How to Pack for a Weekend Trip Samsonite
Traveling with the Samsonite Zalia Bag

I’ve been trying to decode packing for the past twenty years. One of the things I learned in the Marines was to pack “never more than what you can carry”. That mantra came handy when I was traveling pregnant and that lesson has carried with me throughout the years. Many people ask me how to pack for a weekend trip. I finally came up with a list of tips on how to get through TSA with a light bag and many options for your getaway.

Tip 1: Take Your Itinerary Into Consideration

When thinking on how to pack for a weekend trip ask yourself a few questions: Where are you going? Will you be attending a special occasion? What will the weather be like? Most of the time, weekend trips come with a tight itinerary. Go through your events and think about what you want to wear.

Tip 2: Pack “Grunt Rolls”

This is one of my more practical skills from boot camp that I’ve been using for two decades. Packing items such as workout clothes, tops, jeans, and jersey dresses in tight rolls (see video) create so much more room in your bag. Some readers swear by packing cubes but I find that they are a bit too much for a weekend trip. If a dress is in a delicate material, I fold in quarters so it is easier to iron.

How to Pack for a Weekend Trip Photo Credit: Carla Sanchez
How to Pack for a Weekend Trip: With my Samsonite Magpie Bag
Photo Credit: Carla Sanchez

Tip 3: Pack Light

Save space by packing items you can reuse throughout your trip such as a blazer or a cardigan. Shoes are heavy. Plan your outfits around the shoes you decide to pack. I usually pack 3 pairs of shoes. I wear the heaviest on, usually boots. I then pack a pair of heels for evening, casual sandals for daytime if in a warm destination, and my running shoes.

Tip 4: Organize Your Outfits Before Packing

This is related to tip 1 on how to pack for a weekend trip. Pull your outfits and lay them on the bed or hang them in a visible place. Can you mix and match pieces? Does each item fulfill a purpose?

How to Pack for a Weekend Trip: What's in my tote
How to Pack for a Weekend Trip: What’s in my tote
Photo Credit: Nikki Richardson

Tip 5: Bring a Roomy Tote as Your Personal Item

Airlines are becoming more militant about carry-ons and what you can place in the overhead bin. Make sure to bring a roomy tote you can comfortably fit under the seat in front of you. I carry my essentials in my tote: wallet, laptop, camera, chargers, and makeup bag.

Tip 6: Throw in a Few Extra Items for Variety

If you pack efficiently, you will have some extra space. Pack an extra sundress and one or two extra tops. Throw in an extra scarf. Although I plan ahead, I always like to have extra items.

Tip 7: Buy the Right Suitcase

A suitcase is an investment. If you purchase the right one, it can last you decades. I recently got the Samsonite Magpie 20″ Spinner. It’s been tested on a plane, car, and train. I love that it is a bit smaller than the average carry-on but it literally fits everywhere. It also has three compartments to organize toiletries and underwear. Another perk is that it is beautifully designed. I believe luggage is a big part of travel style.
How to Pack for a Weekend Trip: What's in my tote Photo Credit: Nikki Richardson
How to Pack for a Weekend Trip: Samsonite Magpie Bag Photo Credit: Nikki Richardson

Tip 8: Secure Your Valuables

When we talk about how to pack for a weekend trip, we forget to touch upon security. Make sure that your bag has a TSA approved lock. My current carry-on, the Samsonite Magpie 20″ Spinner has a combination lock. Yes! None of those flimsy locks that can be picked with a hairpin.

How to Pack for a Weekend Trip

When people ask me for tips on how to pack for a weekend trip, I share the tips above. After twenty years of continuous travel, I still pick up on new tips to be more efficient. Do you have any packing tips that work for you? Please share in the comments!

Dislcaimer: Our “How to Pack for a Weekend Trip” post is sponsored by Samsonite. As always, opinions are our own. Partnering with Samsonite was super easy as I’ve purchased their items for years. 


  1. Great tips! Even though I travel almost every week…I think I often over-pack (:P)! Even I have heard great stuff about ‘cubes’ I am yet to try them out myself. And yes, having the right suitcase is a must-have too…something that’s needed to be checked in works the best for weekend trips 🙂

  2. Great tips! I’m not a packing cube fan but rolling my clothes in outfits has been a great technique for sure!

  3. Love these tips! I for one am also a huge fan of packing cubes and grunt rolls 🙂 And just like you, I plan out all of my outfits in advance based on my itinerary. Saves me from wasting time deciding while on the road!

  4. I agree sometimes packing cubes are too much. Especially when you aren’t gone for that long. I always have extra items too. I therefore classify myself as an overpacker for doing that lol

  5. Nice set of tips for packing. I like the idea of “packing what you can carry” and have been practicing it. Many times I also carry a completely foldable light weight backpack which can later be used as day bag.

  6. This is so straight forward and practical – and much appreciated! I love my packing cubes, but when it comes to packing for a weekend, I’m all about the “grunt rolls” in my roomy backpack 😉 fantastic tips!!

  7. I never knew this “never more than what you can carry” was a Marine mantra. It’s my principle too. As a solo traveler, I can never bring a lot of clothes as I want to be able to lift/carry them myself. Great tips, and very easy to follow. I always roll my clothes too. Unfortunately, I can’t afford a Samsonite. hahaha

  8. I really love the mantra of never packing more than you can carry, though I’m a serial overpacker, and haven’t gotten any better over 10 years of traveling lol! That said, a weekend trip should be easily fitted into just a carryon, and organizing my outfits before packing is a tip which really helps me. And throwing in small little extras for variety is a great idea, also for diversifying an outfit without having to pack a second one – a scarf can be a great way to diversify and stay traveling light. Thanks for your tips!

  9. Packing light and what you can carry is the best tip. I use packing cubes when going for a week or so but not for the weekend trips. I too keep a fold-able bag which can be used during day or for shopping.

  10. Wow! I admit traveling full-time since 2014, I’ve not done a weekend trip for a long time but that is load of stuff to pack for 2 or 3 nights! Do you always pack that much? Or is this the max and often less?
    But I do love the “Never carry more than you can carry!” mantra – I’ve gotten very strong over the past few years 😉

    Happy continued travels!

  11. Love these packing tips! I travel with carry-on as often as possible and agree that a great suitcase is key. It sounds and looks like your Samsonite suitcase is a winner!

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