How I Pack for a Weekend When Flying

We are born and bred in the Midwest to believe that everywhere is within driving distance. One hour? That’s a quick trip. 5 hours? Easy Sunday drive. 20 hours? Just give me a RedBull. I used to think the same thing, driving the distance between Birmingham, Alabama and Southern Illinois multiple times a month. But now I’m over it. I’ve discovered the ease of flying and am willing to sacrifice some cash if it means that I don’t have to lose feeling in my rear after 2 hours on the highway. 

I’m braving the airport this weekend ✈️ to travel to STL! Talking all about how I load up my small backpack for a weekend trip

The only struggle I find (other than cash flow of course) with flying is packing. I typically take the cheaper route, never paying to check a bag, and the even cheaper route by relying on only a personal item if a carry-on bag isn’t free. I’m ballin’ on a budget, y’all! 

I’m a horrible over-packer. As a fashionista, I need options for every possible event that may occur! I essentially want to be prepared for a snow storm in July.

So how do I stuff my entire closet into a 22 by 14 by 9 carry on bag, or even worse – a 18 by 14 by 8 personal item?

First, prioritize pieces that can be a part of multiple ensembles. When packing ‘light’ it is important to plan out outfits before hand and eliminate items that are only essential to one outfit. Do you really need a second pair of jeans? How badly do you need that bulky sweat shirt? Should you pack your running shoes if you’re not planning on hitting the gym? Instead of packing every tank top in your closet, go with a classic black or white and a bold color – two tanks that can cover the basis of your outfits. Instead of packing white shorts, jean shorts, white jeans and regular jeans, push yourself to create outfits that only require the jean shorts or white pants. 

For my short weekend trip, I know I’ll need a fab outfit for a night out. I assume I’ll also need a comfy yet styled outfit and a cute Sunday brunch outfit that can be adjusted for my flight back home Sunday afternoon. So this means a total of three separate outfits. I also need to account for a COVID-19 era flight, which means being covered head-to-toe in the airport. I chose one pair of jean shorts to wear Saturday and Sunday with three different top options. I also thought about what pants I could wear to the airport Sunday evening that would match one of the top options and packed my fave flowy pants. I’ll be wearing my sneakers to the airport so I threw in some sandals, as they don’t take up much room at all! 

Second, once you’ve prioritized clothing items, do the same with your personal items. I never seem to account for the correct amount of space that my make up bag takes up! Do you need that huge eyeshadow pallet or 5 lipsticks? Probably not. Bring a small moisturizer and a single reusable face wipe. Determine if you need to bring your own shampoo and conditioner, or if you can borrow or pick up some at your destination.

For my makeup, I keep it pretty light, choosing only the bare minimum needed for a natural glow.
I used travel containers to pack both of my moisturizers as I won’t need much over my short trip. In the other container is my hair gel, which is essential for my curly hair. I never leave home without travel size dry shampoo or deodorant! I also threw in wrinkle release spray because nothing ruins an outfit like wrinkles!

Okay, we’ve prioritized, now what?

Wear your bulkier items on the plane! This saves room in your bag for more items. But be sure that you’re okay with wearing those items home as well or you’ll have to account for the space it’ll take up in your bag on the flight back. I always wear my sneakers or boots to the airport. I know it’ll make security more annoying for me, but its worth it for more room in my bag.

Roll. Your. Cloths. I’m not sure what this method of packing is called, but its the greatest idea ever thought! You simply fold your cloths into a long rectangle and roll it up like a sleeping bag. Folding your cloths this way allows for easier packing and stacking in the bag. It even prevents wrinkles and fold creases!!


Some things may change in my packing habits depending on the trip. Destination, time of year, and activities planned all have to be taken into consideration. This particular trip is only for three days in July, which means summer cloths that don’t take up a lot of room. Don’t worry – a Fall and Winter packing blog will be available once we get there. Also available soon will be a COVID-19 plane travel must-have’s blog, complete with everything I had and wish I had while traveling during the pandemic. 

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