The challenge: packing for one to two weeks using just a carryon. There might be a temptation to overpack. But sis, let me tell you, you’ll be miserable if you overpack. Packing light is the way to go. You’ll enjoy your trip a lot more.
For two weeks last summer I backpacked around Southeast Asia. I went to Thailand, the Philippines, and Indonesia with just one backpack. I was able to hop on and off-budget airlines and not worry about losing my stuff because I didn’t pack a lot.
Below, I outline things you may want to consider when packing for your next 1-2 week trip.
Your choice of bag is up to you. But for a 1-2 week trip, I would choose something that is lightweight and easy to carry around. When I backpacked around Southeast Asia, I chose a book bag. It was easy to carry because it fit on my back and it fit the budget airlines’ requirements. When I travel for a weekend with just a carryon, I like to use a duffle bag.
Some people prefer a little suitcase with wheels.
You have to pick the best luggage that works for you.
Just keep in mind some airlines require that your bag be a certain size. If the bag exceeds that size, you might be paying unwanted fees.
Also, just remember the bigger your luggage, the more room you may feel you need to fill.
I absolutely adore packing cubes! I use packing cubes regardless if I’m traveling for a weekend or three months.
Packing cubes are amazing because they keep your things organized. For a one to two-week trip, I use multiple packing cubes. One packing cube is for my clothes. Another is for my underclothes and bathing suits (if I am going somewhere warm). If I am bringing more than one pair of shoes, I use a packing cube for my shoes.
To maximize space in the packing cube, I roll up my clothes.
For me, packing cubes are so essential to have on your trip because you don’t have a lot of space to work with. Having your clothes neatly contained in cubes frees up space in your bag. Also, you won’t have to dig through your luggage to find things because you’ll be able to see what you have.
Even if you don’t have a packing cube, I’m still a huge advocate of rolling clothes. For smaller items, giant baggies might do the trick.
No matter if you’re using a suitcase, or book bag, I’ve found it easier to pack heavier items at the bottom (including shoes). At the top, I pack lighter items and things I want to have easy access to.
If your trip is one to two weeks, please don’t pack an outfit for every day. You will weigh your luggage down, and you might not wear everything. Also, don’t bring “just in case clothing.” These kinds of clothes are clothes you bring because you think you might find yourself in a certain situation. For example, if the likelihood that you won’t be going to a fancy dinner is low, leave the fancy dress at home.
How you will pack will depend on the destination. A rule of thumb I stick to when packing for vacation is it’s okay to wear something more than once. When packing, I try to pack clothing that can easily be matched with other items. Thus, I tend to pack neutral colors so I can mix and match.
For example, say I’m gone for 14 days. That doesn’t mean I’ll bring 14 dresses or 14 pairs of pants or shirts. No, I would probably bring 5 – 7 shirts and pants, for example. I will not have a new shirt, pair of pants, or a dress for each day. (I would, however, make sure to have fresh underclothes each day).
On the plane, I tend to wear my heaviest outfit. This also goes for shoes. If I’m going someplace cold, I tend to wear boats on the plane.
Keep in mind that if you’re going to a religious or sacred site, bring a scarf or shirt to cover your shoulders. Some sites might also require you to have shorts or skirts below the knee.
When packing your toiletries, it’s important to keep in mind the liquid rule.
You can bring liquids, gels, creams, and pastes as long as they fit in travel-sized containers that are 3.4 oz (100 mL) or less.
These containers should fit in a quart-sized, see-through resealable bag.
If you have containers larger than 3.4 oz, you have to put it in your checked luggage. However, there are exceptions given for medications and infant and child nourishments. For more information, check out:
TSA’s Special Procedures On Disabilities and Medications
TSA’s Special Procedures On Traveling With Children
Check out my guide to packing toiletries here.
Don’t forget your electronics. Make sure you leave room for your computer, tablet, phone chargers, etc.
Be sure not to forget
Dirty laundry bag – a bag to put dirty laundry
A pen (if you are traveling internationally to fill out customs forms)
A lock (if you are staying at a hostel and the hostel does not provide one).
Eye mask/earplugs (optional) – for the plane so you can get some sleep. Some airlines provide this.
A sweater/socks – the plane gets cold. Also, even if you’re going to a warm destination, it might get cold at night.
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