Packing is never the fun part of travel. But it doesn’t have to be stressful. The key is to remember the essentials. Read on for a list of the 10 must-pack items that will get a mom through just about any weekend trip. (Undergarments? Check.) It works even if you don’t have a closet full of destination-ready clothing or a lot of time to go shopping before you pack for a weekend trip.

How to Quickly pack the perfect weekend travel bag - for mom

Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom.

Packing for a Weekend Trip

What’s the first thing you do when you start to prepare for a weekend trip? As a mother, I make sure my kids have everything they need first. I make them try on their clothes to see what still fits, do all the laundry, get all of their bags packed, and make sure all the bags are placed near the door. After I’ve completed that task, along with cleaning up the house to make sure it looks fresh when we arrive back home, I start to pack my own bags. This usually happens around midnight the night before we leave.

What’s wrong with packing last minute? Nothing, if you’re good at it. However, for those of us who give up caring whether our clothes match and just start shoving piles of clothing (typically whatever is clean and folded) into a bag just to get it done, it’s good to have a plan in place before you start. Because this scenario is typical for my household and I usually end up carelessly overpacking and then regretting my choices once we arrive at our destination, I now know the secret to packing for a weekend trip.

Packing List: Weekend Travel Essentials

There are so many things that need to be packed for a family weekend away. But I’m not going to go through that entire list. No, this list is especially for you mom! Let’s get this done so we can go to bed!

1. Clothes for each day of the trip

I typically like to keep my choices simple, but with a retro flare. For instance, a jean button-up skirt with an orange crochet top made it to the top of my list for my last excursion to Florida. I chose this outfit because it didn’t wrinkle easily during travel and was comfortable enough to wear wherever our journey took us – whether the Brevard Zoo or to explore Disney Springs.

Retro Travel Outfit for Easy Packing.

Retro Travel Outfit: Jean Skirt, Orange Crochet Top, Small Travel Purse. Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom

2. Pajamas

Depending on how long you will be gone, one or two pairs of pajamas is all I take. They can easily be worn more than once.

3. Undergarments

Trust me, these CAN be forgotten and it isn’t fun.

4. At least one dress

Depending on what I plan to do during my trip, I always like to pack at least one dress. Unexpected things always seem to come up and it’s nice to have something on hand that’s a little dressier. My go-to dress is a light-weight, dark blue sundress with beautiful patterns up the front. It’s made with a wrinkled fabric, so it’s great to simply pull out of my suitcase and go. Plus, with the longer length, it is appropriate for either an evening or daytime engagement.

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Day/Evening Dress. Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom.

5. A jacket or sweater

If I can get away with it, I choose to wear long pants and a sweater on the day I travel. That way I have them should I need them during my trip, but they don’t take up a lot of space in my carry-on. If this isn’t possible, I always make sure to pack at least one sweater. Even when traveling to Florida, the nights can get chilly.

Read Our 6 Compelling Reasons Why You Should Commit to a Carry-On. 

6. Swimsuit and cover up

If we are going somewhere warm or some place with a pool, I always make sure to pack my swimsuit and cover-up – even if I tell myself that I probably won’t use it. Chances are, especially with young kids, pool time is going to happen. My favorite bathing suit is black with ruching around the waist. I like to pair it with a black polka-dot cover up.

Quick weekend packing tips for mom.

My favorite swimsuit and cover-up. Photo by Mary Moore / Retro TravelingMom.

7. Both a large purse and a smaller one

I always pack two purses. The larger purse I use during travel, especially when we fly. The extra room allows me to bring my camera, book, laptop and other travel essentials on the plane with me, along with my carry-on bag. I also sometimes use this purse when we take trips to the beach. The smaller purse I pack empty in my suitcase. I like to have it on hand for when I just need a place to store my license and money and keep it with me.

8. Toiletries

It’s a great idea to always keep travel toiletries pre-packed in a TSA approved bag so they are easy to grab and go. My toiletries bag always stays packed in my suitcase. That way, I don’t need to look for it. Other things that I always keep packed: bandages, bobby pins, hair ties, and a few simple pieces of jewelry.

9. Shoes

Similar to my clothes, I like to keep my shoe styles simple. One pair of sandals and a pair of flats is what I typically go with. I also find it easiest to pack my shoes inside a plastic zip-closed bag beneath my packed clothing.

Read Our 7 Favorite Travel Hacks with Ziploc Bags

10. Medications

Since we travel quite often, I always keep all of my medications in a plastic bag with my name on it. This way I can simply grab the bag and know I have everything I need – even if I am starving for sleep at the time.

11. Any miscellaneous stuff

Finally, before closing up my bag, I toss in any other items I might need for my trip. This includes items such as my camera, the book I’m currently trying to find time to read, and, finally, my make-up.

Having a good idea of what I will mostly likely need for a weekend trip and what I won’t need makes last minute packing a breeze. I also like to keep these ideas in mind when I do have a chance to go shopping. Always remember that basic colors are easiest to mix and match, making packing outfits easier – but be sure to keep your own style in the mix!

Packing is never the fun part of travel. These 10 must-pack items will ensure you arrive at a weekend trip with essentials you need, even if you pack at the last minute.

Share your favorite packing tips with us!