The Best 3-Day Trip Packing List + Printable Checklist

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For many people, packing can be a daunting task, especially if you are trying to pack light for a short weekend and do not know where to start.

Over the years, I’ve become more and more confident with my packing abilities. Knowing what to leave at home, how to get more out of less, and what “just in case” items are actually smart to bring is key.

There are a few rules I abide by when packing for shorter trips to make sure I bring the right gear every time without bringing my entire wardrobe. From the type of luggage I use, to specific travel shoes and the perfect number of underwear to bring, at this point, packing is a breeze for me!

This post will share all of my packing tips and a 3-day packing list that works every time!

How to Pack for 3-days

There are a few things to think about when starting to pack for your trip. Ask yourself, what activities am I doing, what the weather is like, are there any special events.

On a three-day trip, you won’t need a large suitcase. A carry-on roller and a personal bag should do the trick. 

Some people love a backpack when packing for short trips. Because I often travel with a camera backpack (in addition to traditional luggage), I never use a backpack for packing clothing. I find a rolling suitcase is the easiest to tote around and gives you easy access to your belongings while keeping things organized and wrinkle-free. It’s also an easy way to lighten your load-I always use a backpack with a trolly handle passthrough so my backpack can sit comfortably on top of my carry-on rollaboard suitcase.

If I need additional space, a weekender bag with dual compartments and a luggage handle passthrough is my go to. I love the Tumi Voyager because it is so well made with easy zippers, lots of pockets and it has a lightweight and durable material. It is pricey, but I have had it for over 6 years and I have never had an issue. I do not anticipate ever buying a new one!

The best place to start with packing for a 3-day trip is to pull out any necessities. A necessity is an item you must take with you that has a clear purpose, such as medications or a specific outfit for a specific event or occasion.

If there are any events or activities with a specific dress code (such as a wedding, meetings, or even hiking), pull these outfits together first, complete with shoes and any accessories you need. Lay everything out so you can see what you need to bring, and then build additional outfits around the ones you must travel with.  

Make a checklist with all the necessary details to ensure you won’t forget anything. You can download my printable 3-day packing checklist here. There is additional room to jot down your own notes.

Top Items to Pack For a Weekend Trip

In general, you do not need a lot of options on a three day trip. You can easily get away with less. Below I’ve broken down each major category with tips for weekend trip packing.

Travel Documents

If it is only three days, you most likely won’t be leaving the country but make sure you have any importation documents stored in a secure place. For plane travel I always use a hip pack for easy access to important documents + phone and money while walking through the airport.

For a three-day trip bring:

  • Driver’s License
  • Passport
  • Reservation Documents
  • Cash + Credit Card + ATM Card

Clothing

Packing with intention is key here. Don’t bring any “what ifs.” If you want to pack light, plan your outfits with confidence in advance. 

Use the capsule wardrobe method to pack items that can be mixed and matched. Pull items in the same color scheme to make sure pieces can be mixed and matched. Make sure all your clothing can be worn with the same accessories and pair of shoes. 

The only reasonable “what if” is a rain jacket. Even then, I usually only pack one if I am doing a lot of outdoor activities or long distance hiking, as you always want to be prepared for continuum exposure to the elements. 

If it is not an outdoorsy trip, I most likely will not be outside if it rains, so a rain jacket is useless in most cases.

Items to pack for a 3-day trip:

  • 2-3 Casual Tops
  • 2 Casual Bottoms
  • 1-2 PJ sets
  • 1 dress or skirt outfit (elevated outfit)
  • 1 jacket or lightweight sweater depending on weather

Make sure the tops can be worn with either bottom for optimal outfit options.

Wear the same travel outfit coming and going to free up luggage space. I love the cozy Vuori jogger sets for travel days and sometimes use them to sleep in as well.

Socks and Underwear

I pack 1 pair of socks for every two days of travel as I am perfectly fine wearing the same socks two days in a row. If your feet profusely sweat or get really stinky, bring more socks. You can also try adding baby powder to your shoes to help absorb the sweat. I do this all the time and it really works!

As far as underwear, I bring two pairs per day, a day pair and a night pair. I am never afraid to overpack underwear. It’s not bulky so one pair takes up minimal room. Nothing feels fresher than a new pair of undies on a long travel day-especially when showering is not an option. 

For a three-day trip bring:

  • 3 pairs of socks
  • 4-6 pairs of underwear

Shoes

Limit shoes as they are the bulkiest items in a suitcase and take up a lot of room. For a three day trip, two pairs of shoes, a sneaker and sandal (or ankle boot for cold weather), are the best options to pack. Many people would recommend just one pair of shoes (the ones you are wearing), but I recommend two pairs. I often travel in white sneakers or my birkenstocks but depending on my destination and the activities I am doing, a second pair is a must for an elevated option.

I always use a shoe bag to store shoes in my suitcase. I use the one that came with my Beis luggage or a plastic produce bag. You can also use shower caps to cover the bottom of dirty shoes to protect them from other items in your suitcase. 

Wear your bulkiest shoe on travel days to save space in your luggage.

For a three-day trip bring:

  • 1 pair of comfortable casual sneaker or day shoe
  • 1 pair of sandals or an elevated shoe
  • Additional shoes for special circumstances if absolutely needed
    • Water shoes for tropical destinations
    • Tennis shoe or trainer for working out
    • Sturdy hiking boots if needed for a challenging hike

Accessories

Pack sparingly! Accessories like bags, hats and ornate jewelry can get bulky quickly. Choose bags that can be compressed easily and jewelry that is not susceptible to breaking. Storing delicate jewelry in a hard case is ideal but it does take up space. 

I rarely travel without a wide brimmed hat and LOVE the TopTote magnetic hat clips. They attach easily to any bag and are super secure (only one hat per clip). The original design is 100% better made than the dupes you find on Amazon (although you can buy the original on Amazon). After losing a hat and having two off brand dupes fall apart, I’ll only use the original Hat Clip by TopTote (it is worth the cost).

For a three-day trip bring:

  • 1 day bag or backpack
  • 1 small evening bag
  • 1 wide-brimmed hat or baseball cap (optional)
  • 1 belt (optional)
  • Only bring the necessary jewelry. Leave all valuables at home!

Toiletries

Oftentimes when traveling, toiletries can make or break you. If you have a 10 step skincare or a huge makeup case, you’ll want to limit it on your 3-day weekend. Take the necessities and if you are flying, keep in mind the 3-1-1 carry on liquids rule. 

Per the TSA website: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) maintains a 3-1-1 liquids rule for carry-on bags. This rule states that each liquid, gel, or aerosol container must be 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less, and all containers must fit in a clear, plastic, zip-top bag that is no larger than one quart. Each passenger is limited to one bag. 

While few airports enforce the plastic bag rule, you will have to dispose of liquids if you attempt to bring too many ounces in a carry-on. The only airport I know of that is very strict with carry-on toiletries is London-Heathrow. They enforce the 1 quart size bag per person rule.

If I am driving, I usually bring my full size skin care products because it is easier to pack, yes it takes up more room but since I have the room in the car, it is so much easier not to have to transfer my favorite products to smaller size bottles. It is one reason why I LOVE a road trip!

When traveling by plane with carry-on only, I stick to a 3 step skincare routine and buy travel size skincare products and use TSA approved travel size bottles for face wash and body lotion.

Some people prefer to use hotel toiletries. This is a great way to pack light and avoid taking too many liquids but as I get older my skin and hair does not do well with hotel products. These products usually dry my skin and scalp out and are full of chemicals and fragrances, which I always avoid in my self-care products.

For a three-day trip don’t forget:

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Facewash
  • Face Serum
  • Face Moisturizer
  • Shampoo 
  • Conditioner
  • Body Wash/soap
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip Balm
  • Deodorant
  • Body Lotion
  • Shaving Supplies
  • Makeup
  • Hair Styling Tools
  • Contacts (for eyes) Supplies
  • Insect Repellent

Electronics

Electronics is another category that can get out of hand quickly- these items can get heavy fast so make sure to pack with intention. One rule I live by is, if I am not going to use it daily, I keep it at home. The only “what if” item I bring is a portable battery charger and only if I’ll be doing outdoor activities for an extended period of time. 

Before packing an iPad, a laptop, and an e-reader, really think about your weekend trip and what activities you will be doing. Will you have a lot of downtime? Do you really need to lug around a computer and an iPad? Make sure to validate your reasons for packing these items.

For a three-day trip, you might want the following:

  • Phone Charger (wall and car)
  • Portable battery pack
  • Book/Kindle + charger
  • Noise-canceling headphones 
  • Lab Top Computer/iPad + Chargers 
  • Camera + spare battery

Remember to pack sparingly! Only bring what you really need. If you are not going to use it every day, consider keeping it at home.

Miscellaneous Travel Items

Make sure to leave some room for must-have travel items. When flying, I always take these carry-on travel essentials

Depending on your style of travel, you will want certain things. Here are a few basic essentials to consider.

What to pack for a weekend away:

  • Medications
  • Water Bottle
  • Travel Snacks 
  • Travel Pillow
  • Journal + Pen
  • Tripod for taking selfies
  • Eye Mask
  • First Aid Kit

Tips for Packing Light

Remember to pack with intention when packing for a three-day trip. It is easy to overpack if you are not clear on expectations of the trip. Knowing what to expect and what to pack for is ideal. 

  • Be OK wearing something more than once. Unless it’s incredibly hot and sweaty or you get dirty, you do not need to wash all your clothing every time you wear it. Less washing will help preserve the color and fabric of your garments so they look newer longer.
  • Wear your bulkiest items on the plane. If packing for cold weather, wear your heavy coat and boots on the plane to save valuable luggage space. Your jacket will make a great pillow and you can always take your shoes off while flying.
  • Be strategic when packing shoes and accessories. Make sure your outfits pair nicely with the same shoes and bags to make packing easier. 
  • Build a capsule wardrobe. Choosing a mix-and-match collection of clothing for a short trip is ideal to give you more options during your weekend away. 

Popular Questions for Packing for a 3-day Weekend Trip

How many outfits should I bring for a 3-day trip?

Assuming you will not be doing laundry, it is reasonable to bring three tops and two bottoms + a dress or skirt option for an elevated look.

Bring two pairs of socks, unless your feet are prone to sweat and odor, in that case, bring 3-4. Pack 4-6 pairs of underwear since they take up little space and keep you feeling fresh.

Bring two pairs of shoes. A pair of comfortable sneakers/day shoes and one sandal/elevated pair of shoes is ideal.

How do you pack light for a 3-day trip?

Three days is already a short amount of time so packing light will be easier than you might thing. First, know what to expect on your trip.

  • What activities will you be doing?
  • What is the weather like?
  • How long is the transportation to and from?
  • Will you need special outfits for certain activities? 

Next, pack with the necessities in mind and bring only what you will use. Do not pack for the “what ifs.” The best way to pack light is to pack a capsule wardrobe. Pack separates that can be mixed and matched and ones that go with the same accessories and shoes.

How much luggage do I need for a 3-day trip?

One carry-on size roller suitcase plus an additional personal item is all you need for a short three day trip. 

I love the Beis hard luggage spinners. They wheel flawlessly, look good, have extras such as a compression flap and zipper pockets plus mine have all held up after years of abuse.

How can I minimize what I pack for toiletries on a weekend trip?

To minimize packing toiletries on your short weekend trip, be willing to travel with less. Cut your skincare routine down to the most important steps (face wash, serum, moisturizer & sunscreen). Opt for solid shampoo and conditioner bars over bottles of liquids.

Make sure to use toiletry bottles under 3.4 oz to save space in luggage. You can even put some liquids, gels, or lotions in plastic bags that take up much less space than bottles. It won’t be as easy to get your favorite products out of a bag, but it’s another great way to save space if you really need it.

You can also use whatever the hotel offers. I hate doing this because the quality of hotel toiletries is poor, but it’s a great way to limit packing toiletries.

Some people buy their toiletries at their destination and leave what they do not use. I do not like this option either because it feels like a waste of money, plus it takes up time and you run the risk of your destination not having your preferred items and brands. However, it may be ideal for a certain type of traveler.

Overall, the best way to minimize packing toiletries for your trip is to bring less! 3-days is a short trip, so sacrificing some skincare steps that are normally a part of your at-home routine should not be a big deal.

***

No matter where your next 3-day trip takes you, I hope this post will help you pack light and smart so you have more time to enjoy your vacation and not be weighed down by luggage!

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