Weekend Trip Packing List Essentials

holiday weekend trip packing list

Does this sound familiar? You’ve been looking forward to your holiday weekend for what feels like an eternity, but when it finally arrives… you have no time to pack! You toss things into your weekend bag the night before, cross your fingers, and hope you have everything you need. Yes, long weekends are designed to be casual. However, with a little pre-planning, you can reduce your stress level while striking more sophisticated style notes. This comprehensive weekend trip packing list maps out everything you’ll need on a 2 or 3 day trip.

Since it is summer (and nearly 4th of July), I’ll start be focusing on lightweight, breathable clothing – plus a few items I consider elegant essentials. This post also includes a few 4th of July outfit ideas if you’re hunting for something festive.

Start with the right bag

To begin, you need the right foundation… and by that I mean the best luggage for weekend trips. When crafting your weekend trip packing list, you want a weekender bag, backpack, or carry-on suitcase designed with organization in mind. By eschewing checked luggage, you not only avoid the added cost but also skip the wait time at the luggage carousel. The weekend is short enough anyway! Why not begin exploring immediately?

Because our family often travels on budget airlines (and some of those like Australia’s Jetstar and Tigerair weigh your hand luggage at the gate) I recommend choosing a durable yet lightweight carry-on or weekender bag. This piece from Amazon just nabbed top honors from Travel and Leisure for “best lightweight” luggage (more TL picks here). I’m currently using the Osprey Porter as my carry-on. It’s amazing and has a great sleeve to protect a laptop computer. However, it’s larger than you’d need for a holiday weekend.

If you opt for a weekender bag, look for options that have a separate compartment at the bottom for your shoes and toiletries. This one from Calpak also has interior pockets, plenty of room in the main compartment, and a luggage trolley sleeve on the side. The sleeve allows you to easily secure the bag on the handle of your suitcase on longer trips.  Here are a few additional weekender bags to browse, including some Amazon finds under $50.

How many outfits to pack for a weekend trip?

As a recovering over-packer… and someone who has recently packed for flurry of weekend trips, I can confirm you don’t need as much as you think. Sure, the style blogger in me wants to cram everything but the kitchen sink (especially cute shoes) into my weekend bag. It’s so tempting! But overpacking will only weigh you down.

In most scenarios, you will probably only wear three or four outfits during your trip. We did long weekend trips in Gdansk, Poland, Gothenburg, Sweden, and Helsinki, Finland this summer and managed just fine with small backpacks. Exactly how many outfits should you pack for a two or three day trip? I would recommend:


  • Two or three outfits for casual daytime activities (keep climate in mind)
  • One dressy outfit for an evening out
  • Comfortable walking shoes
  • Undergarments and socks for each day
  • A pair of dressy shoes for evening (I favor nude wedges since they work for day and night. This affordable pair is a smart choice, due to the comfy elastic ankle strap)
  • Workout attire (ideally this can double for a daytime outfit)
  • Lightweight jacket or sweater (again depends on climate)
  • Swimsuit and sandals
  • Pajamas
  • Accessories: sunglasses, jewelry, watch, belts, scarf, wide-brim hat (this one rolls up for easy packing)

Weekend Trip Packing List


  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Deodorant
  • Hairbrush and comb
  • Hair tool
  • Hair ties
  • Travel-size shampoo, conditioner and bodywash (Check your destination as these may already be provided)
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Razor
  • Makeup and skincare products
  • Sunscreen (Colorescience’s brush-on SPF 50 is my favorite since it tucks easy into a tiny purse or camera bag)
  • Feminine hygiene products
  • Mini first-aid kit (band-aids, pain relievers, etc.


  • Phone and charger
  • Laptop and charger
  • Headphones
  • Travel umbrella
  • Reusable water bottle
  • Power adapters (if travelling internationally)
  • Camera and charger

Weekend Packing List Essentials: Inside my travel bag

While I like my weekend trip packing list to be practical, I make sure the pieces I include stay true to my personal style. That means the 2-3 daytime outfits I choose are usually versatile dresses or skirts. I look for easy care fabrics, neutral colors, and classic silhouettes I can wear again and again. For example, linen is all the rage right now. I love it too, but I’d never tuck a linen dress in my travel bag. The wrinkles would drive me nuts! Instead, if you’re craving the linen look – opt for a linen blend. You could also give eyelet a try.

Easy-breezy Eyelet

Love relaxed elegance? This fabric is a classic for a reason! As Vogue suggests, a white maxi dress is summer’s most romantic piece. Moreover, eyelet is a breathable choice for hot, sticky days. The texture provides interest while also making the garment much more forgiving. If it gets a bit wrinkled in your bag – no biggie. You’ll never notice. The dress I’m wearing above is the Emilia style from Style Trolley.

Here are some other eyelet options to explore…

Lakeside Loungewear

I’m headed to Wisconsin’s Door County peninsula this weekend, so that means lounging by the lake. It can get a bit chilly at night there, so my weekend trip packing list also includes a cozy nautical-themed sweatshirt, a crisp white tank and vibrant red shorts to inject a touch of Americana.

Below you will find links to these versatile pieces. But first, I want to highlight the gold gladiator sandals – the Grear from Sarah Flint. These are a permanent fixture in my travel bag because they do such a great job elevating casual outfits. They also pack super flat.

Use code – SARAHFLINT-BALINDSAYV for $60 off your first order

Fourth of July finds

Fanciful Florals

Finally, I’ll be tucking a flowy and fanciful floral dress in my weekend bag. A breezy floral dress, like this organza number, moves beautifully and looks stunning in photos. As a creator, I tend to blend work and play. This means my weekend trip packing list usually includes a photo-friendly outfit.

However, I recommend everyone follows this strategy. Weekend trips are little luxuries and will feel more elegant if you dress the part. When you pack an outfit you feel truly special and confident in, you’re setting the tone for glamour.

Weekend trip packing tipsorganza floral dress Dress | Bag | Shoes (similar)

Final Tips for a Perfect Weekend Trip Packing List

To wrap things up, I want to offer a few more things to consider. First, if you can leave a bit of room in your bag – do it. This will allow you to bring home a few souvenirs. Even if you don’t anticipate shopping, someone you’re traveling with might be itching to hit up the local boutiques.

Also, make sure you base your choices on the activities you have planned. For example, a perfect travel bag for an outdoorsy, hike-filled weekend in the woods will look a lot different than a carry-on for a gals’ getaway to Napa. And above all, don’t stress! If you forget something, you can always buy it at your destination and call it a souvenir. After all, weekend travel is supposed to be relaxing.


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