Here’s Exactly What to Pack for a Summer Weekend Trip

One bag = everything you need!

Summer’s here, and that means it’s time for vacations to the beach, road trips, and other weekend adventures! Maybe you and your girlfriends are jetsetting to Cali, or perhaps you’re driving down to south Texas with your family like I am…

Whatever the case, packing for these short weekend trips can be confusing. You don’t want to overpack, but you also don’t want to arrive at your destination unprepared. 

If you’re unsure of how to pack for those 3-4 day vacations, look no further.

Step 1: Pick Your Bags

Dipped Weekender – Everlane, Transport Crossbody – Madewell, Cosmetics Case – Nordstrom

The first thing you need to do is decide on a set of bags to bring. I recommend the combo above: Weekender + Purse + Cosmetic Case. Ideally, everything will ultimately fit into your biggest bag – the weekender. 

Weekender bags are my favorite things ever because they’re just big enough to feel like a small suitcase, but can easily be slung over your shoulder. I’ve heard excellent things about the one above from Everlane, but I also swear by my Catalina Deluxe from Lo & Sons (it’s got a separate shoe compartment, which is awesome). 

Next, you’ll want a purse large enough to carry your essentials during the day. This bag is separate from your weekender because you really don’t want to be lugging around your big bag all day (trust me). 

Finally, somewhere in your weekender should be your cosmetics case, which you can easily dig out when you return back to wherever you’re spending the night.

Step 2: Pack Clothes in Your Weekender Bag

Swimsuit – Net-A-Porter, Chambray Tank – J.Crew, T-shirt – Topshop, Lightweight Jacket – Madewell, Denim Shorts – Gap, Pleated Shorts – Splendid, Striped Dress – Mango, Wide Leg Trousers – Trouva, Sandals – Zappos, Sneakers – Zappos

Your clothes go directly into the weekender bag, unless you want to roll up your swimsuit and put it in your purse if you’re going to a beach destination. 

Here’s an ideal list of clothes to pack for a weekend trip:

  • 2-3 shirts/tanks
  • 2 shorts/skirts
  • 1 dress
  • 1 pair of pants
  • 1 light jacket
  • 1 pair of sandals
  • 1 pair of sneakers
  • 1 (optional) swimsuit
  • 1 (optional) pair of heels or fancy shoes

It probably doesn’t seem like a lot, but if you choose your items carefully you’ll be able to mix-and-match to create several outfits. 

Keep your basics, like shirts and shorts, relatively simple and neutral. You can add flashes of color with your dress, jacket, and swimsuit. 

As for your footwear, make sure you can walk in it and it’s appropriate for your destination. Planning on going out? Make sure to bring a pair of dressier sandals or wedges to wear at night. 

Don’t forget your undergarments, socks, and sleepwear!

Step 3: Plan for the Day

Sunglasses – Ray-Ban, Lip Balm – Burt’s Bees, Journal – Francesca’s, Banana, Book – Amazon, Water Bottle – S’well, Headphones – Target, Gum – Amazon

Think carefully about what your plans for the day are. Are you relaxing on the beach? Trekking through the city? This will impact what you put in your purse. 

In general, I think non-negotiables are headphones, sunglasses, a water bottle, and lip balm

Aside from those, I like to bring a book and a journal with me in case I get some spare time or find a pretty park (the book above is what I’m currently reading – it’s really good!), but if you’re planning on being on-the-move or with friends you might ditch these items. 

Gum is always nice to have on hand, especially if you’re flying to your destination. Finally, a healthy snack like a banana can be a lifesaver when you’re waiting to go somewhere and find your stomach rumbling.

Step 4: Get Ready to Look Gorgeous!

Products: Waterproof Mascara – Saks Fifth Avenue, Makeup Wipes – ASOS, Nail Polish – Bloomingdale’s, Sea Spray – Sephora, SPF Primer – Lord & Taylor, Sleep Mask – Nordstrom, Moisturizer – Nordstrom

Finally, your cosmetics case! This small bag should include all your everyday items that you use to get ready, as well as special, location-specific tools. 

Planning on being in the sun? SPF primer and a good moisturizer are both critical. If you’re going to be getting wet, waterproof mascara will keep your eyes looking fresh. I also like to have sea spray on hand so that I feel like an off-duty model. 

Wherever you go, first swipe on a bright-colored nail polish to spice up your look, and tote makeup remover wipes to ease your end-of-the-day routine. 

Finally, if you have trouble sleeping in unfamiliar locations or on planes/buses/trains, a sleep mask can help you relax and unwind.

And that’s it! 

Put your cosmetics bag and purse in your weekend bag (you can carry your purse separately if it doesn’t fit) and you’re ready to go – all with just one bag!

How do you pack for a weekend trip? Share your suggestions in the comments!


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