This is when the struggle becomes real people.
I've been on countless excursions. Some with just a small bag, some with one big suitcase, some with two big suitcases and most with just a carry on... but, it never becomes easier to pack (or unpack for that matter). I'm no packing guru, but I'd like to think there's a method to my madness. Below is the packing process that begins typically the Tuesday before a Friday weekend trip!
1. Check the Weather
This seems so obvious, but sometimes checking the day or two before you leave can be so clutch. This weekend I'm headed to Houston to see my Patriots win yet another Super Bowl (GO PATS!) and I assumed, since it's February that it would be mildly cold. No. It is going to be 75 and rainy. Yeah, good thing I checked on that one. But ultimately, it is always good to know if you're going to the snow how much they are expecting and when... obviously this helps with all aspects of your travel planning.
2. Make a List
I always list out the days that I will be gone with a short description of what I have planned for that day: "Friday - exploring and dinner at Balboa Park". That way, when I am packing, I know generally what I am packing for. Sometimes if I am going somewhere where the weather is going to fluctuate, I'll put the temperature on the day as well. I try to bring 2 to 3 pairs of pants, and then shirts that will match any of the pants. That way, if I want to change, I have the option.
3. Lay Everything Out
This is so critical for me, and where I often stop myself from over packing. Please note I said "often" meaning, yes 40% of the time I really do bring way too much - you're welcome for admitting that Auntie. I lay out my outfit choices that correlate the days that I listed. After that, I add shoes, socks, and accessories as if I were going to put it all on right then. Once this is done for the weekend, I can see which pair of shoes is unnecessary, which necklace I can wear twice, and which shirt may need a backup if I under estimated that day's activity.
4. Final Touches
I usually put all of the clothes and shoes into my bag and then make a list of the things that still need to be included. Often times these are things that I'm using the morning of my flight and don't want to forget. For the most part, I'll pack my carry-on as well, and include anything random (phone charger, book, magazines) as I go that week. When using just carry-on luggage I LOVE my London Fog Chelsea suitcase in brown plaid. It's exactly the right size for a weekend trip, and coordinates with (because matching is so out) my purse... so that's a plus. I am also a huge fan of the Vera Bradley collection - duffles, totes, cosmetic bags, you name it - they make a great product, and have fun patterns for every season and adventure! Vera also had outlet stores practically everywhere, so that's a great way to get a good product at a good price.