What to pack for a weekend away – Essential packing checklist

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We love booking short weekend getaways, especially after a long week at work, we just want to get away to somewhere different.  

Whether we plan a staycation or a trip abroad, we still need to pack a small weekend bag which has all the essentials we need. 

But packing can be the most stressful part of planning a weekend away. You don’t want to over pack, because you’ll be lugging all that unnecessary stuff with you, but you don’t want to forget anything either.  

If you forget something, you’ll have to go without or you’ll need to purchase this while you travel. This will impact your budget that you set. 

To help you pack your essentials, we have this checklist that covers what to pack for a weekend away.  

You will no longer pack your kitchen sink, or leave anything behind and don’t forget, to help with packing, you can download a FREE packing checklist here. 

What to pack for a weekend away 

What to pack for a weekend trip? We have you covered, with these essential things to pack. 

Documents to pack for a weekend trip  

Whether your weekend trip is a staycation or travelling abroad, you will need to pack some important documents.  

These documents should be packed within your hand luggage, or somewhere safe and easy to find. 


Travelling internationally, or across the border? Then your passport is a requirement. Without it, you will be refused travel.  

Pack your passport in your hand luggage, or small backpack somewhere safe and easy to access.

European travellers who have a National ID card, can travel within Europe without a passport, but you must take your ID card with you. Note: There are some countries that do not accept the ID, such as the UK. Check prior to travel and pack either the passport or the ID card, or both. 

Tip – A couple of weeks before you travel, check the expiry date of your passport and that you have sufficient pages left for any stamps. If you have less than 6 months remaining, or less than 1 page, you will need to apply for a replacement before you go. 


Travelling across the border, then you might need to apply for a holiday visa.  

Always check the countries visa entry requirements, as some nationalities may not require a visa for travel less than 90 days. 

If you do require a visa, apply for it in good time and keep a copy of the approval on a device, on email and print a copy, in the event you need to produce it.  

Keep this in your hand luggage, or somewhere safe and where you can easily access it.  


It’s always a good idea to have a mixture of cash and debit/credit card with you. Make sure you have enough for the entire trip, plus a little for emergencies. 

To help you take the right amount with you, always set a budget. This way, you won’t overspend, but crucially you won’t run out of money.  

Not every country has the same currency. If you’re not sure what currency you should take, do some research beforehand.  

For example, the UK use the £GBP while most countries in Europe have the €EUR. But not every country in Europe uses the Euro. Do your research before your trip. 

Tip – Some banks charge to use the debit/credit cards on foreign transactions.  Check this before you travel. If it’s too expensive to use the debit/credit card, take enough cash for the trip and only use the debit/credit card in an emergency.  

How much money should you pack for a weekend away? 

This is where you’ll need to research and set a budget. Some countries and regions are more expensive than other locations.  

For example, the USA, UK and most countries in Europe are expensive to visit, while South America and Asia are far cheaper.  

Your budget will need to be set and realistic, based on where you plan to travel. This is where the research comes in.  

If you research and plan your holiday well, it really doesn’t have to be that expensive.  

An example, if we were planning a trip to London, which is an expensive city to visit. We would plan how much accommodation costs, how much to spend on food and drink per person per day, are there cheap or free things to do in London ect.  

Once we have calculated our estimated expenses, this is our budget. 

But there are ways you can save money while you travel. Rather than eat out for every meal, we make our own lunch or evening meal. Eat at cheap cafes, so rather than a budget of say £20.00 per person per meal, we could actually travel on £10.00 per person per meal.  

As long as you plan and research your trip, you’ll not only travel on a budget, but you’ll also pack enough money, to cover your entire weekend away. 

Need more tips on how to travel on a budget, we have a detailed post on how to set a budget and ways to save money as you travel.  

Small cabin bags for a weekend trip
Small cabin bags for a weekend trip

Driving licence/international driver permit 

We love road trips, it’s a great way to get around a country and to see some of the best sights, without the hassle of public transport. 

Our last road trip took us to Co. Wicklow, which was an amazing experience. We could take the route at our leisurly pace and not have to rely on public transport. Another great road trip we would love to take is the epic Iceland Ring Road. The stunning landscape and the adventures.

As we were hiring a vehicle, we needed our driving licence. Because our licence allows u to drive in European countries, we didn’t need to get an international drivers permit. For those, who do not have a European licence may need an international driver permit too.

If you are driving and you do need an international drivers permit, you will need to apply for this before you travel and to pack this in your hand luggage. 

If you are not sure if you need an international driver permit, then do your research before you travel and apply within sufficient time. 

We have written a comprehensive guide on how to apply for an international driver permit. 

Travel insurance 

While travel insurance may not be a legal requirement, it is highly recommended.  

Travel insurance is there to protect you in most eventualities. 

If your flight is cancelled, or delayed. Luggage is lost or delayed. If you fall ill while travelling. All of this is covered under your travel insurance.   

You pay a small premium to be covered. If you need to claim, you would contact the company, pay an excess and they will do the rest.   

You can find out if it is really worth purchasing travel insurance or not here.  

If you hiring a vehicle, then you’ll need car insurance. This is normally included within the hire purchase, but always check with the hire company prior to travel. 

Spending a short weekend in Munich? Make the most of your trip with these simple tips on how to spend a weekend in Munich. 

Medical supplies to pack in your weekend backpack 

Here are some of the medical supplies you should pack in your weekend backpack: 

Sun tan lotion 

This is a seasonal product to pack, as sun protection is not necessarily required in cold climates, although we would still recommend packing a low SPF sun cream, to protect your skin from the sun. 

In hot or warm climates, you will need to pack sun protection, to protect your skin from the harmful rays.  

Even on a cloudy day in summer, you could still burn, so always apply the sun screen regularly to prevent burning.  

Trust us it isn’t pleasant getting sun burn while on holiday. Not only is it painful, but it can cause skin problems and even skin cancer. 

Protect you and your family with sun lotion.  


An obvious one to pack, but it isn’t uncommon for travellers to leave their medication behind.  

You should pack enough medication for the trip and some in the event of an emergency.  

If you’re spending 2 nights away on your weekend trip, you should pack 3 days of medication and a couple of days additional for emergencies. 

If you’re spending 4 nights away, pack 5 days of medication and 4 days for emergencies.  

Make sure the medication is packed in any hand luggage. 


In the event any other luggage goes missing, stolen or delayed, you have the medication for your trip. 

Always keep the packaging for the medication with you, should security stop you. 

Our essential packing for a weekend trip
Our essential packing for a weekend trip

Mosquito repellent 

We have been quite lucky, as we have only been bitten by mosquitos in a few countries.  

Sri Lanka is the worst, as I would get bitten alive, but mosquito repellent will prevent this from happening. 

We use Jungle Formula mosquito repellent and we no longer get bitten. The roll-on mosquito repellent, is great as it doesn’t leave you sticky or uncomfortable and has a neutral smell.  

Pick up a small travel size repellent, which you can take anywhere you go and use to prevent bites.  


This one is pretty self-explanatory, but pack a tooth brush and travel size toothpaste, make up (but not all of it, you simply won’t need it), shaving products, feminine products, soap, shampoo etc. 

The environment is just as important as travelling. Where possible, we would recommend packing environmentally friendly and plastic free toiletries. These are a little more expensive, but far better. 

Tip: What are the facilities like at your accommodation or camp site? Most places will provide complimentary shampoo, conditioner and soap. While they might not be your preferred brand or product, by checking what facilities are available at your accommodation, you may not need to pack some toiletries, which leaves you space for more important things. 


Tissues can help to prevent the spread of germs and diseases. A small pocket size packet, is compact and small, so won’t take up a lot of space or weight. 

First aid kit 

This is great to have with you, if you fall ill or have a minor injury that doesn’t require further medical treatment.   

We have our small first aid kit packed with all our essentials including:  

  • Plasters  
  • Painkillers (with any medication, it is always a good idea to keep the box or instruction, in the event you need to provide these to authorities).  
  • Antibacterial hand sanitizer  

For a full list, check out our post on what to pack in your first aid kit.  

Note: We have never encountered any problems with taking over the counter medication away on holiday with us. However there have been reported cases of travellers, jailed for taking over the counter medication into a country, that do not legalize that substance within the medication.   

If you have any concerns about that type of medication you’ll be carrying, always consult with the relevant agency or government website to get clarity.   

Electrical items to pack 

These essentials will keep you in touch with family, friends and to take some of the best images: 


You’ll need a good camera to take some amazing pictures while on your adventure.  

With current technology, camera equipment no longer costs the earth.   

You can now pick up a compact camera, that takes good images for around £100.00, although, in our opinion we would recommend spending a little more on a decent camera that will last for many years to come.  

Not only do we have a large DSLR camera, but we also have a small compact camera.   

Check out our post on Travel essentials, in which we include some of the best camera’s that we use. We include a wide range from budget friendly to expensive depending on your budget. 

Mobile phone 

You’ll need your mobile phone, so you can keep in touch with family and friends.   

Don’t get lost, with Google maps to navigate you around the large cities, towns and villages, or just keep your Instagram feed filled with some of your best pictures of your travel.  

The latest mobile phone will have a camera inbuilt, to take some great pictures. That way, you don’t have to pack a camera and you could use your mobile phone. You can take amazing pictures with your mobile.   


Don’t forget your charger to charge your electrical devices. 


Each country may have a different socket to one back home. A travel adapter will be required to plug a device into the socket, if it is different. 

USB sockets are quite rare in accommodation. We have probably stayed in a couple of hotels or Airbnb’s that have a USB port.  

Packing a few travel adapters for your weekend away allows multiple devices to be charged at one time.  

If we are travelling overseas for a short break, we will always pack a couple of travel adapters in our hand luggage or checked in bag. 

Packing for a weekend trip
Packing for a weekend trip

Battery bank 

This is a great back up in the event you’re on the road and you’re running low on battery for one of your devices.  

You just plug in your device to the fully charged Battery Bank and the device will charge while on the road.  

Of course, you need to make sure the battery bank is fully charged at all times. 

What plans have you made for visiting the UK? What about visiting some of these amazing summer destinations in England that can be done by train? And perfect for a weekend getaway. 

Miscellaneous things to pack for a weekend away 

Just a few things that we would recommend, for your weekend away, but isn’t essential 

Phrase book 

A phrase book will always come in handy if you can’t speak the local language, or would like to learn some of the language before you go. 

We will always advocate learning some of the basic language before travelling, it will be appreciated by many of the locals.  

Guide book 

Guide books are a great way to plan your upcoming weekend trip away. They have everything you need to know, from suggestions on what to see and do, places to eat and sleep. Many have suggested itineraries and a small map, with city maps too. 

This will come in handy, as you travel. 

Notebook and pen/pencil 

If you need to make any notes along the way, then taking a note pad and pen/pencil will come in handy.  

But to save space in your luggage and paper, just use the note pad on your phone.   

Most phones will have a note pad capability. Use this to minimize packing unwanted things.   


If you would like to do some reading while on your short weekend holiday, then packing a couple of good books is recommended.  

BUT physical books take up space and weight.  

A great solution to allow you to read, without the hassle of taking up space and weight in your luggage, is a Kindle.  

A Kindle can hold thousands of books, on one small device. You can download as many books as you like and it won’t take up any extra space.  

Yes, reading a physical book is great, but you will want to take as little as possible. If you insist on taking a book, then just pack one along with a kindle.   

Bum bag 

We literally can’t live without a bum bag.  

There great to keep your personal belongings safe and can be discretely hidden under your clothing.   

A bum bag should deter your belongings from being stolen.  

What to store in your bum bag: 

  • Cash  
  • Credit/debit cards  
  • Keys  
  • Phone 

Environmentally friendly water bottle 

Staying hydrated is very important. So, packing an environmentally friendly water bottle is a must. 

Airports are strict with allowing liquids into security. Ensure the water bottle is empty, before filling it at a water fountain in the airport.  

Why environmentally friendly water bottle? 

Plastic is a really big problem and plastic water bottles only add to the problem. An environmentally friendly bottle is cheaper and can be used for many years.  

Buying bottled water is definitely more expensive in the long run.  

We never leave home without a good water bottle.  

Stuck for ideas on where to visit for your next weekend trip. Then you really should check out  The ultimate guide to exploring Ashford Castle in Ireland 

Clothes to pack for a weekend trip 

For a weekend trip, you really don’t need to pack that much. You need enough for the couple of days, plus a couple of spare sets.  

Here is exactly what you need to pack depending on the season. 

Clothing for a weekend away in winter 

During the cold winter months, in some countries it can get very cold, with temperatures in the minus and snowfall. 

While other countries can be mild in winter.  

Weather is often unpredictable. Here in the UK, our winters can range between –3•c to 10•c during the day.   

Always check the weather before you travel to pack the right clothing to keep you warm in cold conditions.  

But what should you pack for a weekend in winter? 

Layers are always a must. We always wear and pack a base layer, with long sleeves, a jumper, a jacket, scarf and gloves, trust us you’ll need it in the winter.  

How much should you pack? 

As this is just a short weekend trip, you should only need the following:  

  • 2x base layers 
  • 2 jumpers 
  • 3x T-shirts/shirts 
  • 1x jacket 
  • 1x scarf 
  • 1x gloves 
  • 3x jeans 
  • 1x smart trousers or skirt 
  • 1x smart shirt or blouse 
  • 1x shoes 
  • 1x smart shoes 
  • 1x Wet weather clothing 
  • 6x underwear 
  • 1x PJ’s (Pyjamas) 
  • Toiletries 

This should cover you for at least 4 days away including something smart to wear if you’re going to a high-end restaurant.  

Small day backpack ideal for sightseeing or day hikes
Small day backpack ideal for sightseeing or day hikes

Clothing for a weekend away in spring and autumn 

Spring and autumn typically have warmer climates, but still weather can be a little unpredictable.  

Packing a mixture of loose cooling clothes for the warmer days and layers for the colder days are recommended.  

These are what we would pack for a weekend away in spring and autumn: 

  • 1x base layer 
  • 1x jumper 
  • 3x T-shirts/shirts 
  • 1x jacket 
  • 1x gloves 
  • 3x jeans 
  • 1x smart trousers or skirt 
  • 1x smart shirt or blouse 
  • 1x shoes 
  • 1x smart shoes 
  • 1x wet weather clothing 
  • 6x underwear 
  • 1x PJ’s (Pyjamas) 
  • Toiletries 

This will be sufficient for a 4-day weekend away, including something smart if you’re going to a high-end restaurant or evening out. 

Clothing to pack for a weekend away in summer 

The summer months in most countries, can get very hot, you will need to pack clothing that is light and cooling.  

While for the evening, you may need to pack a jumper or cardigan for the chilly evenings.  

You may also want to pack wet weather clothing for the unpredictable downpour.  

The UK is famous for unpredictable weather especially to occasional downpours. Well, we can actually get rain nonstop for a couple of days, or a week in summer. So, wet weather clothing is always a must.  

These are what you should pack for a weekend away in summer: 

  • 3x T-shirt/shirt 
  • 1x jumper 
  • 3x jeans 
  • 1x smart trousers/skirt/dress 
  • 1x smart shirt/blouse 
  • 1x shoes 
  • 1x smart shoes 
  • 1x wet weather clothing 
  • 6x underwear 
  • 1x PJ’s (Pyjamas) 
  • Toiletries 

Wet weather clothing 

In some regions the weather conditions can be so unpredictable.   

One minute it could be nice and sunny, when suddenly it rains. You don’t want to be caught out when it rains to get completely drenched. Trust us, walking around the city in cold wet clothing isn’t nice.  

The best way to stay dry if it rains, is to pack wet weather gear and wear it when it starts to rain.  

Good wet weather gear will keep you dry. That means you can continue your city exploration without getting cold or wet. 


A good, lightweight backpack will keep your main belongings safe while you’re out sightseeing.  

We would recommend Osprey; they have done us well over the years.  

For backpack options, check out the best backpacks to purchase on a budget.   

What to pack in your day backpack 

As you go out exploring for the day, what essentials should you pack for the day in your backpack? 

Whether you’re exploring the city or hiking a national park, you’ll only need to pack a few things with you for the day. Here are the essential things to pack for a day: 

  • Backpack  
  • Water  
  • Snacks  
  • First aid kit  
  • Layers should the weather turn cold  
  • Wet weather gear  
  • Cash  
  • Credit/debit card  
  • Camera  
  • Phone  
  • Battery bank  
  • Guide book 

Need inspiration on where to travel in the USA, then how about these 25+ Beautiful Small Towns in the USA! 

What to pack for a weekend away to the beach 

After a long year, many want to get away and relax on a bright sandy beach, clear waters and the sun beaming down. 

Beach resorts are perfect, the hotels are on the beach front, with excellent food and drink services.  

But while you’re visiting the beach, you should pack the essentials.  

We have a comprehensive packing list of what to pack for a day trip to the beach. 

One of my favour beach locations was Bondi Beach, when I was on a gap year in Australia. It’s one of the most famous beaches in Australia and I loved relaxing on the beach watching surfers hit the waves.  

But before you head off to one of the most famous beach locations, you should be prepared, with these great facts about Bondi Beach, everything you need to know! 

Anti Theft bag, ideal for protecting your personal belonging from being stolen
Anti Theft bag, ideal for protecting your personal belonging from being stolen

What to pack in your hand luggage 

Are you taking hand luggage with you for your weekend trip away? If not, you may wish to, as it will keep your essential documents and clothing separate. Especially going through airport security. 

Just watch out for the budget airlines that charge fees, for additional baggage. That’s right, most budget airlines, will allow a small hand bag or backpack onboard a flight. But if you want to take a cabin bag too, you have to pay. 

Realistically, a small hand bag or backpack, won’t store everything you need for a weekend away. Its therefore likely you’ll need a cabin bag and a backpack. 

All your clothing should be packed in your cabin bag, while all the essential documents and valuable items should be pack in your small backpack or hand bag. 

Tip: Travelling on a short weekend away, we have found that only packing one cabin bag and 2x backpacks is enough for the two of us. To cut costs of paying 2x cabin bags and 2x backpacks with budget airlines, we’ll book our ticket separately. We will pay for 1x person with cabin bag and backpack and 1x person and handbag. Realistically, we could never pack 4 days of clothing into one small bag that fits under the seat in front of us. So, to cut cost and stay on budget, this is by far the cheapest way to travel with 1x cabin bag and 2x backpacks. Always check the airlines baggage requirements before travelling. 

What to pack for a hike 

We love getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life, into the countryside, with wildlife and scenery. There is no better way to escape than with a hike. 

So, if you have a short hiking trip planned while on your weekend getaway, then you’ll need to pack these essentials, to keep you safe.  

Packing check list for a weekend away 

Don’t get caught out like us, when you download this FREE packing check list. It has everything we cover above; you can print it out and tick off everything you have packed. That way you won’t miss a thing. 

Download your FREE packing check list now.  


Wow, this may look like a long list of things to pack for a weekend away, but these are the essential items that you can’t leave home without. 

If you’re flying at any point during the trip, you may find some airlines are strict with their weight policy, so keeping things as minimal as possible to stay within the limit will only benefit you.  

Many domestic airlines, or budget airlines charge extra for checked in bags. This needs to be taken into account when booking and planning your weekend trip. 

Always do your research before purchasing any flights and check the weight restrictions.  

In some instances, you may not need to pack all these items, such as physical book when you can pack your kindle, sunscreen, shampoo and soap, as your accommodation may stock them, or you could buy small travel size toiletries on your travels.  

You also need to factor in the season and weather conditions, as this will determine what you will need to pack.  

Being sensible about what you pack, will help you pack economically and will free up space and weight. 

What things can you not leave home without? Is there something you pack that you swear by that we haven’t included? Do you normally overpack or do you pack your luggage with plenty of space? Leave your feedback below in the comments.  

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