17 Top Overnight Trip Packing List Items for 2021 + What NOT to Bring

overnight road trip - lady in passenger seat of car
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Updated on by Asher Fergusson

Getting away for a weekend, or even just one night, is super exciting. It’s an opportunity for a change of pace, some new scenery, and hopefully a little bit of fresh air outside your regular neighborhood.

You’ll need to pack just right for maximum fun, and make sure you don’t overpack!

So we’ve put together this guide to what to wear on an overnight trip, what to pack, what NOT to bring, and other FAQs for these kinds of getaways.

What to Pack for Overnight – 17 Essentials

1. Trunk organizer

Trunk organizerIf you’re driving, it is of utmost importance to keep your stuff organized. Keep everything in order by using a trunk organizer! This one clips into your car with bungee cords, and has large compartments that are ideal for organizing your clothes, shoes, and anything else you’re bringing on your overnight or weekend trip.

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2. Packing cubes

Packing cubesUsing packing cubes will make packing a breeze and keep you 100% organized. This set comes with a variety of colorful packing cubes, a laundry pouch, and a shoe bag. Not only will these cubes come in handy for an overnight trip, but they’ll undoubtedly come in handy for future trips as well.

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3. Lipstick-sized portable charger

portable chargerNo matter where or how you’re traveling, a lipstick-sized portable charger is an absolute must-pack. Small enough to stick in your pocket, purse, or daypack, this external battery will keep your phone charged while you’re on the go. If you’re planning to use your phone for navigation, photos, texting, or music, you won’t want to get stuck with a dead battery when you need it most!

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4. Car charger adapter

Car charger adapterIf you’re driving, or even just driving to the airport, you can’t go wrong with bringing a car charger adapter. If you plan to stream music on a long road trip or watch a movie on your phone on the plane, you’ll need to keep your smartphone’s battery completely charged. This one’s awesome because with two USB ports, you can charge multiple devices at once.

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5. Windproof Travel Umbrella

travel umbrellaNo matter where you’re going, you should be prepared for any type of inclement weather during your trip. Avoid getting soaked during a rainstorm by packing this handy windproof travel umbrella. It’s awesome because it packs down small but expands to cover up to two people!

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6. Portable speaker

Portable speakerIf your overnight trip takes you to the beach, the pool, or even just to a friend’s house, a portable speaker will bring good vibes wherever you go. Great for sharing music with your friends or inspiring an impromptu dance party, you can’t go wrong with packing a reliable portable speaker.

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7. First Aid Kit

 First Aid KitBe prepared for anything by packing a small first aid kit for your trip. Whether you or a friend end up with a splinter or paper cut, you’ll feel secure knowing that you’ve got all the essentials in a convenient, travel-sized case. This one’s totally comprehensive and has everything you could possibly need on an overnight trip.

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8. Cooler

coolerPerfect if you plan to drive, a cooler will keep all your snacks and drinks at the perfect temperature. If you’re spending the weekend at the beach or pool, you can’t go wrong with a handy, travel-sized cooler. This will also help you save money during your trip by inspiring you to pack your food instead of buying it on the go.

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9. Tide To Go Pen

Tide To Go PenIf you’re like me, then it’s inevitable that you’ll spill something on your favorite travel outfit. I never travel without my convenient Tide To Go pen which quickly and easily removes stains on the fly. Keep it in your purse, car, or daypack for optimal stain removal whenever you need it.

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10. Neck Wallet

neck walletA neck wallet is something you should always bring on a trip, no matter the duration. Keep your most essential belongings organized and secure with this handy neck wallet that can be worn around your neck and under your clothes. Large enough to hold your phone, wallet, keys, and anything else you might need, this item is an absolute must-pack.

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11. Travel Insurance for Overnight Trips

travelinsurance.comDepending on the distance you plan to travel, you should definitely consider getting travel insurance to protect your trip. We recommend using TravelInsurance.com because they’ll help you find a plan that covers the costs of lost or stolen luggage, flight cancellations, medical expenses, and more.

Compare policies at TravelInsurance.com ➜

12. Duffel or Overnight Bag

Duffel or Overnight Bag Since you’re only going away for a night or two, a small duffle bag or backpack should be fine as far as luggage goes. Whether you’re off on a business trip or visiting family and friends for the weekend, you’ll want to bring a carry-on-friendly, portable bag. This one fits the bill.

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13. Toiletry bag

Toiletry bagNo matter the length of your trip, always travel with your own supply of toiletries – never count on your hotel to have legitimate toothpaste or extra toothbrushes. Keep everything organized and clean in a toiletry organizer like this one, which is waterproof and has several different compartments.

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14. Swimsuit Cover Up

swimsuit cover upIf you’re planning to go swimming or sunbathing while on your overnight trip, be sure to pack a cute swimsuit cover up like this one! Perfect to toss on over your suit after a day of soaking up the sun, you’ll be glad you don’t have to squeeze into an uncomfortable outfit if your suit’s still wet or sandy.

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15. Camping Gear

Camping GearIf your overnight trip is taking you camping, don’t forget your tent and other important camping gear! This tent is relatively inexpensive and perfect for a one or two night camping trip, wherever you’re headed.

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16. Waterproof phone case

Waterproof phone caseDepending on where you’re going, you may seriously benefit from a waterproof phone case. If you’re headed to the beach or get caught in the rain, you’ll want to make sure your smartphone is protected from the elements. Use your phone underwater and even take videos using this handy waterproof phone case.

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17. Baby wipes

 Baby wipesEspecially if you’re traveling with children, you’ll want to be sure to pack baby wipes. That said, these can also be used in a pinch for a quick clean up when needed. Use them to clean up a spill or wipe off your hands before eating something. We never travel without baby wipes!

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Other packing list items for overnight trips:

What to wear on an overnight trip:

When it comes to packing, less is more. Obviously it depends where you’re headed, so while you’re packing, make a list of the exact activities you’ll be doing, and what you’ll need to wear for them. Pre-planning will keep you from overpacking! For a car or plane trip, dress in comfortable clothes that you can re-wear throughout the weekend so that you can bring less. Another trick is to wear your heaviest items on the plane, so that your carry on is lighter! Also, remember to always check the weather.

What NOT to take on an overnight trip:

1) 🚫 Anything shareable that your other travel buddies are already bringing, or your host already has – Get in touch with your pals a few days before the trip so that you don’t all show up with the same car snacks.
2) 🚫 Bulky luggage – There’s no need to bring anything more than a backpack or small duffel bag if you’re only going to be gone one or two nights.
3) 🚫 Too many clothes – Bring only what you think you’ll actually wear! In reality, this may only be the pajamas you show up in, plus an extra outfit to change into in the morning.
4) 🚫 Snacks that need to be cut, cooked or prepared – If you want to bring snacks, bring simple, easy-to-eat items like popcorn or apple slices.
5) 🚫 TSA requirements – As always, be wary of TSA requirements if you’re flying. Here is a link to the prohibited items
6) 🚫 A checked bag – You really don’t need to bring too much on an overnight or weekend trip. Even if it’s a three-day weekend, you can probably pare down your luggage to just a carry-on and personal item.
7) 🚫 Unnecessary electronics – Unless you’re traveling for business, it can be nice to unplug for a while.
8) 🚫 Too many outfit/shoe options – Don’t overstuff your carry-on or opt for a checked bag if you’re only going for a weekend. Pick everything out in advance.

FAQs about overnight trips:

1) Do I need to bring toiletries if we’re staying in a hotel?

Usually, hotels will provide soap, shampoo, conditioner and lotion. Beware that hotels typically just use the cheapest generic versions of these. If you’re picky about your toiletries, play it safe and bring your own.

2) What if I forget something?

Chances are, one of your travel buddies will have you covered, or you can buy what you need at the airport or final destination. Don’t stress – if you have your wallet, ID, and phone, you’re all good.

3) Should I drive or fly?

Research ahead of time to figure this one out. Look up the prices of flights for that weekend, and compare it to what you’ll spend on gas if you drove. Google maps will approximate the gas total from point A to point B. You should also factor in the importance of having a car at your destination, and check out rental car options if necessary, or try to estimate what you’d spend on Uber or cabs once you’re there.

4) What is the rule for carrying on liquids?

You are allowed to bring a quart-sized bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes in your carry-on bag and through the checkpoint. These are limited to travel-sized containers that are 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item.

5) How do I choose the right overnight bag?

Make a complete list of what you need to bring with you. If you’re taking your laptop with you, you’ll want a bag that can accommodate it. If you prefer to keep weight off of your shoulders, use a rolling bag. If you’re feeling super low-maintenance, just use your backpack!

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Please note: We have over 200 packing lists covering practically every popular travel destination in the world. Access them all on our packing list overview page ➜