Weekend Wanderlust

Part 2 — Fitting life essentials into 55x40x20 cm

Good news: packing for a weekend trip is far less stressful than packing for a semester or a year abroad!


To keep things (relatively) short and simple, here’s my packing guide for short trips:


  1. Underwear (1 pair for each day) → Ladies: if possible, skip the bulky bras and find bralettes that can be folded up really small.
  2. Socks (1 pair for each day)
  3. Shirts (1 for each day)
  4. Pant/shorts/etc. → This really depends on the weather. During the winter, I’d pack one pair of thick leggings to wear underneath my one pair of jeans. If you’re traveling during warmer months, bring one pair of shorts and one pair of jeans just incase it gets cold at night. Bottom line: don’t bring more than one pair of jeans if you’re traveling for less than 5 days.
  5. Outerwear → Again, this really depends on the weather. Use your best judgement and don’t bring more than one jacket. You might need one sweater and one coat, but it’s completely circumstantial.
More good news: most hostels have laundry services. This will be useful if your trip is longer than a few days because it allows you to bring fewer articles of clothing!


  1. Flip flops → do. not. forget. flip flops. Hostel showers/rooms are no place for bare feet. You’ll thank me later.
  2. Good walking shoes → Please see my previous article for my opinions on which shoes are good to bring, and keep the weather in mind to prevent numb toes.


  1. Cold weather accessories, as needed (e.g., hat, scarf, gloves).
  2. Sunglasses → Even if you’re traveling in cold weather, bring sunglasses! You’d be surprised at how sunny it can get even when it’s freezing outside.
  3. Backpack/purse → Something like the classic Fjållräven backpacks is the perfect size for going about your day.
Laptop + charger + accessories, bluetooth speaker + charger, portable phone charger, headphones, small going out purse, journal, passport, makeup bag, wallet, keys, umbrella, and water bottle
Side note: I recently moved from San Francisco to Southern California, and I was couch surfing for two weeks before the big move. Above, you’ll find what I packed in my backpack. This is almost exactly what I would pack for a short trip in Europe, except I never brought my laptop or bluetooth speakers. The small going out purse is essential if you’re planning on going out in your destination city — dancing with a backpack on will only result in impaired dance moves.


  1. Chargers + converters → With each electronic device, double check that you have its charger and any necessary power converters.
  2. Toiletries
  3. Passport → Personally, I always left my passport in my hostel (hidden and locked inside my suitcase). As long as I wasn’t crossing international borders, I was never asked for any identification. To be safe/to ease my unnecessary paranoia, I always carried my student visa incase someone thought I looked threatening. As soon as an officer sees a student visa (e.g., while you’re going through customs), they seem to immediately categorize the person as nonthreatening.
  4. Towel + Space bag (next section)

Further Tips

  1. See what your hostel provides for free or at a low charge to save space in your luggage. This may include bed linen (almost always included), blow driers, or towels. Items may be listed as “for hire,” which can either mean you may borrow them or rent them for a low cost.
  2. Towels take a while to dry and can easily stink up your luggage, so I highly recommend bringing a very small space bag that you simply roll the air out of. You can use the same bag for a bathing suit if you’re lucky enough to visit a beach city or a bath house!

Thanks for reading, and happy travels!