Most guys don’t like packing, and especially when you’ll only be away for a long weekend, it seems like you can spend more time planning and packing your bag than you’ll actually spend en route to your destination. But packing for a couple of days away from home doesn’t have to be such an arduous chore. Follow these quick and easy steps to avoid under or over-packing the next time you’re leaving home for the weekend.
1. Choose the right bag
Finding the right bag for short getaways often comes down to size. A bag that’s too small will be difficult to cram everything into, while a bag that’s too large will simply encourage you to overpack. Finding the right size will depend, at least in part, on your size, since smaller guys wear smaller clothes and, therefore, can get away with smaller bags. But a general rule of thumb, especially if you already have an assortment of luggage, is to avoid going bigger than carry-on size. When you’ll only be away from home for three or four days, there’s just no reason to lug around something bigger.
As far as material, leather or heavy twill always look stylish and can stand up to abuse, whether you’re dragging it in and out of your car’s trunk or stuffing it into the overhead compartment on a plane. A bag that you can carry by hand or with a shoulder strap will be the most versatile, and where possible, it’s a great idea to go with a classic shape in a sturdy material, to ensure years of use and abuse.
2. Assess what activities you’ll need to dress for
It may sound obvious, but many instances in which guys over-pack or under-pack for a weekend away arise from not thinking carefully about what they’ll be doing on their getaway. If you’re staying the weekend at a friend’s cabin, you’re more likely to want a flannel shirt and a warm jacket than the preppy oxford and sweater you’d pack if you plan on playing tennis with your dad. The difference between those two examples is pretty extreme, but it illustrates how a little advance planning can make sure you end up with the right items in your weekend bag.
When you’re packing your bag, outerwear is often the bulkiest item, and packing the wrong jacket can waste a lot of space. If you’re spending the weekend at the lake, choose a rugged field jacket. If you’ll be exploring the city and plan on going out for dinner or drinks, pack a blazer. Or, if you plan on doing a lot of hiking, take a performance jacket that can block both wind and rain.
3. Check the weather
You probably already know what clothes you would regularly pack for a fall getaway, or are aware that if you’re going to the mountains, you’ll probably need some warmer clothes, or if you’re going to the beach, you’ll probably want a pair of swim trunks. But you should also make sure that you’re prepared for weather events like a rainstorm or a cold snap, which meteorologists can likely predict for the weekend ahead.
Before you pack your bag, always check the weather for an aberrant storm or an unseasonably warm or cold period. You might be expecting that you’ll need sweaters and thermals, but learn that the weather will be 20 degrees warmer than you expected for the weekend in question. Or you could find out that thunderstorms are likely, and have the option of packing a raincoat or a pair of duck boots. More information is always better when you’re traveling, and you shouldn’t underestimate the utility of knowing a location’s forecast before you depart.
4. Go minimalist
Now that you’ve figured out what you’ll be doing, and exactly what kind of weather you’ll be dealing with, the goal is to pack only what you need for the weekend. Most guys will want a new shirt for each day of the getaway, and you can choose whether you’ll want classic oxfords, warm plaid flannels, classic tees, or even trim sweatshirts (or some combination of the above or of your own wardrobe staples). You’ll want warmer layers that multitask, so if you’re expecting cold or inclement weather, consider packing both a weather-resistant outer layer and a light sweater, which you can also wear in the car or on the plane.
Many guys can get away with taking just one pair of pants for a long weekend, though if you’re worried about rain or mud, it’s okay to have an extra pair along. Consider which pair or pairs of pants will be the most versatile, and will match everything else that you’re packing. A slim-fitting pair of navy chinos or a dark pair of trim jeans is often a good choice. Finally, take no more than two pairs of shoes (wear one, pack the other), and make sure to pack a pair or two extra of socks and underwear above what you’d normally go through, just in case.
5. Don’t forget the essentials
How many times have you gone away for a weekend, just to realize that you left your toothbrush or your smartphone charger at home? You should always pack a dopp kit with the necessary toiletries (think toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, shampoo, comb, razor, deodorant, and any skincare products or medications you might need). If you have the foresight, it’s a great idea to keep a dopp kit stocked and ready to go, which minimizes the chances you’ll forget something at the last minute.
While most of us want to unplug on a weekend away, it’s always a good idea to have your smartphone charger to keep your phone powered up, just in case. If you’re taking any other devices, like your laptop or your camera, make sure you pack the necessary accessories. Other things you won’t want to forget are pajamas, your sunglasses, your wallet, and paper copies of any tickets or reservations you’ll need (and can’t access on your phone).