Packing Tips and Tricks For Weekend Getaways

By: Ashley McDermott 

There are all sorts of travelers in this world, all of whom foster different habits with regard to packing luggage. There's the "I'll do it ten days in advance" type and those who complete the task in ten minutes. There are the over-packers and minimalists; the packing experts and amateurs. Some are new to the game, some have travelled all their lives, and some may even rely on mom to do the job (unfortunately for those folk, study abroad will be quite a change of pace). Regardless, no matter what kind of packer you are, there are certain necessities that must be included among the souvenir space and jumbled clothes. Take it from me, this can make or break a weekend getaway.

I happen to be a last-minute packer, feverishly stuffing socks into the nooks of a suitcase, running around and looking for my toothbrush with seconds to spare, and realizing I brought just one sneaker only after arriving at my destination. Trust me, I've done it all. So, as an expert at bad packing I've learned from my mistakes, and fortunately you can as well.

Here is a foolproof guide to potential travel necessities for all of you packers: the pros and the newbies. Remember these essentials and you are off to a great start in capturing the weekend trip of your dreams!


  • Passport  and Visa or immigration card (and copies hidden in a different bag)
  • Boarding pass Pro Tip: This often needs to be pre-printed and then stamped immediately at the airport to avoid fees
  • debit and credit card and some cash in the local currency Pro Tip: if you don’t have the local currency take some cash out of an ATM at the airport and buy something cheap like a water to break the bigger bills
  • Pre-planned directions and addresses of your destination on hand Pro Tip: download the Tripit app and all of your email confirmations go straight to one place or book a WSA trip and you’ll get exact directions to the hostel


  • Aim for 1 outfit per day and stick to mix and max basics to save on space.  Some clothes can be re-worn (like jeans) and dresses are great for going from day to night with a couple of accessory adjustments
  • Try to limit yourself to 1 or 2 pairs of shoes because they are super bulky and pick comfortable ones because you’ll be doing a lot of walking
  • Scarves are a great way to make the same outfit look completely different and they keep you toasty
  • Extra socks; you never know when you'll be caught in the rain unexpectedly and dampened socks = dampened spirits
  • Check out the weather and pack hats/gloves, jackets, and rain boots as needed Pro Tip: These items can be bulky so wear them on the plane to save space
  • Sunglasses and/or a sun hat (to block those sunrays at the beach in Barcelona or on the hiking trails of Switzerland)
  • Shower shoes (if you are a germaphobe like me)
  • Bathing suit when needed


Toiletries: Pro Tip: if you’re traveling with friends divvy up the toiletries and share to save space

  • Soap/shampoo/conditioner (all liquids must be travel sized!)
  • Moisturizer with SPF
  • Makeup/makeup remover 
  • Razor/shaving cream
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Hairbrush/hair ties
  • Bandages (well needed while exploring Paris or Rome
  • Blow dryer/straightener/curling wand in a travel size and made for European voltage
  • Sunscreen if you’re going to a warm location



  • Phone (load it up with some movies, book and music to pass the time)
  • Chargers Pro tip: portable chargers are very useful purchases, and don't forget that different countries require different outlets
  • Outlet converter (remember UK and Ireland use different plugs than the rest of Europe)
  • Camera
  • Neck pillow
  • Snacks
  • Gum for the flight
  • Water bottle (empty to get through security)
  • Travel journal, if you like to document your journey
  • Pen (you never know when you'll need it!)


Simply adhere to this list and you're on track to start an unforgettable adventure. However, make sure your bags fit the airline, train, or bus sizing standards, and you're ready to go. Many airlines have requirements for bag size, as well as the quantity of liquids you bring along. Certain items will similarly not be permitted on board, so if you are wary of something you have packed then do your research. 


It's bound to be a great trip as long as you avoid the mistakes that could stand in your way of having a good time. Luckily for us, that's easy to do with enough preparation and attention to detail. So, best of luck on this weekend getaway, and get packing!



Alison Wendler, Universsity of Washington

Happy Backpackers

I had an absolutely amazing time on my WSA trip to Krakow, Poland. I felt like a got a lot out of my money and it was so nice not to have to worry about anything because WSA takes care of it all. Our guide was absolutely fantastic and was there with us for everything we needed-it was great to have someone around with you who knew the city so well. This is definitely a trip I will never forget. I already want to start planning my next WSA trip. What amazing destination to pick next is the hard part!

Alison Wendler, Universsity of Washington ~ National University of Ireland, Galway, Spring 2016

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