17 Top Overnight Trip Packing List Items + What NOT to Bring (2019)

Updated on April 22, 2019 by Asher Fergusson

What to bring on an overnight trip:

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 a little bit of fresh air. You’ll need to pack just right for maximum fun, and make sure not to overpack!

I’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.

1) Packing cubes – Using packing cubes will make packing a breeze and keep you 100% organized. This set comes with three separate packing cubes, three laundry pouches, and a shoe bag. You probably won’t need all of these items for a simple overnight trip, but they’ll undoubtedly come in handy for future trips.

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2) Duffle bag or Backpack – Since you’re only going away for a night or two, a small duffle bag or backpack should be fine as far as luggage. 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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3) Mix and Match Wardrobe – The best way to pack for a quick weekend trip – and avoid overpacking – is by bringing clothing items that fit within a particular color scheme. It’s a smart idea to bring clothing in a neutral color palette (gray, black, tan, navy, and maybe a few pops of color) so that you can mix and match easily. Bring one casual outfit, one dressy outfit (if necessary), and one comfortable outfit for traveling, sleeping, or lounging. This t-shirt dress is multipurpose, neutral and versatile.

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4) Comfortable Shoes – Whether you’re headed to explore a new city for a day, or to a quick business trip, you should bring at least one pair of comfortable shoes to walk around in. This pair of sandals can be dressed up or down, and you can wear them with almost anything.

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5) Portable Phone Charger – If you’re flying, there’s always the possibility that your flight could get delayed, or could get cancelled altogether. To avoid getting stuck at the airport with a dead phone, or having to sit on the ground to charge your phone, bring a portable charger. It’s always a good idea.

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6) Water Bottle – While you’re traveling, it’s easy to get dehydrated. In addition to breathing in the dry, recycled airplane air, your digestion system runs the risk of getting upset because of the unfamiliar foods you may be eating, if only for the weekend. Keep your body in the best shape by hydrating with a refillable water bottle.

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7) Headphones – I never leave home for a trip without a good pair of headphones. They’ll let you zone out during your flight or drive and entertain you during downtime. These headphones are noise-cancelling and inexpensive. Stock up on podcasts and music beforehand and you’re good to go for your overnight trip.

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8) Toiletries – No 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 compact.

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9) Apps for finding places to stay – If you leave planning till the last minute, you may have to get creative with where you stay. Apps like homeaway, hipcamp, hostelworld, booking.com, and vrbo will solve the problem of finding housing during spontaneous overnight trips. Whip out your phone, fire up one of these apps, and easily book a hotel, b&b or campsite for the night.

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10) Trunk organizer – If you’re driving, it is of utmost importance to keep your stuff organized. Keep everything in order by using a trunk organizer. This particular 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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11) An awesome driving or flying playlist – Nothing sets the mood for a fun weekend trip like a killer playlist, and Spotify has some great ones.

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12) Moisturizing Lip Balm – Plane and car rides dry out your skin, especially your lips! My go-to travel moisturizer is Aquaphor. It’s super thick, and provides protection for your skin. You can use it on your lips, hands, and anywhere else that is dry or chapped. I literally never leave home without it.

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13) Sunglasses – Sunglasses are a travel necessity. Even if you won’t be going anywhere sunny, it’s still important to protect your eyes against the sun’s UVA/ UVB rays. These cute shades f ilter out 99% of reflected glare without haze or optical distortion.

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14) Makeup Removing Wipes – At the end of a travel day, nothing feels better than wiping your face clean with a tingly face wipe, especially if you’re too exhausted to go through your whole skincare routine. These Burt’s Bees makeup removing wipes are all natural, exfoliating, and smell really good.

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15) Pajamas – Bringing a comfy and cute set of pajamas is never a bad idea. Even if you’re just going out of town for one night, you won’t regret bringing something comfortable to slip into and unwind at the end of the day. These ones are perfect.

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16) Refreshing Face Mask – Face masks are a fun and soothing activity to do at the end of a travel day. These handy face mask packets are single-serving size for ease when traveing, and will help revitalize your skin and your energy at the same time.

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17) Disposable Camera – One of the best things about going on overnight trips and weekend getaways is the memories you’ll take home after it is over. Bring a disposable camera to capture all of the priceless memories with your friends.

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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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