Packing and Style Tips for a Weekend Getaway

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There’s nothing quite as fun as jetting away for a long weekend. If only for a few days, you get to escape the trappings of your normal life, explore an exciting and different town or city, and hopefully enjoy a week’s worth of fun. But these quickie vacations hovering around three or four days can be a challenge when it comes to packing. It’s much more practical to use a carry-on bag for long weekend trips, but many people have trouble narrowing down their options. Their natural impulse is to “be prepared” for anything, and that often translates to bringing too much of everything. The solution, of course, is to pack fewer items, and pack thoughtfully.

But don’t fret! You can still look amazing—and feel prepared—when traveling light. It’s all about optimizing what you bring so you can get a lot of mileage out of each item packed. And if you are successful, you’ll get to spend a lot less time worrying about what to wear each day, and more time enjoying your journey.

Follow these tips for packing a weekend travel wardrobe that’s cute, curated, and compact!

Make space in your carry-on with packing cubes. Packing cubes are flexible zippered bags that help condense your clothing to keep it organized inside your suitcase. You can fit a lot in even a small-sized packing cube, so be sure to use a few when packing your carry-on.

Bring a few versatile basics. When you’re traveling light, your clothing needs to be versatile enough to wear from day to night. For example, a casual shift dress can be worn for daytime sightseeing and then transition to a dressier look with the addition of tights, bold jewelry, and a scarf or pashmina. Bring other separates in neutral colors like black, white, or navy to mix and match with nice denim jeans or slacks, and you will be ready for anything.

Make an impression with accessories. Spice up your neutral looks with bold jewelry and other accessories. A brightly colored scarf, a statement jacket, colorful flats, or a chunky cuff can transform even jeans and a tee shirt into a head turning look.

Streamline your shoe choices. Another great way to save space when you’ll be using a smaller bag is to limit the footwear you bring. If you’re packing very light, you can simply wear a pair and pack a pair. But if you’re using packing cubes to condense your clothing items, you can likely pack two or more pairs of shoes if you wish. Many people get by with bringing a comfortable pair of walking shoes, some ballet flats or low-heeled sandals for evenings, and a pair of flip-flops or slippers for wearing around the hotel room or pool.

When in doubt, pack the swimsuit. Even if you think you may not swim on your trip, it’s a good idea to bring your swimsuit “just in case.” Most suits naturally take up a small amount of space, so there’s no harm in packing them, and you never know when they might come in handy. Even if your hotel doesn’t have a pool or hot tub, you may take an unplanned trip to the spa, the beach or lakefront, or visit a local mineral hot springs—in which case you’ll be glad you can suit up and enjoy the water.

Wear your bulky items on the plane. With fall just around the corner, you might want to bring a jacket, a sweater, or a pair of boots to your destination. These larger items don’t always pack well, so it’s a good idea to wear them on the plane as part of your “travel uniform”—a look that keeps you comfortable and looking chic on the (often chilly) plane ride. Luckily, your heavier pieces will keep you warm and cozy as you fly to your destination.

Tote along a tote bag. A medium-to-large-sized tote bag is the perfect “personal item” to carry on the plane in addition to your carry-on luggage. Totes are great for storing your toiletries bag, a water bottle, a tablet or small laptop, a book for the plane, and your wallet and other personal items. And if you wish to carry something smaller and streamlined during your trip, you can always pack a lightweight, soft bag inside your suitcase and pull it out once you arrive at your destination.

At the last minute, take out one outfit before you zip up your suitcase. You almost always need less than you think. This will leave a little extra breathing room in your bag just in case you buy something on your trip that you need to bring back. (And if you find yourself in the unlikely scenario of needing something you didn’t bring, that’s what stores are for.)

Weekend trips are meant to be fun and effortless, so don’t be thwarted by the dilemma of packing a smaller suitcase. Even with their modest sizes, carry-ons and weekender bags can hold a surprising amount of items. So worry not; if you are selective about what you bring, you’ll find that you have everything you need when you’re far from home.

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