So you and your friends are planning a weekend getaway to someplace new. Say, a new city or state park you’ve been meaning to cross off your list. Everything’s lining up perfectly–you’ve requested Friday off, you’re neighbor promised to water the plants (even though they’ve probably already forgotten), and the AirBNB’s been booked up.
There’s only one problem. The weather app can’t make up its mind. You’ve never been to that area before. You don’t know if sixty degrees REALLY means sixty degrees or if you actually need to learn what humidity rates mean. In short, you have anxiety and your friends are being extremely unhelpful on the specifics.
Have no fear. As someone who grew up taking last minute weekend trips, I’ve learned that human beings can survive just about anything for three days. But in case you want to actually have a good time instead of being completely miserable, here’s my no-fail list of tricks to successful packing.
- Never pack more than a backpack
It’s three days at most. You don’t need that much shit. Hell, you could probably get away with not needing a backpack at all, but you never know for certain. However much you want to pack is up to you and the weekend’s agenda (your weekend hiking wardrobe will probably look vastly different than a NYC weekend), but make sure it’s kept to the bare minimum of what you need. Keeping it strictly within a backpack will help you sort out the essential from the extra. Granted, there are exceptions to every rule. If you’re literally camping overnight or attending a red carpet premiere, you should probably not shove a thousand dollar dress into a purse and call it a day, but my point still stands. Find a way to figure out what you absolutely need, and what you won’t even touch, and forcefully draw a line.
- Differentiate between “travel” clothes and “trip” clothes
If you’re flying, try to have something separate for the plane. The last thing you want is to be stuck in an unfamiliar city in uncomfortable, bacteria-ridden clothes. Weather can be unpredictable, but seek out a general idea of what to expect and prep your “trip” clothes around that. Unless the climate is drastically different, don’t overthink it too much. It’s hard to follow that advice when you truly don’t know what to expect, but 99% of the time, that’s all you need to do. Layers are your best friend. I just wear what I normally wear and throw in a jacket or hoodie for good measure. Worst case scenario, it rains more than you thought and you have to buy a cheap-o umbrella.
- Keep it organized and within reach
By this, I don’t mean you have to develop a complicated filing system for two pairs of socks. Keep your toiletries in one place. If you have electronics, keep the chargers together. If you can, try to pack so the things you’ll use first are on top. Make sure you’re liquids are in a plastic bag if you’re flying. Spending a few minutes getting your shit together will make life drastically easier in the long run.
- Know yourself
You know what you need. If you believe that sacrificing your spare jeans are worth having two pairs of shoes, then go for it. So long as you have the absolute essentials (wallet, keys, phone, charger, toothbrush, and underwear), then who really cares? So long as you keep everything else minimal, what’s important is that you’re confident in your decisions and that you have a good time. The truth is, there is no “one size fits all” for traveling style, especially when it comes to packing. Everyone has different needs and different preferences. The more often you travel, the quicker you’ll develop your own formula. For what little it’s worth, I’m giving you permission to make mistakes and figure out your style. I promise it’ll be worth it.