How to Pack for a Weekend Trip in 7 Steps

For many a fashion lover, packing light is not a forté. It's no easy feat to predict the exact pieces you'll want to wear once you get to your destination, account for unpredictable weather or unplanned events, or execute a successful edit of all the clothes you've envisioned wearing on your next weekend getaway. But, with short trips especially, it's important to carefully curate your packing list and not weigh yourself down with a bunch of things that will just sit bunched up and untouched in your luggage.

The trick to packing light is packing smartly: choosing pieces that you'll definitely wear and will function—and look fashionable—in a variety of circumstances. To help reform your approach to packing, we've outlined how to pack for a weekend trip in seven steps. Follow the below and you're sure to have a more stylish (and less stressful) vacation the next time you break away for the weekend.

Know What You're Working With

Before you even begin brainstorming outfits or picking out your favorite vacation pieces, you should know what luggage and bags you'll be working with. If you're relying on an oversize weekender currently tossed into the back of your trunk, you may need to have a slightly different packing list than if you're flying with a carry-on. In addition to your main bag—that aforementioned weekender or carry-on—it's wise to bring a tote or schlepping bag for items you want on hand at any moment, plus a smaller purse or wallet with a chain to wear during daytime excursions or nights out.

A midsize tote is a terrific option that can house all your need-right-now essentials (like wallet, phone, sunglasses, and makeup) when you're en route and then carry your day-to-day essentials once you're at your destination.

Trade out your sports duffel for a sophisticated faux-leather version that will prove durable for all your weekend getaways and overnights.

A hard-shell carry-on roller bag is an essential piece for flying. Away's comes in two carry-on sizes approved by major airlines and delivers high-end design at an affordable price.

Start With the Essentials

Once you've determined what bags you're bringing, pack your essentials first to ensure you make room for them and they don't get left at home. This includes anything you absolutely need for your trip—electronics, chargers, makeup and toiletries, etc. For the latter, streamline your beauty bag (and forgo the checked-bag counter at the airport) by subbing in travel-size products. Also be realistic about exactly what electronics you need. If you're only bringing along your laptop out of habit or to check emails, will your phone suffice? If you're visiting a scenic spot, do you really need your tablet for entertainment?

A small to midsize makeup bag will keep your liquids and gels from getting on your clothing, especially if you're flying and there's a chance of products leaking.

A sleek charger can free up space in your carry-on. This modern design has dual USB ports so you can charge two electronics at the same time.

Jewelry is easily lost on a quick trip. Keep your favorite pieces safe—and necklaces from getting tangled—in a travel-size jewelry case.

Build Your Foundation With Basics

Once you've packed your essentials, begin building your weekend wardrobe with the basics. No matter the locale or climate, certain pieces are no-brainers for a weekend trip.

A plain T-shirt and jeans are fail-safe basics for a travel day or casual outing and can be easily dressed up with the right heels or accessories.

Available in sizes XS to L.

A classic silk cami can read laid-back or dressed-up, depending on what you pair it with.

Available in sizes XS to L.

Choose a pair of jeans in a color and wash that will go with everything else you're packing. 

Available in sizes 23 to 32.

Prioritize Multifunctional Pieces

To minimize the number of pieces you bring, be sure to pick wisely. Choose multifunctional pieces that can be styled in more ways than one or that can easily transition from day to night or casual to dressy depending on your shoes and accessories.

This oversize top doubles as a fashion-forward button-down and a casual shirtdress.

Available in sizes 0 to 12.

A silk slip is the perfect piece to dress down with a T-shirt during the day and dress up with heels and jewelry come night.

Available in sizes 0 to 12.

An oversize sweater or robe is a cozy piece to keep warm on the plane or lounge around in at your hotel and can transform into a chic piece of outerwear for evening outfits.

Available in sizes XS to L.

Style With Accessories

The right accessories can instantly change the look of an ensemble. Pack specific pieces—belts, scarves, shawls, and hats—that complement your prospective outfits that you can play around with.

A belt can transform the look of a dress. Belt a long dress to a mid-length hemline during the day for a casual look, then wear the same dress sans belt for a chic statement in the evening.

Available in sizes S to L.

A sun hat is essential for many weekend destinations. A straw iteration is extremely versatile and brings major style to an otherwise simple outfit.

A stylish scarf dresses up your most basic ensembles and can be worn around the neck, in your hair, or as a belt.

Be Smart About Shoes

While it can be tempting to pack the perfect shoes for every outfit you're bringing along on your trip, it's best to minimize your collection as much as possible as shoes are one of the heaviest wardrobe items and take up the most space in your luggage.

No matter where you're going, comfortable sneakers are a safe bet—especially if you're planning on sightseeing, walking long distances, or partaking in any active activities. Plain white sneakers go with just about anything.

Available in sizes 5 to 11.

Sandals are another good option to bring along, even if it isn't the season for them. You never know if you'll want a pair of flip-flops to walk around the hotel room or run a quick errand. They can also provide some welcome relief for your feet when you're flying.

Available in sizes 5 to 11.

If you're packing heels, stick to one versatile style that will go with every one of your outfits. It's wise to opt for a block-heel style. Especially for a destination you're unfamiliar with, comfortable block heels can be a saving grace if you find yourself confronted with cobblestone streets or needing to walk any distance. They also transition more easily from day to night.

Available in sizes 5 to 11.

Pack Versatile Underwear

To save space for your fashion pieces, streamline your undergarment choices with bra styles that go with most of your outfits, and be sure that the underwear you pack works with everything you plan on wearing.

A bra with detachable straps that can also be worn cross-back is a terrific option to work with a variety of outfits and save space in your luggage.

Available in sizes 21A to 38DD.

In addition to sticking with underwear styles that will work with all the clothes you bring—skin-tone colorways and seamless constructions are always safe bets—it's smart to pack a few extra pairs, just in case.

Available in sizes XS/S to M/L.

Bringing along at least one sports bra can be wise on weekend trips should any active occasion come up or you find them to be more comfortable on travel days.

Available in sizes XS to L.