How to Pack for a Weekend Break

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Packing can be a nightmare. You want to keep your baggage light and manageable, fitting in everything you need and nothing more. It’s an art every man needs to master to avoid a rather unflattering look over a short trip. With this simple guide you’ll learn what and how to pack for a weekend break.

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Regardless of where you’re heading, it’s important to know how to pack for a weekend trip. Stuffing the entire contents of your wardrobe into an oversized suitcase the evening before you leave is not the ideal solution. What is important, is your ability to plan and think ahead about what you want to wear (and what you don’t). As well as how to solve the jigsaw of limited baggage space (particularly when flying), while ensuring your clothes don’t heavily crease.

Packing in the past was perhaps dumped on someone else – your mum, your dad, your girlfriend, your boyfriend, but now it’s time for to take the helm and get on with the job. So whether you’re spending a weekend in Dublin, Oslo, Brussels, Paris, Amsterdam, Prague, Budapest or Barcelona, and whether it’s business or leisure, you’ll need to know what to pack on a trip.

What Baggage to take on a Weekend Trip

Before a holiday or short trip, the first things to decide are what to pack, and what to pack it in. Depending on what you presently own, and the occasion of your trip your choice of bag will vary. You might be able to get away with a rucksack. Herschel and Porter Yoshida both offer high quality canvas bags which will withstand the wear and tear of travel. If you’re looking for something slightly more luxe, consider investing in a leather backpack.

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If you’re flying, you will of course have the option to purchase baggage, but is it really necessary for weekend travel? No, it isn’t. Rather than spending an unnecessary £20 to £30, opt instead for a cabin bag (56cm x 40cm x 25cm or 22″ x 16″ x 10″) in the form of a small suitcase or a holdall (weekend bag). If you’re looking for something sturdy, which you won’t be opening and closing a lot, or of course, if you’d rather wheel than carry, then choose the former. However, if you’re looking for something a little more stylish and accessible, the holdall is the way to go.

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What to Pack for a Weekend Trip

So, once you’ve decided what type of bag or case you’re going to take, the next step is knowing what to pack (this may influence your choice of bag/case). You may have items in mind which you already own, or you might need to do a bit of holiday shopping. But, remember, you’re only going away for a weekend. Unless it’s fashion week(end), there’s no need to go overboard.

Begin with making a packing list for vacation of what you have, and want to take, and what you need. It will be tailored to your style preferences, where you’re going, the weather, and what activities you’ll be undertaking. But to take a little bit of effort out of this, we’ve compiled a short guide of the essential items to pack, which you can adapt to your taste.

what to pack for a weekend away for men

Clothing

Whether you’re heading on a business trip, a city break or a short seaside vacation, you don’t need to have every trend over the past twenty years in your case. Think about taking basics, which you can mix and match, and building outfits for each day you’re there.

Business Trip

Depending on how many days you’re away, what you’ll need to pack will vary. Of course you’ll need a suit, shirt, tie and dress shoes (plus accessories) for any meetings, but will also need some casual wear for any downtime.

The Suit

Bring a wool two-piece suit in either navy or grey. If you’re travelling in it, you may want to consider one with two or three percent elastane, so that it doesn’t crease. If packing, make sure to fold correctly (read on to find out), to ensure you look sharp in your meeting.

how to wear a navy suit for men street style
PHOTO CREDIT: The Idle Man | Rob Crawford
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The Blazer

A smart-casual evening essential. Once again, opt for a neutral colour, in either grey or navy (try to pack a different colour from your suit) if you’re playing it safe. Other colours options include stone, olive, brown or light blue.

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The Dress Shirt

To go with your suit. White is always a versatile option, but also think about pale pink and blue. Get imaginative with checks and stripes. Regardless of how it’s packed it will crease slightly, so it’s about damage limitation. Let’s hope your hotel has an iron.

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The Oxford

Once the business is done, it’s time to relax. Trade your dress shirt in for an oxford. Colour and pattern choices are pretty much unlimited, but bear the colour of your blazer in mind.

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T-Shirts

It’s always good to have a couple of t-shirts or undershirts in your bag, but remember you are on a business trip, so keep it sophisticated. Think about taking neutral colours or sticking with stripes.

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Raw Denim Jeans

A well-fitting pair of raw denim jeans are slightly more casual than chinos, but still perfect for a smart-casual ensemble. Nudie, Levi’s and Edwin are all good options, while at the higher end of the market, you might want to look at APC and Acne.

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Black Oxfords

You can never go wrong with black oxford shoes, they’re perfect for any formal occasion. Store in a dust bag, and remember to polish well before wearing. They’re guaranteed to travel well.

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Loafers

Loafers, penny or tassel, suede or leather, are a wardrobe essential. Smarter than a luxe trainer, but more casual than an oxford or brogue. There’s a reason people have been wearing them for more than 150 years. Perfect for professional downtime.

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Accessories

The devil’s in the detail. Take a couple of ties, to decide on the day, and don’t forget cufflinks and a formal belt. A quality watch never goes amiss, whether this is a chronograph, an aviator, a diving watch, or a simple leather strap dress watch. Remember sunglasses and an umbrella for good and bad weather, respectiv ely.

Underwear and Socks

Opt for a solid black or white pair of hipsters (or briefs, if that’s your thing). Make sure your socks match your suit if it’s strictly formal, or consider spots or stripes to appear little more casual.

Weekend Holiday

As already mentioned, the starting place to packing is knowing what to bring. An easy way of doing this is building outfits for each day of your trip before you pack. Remember to take a reasonable amount of underwear and socks (will change from person to person), and think about invisible socks with shorts. And if you can’t last a few days without working out, you’ll need your gym gear.

Day One

Day one of your weekend break will involve travel. Whether you’re travelling by car, train or flight, space will be limited, and comfort, key. So, you’ll ideally want to wear as much as you can to maximise the space in your case (you’ve seen the movies). Combine   a comfy sweatshirt, a simple t-shirt, mid-wash jeans, and some luxe white trainers. Accessorise with a cap, a versatile watch, and brown leather belt. Once you arrive, you can ditch the jacket and head out for a bite to eat.

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In the Case

You’ve got a few items on your body that you can re-wear over the next couple of days. This will leave plenty of space in a case (or holdall) which will contain:

Day Two
Day-time

It’s summertime, and hopefully it’s warm. Whether you’re in the UK or a new European city, it’s time to explore, enjoy the local cafes, and absorb the weather, which your clothing choices should be equal to. Match your cap and trainers from yesterday with an oxford shirt and cotton chino shorts. We’ve selected white and navy, but combinations are pretty much limitless. Finish with sunglasses.

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Night-time

It’s time to dine, and dress up a little. Make sure to adjust what you wear to the level of formality of the restaurant. Keep it simple with a light blue dress shirt, tailored trousers, and brown formal shoes, either loafers or brogues. To dress the outfit down a little, opt for chinos, and if there’s a bit of chill, layer with a navy unstructured blazer. Belt and tie are both optional.

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Day Three

The third and final day of your weekend break. Make the most of your morning and afternoon in a casual t-shirt and jeans (the latter re-worn) before changing into black tailored joggers to travel in comfort.

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Short Beach Stay

The city break requires one type of suitcase, the short beach stay requires another. You might want to switch long sleeves to short-sleeves, and consider taking another pair of shorts. Ensure you remember your tailored swimming shorts, sandals (no one likes sand in trainers), and a beach towel.

mens yellow swimming shorts

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What Shoes to Pack for a Weekend Trip

It’s no surprise that shoes take up space, and space is extremely limited if you’re not putting your bag into the hold. But too much space isn’t needed as you only really need two pairs of shoes. The first, a pair of slick trainers, ideally in a neutral colour to maximise the versatility of your holiday looks. Make sure these match with your planned outfits. The second pair to bring should be worthy of a smart-casual outfit. As already mentioned loafers are a great choice, which can be worn throughout the day. A suede derby shoe would also work.

Dopp Kit

So you’ve picked your clothing, it’s now time to build a dopp kit (toiletry kit). Start with a leather or canvas washbag, and then stock up with necessary items, making sure to restock after each travel. This means you can pack it quickly, knowing it’s stocked and ready. Your dopp kit should include:

  • Shampoo (and conditioner)
  • Shower gel
  • Face wash (and scrub)
  • Deodorant
  • Moisturiser
  • Hair product (wax, clay, pomade, or salt spray)
  • Aftershave
  • Toothpaste, brush, mouthwash and floss
  • Tweezers and nail clippers
  • Cotton buds
  • Sun lotion

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Remember the restrictions if you’re taking cabin luggage. Liquids must be below 100 ml, and hence think about buying miniature-sized toiletries, or alternatively buy some smaller bottles, and transfer. You may also want to take a razor and shaving cream. It’s only a few days though, the stubble’s not that bad.

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Essentials

And finally, we have the essentials for any weekend break. These are the items which could break your weekend:

  • Headphones – to listen to music and relax on the journey

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  • A Tablet – to browse the web and enjoy an e-book
  • Travel Adaptors – to avoid buying more at the airport again
  • Emergency Phonecharger – for the long days away from electricity
  • Smartphone
  • Wallet with ID, cards and currency
  • Folder with Passport, EHIC and relevant travel documents

How to Fold for Packing

Before you start packing, it’s essential you know how to fold t-shirts, trousers, blazers, and shirts. Here are the best folding techniques for each item.

T-Shirts

The most space-efficient technique is most definitely ‘the roll’. To do this, first sweep the creases out of your t-shirt and follow these steps. Fold the hem of your t-shirt two or three inches. Then fold the t-shirt into thirds. Roll tightly from the top down and then fold out the hem over your rolled t-shirt.

white t-shirt folded for men

Trousers

Trousers are very straightforward. Fold one leg over the other, and then fold the hem to the waist. Depending on the space in your baggage, you may want to fold over again, and if they’re prone to creases stick in a poly-bag or vacuum-pack bag.

folded black trousers for men

Blazers

Packing a blazer is easy if you have space. Stick in a poly-bag (dry cleaning bag) and fold in half. If you don’t have any of these, ask your dry cleaner for a couple after your next service. If you’re tight for space, turn your blazer inside out, pop the shoulders, fold so the lapels touch and fold in half again.

Shirts

You really want to use the technique used to pack your shirt ready for shop display (without the use of machines). Make sure to keep the cardboard and the poly-bag your shirt comes in, as it will keep your shirt looking crease-free.

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How to Pack for a Weekend Trip

Now we know what to bring on a trip and it’s down to the task of packing in the most efficient (space and crease) way. This will, of course, depend on whether you selected an overnight bag, a suitcase, or a holdall.

How to Pack an Overnight Bag

  • Fill your shoes with socks, ties and belts and place at the bottom of your bag
  • Roll t-shirts and underwear and fold next day clothes, then place on top of shoes
  • Place jacket and dopp kit on top, leaving you little space to store essentials

How to Pack a Suitcase

  • Fill your shoes with socks, ties and belts
  • Place your shoes in a dustbag to protect them (and your clothes)
  • Start at the bottom with shoes and more enduring items (trousers, jeans, sweatshirts)
  • Top with more fragile items (shirts and t-shirts)
  • Fill gaps with underwear (and socks)
  • Place larger items (blazer) and dopp kit on top

How to Pack a Holdall

  • Fill your shoes with socks, ties and belts
  • Place them at either end of the bag to prop it up (if they’re dirty place each in a bag)
  • Fold and place heavier items (trousers, shorts) between the shoes at the bottom of your bag
  • Fold shirts and place on top
  • Roll t-shirts and underwear, and place at sides to fill out gaps
  • Place larger items (blazer) and dopp kit on top

How to Pack for a Weekend Break

  • Think about where you’re going, what you’ll be doing, and what the weather will be like
  • Choose your luggage – a rucksack, a duffel or a suitcase
  • Select outfits for each day you’ll be away
  • Stick to the basics, which you can mix and match – tees, shirts, shorts, jeans, chinos
  • When packing, start with shoes and durable items, and move up towards the more fragile pieces

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On That Note

Just now, packing is probably the most stressful part of your weekend break, but it shouldn’t be. Start with your bag, choose your outfits, learn to fold, and pack efficiently. Wrinkles and creases are not entirely avoidable though, and in the worst case scenario, your hotel may have an iron you can put to good use. Most importantly, enjoy your travels.

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