Short trips are usually to a single-destination and always quick. You won’t need as much, and forgetting something isn’t a big deal. You’ll also have a better idea of the weather and your activities, making it easier to limit your “just in case” items and stick to a carry-on-only packing list. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler looking for smarter and lighter ways to pack or a green explorer (welcome!) trying to get your bearings straight, here’s what you need to know to pack well for a short trip.
If you already travel with carry on luggage, well done. However, you might want to consider using something even smaller than your usual bag. Carrying a larger bag might tempt you to fill those empty pockets and extra space with more stuff than you need. Instead of maximum-sized carry on (45L), consider a more moderate 35L backpack.
A day or two before you leave, check the weather at your destination. Since your trip is short, you’ll get an accurate idea of whether you’ll need your umbrella or not. Knowing the weather, you can cut out unnecessary things, choose your travel wardrobe well, and make sure you bring the things you’ll actually need.
You should also think through your itinerary. Even if you’re more of a go-with-the-flow, spontaneous traveler, decide if you might be hopping on a trail or not before you start rustling through your closet.
Passport (if traveling internationally) or ID
Scarf or small blanket (for flights)
Travel pillow (for flights)
Book or e-reader
Adapter (if traveling internationally)
For short trips, keep everything under 3.4 ounces to save space and weight, even if you aren’t flying. We recommend buying a set of one or three ounce GoToobs, and filling them with your essentials.
Dr. Bronners (doubles as soap and shampoo)
Small first aid kit
4 pairs of underwear
1 bra I can wear with everything (women)
1 sports bra (women)
2 vests (men)
2-4 pairs of socks
1 dress or jumpsuit
1 pair of jeans
1 pair of leggings or shorts
1 sweater and/or light jacket
Accessories (necklace, earrings)
1 coat, hat, and scarf for winter travel
Boots or flats
Flip flops (optional)
Even the lightest laptops add a few pounds and bulk to your bag. Work trips aside, ask yourself if you really need it before slipping it into your laptop sleeve. Since this is a short trip, challenge yourself to be present and to unplug.
Your phone will allow you to do everything you absolutely need to do, and everything else can wait until you’re back.
You don't need to go overboard with swimming costumes, board shorts and so on. Remember that when you're travelling, there will be plenty of opportunity to wash your clothes! If you're travelling somewhere where you'll be swimming a lot, pack two or three options that you can rotate, rewear and, of course, easily wash!
Continue to do your bit for the environment while you're travelling and get yourself a reusable coffee cup. Whether you fancy a hot drink to-go from a nearby cafe, the free hostel breakfast or the kettle from your private room, you know it will come in handy on multiple occasions throughout your trip.
To keep your head and face protected from the sun. Caps aren't too expensive, and they're definitely worth having. Plus, most of them can be attached to the outside of your backpack if you're struggling for room inside.
Any medication that you'll need during your travels is perhaps the most important item to pack here. For any prescribed medicines or tablets you take daily, set an alarm on your phone so that you remember to take it. It's so easy to forget when you're backpacking.
Pack a few small snacks that will fit in your backpack and give you a little taste of home. Take a couple of packets of your favorite biscuits or chocolate bar - we're sure you'll really thank yourself when you're craving a bit of what you're used to. Just make sure you pack snacks that won't go out of date too quickly so you can savour them as long as you can resist!