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In so many sweet ways, motherhood has been a journey in simple living for me, one I’ve always craved and not always known quite how to live. It may seem insignificant to some, but learning to pack a minimal, efficient weekend bag is one of the more concrete lessons I’ve learned in simplifying over the years. Haunted by those words just in case, I often carried too much, having a bag filled with the repertoire of Mary Poppins, and finding I didn’t need most of it–I’m sure there’s a good metaphor in there somewhere. But that’s another conversation.

This weekend, our family is leaving for a long Spring Break weekend, and as we prepare, I thought it might be helpful to share with you some of the lists I make and questions I ask myself in order to pack well (and minimally) for a long weekend away.  For parents, I often use the same questions to guide my children in their packing, but on their lists, instead of a purse, they pack an activity bag, something similar to what I wrote about in this post here. For future reference, I store each of my lists labeled with the trip name in a “packing list” folder on my Google Drive, so that I can easily check off or refer back to previous travels. This might seem neurotic, but it is extremely helpful, particularly as a mother packing for/with young children.

I hope the tips and questions below will help to simplify your and your family’s travel plans in someway this spring. If you’re looking for a fantastic weekender bag, I’m loving the Kith&Kin weekender, and right now, you can pop over to their shop and receive 20% OFF any bag using the code CLOISTER20.

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/BEFORE PACKING/

Take a moment to think about your weekend.  Who will you be with? What sort of activities are you planning? Is there an event? Will you need to wear something specific or special at any point? Will you be staying in one locale the entire weekend or traveling around? Where will you be? What will the weather be like? Are there unknown plans/details you need to know for packing purposes?

/CREATING YOUR LIST/

Make a list with the following categories: clothing, shoes, underwear, accessories, toiletries, purse. 

/CLOTHING/

List each day you will be away, leaving space to write next to them. Write down what will you need or want to wear next to each listed day. If you don’t know specifically, use general terms until you fill in the specifics, such as casual dress, dressy top, or comfy shorts.

Choose one bulky item. If you need a winter coat, boots, or a bulky sweater, wear it in the car or on the plane to save space. Some people like to bring a favorite bathrobe or pillow.  Choose only one to pack, ideally one you could wear more than once, if necessary.

Choose interchangeable pieces. Pack jeans, sweaters, or skirts that you might be able to wear more than once and would style in a new way.

Choose a specific color palette. Everyone has traveled somewhere and wanted to improvise their clothing options in the moment. If you stick with a similar palette you leave yourself more flexibility to change your mind in the moment without taking up too much extra space in your bag.

Pack an unplanned piece. I like limiting the bulky clothing, so that I have room to add an unplanned top, skirt, or thin sweater. I may not use it, but it helps give more spontaneity for changing throughout the weekend.

/SHOES/

Choose 2 pairs of shoes, a third if it’s a thin sandal or flip-flop. If you’re needing a shoe that will only work with one outfit, reconsider it, and if necessary, the outfit.

/UNDERWEAR/

Make sure you have enough and the right sort for your weekend activity.  Self-explanatory, I think. Wink.

/ACCESSORIES/

Don’t forget the small extras. I always pack a small clutch and a thin scarf that might double as a wrap, and I generally travel in whatever jewelry I’ll wear during the weekend. If you need anything dressier, write it down here.

/TOILETRIES/

Consider your typical style routine. Will it be necessary for the weekend? If it’s involved, are there ways to improvise or shorten it?

List everything you will need to get ready over the weekend. 

Pick one hair styling tool, if you need it. Hotels and rentals generally have hair dryers to use, but call ahead to find out.  If you’re staying with good friends, check to see if they would share their tools with you.

Use small bottles. This is a must if you’re flying, but even when driving somewhere, I like having all of my personal toiletries neatly in one dopp kit. 

/PURSE/

Pack any devices or chargers you’ll need for your weekend.

List the tiny necessities. I always pack a small snack, bottle of water, cash, chapstick, hand lotion, peppermint essential oil, and headphones for our trip.

Bring something to read. Choose one book or magazine to travel with you.

—————————————

This post is in partnership with Kith&Kin, a small family business of handmade goods crafted by a family of makers. All thoughts, opinions, and images are my own. Thank you for supporting the businesses that help keep this place afloat. 

Final image taken by Tim Douglass of Fidelis Studio for Cloistered Away.

9 replies
  1. Jessica M
    Jessica M says:

    Hi Bethany! I’ve been searching for a simple watch with a leather band–would you mind telling me about yours? Thank you so much!

    Reply
  2. Patti
    Patti says:

    Hi. Sorry to be off topic but I am not on Instagram and NEED to know about the animal book Liam is reading–is it Steve Jenkins?

    Reply
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      Hi! And of course! It’s called Animalium, and you can find it here. Your kids would love this book, Patti. The illustrations are beautiful and the content is so well organized. You should also check out Nature Anatomy and Maps, two other recent picture books we’re enjoying as well.

      Reply
  3. sarah nadine
    sarah nadine says:

    i love your approach to a life with simplicity … you are an inspiration to me, most definitely!

    this is, for sure, a thought out list. it seems i can do ok with the clothing, but i always want to bring more than one book/crossword puzzle/magazine making my bag h e a v y. on our next little getaway, i’ll be referencing your advise :)

    xo

    Reply
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      And you are a delightful encouragement to me, Sarah Nadine. Thank you. I always pack too much reading material, too! It’s so tempting to think I could catch up on two book over two days, only to find i’ve read a chapter and lugged two books and three magazines around with me. Limitations are a gift. As are you. x

      Reply
    • Bethany
      Bethany says:

      Thank you so much, Corina! This bag is even lovelier in person, and I’m still a recovering over-packer. You should experiment with packing less and see how it goes! ;)

      Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] power, I often copy/paste from a previous travel list and then revise the details using these minimal packing tips. I categorize each list so it’s easy to see what the kids or I might be missing. On a side note, […]

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