Packing for a trip of any length can be pretty stressful. That said, despite only being a few days long, somehow weekend breaks always end up being the trickiest of all.
The key problem is there’s a very fine line between under and over-packing so you’ll need to harness the full power of travel fashion staples to look effortlessly chic all weekend long.
Not sure where to start? Well, as your friendly neighbourhood packing experts, luckily we’re here to help.
After numerous trips of all lengths, types and climates, we’ve got you covered with our tried-and-tested guide to deciding what to pack for a weekend away, whatever the weather.
Figure Out What Bag You’re Going to Take
While it might be tempting to jump straight to deciding how many pairs of shoes you want to pack, it’s best to start with the basics. The first order of business? Work out what size of bag you’re working with.
If you’re just looking for a laid-back few days or you prefer to travel light, a smaller weekend or gym bag will do the job nicely. For a little extra leeway, upgrade to a carry-on suitcase.
Alternatively, if your journey involves bus or train travel, a hands-free option is an absolute no-brainer. Any sturdy backpack will work, like this Bange Travel Backpack (*) that comes with plenty of handy compartments.
Last but not least, there’s nothing better than a weekend road trip. Not only is it a great way to travel, but your vehicle can double up as extra space to pack your belongings away in while not in use. Win-win!
Ask Yourself What You’re Doing
Now you’ve got your bag(s) ready, the next logical step is to ask yourself what you’ll actually be doing during your weekend away.
Ask yourself questions like is it a hen party? Do you need to take any special clothes? Will you be spending more time inside or outside?
Before you panic and pack three times more than you’ll need (we’ve all been there), write out your full itinerary. You can then easily figure out what types of clothes you’re going to need for each activity.
For example, a fancy dinner and drinks for a friend’s birthday calls for a smart-casual outfit, such as high-waisted jeans and a bodysuit paired with a leather jacket and heels.
On the other hand, a countryside getaway with lots of walking opportunities may require more bulky hiking gear.
Consider the Weather
Sure, you have to take the weather forecast in the UK with a pinch of salt. However, it’s worth taking the time to consult it so you can plan your outfits accordingly. (They do sometimes get it right after all!)
If it’s forecast to rain, leave space in your case for a rain jacket or a cover-up with a hood (as well as your trusty umbrella).
But when deciding what to pack for a weekend away in the warm sunshine, drop the bulky knitwear and boots in favour of lightweight clothing and sandals.
Either way, the trick is to take layers in case the weather turns — we can’t tell you the number of times we’ve been caught out wearing a dress in a storm all because it was sunny and warm when the day started.
And take it from us, getting soaked through to the bone with no backup layers to save you? Not a good look.
Work Through the Days
Next step: look at the itinerary you made earlier (Art Attack-style) and pull out bits of clothing that would work for all the different activities.
Start outfit building according to what looks good together — and what will be practical for the occasion.
As you’ll only be going for one or two nights, try and take versatile wardrobe staples that you easily can mix and match with other pieces. It’s all about maximising your options with the fewest possible items of clothing.
For instance, you could wear your favourite pair of jeans the entire time but then switch up your top for day or night.
If saving on laundry is the goal, you could even wear the same tee and jeans but add a blazer to liven up your outfit for date night. Then, easily dress it down for the days with an oversized unbuttoned plaid shirt and chunky trainers.
Choose Your Shoes and Accessories
In our opinion, one of the hardest things when choosing what to pack for a weekend away is figuring out how many pairs of shoes to take with you.
Because you’ll only be away for a maximum of three full days, just a couple of pairs of shoes will suffice.
Basically, you’re looking for the winning combo of one comfy pair that you can spend hours in without any issues and one fancier pair that matches all your evening outfits. Remember that you can wear one of them to travel in to save bag space too!
Similarly, you can probably manage with just one handbag (in addition to the bag you’ll be taking all your stuff in).
Don’t forget any jewellery, sunglasses, belts or fun hairpieces.
In fact, overlook accessories at your peril. Not only can they zhuzh up your looks, but they’re also perfect for making the same outfit appear completely different the next day.
Don’t Forget the Clothing Essentials
Outfit planning is a key part of the packing process, but don’t get so carried away planning your looks that you forget the real clothing essentials. Enter: underwear and pyjamas.
It’s not the end of the world if you forget a pair of earrings or that extra t-shirt. But not taking enough fresh pairs of pants to last the entire time you’re away is one of the worst errors a casual traveller can make.
Save yourself the discomfort (and a fraught journey to the nearest supermarket) by getting the basics packed first.
Fortunately, unless you’re planning a super active trip, one bra — which you can wear en route to your destination — will do. The fewer things to remember, the better!
Gather Your Toiletries and Makeup
While toiletries are definitely essential for a weekend away, they sure can be bulky. The good news is, there’s an easy solution. Introducing: travel bottles.
Let’s be real, you only need a small amount of product for a couple of days, so why take the whole bottle? Actually, anything toiletry-wise that you can manage without for the weekend, don’t bother taking it.
For a simple but effective packing solution, invest in a simple pack of three travel bottles (*) and get ready for them to become your new best friends. Alternatively, to keep your options open, splurge on Amazon’s pack of 16 reusable bottles (*) of all shapes and sizes to fulfil your every travel need.
Likewise, how much or how little space you’ll need to account for when leaving space in your bag for makeup will depend on what you use as part of your usual routine.
But for a weekend away, we recommend only taking essential makeup. Otherwise, it’s just a waste of bag space.
If you wear contact lenses or need any type of special medication, include this in your toiletries bag. Just keep in mind that it needs to be tucked in somewhere easily accessible so you can grab it easily when needed.
Pack the Necessary Electronics
All that’s left to do to successfully pack for a weekend away is gather your necessary electronics.
Your phone is a given (duh) but it’ll be of no use if you forget the charger. You’d think it would be impossible to forget such an essential, but it’s easily done when it’s always hanging out in the wall.
If you’re lucky enough to be heading abroad, don’t forget to check what kind of plug adapter you’ll need and pack it well in advance.
We try not to wash our hair on a weekend trip so we don’t have to worry about a hairdryer, shampoo or conditioner. Although, if you’re staying in a hotel, these will often be provided anyway.
For a quick mid-trip style refresh, make sure to pack either your straighteners or hair curlers (though this might not be necessary for a hiking trip!).
If you’re taking multiple devices, be brutally honest with yourself about whether you really need them all. (We think it’s always better to keep devices to a minimum to allow us to truly unwind and switch off while we’re away).
Remember Your Handbag
Finally, you may choose not to have a handbag to free up your hands while carting around a carry-on suitcase. Even so, we think it’s the best way to keep all your necessities within easy grabbing distance.
After all, no one wants to have to rifle through piles of clothes and toiletries every time they need their phone, purse, umbrella or painkillers (the Sunday morning hangover pain is real).
It’s also worth having some hand sanitiser or wipes and a face mask handy in these times too just in case you find yourself in a crowded area or somewhere where restrictions are still in place.
Figuring Out What to Pack for a Weekend Away
When deciding what to pack for a weekend away, the key is to always stay stylish yet practical, whether you’re sipping cocktails or trekking across the countryside.
However, it can be easier said than done and ultimately, there’s no one-size-fits-all packing list as it all depends on where you’re going and what you’re doing.
That said, when it comes to packing, practice definitely makes perfect. Therefore, take this as your sign to dust off your case and get some weekend breaks scheduled pronto!