What to Pack for a Three-Day Trip

By Amy Curtis; Updated June 08, 2017

Clever ways to carry everything you'll need for a three-day getaway

What to Pack for a Three-Day Trip

A three-day trip sounds like the perfect time to travel light, but sometimes it’s still hard to make that happen. Travelers get bogged down trying to decide what they might need, and pretty soon they’re tossing in 10 pairs of shoes and enough outfits to last a month. Instead, take a breath, give the trip a little bit of thought and use these tips to travel, not only lighter, but smarter.

What to pack

  • Bring the absolute necessities. Any daily medication falls into this category, and if it’s a working trip, the laptop is essential as well. Chargers for any electronics also fall into the necessary category. Thinking about the events scheduled during the trip will also help hone down the wardrobe, so it’s helpful to do a mental walk-through to decide what’s necessary.
  • Dress up and dress down. In any trip, there’s probably one event or evening that requires something a little bit more formal. Remember, though, that even a business trip has some downtime. Make sure to bring comfortable clothes for walking around the city or hanging out at the hotel.
  • Three pairs of shoes are probably sufficient. Walking shoes, a pair of dressier shoes, and sandals or flip-flops for the hotel should cover all the bases.
  • Bring a bathing suit. Even if it’s Alaska in January, you will probably have an opportunity to swim because most hotels have heated pools. Be prepared!

What to leave behind

  • Don’t bring books. These days, it’s easy to travel without bulky paperbacks because of e-readers. Don’t have a Kindle? Use an app for smartphones. It’s now possible to bring an entire library without taking up space in the carry-on.
  • Don’t bring what’s already there. The hotel has toiletries and a hair dryer. A beach house is likely to have beach gear, and what it’s lacking can probably be rented locally. The stores have anything forgotten at home. There’s no need to panic about anything you might need or bring something “just in case,” unless the trip is to somewhere truly remote and lacking in modern conveniences.


Some hotels provide gym gear for guests. Chains sometimes offer gym clothes and shoes, understanding that business travelers may not know in advance whether their schedule will allow for a workout. Check ahead of time to see what’s available.

Traveling with only a carry-on

Wear as much as possible. The outfit that takes up the most room in the carry-on should probably be the one worn during both flights. Boots, jeans, jacket, walking shoes – all of these are bulky and take up valuable space, but they can make for a comfortable traveling ensemble. If it’s too hot for the jacket, toss it over one arm. Traveling on business and need to bring a suit? Wear it, and steam out any wrinkles by hanging it in the bathroom at the hotel while the hot shower is running.

Another trick to traveling light is to stick to neutral clothing and pieces that mix and match. Often, neutral outfits can be worn to more than one event with just a change of accessories. Not only does this strategy keep the baggage light, it also saves time when deciding what to wear.

When there’s a little more room

Checked baggage affords a little more space, and, of course, a road trip is far less limited in terms of what you can bring. A few things might make life easier. For instance, a steamer keeps clothes looking fresh, but it's only practical if you’re swimming in extra space. Extra room allows for those favorites and indulgences that would otherwise be left behind, but for a three-day trip, it might not be worth the extra baggage fee.

Some other considerations

Doing some research on the destination is the best way to determine the necessary items to bring. Every destination has its own specifications, and knowing the activities, surroundings and weather before leaving on the trip can help with packing.


Make a checklist for documents before leaving. Tickets, boarding passes, traveler’s checks, ID and other important papers can all cause a major hiccup if left behind.

About the Author

Amy Curtis