You'll Instantly Regret Your Next Weekend Getaway if You Don't Pack These Must-Have Essentials

Don’t forget anything important: Double check our packing list before your long weekend away.

Clothes packed in suitcase
Updated May 13, 2024
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Whether you’re jetting off to Las Vegas for a long weekend, heading to a destination wedding, or simply traveling for business, you’ll want to make sure you have all your essentials packed and ready to go.

But while it’s important to make sure you have everything you need with you, you also don’t want to overpack, especially given the high costs associated with bringing extra baggage. For a long weekend away, a carry-on bag and personal item should suffice. Experienced packers may even be able to get away with just a backpack that fits under the seat, which most airlines will allow you to bring free of charge.

To ensure you don’t forget any of the important things, we’ve compiled an essential four-day packing list that includes everything most people will need for a long weekend trip. We’ve also provided some suggestions for bags that stand out from the pack, so you can select trusty luggage that will last for many trips to come. Let’s dive in.

Carry-on item

undrey/Adobe Woman putting luggage in airplane overhead bin

The right carry-on bag helps keep your items secure and can also help you avoid baggage fees. That’s why it’s important to choose a carry-on that meets your needs and fits in your budget. To find the best carry-on bag for you, consider what you’ll need to bring, if you need to pack any valuables, how heavy of a bag you can handle, and any special features that might make your trip easier.

Things you’ll want to pack in your carry-on bag:

Pormezz/Adobe woman packing carry on
  • Jeans — two pairs
  • Dress pants — two pairs
  • Shorts — one pair
  • Bathing suit — one to two sets
  • Long-sleeved shirts — two
  • T-shirts — three to four
    • Pro tip: Merino wool t-shirts are quick-drying, easy to wash out in the sink, and don’t retain odors, meaning you can bring fewer!
  • Undergarments — four to five pairs
  • Socks — four to five pairs
  • Dresses — one to two
  • Dress shoes
  • Sneakers or walking shoes
    • Pro tip: Choose an easily packable pair, such as TOMS or Converse.
  • Toiletries/makeup
  • Chargers/adapters
  • Sweatshirt
  • Pajamas/nightshirt
  • Jacket
    • Pro tip: Choose something packable with a great warmth-to-weight ratio, such as the North Face ThermoBall Jacket.

Our favorite carry-on brands:

Nomad_Soul/Adobe Women carrying suitcases

The Standard 35L Carry-On Backpack

  • Features a 3-in-1 design, so you can choose how to carry it
  • Ergonomic to save your back
  • Dedicated laptop pocket to protect your computer
  • Attaches easily to rolling luggage
  • Locking zippers
  • Water bottle pocket
  • Keeps your items organized
  • Expands to fit even more

The Away Bigger Carry-On

  • Lightweight yet durable
  • Two compartments for separating clothing from shoes and toiletries
  • Hidden laundry bag
  • Compression straps
  • Ejectable battery that can charge your phone five times
  • TSA-approved lock
  • Quiet, 360-degree wheels for easy mobility
  • Available in a variety of colors

The Pacsafe Venturesafe Carry-On

  • Locking cable
  • Deluxe locking system
  • Puncture-resistant and slash-resistant
  • Compression straps
  • External attachments for bulk items like jackets or yoga mats
  • Keeps your items organized
  • Internal attachments for wallets and keys
  • Fits a 15” laptop

The GeniusPack G5 Spinner Carry-On

  • 360-degree spinner wheels
  • Separate laundry compartment
  • Top and side handles
  • Keeps your items organized
  • Compression straps
  • Push-button, telescoping handle that is rubberized for comfort
  • Abrasion and water resistant
  • Very lightweight (only 6.9 pounds)

Personal item

Yekatseryna/Adobe pack of luggage for traveling with pets

Most airlines will allow one free personal item that fits under the seat in front of you, but you’ll need to make sure it meets your airline’s size requirements, or you could end up paying extra. Airlines have varying requirements, so be sure to check on this before choosing the right bag for you.

Your personal item is sure to stay with you throughout the flight, unlike your carry-on bag, which can sometimes be checked if there isn’t enough space on your flight. That’s why it’s important to keep your valuables in your personal item. You should also pack your personal item with things that you’ll need to access, like your phone, wallet, and medication.

Things you’ll want to pack in your personal item:

Nattakorn/Adobe asian family packing luggage
  • Boarding pass
  • ID/passport
  • Wallet
  • Phone
  • Charger
  • Laptop
  • Tablet
  • Bag with liquids
  • Bag with jewelry
  • Extra pair of socks/underwear
  • Extra t-shirt
  • Neck pillow
  • Eye mask
  • Headphones
  • Medication

Our favorite personal item brands: People waiting in line on airplane

The Peak Design Everyday Sling 5L

  • Can be worn two ways: crossbody sling or waistpack
  • Easy to access without removing the bag from your body
  • Dividers for easy organization
  • Weatherproof shell
  • Padded tablet sleeve
  • Small and lightweight

The Tortuga Outbreaker Laptop Backpack

  • Clothing compartment
  • Easily attaches to rolling bag handle
  • Laptop and tablet sleeves
  • Weather resistant
  • Locking zippers
  • Removable sternum strap for comfort
  • Water bottle pocket that zips flat
  • Shoulder straps that can be hidden away

The Away Everywhere Bag

  • Easily attaches to rolling bag handle
  • Comes in a variety of colors and fabrics
  • Removable shoulder strap
  • Waterproof pocket for an umbrella
  • Laptop pocket for a 15” laptop
  • Six interior pockets for easy organization
  • Hidden phone pocket

The Haerfest Small Travel Backpack

  • Easily attaches to rolling bag handle
  • Available in a variety of colors
  • Padded laptop compartment
  • Outside pocket for easy access to phone/travel documents
  • Beautifully designed and attractive

Bring your best credit cards for your four-day weekend

insta_photos/Adobe african woman shopper holding credit card using cell phone mobile app

Now that you know what you’ll need to pack, consider using one of the best travel credit cards to pay for your airfare and hotel. Certain cards offer rewards you can use to offset the cost of your trip. A welcome offer could even pay for your entire four-day getaway! Beyond that, you’ll also earn points you can use towards future travel and enjoy perks that will make your trip more comfortable.

Pack up and go!

Gorodenkoff/Adobe Happy man and woman laughing on airplane

With the right luggage and a trusty travel rewards card, your next four-day weekend trip will be a breeze. Pack light to avoid baggage fees, ensure that you have all your essentials so you’re not caught off guard at your destination, and book your trip with the card that will earn you the best rewards. When you travel like a pro, you can stress less and put your energy towards enjoying your time away.

Author Details

Lindsay Frankel

Lindsay Frankel is a Denver-based freelance writer who specializes in credit cards, travel, budgeting/saving, and shopping. She has been featured in several finance publications, including LendingTree. When she's not writing, you can find her enjoying the great outdoors, playing music, or cuddling with her rescue pup.