So, you’re heading somewhere for the weekend, maybe visiting friends or family, seeing a concert, cutting the rug at wedding or attending a graduation. Just Friday through Sunday and then back home again. Nothing too complicated, or open ended, about this trip. So, packing should be easy, right?

My biggest secret, and the hardest part for most people, is to pick out the clothes you’re going to wear each day before you leave. This involves a little research on destination, itinerary and the expected weather. Figure out what you’ll need and then take exactly that.

It’s tough to leave behind all the “just in case” items. I’ve packed workout clothes, thinking I might squeeze in a run, and once packed two dresses for a wedding so I could decide which one to wear when I arrive. In retrospect, I should have just spent 30 seconds and made the decision before I left.

The Setout Divide is perfect for your weekend away and short trips, a full-sized carry on is too much bag. You need something compact with enough packing space for the essentials. It’s never worth it to check a bag for a weekend and risk losing it for a day or two (which is practically your whole trip). Plus, you’re only gone for two nights. Here’s a basic weekend packing list based on the minimalist mentality that I’ve adopted for quick trips.

What to pack for a weekend getaway

Basic Weekend Packing List

If you’re just looking for a quick checklist, below is a basic weekend packing list you can modify for any type of getaway:

  • 1 pair of comfortable shoes for the entire weekend (boots, sneakers, or sandals depending on the trip)
  • 1 pair of pants or shorts to wear all weekend
  • 2 t-shirts or casual tops for Saturday and Sunday
  • 1 dressier top for Saturday night
  • 2 pairs of underwear
  • 2 pairs of socks
  • Bras as needed
  • Pajamas
  • Phone charger
  • Toiletry kit
  • Book
  • Earbuds
  • Eye mask
  • Water bottle

Optional add-ons for your weekend packing list:

  • Hat
  • Scarf
  • Dress
  • Dressy clothes for an event, like a weekend wedding
  • Jacket
  • Thermal leggings for cold-weather trips
  • Tablet or laptop and charger
  • Daypack
Weekend packing list: clothing

What to Pack for a Weekend Away

1 Pair of Shoes

You’ll need one pair of shoes you can wear all weekend. During the winter, I always bring a pair of  boots without heels. They’re sturdy for walking and work with most winter outfits.

For warmer trips, look for comfortable sandals or sneakers. Since they don’t take up much room, toss in another pair of sandals or flip flops if there is beach or pool time on the agenda.

Shoes or boots can be worn on the plane or in the car if you’re driving. Volia! No space used in your backpack at all.

1 Pair of Jeans or Pants

Most weekends, I will take one pair of jeans to wear the entire weekend, working my shirts and accessories around that single pair. Jeremy and Fred are talking up Outliers on the podcast, which would be the perfect pair of men’s travel pants if jeans aren’t your first choice. Plan on bringing them clean and taking them off only to sleep.

3 Tops: 2 Casual and 1 Dressy

Pack three tops in total. Choose a top for the day on Saturday, usually mine is some variation of a travel t-shirt or a casual sweater.

For Saturday evening, bring a dressier shirt that can still work with jeans. Think something you’d wear to a bar or restaurant. For men this typically means a collar. Ladies, it really depends on your look.

For Sunday, another causal top or t-shirt is perfect, or a simple, comfortable travel dress. Ladies, be sure you have the exact bra you need for each shirt.

1 Suit, Dress, or Occassion  Specific Outfit

If you’re going to an event, such as a wedding, graduation or show, you may need to toss in a dress or a suit (handy suit-packing tips here). This might be less efficient for packing, but do you really want to go to a wedding in jeans?

Accessories and Jewelry

As far as accessories and jewelry, bring what you’d usually wear with your chosen outfits. Unlike packing for a longer stay, no need for the mix’n match theory of having a couple of things that can be reworn. For three days, laundry is a waste of time. For three weeks, laundry is a necessary evil.

2 Pairs of Socks and Underwear

Because this is a short trip, you should pack the precise number of socks and underwear you need for 2-3 days. I recommend a spare pair of socks if there’s a lot of walking planned. Fresh socks can be a game-changer after a long day of stomping around.

Winter and Fall Getaways: Jacket, Leggings, Hat, and Scarf

For winter and fall weekend packing lists, or colder destinations, you’ll also want to make sure you have a warmer layer. Check the weather before you go to see exactly what kind of temperatures you’re preparing for. Then, grab one jacket you can wear for the full weekend, and thermal leggings to wear under your jeans. Also pack a hat and travel scarf just in case.

Pajamas and Book

Don’t forget pajamas and phone charger. I always forget pajamas and a phone charger. Be sure you also have a book or your Cards Against Humanity deck.

Phone, Charger, and Earbuds

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When it comes to technology for weekend trips, ask yourself “Do I need that?”. Most weekends planned for fun (not work) travel, I get by with just my iPhone and charger. Bring a kindle or tablet if that makes you feel less techno-naked. Pack that laptop if absolutely necessary. Earbuds, I cannot live without; luckily, they’re light.

What to pack for a weekend getaway; weekend packing list

Toiletry Kit

As for toiletries, only bring what you’ll use, not everything under your bathroom sink. Essential toiletries you’ll always want to bring for a weekend getaway include:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Contact solution
  • Sunscreen
  • Basic makeup
  • Soap, shampoo, and conditioner


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