Packing for a Long Weekend

I have traveled many times in the last ten years for 3-5 day trips. Some of my favorite were in Europe…

I have also traveled for business conferences and retreats, so I have developed a go-to method for packing that I hope you’ll find helpful. This may or may not end up being a lengthy post since I think it takes more work to pack light.

I actually start with basics, undergarments based on the number of days of travel {but never more than five days worth since you pretty much need to do laundry at that point}. Also, something to sleep in and something to work out in if it’s more than four days of travel.

If it’s less than four days of travel I’m probably trying to fit a lot into a short amount of time and I’m unlikely to actually work out in that time.

If you are more disciplined, feel free to pack workout clothes, just make sure they can double as a second set of loungewear/pajamas.

Note, I do try to pack a cute pair of PJ’s since we tend to end up having late night hangouts as women, and sometimes that involves cameras!

Ok, so you have your necessities and you have something to wear to bed. {don’t laugh, I’ve slept in jeans and a t-shirt before because I forgot jammies!} Now we get to the heart of the matter for the ladies, outfits! General advice doesn’t hurt.

  • Can you mix and match pieces?
  • Is it comfortable for the event you’re attending?
  • Do you have time to break in newer shoes ahead of time?
  • Do you have layers for colder conference rooms?

I like to start with my favorite outfit. Admit it, you’ve got at least one. Something you feel great it, is in good repair, and if you woke up five minutes before you had to leave the house, you know you would pull it out.

Then I ask myself, what is one neutral bottom piece (or dress) that I can wear different ways? For you it might be jeans, for someone else, it might be a sheath dress. I have found that jeans are not always formal enough and they tend to get baggy, especially by day 3. I try to pack a pair of basic slacks instead. They are lighter in the suitcase and you can dress them up. Changing shoes and your top often completely change the look of a pair of slacks.

This is where it can be fun or stressful: what else to add to the essentials? Here’s my process:

  • Do I need a formal/special event dress? I like a basic sheath for a conference, because I can swap jackets over it. I can then use those same jackets during the day with other outfits.
  • Do I need swimwear or sports specific clothing? I always, always, just in case I change my mind, bring a swimsuit when staying at hotels. Flip flops can serve as house shoes and a pool wrap can serve as a robe in the room.
  • Do I have a top for each day, plus one? Again, I max this out at five because at that point, I just need to do laundry. However, for a long weekend conference, I know the likelihood that at least a part of my meals will end up on my clothes: better to have an extra top on hand.
  • Do I have the accessories I need? Casual and dressier shoes (again, to dress up/down basic outfits), scarf, two basic jewelry combos that match everything, etc.

Throw in your beauty and shower essentials (for some girls, they’ll live off the hotel samples, for others, you practically need to check a separate bag for beauty gadgetry like me! Just remember if you are flying to keep it to a quart size zipper bag for carry-on bags.

Now, what about everything else? Are you a note-taker? Will you be shopping? If attending a conference, will they hand out freebies you need to bring home? How many business/contact cards? Here’s what I do that I think covers most scenarios.

I do everything in my power to depart for the trip with a rolling suitcase that contains a soft sided bag. Then, I can check it in on the return trip if necessary. I usually place this  bag flat in the bottom of my rolling suitcase and use it as a dirty clothes bag during my stay. When returning, I put the original items back in the rolling suitcase and the items I’ve collected {shopping, freebies} in the extra bag. If you have nesting rolling suitcases you can do the same, just watch your total weight on the departing flight.

My laptop, cell phone, and their respective power cords go on every trip. You may consider an iPad or Kindle in addition to these. I also insist on old fashioned pen and paper. In fact, I currently carry about a half dozen pens in various colors at all times. It makes life fun. If I had a nicer camera, it would also be packed with these items. These things all go in a larger shoulder tote that will pass as my purse or backpack for flights. I put my purse contents in the same bag. If you want a separate purse during your stay, just pack it into the suitcase {empty of course}.

The carry on tote or backpack will house my business cards so I can have them handy during travel. I also put a copy of my card inside each bag in case they are misplaced or lost. I bring about double the number of cards as people I think I can actually talk to at an event. So, if there are eight hours of events per day, I’m unlikely to talk to more than four people per hour who really want to exchange ideas. For a conference like Allume, three days means I’ll make sure to have no more than 200 cards, despite the fact 400 women will attend.

I travel in an outfit that is neutral enough, and comfortable enough, that I can live in it for two days if my luggage is lost. Beyond those two days, I’m going shopping!

Finally, remember, travel should be about your experience and the changes it brings in you…so wear whatever you like, pack as little or as much as you like, and share yourself with those you’re traveling with you.