Packing Lists for Travel

What to Pack for a Weekend Away: My 3-Day Packing List

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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, so I wrote weekend travel itineraries (I still do that – now I call them 3-day guides) 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’ve never actually written a list of the things I packed each time I hit the road on a Friday afternoon. I never wrote my weekend packing list so that you can trust my travel advice and my packing advice.

Weekend Packing List Hero

I’ve now been blogging for almost six years and I’m finally writing that post: 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.

Weekend Travel Packing Tips

Valerie in Alaska

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 example, I love to pack my valise (duffel bag) or California getaways because it’s easy to carry and looks great. But Mr. V and I invested in a rolling carry-on suitcase (carry-on bag) for our fifth anniversary together, and that’s now my go-to for any air travel because I’m so over carrying all my belongings on my back through airports. Sure, you won’t have much space depending on which bag you choose.

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

3 Days in Houston - Street Art

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

Scottsdale - V at the Andaz Resort

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.

Here I am in my favorite black pair in Chile and in Chicago.

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.

Here’s me sporting these exact shorts in Chile earlier this year, and in Nebraska this summer.

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.

Here I am in a No Yank Tank while in Arizona, and again in Kazakhstan.

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.

If you want something simple, H&M has great basic tees, like this one I’m wearing here in Oakland.

Weekend Packing List - Stitch Fix Tops

(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 Tahoe.

1 Jacket

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 Hawaii this year, and in Alaska two 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.

Here I am in my Tieks in Colombia in 2017, and in Maine earlier this year. It’s actually the same pair!

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 grab my Teva De La Vina boots. The ones pictured aren’t available anymore, but I am 100% going to upgrade to the new style when mine wear out. You may not need more than one pair of shoes, but if you have a couple of different activities planned and have space in your bag, you might want more options.

Here I am, wearing them on an adventure in SF, and in Joshua Tree.

What About Packing Cubes?

I personally don’t use packing cubes, but they can definitely be handy to keep your clothing items and other items organized. If you want packing cubes, 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

Valerie wearing Tieks in Ohio

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.

Important Documents

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.

Toiletries

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.

Help others discover this post too!

28 Comments

  • Michelle

    I have a four day/three day trip planned in July, and this list is gonna be a big help. Thanks to people’s input like this, it makes traveling a lot easier and more organized for people like me.

  • abi

    this unhelpful as you didnt include toiletries what to pack for beauty and what the minum anmount of items should be

    • Valerie

      Thanks for your comment, Abi, but I don’t assume people need to be told to pack toothpaste or that I should suggest any particular beauty products for my readers.

      • Nora

        Abi is right though, why would someone forget to pack their clothes for a trip? It’s more likely they might forget toiletries so it’s helpful to have a list to check off what you should bring. Just a thought here.

        • Valerie

          Thanks for your comment – everyone has different lists of the things they’ll bring for a weekend depending on what they’re doing and where they are going. I don’t think I could write a list for that, but I did want to break down for my readers how I plan to pack clothes, since that’s something everyone always says they pack too much!

  • Abi Wilson

    well that might not occur to you but personally it might help if a person is a bit stuck with what to pack just a suggestion

  • Jamie

    Thank you so much for this list!! My bf randomly decided we are going on a trip tomorrow for three days and I’m scrambling to pack 😭 this was a huge help ❤️❤️❤️

  • Rebecca Gardner

    Thanks for the tip to bring a hoodie since we can layer it with anything to stay comfortable. My husband and I think it would help us grow as individuals and as a couple to book a 3-day plant medicine retreat within the next couple of months. I’m glad to read your article and learn some basic things I should bring to ensure the trip is enjoyable on every level!

      • Christina

        Thank you for the great ideas. I’ve been trying to pack lighter every trip in the past decade or more!

        *** And [HUZZAH!] I’m glad you didn’t go into detail about makeup. I prefer my face wash, some coconut oil, and chapstick. That’s packing light. I don’t feel like reading an ultimatum issue with “which color lipstick OR one more pair of undies?” to fit into a carry-on. 🤣❤️

        Thanks again!!!

  • Tess.crowden

    This has helped so much 😃 I forgot about half of that stuff.i was looking things up for going away and thins came up and I was think this won’t help but I went through your website and it has helped so much.

  • Kat

    Those people who commented that “no one would forget their clothes” are the worst kind of people. This list is helpful to clarify WHICH clothes to take, not to remind you to take clothes. And not going into detail on make up was the right choice. Everyone’s so different in that area. Great list.

  • Maria

    Thank you so much for this, I’m going on a quick weekend trip and ALWAYS ALWAYS overpack. This definitely trims it down a ton. As for toiletries and such, everyone is different and I would have just ignored that pack. Knowing WHAT CLOTHES TO PACK though was what I needed, so Thank You for again, I really appreciate it and will definitely be using your list!

  • Hanna-Liisa Raudsepp

    thank you so much, everytime I make a checklist, I always forget something, but thanks to this cheklist idea, I am feeling a lot more confident. I am going on a 3-day trip and I would have a panic attack, if I forgot something. There are though some things that aren’t in the list, like a charger and some other things more, but all over, it was a great source of help 🙂

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