• Rebecca Blackmon

How to Pack for a Weekend Trip: Avoid Paying for Checked Bags

Updated: May 29, 2021

Hey guys! This blog will be short and sweet, but I just wanted to share with y'all how I pack for a weekend trip so that I never have to check a bag.

When you fly basic economy like I do (that’s like, the lowest level possible lol), you have to pay a fee to check even one bag. When I’m trying to ball on a budget, I want to avoid paying for checked bags - I feel like that’s such a waste of money, and I’d rather spend that money elsewhere on my trips, so I make sure to pack light.

I'm currently spending a long weekend in Las Vegas for my best friend’s bachelorette trip, and I made it here without even having to use a suitcase at all - just a backpack!

Here are some tips on how to pack for a weekend trip - avoid paying for checked bags.

First of all, I’ve included a picture of what all I’m working with here - a decent amount of stuff.

How to Pack for a Flight

On this weekend trip I knew I wanted to try to pack in just a backpack for a couple of reasons:

  1. When you’re packing in a backpack, you really only can bring one outfit per activity. There’s none of the normal “I’ll pack 37 shirts and decide what I feel like wearing when I’m there” - you don’t get to pack options. To me, this makes traveling easier! Make the hard decisions beforehand, and then when you’re on your trip you have less decisions to make because you already know what you’re wearing.

  2. Because you aren’t packing way more clothes than you’ll need, that means way less laundry when you get home.

  3. You don’t have to lug a suitcase. I don’t know why I detest it the way I do, but if I can avoid a suitcase I will at all costs. I can get through the airport with ease, and my backpack is tucked safely between my feet on the plane. I have what I need in close proximity at all times.

If you’re packing in a suitcase (I’m talking about the carry on size here since I’m trying to help y'all save money on not checking luggage) you will automatically have more room to work with, and thus, can pack more clothes. If you don’t mind towing a suitcase in the airport and getting it in the overhead compartment on the plane, more power to you!

If you’ve decided to go the backpack route, the next thing you’ll need to do is lay everything out BEFORE you start packing. It really is like a puzzle, so it makes it really difficult if you’re trying to pack as you go. Get everything out before you start, and that way you know what you’re working with. You’ll want to divide your clothes into two categories:

  1. The casual “it’s okay if these get a little wrinkled” clothes - your pajamas, your travel outfits for being on the plane, etc.

  2. The nicer clothes you don’t want to possibly get wrinkled - the nice dinner outfits, etc.

The clothes that you don’t mind getting wrinkly will obviously go in the very bottom of the backpack. Roll these!! First of all, rolling saves SO MUCH space. Secondly, rolling really does actually prevent some wrinkles - you’ll be surprised to pull the clothes out of the bottom of the bag and find that they aren’t as wrinkled as you’d maybe expected. Once you’ve rolled the casual clothes, use those to line the bottom of the bag, layering if necessary.

How to Pack for a Flight

Next up, put the toiletries. I do this because they usually fit really nicely and create the next layer in the bag. Also, if you are traveling with mirrors or bottles of liquids/shower stuff, this will most likely prevent anything from breaking or exploding. If they did happen to break or explode, the only clothes that would get wet and/or dirty would be pajamas and clothes that maybe wouldn’t matter as much.

How to Pack for a Flight

For the third layer of the bag, I use the shoes. On this trip, I have two pairs of shoes in my bag. It goes without saying that you should pick out the largest pair of shoes you’re bringing and wear those on the plane to save room in your bag. I wore my tennis shoes on the plane so that I packed one pair of flip flops and one pair of “going out” shoes. Anytime I’m packing shoes, I wrap them in plastic bags just so that nothing below them gets dirty.

How to Pack for a Flight

After they're wrapped, layer them on top of the toiletries.

How to Pack for a Flight

Last but not least (in the main compartment anyway), goes the stuff you don’t want to get wrinkly. In this case I packed two jackets that needed to stay pretty crease-free, so I folded them and laid them right on top. They fit perfectly and i was able to zip up with no problem.

How to Pack for a Flight

Because I’m using a backpack with three compartments, I utilized all three. Yours might only have two, but that would work just as well! In the middle compartment, I put the two “odd object” things that wouldn’t have fit very naturally in the big compartment: a hair straightener, and a selfie stick (don’t judge me - it’s a bachelorette trip).

How to Pack for a Flight

In the very front pocket, I put all my chargers and cords, as well as a few extra plastic bags. Pro tip: ALWAYS pack extra bags in case you have some clothes or shoes that get extra dirty or wet (swimsuits) and need to be compartmentalized!

How to Pack for a Flight

I also have my purse, which obviously has all the things I use in every day life - cards, ID, sunglasses, airpods, etc.

I do know this packing technique won't work for everyone - I know some girls and guys like to pack options, extras, etc. However, if you’re traveling on a budget and trying to get from point A to point B with the most ease, give this a try!

Below I've linked the backpack I use below - mine is older so it looks a little different but it's the same make. Mine is almost 10 years old and still looks good as new so it is definitely worth the money!


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