Also consider that you’re probably allowed both a carry-on bag and a personal item—which makes a roomy personal-item bag a great hack for getting more onto the plane.
Leave at Home: When it comes to a three- to four-day weekend, no one needs half the stuff they pack into their suitcase for a usual longer trip. Step away from the large electronics, any unnecessary creams or gels (the hotel or rental’s will probably suffice for the few days), outfits you’ve never worn before, and pairs of shoes that are questionable when it comes to comfort.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Packing for Europe: 8 Items You Should Leave at Home
- The Ultimate Packing List
- The Essential International Packing List