It’s finally here, the moment you’ve been waiting for all week. The clock has finally struck 5 p.m. and you’re rushing out the door toward a weekend of escaping reality and getting out of town for 48 blissful hours. By the time your moment of freedom comes, you’re going to want to be sprinting out of the office, not lugging enough baggage to last you at least 10 days.
Take it from one who has over packed for a weekend away a time or two – struggling through a train station or clambering onto a bus with multiple bags filled with clothes, books, laptop and who even knows what else that puts a damper on the getaway excitement in a flash.
Here are some smart packing tips that help to alleviate stress and allow you to make the most of your mini-vacation.
At the risk of stereotyping, this one applies mostly to the ladies. Yes, it’s nice to have options for what to wear, but packing multiple items for every potential kind of weather or social situation is unnecessary and leads to a cluttered pack job. If you know there is a specific event you’ll be attending, or a nice restaurant you want to try, choose one outfit in advance and bring that. All your other dress wear stays at home.
An outfit for each day you’ll be gone, plus one pair of pajamas should do the trick. Set limits for yourself and stick to them. You’ll be thankful you did when you’re not balancing multiple heavy bags and spending way too much time packing, unpacking and trying on clothes for what is supposed to be a relaxing weekend.
The Beauty Bean recommends doing a mental walk-through of each day of the trip, to determine exactly which clothing items you should pack. This helps you avoid dumping a mish-mashed pile of clothes into your bag, hoping you’ve got all your bases covered.
Be sure to check the weather at your destination in advance so you can pack appropriate clothes and possible necessities, such as a raincoat or scarf and gloves.
One way to keep things to a minimum is to give yourself one bag for the weekend, preferably a carry-on. Unless you’re carrying other precious cargo that can’t be checked, do not check a bag and stick only to what can fit in that overhead compartment. Even if you stuff that bag to the gills, you’ll be better off than if you had opted for an entire suitcase.
Keep it basic when it comes to toiletries as well. You don’t need to bring the entire medicine cabinet with you. Pack the essentials – toothbrush, toothpaste, mouthwash, medicines, etc. – but pare things down as much as you can. Shereen Travels Cheap recommends using travel-size toiletries or sample packets for packing convenience and as a money-saving trick.
If there are products you can’t get through the day without, bring those along so as to avoid having to make runs to the store when you’re supposed to be wandering a new city or breathing deep in the country air.
But there is something freeing to leaving the curling iron or straightener at home or bringing little to no make-up if possible. A getaway is supposed to be a break from the pressures and expectations of everyday life, so skip as many of those extra getting-ready steps as you can.
A weekend getaway might be a mini-vacation, but it’s still a time for indulgence. Stop by the grocery store and pick up a few treats you wouldn’t normally allow yourself, like that expensive and delicious bar of dark chocolate.
Got a favorite wine or liquor that doesn’t make it into the typical weekend rotation? Bring that along to enjoy with a nice dinner or just as an afternoon cocktail. A tumbler of quality whiskey or a good glass of Shiraz at sunset while away adds to that sense of treating yourself and breaking from the norm.
If you’re road tripping to your destination, load up on the sweet and salty forbidden goodies that make a long haul in the car more bearable.
It’s probably a stretch to suggest leaving your smartphone at home, but try leaving some of your tech toys behind for a couple of days. Unless you absolutely need your laptop, leave that at home to avoid the temptation of doing just a little more work during your downtime. It’s all well and good to say you’re off for the weekend, but we all know the temptation to check our emails and attend to something that “will just take a minute.”
A weekend away is a great time to catch up on your reading or watch a movie you’ve had in your “to watch” mental queue for a while. Load up your iPad or e-reader with some of the entertainment you’d like to enjoy while away. But don’t overdo it – you’re supposed to be on vacation, after all.
Here again, you can impose limits on yourself if you’re the type who needs to add just one more book, one more movie, one more season of TV or one more report to read. Decide exactly how many gadgets you’re bringing and what constitutes your weekend entertainment: one movie, one book to focus on. And stick to those. There may be temptation to overdo it, but you’ll be glad you set some boundaries with yourself and didn’t let your trip pass you by in a blur.
It’s a mistake to fill up every minute of your time away with sight-seeing, meals, and personal entertainment. A weekend getaway is a great opportunity to make do with less and enjoy some reflection time.
A good principle for packing for a weekend away is to stick to the basics – don’t pack more than you need and be realistic about what goes in that bag. This makes the packing process more efficient and creates less stress in the lead up to your trip, allowing you to be excited and in the right frame of mind when you finally embark.
As is the case with so many things in life, packing tends to be less stressful and more efficient when you leave yourself sufficient time to do it. Even if you’re a light and quick packer, it’s wise to organize things a day or two in advance of your trip. That way, if you realize you forgot something, it’s not a crisis and you don’t have to rush around buying necessities or adding in pieces of clothing you may or may not need.
Time, planning and some packing boundaries will help set you on the course for an enjoyable, stress-free weekend getaway.