Travel Tips

How to Pack a Weekend in Just a Personal Item

If you are anything like me, you probably despise travel fees.

As a millennial with a desire to travel but limited funds, I figured out resourceful ways to keep costs low while still having the necessities I need to make it though the weekend.

With discount airlines, extra luggage charges can put my budget over the edge and make the trip unaffordable. This is especially the case when it comes to certain airlines that charge you an extra fee for even just a carry on.

I mean, I do my best to find other, better flights but sometimes, there really is no other choice.

Luckily, with a little creativity, you can keep your luggage minimal and your wallets full.

  1. Do your research

Nothing is more frustrating than getting to your destination and being unprepared.

I remember when we visited New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I simply did not bring enough clothes to keep me warm. I figured, as a Colorado woman used to snow, New Orleans would be warm and I could rock my latest early spring trends and costumes.

Boy was I wrong. While I definitely survived (and lets be honest the hurricanes and fish bowls  helped) I was cold. Like really cold. Little did I know, 60 degrees with high levels of humidity feels a whole lot colder than my dry Denver 40 degree days in the sun.

With lessons learned, I always make sure that I do the research before I build my packing list, especially when traveling to a new city or region.

  1. Consider what your activities are

Will you be site seeing across a big city and need great walking shoes or attending a business meeting? Will you be on the beach or at the clubs? Make sure you know what your agenda is before making a packing list.

That way, you will not bring unnecessary items that take precious room in your personal item, which leads me to…

  1. Make a list

Before I travel anywhere, I make a list to not only make sure I don’t forget the necessities, but to also ensure that I don’t over pack. When making my list, I also try to list out what type of item I might need for the trip. If I need a sun dress, I indicate that on my list. You wouldn’t want to be stuck with a clubbing dress for church with your grandmother.

  1. Create a capsule wardrobe for the weekend

If you are like me, you have a lot of clothes. I basically love every single color in the rainbow and my eccentric style has brought pretty unique pieces to my closet.

When packing for a weekend trip in a carry on, this is not where you want to showcase that.

As much as I love my sequined rainbow bra, unless I am going to a rave in which crazy costuming is party of the activity (where I might consider just paying for more luggage space to accommodate my costuming), it’s simply not the right thing to bring on my personal item.

When traveling minimally, you want to make sure your outfits can stretch farther than your normal outfits. This means creating outfits that can be worn together in different ways and still look good.

Personally, I like to keep the bottoms basic in neutrals and keep it to one style for each type. For example, I like to pack this fitted jersey knit midi black skirt since the length keeps it conservative but the fit keeps it flirty. I can completely change the look of the piece depending on what shirt I use.

I usually add other basic like denim and black leggings that would easily compliment any top or even short dress that could go with it.

As for shirts, try to stick to a particular color scheme that matches your destination and find pieces that coordinate well with each other. You’d be surprised with the amounts of outfit you create while only using 10 pieces or so.

  1. Bring items that can be worn in different ways

You can also extend your outfit possibilities by finding pieces that can be worn in multiple ways.

I have a wonderful strapless maxi-dress that can be pulled down to create a skirt. Deciding between that bikini or cut out one piece? A one piece can become a beautiful bodysuit when you add street wear bottoms a lot easier than a bikini can.

Not only do you save space in your packing, you might even find a cool new look to sport at home. I never thought one of my dresses would look so cute tucked in to a skirt until I had to give it a try. Being thrifty definitely forces you to expand your creativity.

  1. Use packing cubes

Packing cubes are single handedly one of the best ways that I save space and stay organized while packing.

I’ve been able to squeeze two weeks in Europe in an easy to carry backpacking backpack. Especially on that trip, it was important to condense and organize since we visited several different regions with unique climates and varying cultures within a really short time. After seeing the magic that these little cubes could do for my two week, 4 country, and 5 language adventure, how could I ever travel again without them.

If you haven’t invested in these bad boys yet, I highly recommend that you do so now. You can find decent ones for only 20 bucks or so and it will seriously change the way you pack forever.

There are even some that have a nifty little zipper that can help you condense your clothing even more. Since I money was tight when I bought these, I opted for a more economic option like these and they work perfectly.  Like any gear, investing in high quality products will give you greater longevity but if you are like me, you might have to prioritize where you invest in products and I think this is one where you can go a bit cheaper and still get the same value.

Here is the ones I bought for my travels.

Best Packing Cubes

PRO Packing Cubes Lightweight Travel – Packing for Carry-on Luggage, Suitcase and Backpacking Accessories Set, Sunset Orange – 4 Piece

Check out more on why I love packing cubes and how to properly use your packing cubes here: Why You Need to Buy Packing Cubes Now!

  1. Wear your heavier items

No matter where you are going, you might have to bring some items that are not as easy to pack. Remember, you yourself are a vehicle to transport your gear from point a to point b and there is no reason not to take advantage of that.

This is especially the case with footwear.

Think of it this way. Would you want to try to shove your boots that you need in the fall or those flip flops in that personal item? Yes, it might be a bit more annoying to take them off during security but is it worth the few minutes of trouble to save space in your carry on?

I believe so. This is especially the case with my fiancé whose Air Jordans are on the bulkier side and it would be impossible to fit in a personal item.

This tip can also apply to heavy coats, denim, winter wear, or any other thing that is a pain to pack down.

  1. Invest in travel gear

The technology is out there. Between traveling and camping, there is no reason not to acquire light weight but high functioning products that save some serious space.

For example, I got a light weight travel towel like this one below.


MountFlow Microfiber Towel – Quick Dry Micro Travel Towels for Swimming Pool Camping Gym Sports Yoga and Pilates – by

It does the job while taking almost no space in my bag. And as an added bonus, it dries up really quickly so I’m not stuck with that gross musty smell in my purse.

Think of it this way, if backpackers who hike into the woods surviving on only what is on their back use it to save space, why can’t you as a traveler.

I know, some of the items can be a bit pricey but I swear my Northface jacket was life changing. It weighs absolutely nothing and can be packed down easily but keeps me really warm.

I personally like the Bombay since it’s affordable and does the job for most seasons.

The North Face Bombay Jacket Women’s Conifer Teal Small

  1. Pack your beauty products effectively

Yes, when you travel, you still want to be clean and made up. That’s a given.

However, much like with your outfits, thrifty packing will sacrifice a bit of style.

Try to go as simplistic with your make up as possible and think about forgoing the styling products like your straightener or blow dryer. While you might be able to squeeze that in your bag, is it really necessary? As an added bonus, this could be a great time to give your hair a break from the heat.

What I try to do is bring headbands or scarves that keep your style fabulous without the excessive styling.

As for makeup, I go with a simple nude shadow pallet that has a nice brown color to fill in my brows, some powder foundation, blush, mascara, lipstick, and eyeliner.

Remember, the trip is more about you being there than working on your perfect look. The smile on your face will make you look as gorgeous as you are anyways.

So that’s it. I hope that some of these tips can help you avoid those fees and keep you on budget for all of your travels.

If you have any space saving tips that you’d like to share, please comment below.

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