I suffer from a serious case of wanderlust. Always have, always will.
In my eyes, there’s nothing quite like booking a weekend trip somewhere, seeing the booking confirmation pop up in your email, and counting down the days until you get to your destination.
While the pandemic certainly did a number on us wanderlust-ers, what continues to do a number on us is the actual packing for a said weekend trip. The anxiety that undoubtedly comes from trying to figure out what to pack (and how to make it all fit) can definitely damper anyone’s pre-getaway excitement.
I feel you. Packing can be tedious and stressful (who knew those two words could actually go together?). But from my perspective, it really doesn’t have to be that bad.
With my five best packing tips, you’ll learn how to pack in a way that elevates your travel experience—not worsens it.
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: For all intents and purposes of this article, I will be giving tips on how to pack with just a carry-on for a weekend trip. My favorite carry-on? This one from Away.)
Tip #1 Plan your days (and your outfits)
When curating your weekend packing list, always pack by outfits—not by individual items. It may seem counterintuitive but it makes a world of difference.
And if you know your itinerary ahead of time, this makes it even easier to pack. Sightseeing on a Saturday and visiting the best cocktail bar in the evening? Done and done. In fact, I often visualize planned activities to help me figure out what I should actually be wearing. I also prefer clothes that can multitask, meaning they can be dressed up or down.
I am particularly fond of GANNI midi skirts, which can be worn with sneakers and a tee during the day and in the evenings with tights and a lightweight sweater.
P.S. I’ve also found that bringing extra underwear and socks never hurts—they take up very little space and you just never know if you’re going to need them.
Tip #2 Roll your clothes
There was a time when I secretly thought those people who rolled their clothes were just lazy and couldn’t be bothered to fold. Au contraire! They were, in fact, geniuses. Apologies for passing judgment.
Truly, I’m always amazed by how much space I have left in my carry-on when I roll my clothes. It’s actually one of the best ways to prevent creases, too (more on that in the next tip).
My preferred method of rolling? Laying tops facedown, folding in the sleeves, and rolling from the bottom up. For pants, I put the legs together and roll from the waist down. Easy peasy.
Tip #3 Bring a travel steamer
Friends of mine have laughed at me for bringing one but I am telling you, a travel steamer should be your new best friend—if it isn’t already.
I hate ironing with a passion and swear by steaming. It’s a great way to freshen up your clothes and get out those pesky creases that sometimes rolling just can’t tackle. Plus, that little “puff” sound the steamer makes is oddly satisfying and they’re usually very easy to pack.
All you need is some water and voilà—you’ve got some wrinkle-free outfits just waiting to be worn.
Tip #4 Make use of those beauty samples
I definitely have a type-A personality but yes, I do hold on to one thing—beauty samples.
In fact, I have a whole box devoted to them, organized by their mission (cleansing, toning, exfoliating, etc.). Whenever I set out on a weekend trip, I open that box and see which samples I want to take with me this time around.
Not only are they TSA-friendly, but they also hardly take up any space in my carry-on bag. Now that’s a thing of beauty.
Tip #5 Wear your bulkiest items on the flight
If you’re headed somewhere cooler, instead of putting your coat inside your carry-on and letting it take up precious space and weight, wear it on the plane.
Unless they have strict rules against it, you can usually put it in the overhead bin (I tend to put it right on top of my carry-on bag if there’s enough room). The same goes for footwear. If it’s colder out and you want to bring boots, take those babies on the plane.
Sure, there’s a whole lot to consider when determining what to bring on your next trip but one thing’s for sure—you’ve packed just what you need to enjoy the weekend ahead.
As a born-and-bred American who now resides in Germany, Erin is a freelance writer with over 10 years of copywriting experience from her time in Stockholm, Sweden, and New York City. A self-professed storyteller with a serious case of wanderlust, she has a penchant for all things fashion, film, food, and travel.