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When I started Valerie & Valise, I had one mission: help people travel better on the weekends. I had spent a year traveling many weekends across Europe while living in London, so I wrote weekend travel itineraries and tried to help convey my passion for getting out there to travel as much as you can.
But funnily enough – in all that time, I never wrote a list of the things I packed each time I hit the road on a Friday with plans to return Sunday night. I always reach for the same items, but had never documented them – until now.
I’ve now been blogging for almost nine! years and I’m finally writing that post. After almost a decade of being a professional traveler and travel blogger, you can now rely on my experience and expertise to make packing for your next weekend trip a bit easier – no more overpacking or forgetting something important!
Here’s what you need to pack for a weekend away, based on my years of experience traveling the world for weekends and longer trips too. Feel free to let me know in the comments if you have any questions or if I forgot something you consider essential.
This post was originally published in September 2019, and was updated in October 2022.
Weekend Travel Packing Tips
When it’s Thursday night and you realize last minute you’re setting off on your weekend getaway tomorrow – it’s time to pack! Before you grab everything in your closet, here are a few tips to help you pack better. Following these four tips is a good idea to help you pack what you need, but nothing extra.
Pick the Right Bag
The ‘right bag’ for any given trip depends on a couple of things:
- How long your trip will be (in this case, just a weekend!)
- The form of transport you’re taking (plane, train, or automobile?)
- How much you pack (which I will help you with, in this post)
For many years, I always reached for my valise (duffel bag) because it’s easy to carry and looks great. For our fifth anniversary together, Mr. V and I invested in a rolling carry-on suitcase (carry-on bag); that’s now my go-to for any air travel because I’m so over carrying all my belongings on my back through airports.
And then again, a few years later, I upgraded to the Pro Carry-On with Laptop Pocket from Level8 Cases. I love having the laptop pocket so I can use a smaller personal item and keep everything in one bag.
Pack Light & Pack Layers
I have two travel philosophies: life is too short to wait at the baggage claim (aka ‘pack light’) and pack layers. (Heck, if you have extra space, pack extra layer items!)
If you pack for a weekend trip following these two suggestions, you’ll have what you need for every occasion – and nothing extra to carry around on your city break or weekend getaway. This advice works no matter what time of year and wherever you’re going – for international travel or closer to home. So keep these two philosophies in mind as you read the rest of this post – it’s what I’ve based this weekend packing list.
Pack Clothes that Match
Unlike the packing list recommendations I’ve made below – which don’t match at all – I recommend packing clothes that match. Choose a neutral color (read: choose black) and add in a few colored items as accents.
Or if you’re like me and love bright colors, pack, mix and match whatever items and colors you want!
Buy Extras When You Arrive
If you forget something, no biggie! In today’s age, you can literally buy anything you need, anywhere in the world. So if you forgot something, just buy what you need on the ground. Sure, it adds a little extra cost to your trip, but if it’s that essential of an item, you’ll be able to use it at home too.
(Toothpaste and socks are the two I most notoriously forget – and you can’t really go without those for even a weekend! I’ve gotten really good at finding those in airports and pharmacies around the world.)
What to Pack for a Weekend Away
I’ve been publishing packing lists here on V&V for years – and I’ve long said that I pretty much always pack the same things. This is the list of those ‘same things.’ At a quick glance, here’s your perfect weekend trip packing list:
- 1-2 Pairs of Pants
- 1 Pair of Shorts or a Skirt
- 2 Base Layer Tank Tops
- 2 Tees or Blouses
- 1 Hoodie or Cardigan
- 1 Jacket
- A Pair of Flats
- Another Pair of Shoes
- Important documents and financial stuff
- Personal items: Underwear, Socks, Pajamas, Toiletries & Tech
If you mix and match these items, you actually have dozens of outfits to choose from – so even this super-short list is way more than you need to pack for a weekend away.
You probably already know which pants and tees you want to pack, but in case you want recommendations, here are my favorite travel clothes. (I’ve got proof of it too – click the links to see me in each of these items while traveling!)
1-2 Pairs of Pants
A good pair of pants is hard to come by! No matter what shape you are, it’s hard to find a pair that hangs in the right place and flatters all the right spots.
I personally love the Legging Pants from UNIQLO and pretty much always have two pairs (black and denim) in my wardrobe.
1 Pair of Shorts (or a Skirt)
If you’re headed to a warm climate, pack a pair of shorts. If you’re headed somewhere you want to dress up, pack a skirt.
What I love most about Old Navy shorts is that they come in different inseams for different body shapes. I prefer the 5″ inseam; they also come in 2″, 3″, 7″, and more.
2 Base Layer Tank Tops
This item isn’t for everyone, but I personally love wearing a tank top most days (at home or on the road). If you buy them in different colors, they’re good for mixing and matching to create more outfits – and they help absorb smells to help you stay fresh longer when you’re not doing laundry during a short trip.
I love the No Yank Tank from Duluth Trading Company because they have a bunch of fun colors and they really don’t require pulling down all the time as you haul luggage or snap photos while sightseeing on the road.
2 Tees or Blouses
This is the one area of my packing list where I don’t have a specific recommendation. Us women are so particular about what we love and what makes us feel good that I don’t want to tell y’all what to wear.
Instead, I recommend trying StitchFix. I got both of these tops (pictured; here’s me in one in Seattle) from StitchFixes over the past year – as you can see, you can find almost anything that fits your style.
(Get $25 credit if you use my link!)
1 Hoodie or Cardigan
I always bring a hoodie when I travel because it’s perfect for layering. After all, you can wear it in the morning to run out for coffee or in the evening if it gets cool.
I love UNIQLO Airism hoodies because they’re ultra-soft, fit well, and last. My last one went with Mr. V and I on our extended European jaunt and came home with only minor wear and tear. Here‘s me rocking my black hoodie on Insta.
If you don’t love hoodies, I am obsessed with the cardigan from the ICONIC20 Set (no longer available). Here’s me wearing it on my summer trip to Joshua Tree.
Okay, bear with me. Another UNIQLO item, but I swear, it’s because they make fantastic clothes for travel! The Ultra Light Down Jacket is perfect because it keeps you super warm but can stuff into a small sack that fits into any carry-on or personal item.
I bought my Ultra Light Down Jacket… four or five years ago, wear it all the time, and it still looks brand new!
Here’s me wearing mine in Alaska a few years ago.
1 Pair of Flats
I pretty much always travel with at least one pair of flats; Tieks have been my go-to for the past three years.
If you want another great option, I also love Toms Julie Flats and they’re half the price.
1+ Other Pairs of Shoes
Lastly, you always need a good pair of adventure shoes – when I know I’m headed out for a hike, walk, kayak, or on a boat… you name it.
I now have two pairs of Toms Mesa Boots, which I absolutely love. They’re comfortable, water resistant up to the ankle, and look great. I literally wear them everywhere, from Jordan to Death Valley to Alaska.
What About Packing Cubes?
I’ll be honest, I was not really a fan of the concept of packing cubes – and then I got the 4 Piece Packing Cubes set from Level8 Cases with my new luggage – and I love them. If you’re looking for alternatives, Amazon has a set of Basics packing cubes, and I love these Veken packing cubes in my favorite (blog) color.
Other Things to Pack for a Weekend Trip
As you can tell, I obviously don’t cover most of your personal items. I trust you know how many pairs of underwear you need and which cords and plugs you’ll want for the technology you pack. I know you rely on me for any and all travel advice… but I’m confident in your skills with that! That said, there are a few other important things to pack for a weekend trip.
Don’t forget to bring important items you need for travel, such as your passport, printed copies of any tickets you might need, and at least two credit cards. (One to use regularly, the other as an emergency card.)
Electronics, Cords & Plugs
I always bring my computer, my phone, my Apple Watch, and the necessary cords. Sometimes I also have my iPad and the charging cord for that too. Oh, and I always bring both my Airpods and a pair of corded headphones – there are still so many places you can only plug in to listen to stuff!
Undergarments & Pair of Pajamas
I always pack a pair of underwear for each day (unless I’m going for more than 10 days, in which case I pack half the number of days I’m traveling (so 7 pairs for a 14-day trip) and plan to hand-wash them halfway through. I also always bring at least one bra and one or two sports bras. Depending on my travel plans, I often let my workout clothes do double-duty as my pajamas. I also always bring an eye mask because it ensures I get a good night of sleep no matter where I am.
I have a small pack of travel-sized TSA-approved toiletries like sun protection, shampoo, and body wash that I leave in my toiletry bag inside my suitcase even when I’m home. I always remember to throw in my contacts (because I wear dailies), lip balm, toothbrush, and hairbrush – which I don’t have travel versions of. I also now always travel with a cloth mask, a disposable medical mask, and hand sanitizer.
Now you know exactly what I recommend you pack for a weekend trip. Have any questions? Let me know in the comments.