How to Pack a Carry-on Bag for a Weekend Getaway

nyc packing list
New York City Packing List:  What to Pack for the Weekend

I’m going to New York City for a long weekend trip soon.  So I want to learn how to pack everything I need in a carry-on bag and not over-pack like I always tend to end up doing!  I have the “just in case” syndrome.  I think I got it from being a mom, when I had to make sure we had everything for the entire family.  But age doesn’t matter (LOL).  Lots of people end up doing the same thing.  So, after doing the research, this is how I think I can pack everything into that one little carry-on bag!

Start with Lists

Well, first of all, I’ve got to make lists, based on:  What will the weather be?  What are the activities every day?  What events will I be attending?  How many days will I be there?

Then, my clothes need to be basic neutrals with two accent colors.  Many sources will tell you to pick one neutral, such as black or white, etc.  But you can swap in other neutrals if you don’t have everything you need in your chosen neutral color.

I am going to take black with charcoal and navy this time, because I want to take a black dress and my motorcycle jacket.  Black isn’t the most flattering color in the world on me, so anything that I can pack in charcoal or navy will help me to look my best.

See my Pinterest board, at for a printable packing list.

After some research, here’s what I recommend packing for a long weekend getaway to a city:

  • A soft sweater
  • A chambray shirt (or white or black or other color button-down shirt)
  • Blue jeans (always a must-have for me, but you may prefer a skirt)
  • Leggings, or other comfy pants
  • Lounge clothes, for bedtime and around the hotel or house (such as sweats/joggers and a tee)
  • A light jacket (such as a jean jacket or moto jacket)
  • A dress that will take you from day to night
  • Comfortable walking shoes, like Converse or slip-ons
  • Boots, or footwear for dressier occasions
  • Socks – for the plane, for lounging, for every day
  • A couple of pairs of tights if it will be cold
  • Comfy underwear
  • A light scarf
  • A cross-body bag that doubles as a clutch
  • Sunglasses
  • An umbrella if it might rain
  • A hat
  • A belt
  • Jewelry
  • If you still have room to pack some more things, add – a shawl, a skirt, or something that doesn’t take up room just for the delight of it!
oversixty packing tips
Perfectly packed carry-on luggage

Now, for the order of packing.  AARP travel center has a good video with travel expert Samantha Brown showing you how here.

She puts six pairs of socks in flat, followed by a couple of rolled up scarves.  Then she adds any thin items in the bottom.  Then she lays three pairs of comfy pants folded flat in the bag, followed by five shirts (rolled if possible) and two pairs of shoes upside down.  You can put the shoes in plastic bags.  There’s still room for optional items after that, such as long underwear and a hat.  Bulky items, such as a big sweater can be worn en route.

Last but not least, pack your sense of humor and have a great trip!  😀

Do you have any tips to add to help us pack efficiently?  If so, please let us know in the comments below!  

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