How to Pack for a Weekend Trip without Sacrificing Insta-Worthy Outfits

Something I’ve never been good at is packing light. When it came time for me to pack my entire life into a suitcase, a carry-on, and a backpack, I was at a loss. Little did I know, that a middle school-era Vera Bradley backpack would work double duty this semester abroad and join me on every weekend trip I take. The first couple of trips were bumpy. I would overpack clothes and completely forget body wash, but eventually I got the hang of it. What did I learn? Travel size containers will save your life, second-guess every outfit you pack, and well…you should keep reading to learn the rest of my tips on how to pack for a weekend trip.

Be Realistic, but Packing for a Weekend Doesn't Mean Sacrificing Outfit Choices

The outfit you choose to wear while traveling is more important than you know. These pieces should be versatile and coordinate with other garments you pack. Typically, I wear my favorite pair of jeans, a basic, but trendy, T-shirt, and a jacket of some kind. From there, I plan the outfits to pack. The jeans will pair well with both a casual and a nicer top. I always bring one dress or skirt for a night-out look. Creating a rough itinerary for your trip will help with outfit planning as well. For example, if I’m going on a hike during my weekend getaway, I make sure to pack exercise clothing. Always roll your clothes when packing; you save precious space this way. As for shoes, en-route to my destination I wear my sneakers. I then pack a pair of sandals or booties, depending on the weather. Shoes are heavy, though, so choose carefully. Now, if you’re like me, you will still overpack and find your bag completely stuffed. After doing your first round of packing, go back and ask yourself why each piece is coming with you. If there isn’t a clear answer, take it out. This helps me eliminate clothes I secretly know I won’t wear and leaves space for souvenirs.

Trust Me—Travel Sizes Will Save Every Beauty-Obsessed Traveler's Life

When it comes to makeup and skincare, I only take the absolute essentials. For me, that means a moisturizer, face wash, mini micellar water, foundation, concealer, setting powder, mascara, two-in-one brow pencil and gel, blush, bronzer, highlighter (that doubles as an eyeshadow), setting spray, and a few brushes. That sounds like a lot (it is), but travel size options make putting it all into a small cosmetics bag pretty easy. As for shampoo, conditioner, and body wash, I’ve invested in reusable travel-size containers that I refill for my short trips. They’re super convenient and help you save money in the long run. Last, but definitely not least, don’t forget the basics like deodorant, a toothbrush, and toothpaste. If you can find your favorite brands in a travel size, I would recommend that as well.

Don't Neglect the Tech Accessories, Especially If You're Going International

At this point, electronic chargers are one of my essentials. When I’m leaving for a trip, I tell myself that as long as I have my passport, charger, and money, everything will be okay. Another necessary tech item is a converter if you’re traveling to another country. My roommate and I went to Nice, France for a weekend, oblivious to the fact that France has different outlets than Italy. Immediately after getting off the train, we had to purchase overpriced converters at the tourist trap shops. I would definitely recommend checking out Amazon prior to your trip in order to get the best deal on converters or buy a universal one that works everywhere. Pro tip: I always keep a portable charger on me if I know I’ll be out and about for most of the day. Lastly, earbuds or headphones are an absolute must. Download your favorite music or podcasts in advance so that you can listen without WiFi during your trip.


If I can fit all of this into a backpack, then I am confident you can, too. Do you have go-to travel tips for packing? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.

Opening image by Cat Aucker.