I suffer from a severe case of wanderlust. Always have, always will.
In my eyes, there’s nothing 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 took its toll on us wanderlust-ers, what continues to take its toll on us is the actual packing for said weekend trip. The anxiety that undoubtedly comes from trying to figure out what to pack (and how to make it all fit) can certainly dampen anyone’s pre-flight excitement.
I feel with you. Packing can be boring 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 enhances your travel experience – not detracts from it.
(AUTHOR’S NOTE: For all purposes of this article, I will be giving tips on how to pack carry-on only for a weekend trip. My favorite carry-on? This one from Away.)
Tip #1 Plan your days (and your outfits)
When putting together 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 in advance, this makes packing even easier. 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 to actually wear. I also prefer clothes that can multitask, meaning they can be dressed up or down.
I especially like GANNI midi skirts that can be worn with sneakers and a t-shirt during the day and in the evening with tights and a light sweater.
PS I’ve also found that it never hurts to bring extra underwear and socks – they take up very little space and you just never know if you’ll need them.
Tip #2 Roll your clothes
There was a time when I secretly thought that people who rolled their clothes were just lazy and didn’t bother to fold. Vise versa! They were indeed geniuses. Sorry for the judgement.
I’m really always amazed at how much space I have left in my carry-on when I roll my clothes. It’s also actually one of the best ways to prevent wrinkles (more on that in the next tip).
My favorite way to roll? Lay tops face down, fold in the sleeves and roll 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
My friends have laughed at me for bringing one, but I’m 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 those pesky creases out that sometimes just can’t handle. Plus, the little “puff” sound the vapor makes is oddly satisfying, and they’re usually very easy to pack.
All you need is some water and voilà – you have some wrinkle-free outfits just waiting to be worn.
Tip #4 Make use of these beauty samples
I definitely have a type A personality, but yes, I stick to one thing—beauty tests.
In fact, I have an entire box dedicated to them, organized by their mission (cleansing, toning, exfoliating, etc.). When I go on a weekend trip, I open the box and see which samples I want to take with me this time.
Not only are they TSA-friendly, but they also take up almost no space in my carry-on. Now that’s a beauty.
Tip #5 Carry your bulkiest items on the flight
If you’re headed somewhere cooler, instead of putting your coat in your carry-on and letting it take up valuable 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 usually put it right on top of my carry-on if there’s enough space). The same applies to footwear. If it’s colder outside and you want to bring boots, bring those babies on the plane.
Of course, there’s a lot to consider when deciding 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.
A born and raised American now living 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-proclaimed storyteller with a serious case of wanderlust, she has a penchant for all things fashion, film, food and travel.