You’re packing for a short, fun vacation or weekend getaway with the best intentions to bring only essentials. But by the time the Uber arrives to take you to the airport your carryon is crammed to the brim with things you “might need” later.
Sound familiar? Me too! But if this is you, you’re not alone. While it’s tempting to pack the same luggage for a three-to-five-day journey as you would for a 3 week vacation, packing less for that short trip means having less to put away and less to misplace or lose on vacation.
Fortunately, I’ve learned a few packing hacks since my early days of travel. Whether you’re an experienced traveler searching for smarter and lightweight packing options or a new adventurer gaining your grips, here are 5 short trip packing tips to curb your desire to overpack while not forgetting the essentials for your quick trip.
1. Collect Key Travel Documents
Stash all your vital documentation in a travel document organizer. By putting all of your important documents in one place, you can be sure you won’t be stuck at the airport missing a credit card or ID or rummaging through your purse like a fool while people are waiting in line. (can you tell has happened to me?) I use this passport wallet to hold all of my travel essentials
2. Pick the Right Travel Bag
Choose luggage that is flexible, compact, and large enough to carry all of your travel necessities. If you can, purchase a bag with an outstanding warranty. The right luggage can make or break a trip. A vacation with luggage that has a damaged wheel handle or zipper is a real bummer!
Until you think about what to pack, find a backpack that is as compact as you need it to be while still accommodating all of your belongings and being easy to transport.
3. decide what you really need
If you’re going on excursions during your trip, (like snorkeling or hiking) you’ll need to make sure you plan for each of them and bring the right equipment. Using packing organizers is one of the best things you can use to keep your things organized by day or excursion.
Compression sacs and cubes can be used to minimize the space your clothes take up by 80% — particularly helpful for heavy items like sweaters and jackets.
Travel hack: compression bags are great for any dirty clothes you have! As I’m leaving, I put the dirties into one bag, compress it, and check it as my extra free bag on Alaska Airlines. This makes more room on the way home for any souvenirs you might have picked up along the way, and it’s ready to go right into the laundry when I return.
4. Assess the Weather
Check the forecast at your location a day or two before you travel. Since your trip will be brief, you’ll have a good idea whether you’ll need your umbrella or rain gear. If you have a lightweight, water-resistant jacket, I recommend that over a big umbrella. Having a good idea of the weather helps you to remove unwanted pieces before packing and ensure that you only have what you’ll really need.
5. Plan for specific outings or events
What on your itinerary? A nice dinner or evening out? Have an outfit for these, but before you pack, choose only what you’ll need. If you’re going to a nice dinner, choose something that will be loose and comfortable, try it on first and pick out your accessories to complete a look you’ll feel good in. There is nothing worse than getting to your destination and not feeling confident in what you’re just wearing.
The Bottom Line
Start with the essentials you usually travel with: your bag, phone chargers, hygiene products, and in-flight supplies. If you’re going on a three- or five-day trip, first decide what to bring for each day. Then, check the forecast and select two or three weather-appropriate clothes that you can quickly mix up.
Put everything together and store it in a small carry-on bag instead of exceeding the carry-on baggage allowance. You’ll thank yourself later.