One Bag Travel: How to Pack for a Weekend Trip

Published On November 26, 2013 | By alex | Packing, Packing Tips

Just in time for holiday travel, I’m showing you how to pack your carry-on weekender bag for a short 3-5 day trip using TFG’s minimalist Thanksgiving Packing List as inspiration. Don’t waste money on baggage fees and learn the art of one bag travel!

How to Pack for a Weekend Trip




As you can see from the above details, I split the contents of the Thanksgiving Packing List into two sections: what you wear On the Plane and What you Pack in your Bag. Below you will see the modified version of the Thanksgiving Packing List to reflect this packing strategy:



Please visit the Thanksgiving Packing List for product details.


To show you that you can travel light using a capsule wardrobe even with winter clothing, I have chosen to use a small carry-on size bag using standard ziploc bags to show you how to pack for a weekend trip.

The general idea is that you wear your two outerwear pieces such as coat and sweater on the plane for warmth and space savings. Also, in this example, I would wear the jeans and the red top as my flight outfit. Finish the look with the largest pair of shoes, in this case, boots and pack your second set of shoes.




To maximize space inside your weekend bag, use a packing cube such as this one or use a gallon size Ziploc bag to hold the rest of your clothing. In this example, the clothing left after you’ve chosen your flight outfit are four tops and one bottom which fit perfectly into the Ziploc bag.

In addition, pack 5 underwear and 1 bra into a sandwich size Ziploc bag or your luggage organizer of choice and stick to a TSA approved toiletry kit such as this one to avoid any issues with oversized liquids when you go through security.

Please refer to this Airport Survival Guide for more tips on breezing through security.


While it may not seem like it from the images, after filling the bag with all the listed items it still had plenty of room that you can use to fit an extra pair of shoes, sweater, and jeans.

Not too bad for one bag travel!

For more details on the ultra chic and functional travel bag featured in this post, check out Lo & Sons. They sent me their trademark bag ‘The OG” which is small enough to fit under the seat on a flight yet provides enough room for a cold weather capsule wardrobe such as the one shown in this post. Stay tuned for my full review of the bag.

To learn more about creating a capsule travel wardrobe, please check out TFG’s eBook “Capsule Wardrobe Essentials: How to Pack Light with a 10 Piece Packing List” available now on Amazon!



Hope you’ve found this post on how to pack for a weekend trip helpful. Please share with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Thanks for reading!


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19 Responses to One Bag Travel: How to Pack for a Weekend Trip

  1. Janet Fazio says:

    Thank you! I’m going to NYC for a long weekend and this is a perfect guide for what to bring.

  2. Holly says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I used it as a guide for my family of 4 (Dad, Mom, 11yr old, 2 yr old). We did 6 days in Boston for New Years and took 2 carryons and 3 backpacks. We followed your guide to a T, but added extra base layers and snow pants for everyone (came in handy for sledding after the blizzard in subzero temps). I packed a little bit extra for our toddler, and had no trouble with having enough to wear. I did use travel space bags, which left enough space for kiddie gear and electronics.

    • alex says:

      That’s great to hear Holly – I’m glad you were able to use the packing list as a guideline and adapt it to your trip and make it your own – perfect! Thank you for reading :-)

  3. Nikkie says:

    What brand are those black flats you took with you?

  4. Jessy says:

    LOVE this bag, but it is not in my price range currently. Have you come across any other bags that are similar, but a bit more budget friendly? I’m always looking for a useful weekend bag and this looks like it is IT!

  5. Great list! I love, love, love my OG. I use Eagle Creek packing cubes and it’s amazing how much stuff one can fit.

  6. Jane Ashman says:

    Hey, What do you take for toiletries? Got a list for weekend , week or two?

  7. Liter says:

    I just arrived in Minnesota for a 6 day visit with the family. I successfully packed a weekender bag (with plenty of empty space) and a purse, but I did have to bring my backpack. As a med student the work never ends, so I have a lot of school stuff being lugged around. But I love using these guides for how much is really appropriate/necessary for a trip. Keep it up!

  8. Chelsey says:

    I was about to pack my bag for Thanksgiving (using this great list to keep my packing in check) and I noticed that pajamas aren’t included. Sleeping in your underwear could work but not really during the winter, do you recycle a top to sleep in? What about pajama bottoms? Thanks!

    • alex says:

      For this particular packing list I would add one set of thermals or long sleeve top and leggings to sleep in for Thanksgiving time. What did you choose?

      • Dee Burdi says:

        As a guest in someone’s home, I also needed to pack a light bathrobe and slippers. No way was I going to come out in my leggings and top. Wearing sweater, t-shirt top, jacket, jeans, scarf and loafers was my perfect plane attire for the north. I think I aced it. Thanks!

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