How to Pack Light for 2 Weeks Away

Two weeks, one suitcase? No problem! The art of how to pack light for two weeks away is easier than you'd think, once you know these hacks.

Two weeks, one suitcase? No problem! Mastering the art of how to pack light takes some trial and error, but a few shortcuts can help. A week or two away from home with a single suitcase plus “personal item” is totally doable.

I recently packed for three back-to-back trips simultaneously:

  • an out-of-town meeting for a board on which I serve,
  • a trip-of-a-lifetime pilgrimage to the Holy Land with my mother, and
  • a week of warm weather in the Caribbean with my mama and the girls (alas, dear hubby had to work).

And since I only own so many clothes, the only way to pack for all three at once was by packing light.

I thought I was on top of this skill already, but these trips were a great reminder of the “pack light basics.”

So the next time you’re getting ready for a trip, whether a personal trip for work or a family vacation, use these tips to help you pare down what you bring. It will make your trip simpler all around, and leave you more room for souvenirs coming home!

 

 

How to Pack Light for a Two-Week Trip

1. Make a list and think it through

If you really want to pack light, you need to limit what you bring. So before you start grabbing things, think in terms of categories. Then think about how you can manage with as few items in each category as possible.

For example:

  • On a beach vacation where we’re spending our days by the water, two bathing suits will do: one for morning, and a dry one for the afternoon.
  • Ditto for evening outfits: two dresses or skirts apiece is fine for the girls and me. We wear one dress one night, the other the next, and just swap back and forth.
  • And since the only time we need to dress during the day is for occasional trips into town, one pair of shorts and maybe two clean T-shirts is plenty.

For a ten-day work trip I take each summer, the same principles apply: Two skirts, three tops, one jacket or sweater – all interchangeable.

2. Think minimal for other categories, too

“OK, but I should still bring clean underwear for every day, right?”

Umm, no. This is a waste of space.

Instead, invest in some ✅ ExOfficio underwear (3 pair is more than enough – more on this below). You will travel comfortably and light.

ExOfficio undies come in lots of styles and colors, and dry way faster than cotton undies.

 

Two other categories where it’s easy to overpack are shoes and gear:

  • Trip with lots of walking? DON’T bring multiple pairs of walking shoes. Instead, bring a single pair – newly purchased and well broken in, if necessary – for your days of sightseeing.
  • Make your second pair of shoes some comfy sandals or slippers for the evening, to give your feet a rest.
  • A few pairs of ✅ compression socks will keep your feet happy during those long days of sightseeing, but they take up less space than multiple pairs of shoes.
  • Likewise, if you can’t live without your hair dryer, check whether your hotel has one. Most do, so no reason to bring your own.
  • The same is true for beach toys, fishing poles, life vests, etc. if you’re staying somewhere where you can borrow or rent them.
  • When traveling with a baby to a city, see whether there are gear rental services that might save you from schlepping along, say, a travel high chair. (Check here for rental options in North America; if you’re traveling outside North America, this site lists rental options worldwide.)

3. Plan to do a little laundry

This minimalist packing plan requires a little laundry, but it is soooo worth it. If you will have access to laundry facilities and are traveling as a whole family, doing some laundry during your trip is a lot easier than bringing fourteen days’ worth of separate outfits.

 

Our laundry, out to dry on our recent Caribbean trip

 

And if you’re going to wash anyway, each person can get away with 3 sets of underpants/bras and 3 pairs of socks per person. (I usually do 3 undies and 2 each bras/sock pairs.):

  • Be sure these items are quick-drying. One reason travelers love Ex Officio underwear is because besides being super-comfy, they dry super-quick.
  • The diehards will say you really only need 2 pairs of briefs. But I like 3 pairs, so that you can take an occasional night off from hand-washing.

 

My compression socks, hanging in our hotel room in Israel.

 

No laundry facilities available? No worries. Just bring a travel clothesline (I like Sea to Summit’s version) and a small bottle of concentrated soap. (My 2-oz bottle of biodegradable Camp Suds will get me through two weeks of sink washes, and is small enough to go in carry-on luggage.)

 

So tiny, they take up almost no room!

 

That ten-day trip I take each year in the summer heat and humidity? Every night I wash out that day’s shirt and undies in the sink and hang them to dry. They’re usually dry enough to put away by morning.

4. Choose packable clothes that coordinate

Many companies now have exclusive lines of travel clothing. The clothes in these lines are easy-care fabrics that won’t wrinkle, are hand-washable, and often are made in quick-dry fabrics. Just as important, these lines are designed so that a few key pieces (e.g., skirt, pants, jacket, reversible top) can mix and match into almost infinite combinations, making you look as if you’re wearing a different outfit every day.

Other ways to achieve the same principle: a) think about your accessories (a statement necklace and a scarf can give a top two totally different looks), and b) make sure all your outfit components coordinate with each other. If I’ve selected my two skirts for a trip and I’m trying to narrow down four or five tops to three, I will choose the ones that match each of my bottoms equally well.

 

Wardrobe for my recent 2-week Holy Land trip: 2 Ts, 2 pr capris, 1 long skirt, 2 scarves, plus the long pants/long shirt I wore to travel.

 

This is especially important when packing for kids. “Theming” their clothes makes it much easier to dress them in multiple ways over the course of the trip. (But because kids are more prone to food accidents and diaper blowouts than grownups, I always take my adult minimum and add one – so, three bottoms, four tops, and 2 sets of PJs instead of two bottoms, three tops, and one set of sleepwear.)

5. Condense, contain, and edit

Once you’ve got your wardrobe laid out, double-check to see if there’s anything else you can eliminate. Then it’s time to pack everything into your packing cubes.

Packing cubes seemed like the dumbest idea until I tried them. Now I won’t travel without them.

  • Besides keeping your stuff contained and neat, they are a great final incentive to limit what you bring.
  • If you and several family members are sharing a suitcase for a trip, limit each person’s clothes to what will fit into a single packing cube. Won’t fit? Time to take something out.

 

I loved this coordinating 7-piece set so much, I got the girls each a set in their own color, for when they go to sleepaway camp!
 

 

Traveling alone? A set in assorted sizes will give you separate places for your clothes, toiletries, and electronic chargers/cords.

Once you’ve done a final edit of your clothes, make sure they occupy as little space as possible in your luggage. If you’re packing a pair of shoes, stuff the shoes with extra socks, power adapters, etc. Roll your shirts, pants, etc. to minimize how much space they take up. Then find a substitute layer for that bulky sweater, or try a compression packing cube.

 

For my recent 2-week trip, my suitcase was only half full when I left home.

 

And lastly, do a final edit of your toiletries. Swap out full-sized toiletries for travel sizes. If needed, you can DIY using travel-sized containers. If you travel by plane often, ✅get a reusable 3-1-1 bag. This is another “splurge” that I’ve found well worth the investment.

And if you’ll be staying in a hotel, skip the toiletries (lotion, shampoo, etc) that will come with your room.

6. Final tips

Finally, make sure you leave room (and weight!) in your bag to bring home souvenirs. My bag for my recent 2-week pilgrimage to the Holy Land was only about half-full when I left home, and 20 lbs shy of the maximum weight. This left plenty of room for shopping.

 

TIP: If you don’t already have one, grab this handy travel scale by Travelon. It will help you avoid excess baggage fees, and the built-in measuring tape can help you make sure your carryon is within allowed size limits.

 

There you go! Tried-and-true tips on how to pack light for a long trip. With these tips, you’ll have less luggage to schlep, and less to pack at trip’s end – leaving you more time and energy for enjoying your vacation!

If you enjoyed this post on how to pack light when traveling, why not share it with others by pinning this image?

 

 


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57 thoughts on “How to Pack Light for 2 Weeks Away”

  1. I’ve been travelling, for months at a time, with just a 35L pack for over 10 years now. I love the freedom of not having to check luggage!

  2. Great tips! My packing light usually consists of me forgetting a lot of things then buying replacements on my trip. I’ll keep this handy for next time 🙂

  3. Really loved all your great tips here. I have a lot of gear, all camera stuff which weighs a ton so getting clothes right and not overpacking is key. Thanks for the great post.

  4. i always pack cos once the airline lost my suitcase and I had no change of clothes so I stuff my hand luggage with as much clothes as possible lol

    but your way makes more sense! thanks for that

  5. Helpful list thou Ive to admit that I’m the kind that never bothers preparing a list. Been alright so far! Thou I should try the packing cubes one day…

  6. I converted to packing light a few years ago and it’s life-changing! Knowing you can travel without paying for extra bags saves so much time and money. It really paid off when 6 of us went to Florida and the rental company gave us a smaller car than we’d planned on—so glad we’d packed as light as we did, we just barely fit! #heartandsoullinkup

  7. These are great suggestions! I often think about doing laundry while away, but I never know about washer & dryer availability. This Campsuds idea with the drying line is perfect. Thanks for sharing at #heartandsoullinkup Pinning! 🙂

  8. It’s a great idea to remember these tips especially if we are traveling wit children. Packing light is truly an art-form.Ha!

  9. These are great tips! When we travel as a family we do it often for two weeks or more. We usually carry 2 suitcases for 4 people. Whatever the number of weeks, I only pack for 7 days and find the way to do the do the laundry weekly.

  10. I’ve never used packing cubes before but that seems like a great hack that I’ll use for nmy next travel. I always struggle to pack smart especially when its for a two week trip.

  11. What a brilliant guide! I love travelling light, I find it so liberating! Versatility is key, items that can be used in different ways, clothes that can be worn different ways and a capsule wardrobe mindset!

  12. I’m leaving on a trip in a couple weeks and was just trying to figure out how to pack light. Those travel cubes look interesting, I might need to give them a try.

  13. Pingback: Wandering Wednesday #30 - Confessions of Parenting

  14. I only travel with hand luggage – no matter how long my trip is. The only condition: it has to be a place with at least 25°C during the day. I got a black trolley which looks very business-ish and usually a nice hand bag that I also carry for corporate meetings. My jacket is usually a black blazer that easily makes an outfit look corporate-ish and helps a lot when you want to get into lounges or are aiming to get an upgrade for business class during a flight.

    1. ABSOLUTELY to all of this! Fortunately, I’m no longer flying places where it gets too cold anymore; avoiding that bulky coat is a must! Isn’t it liberating NOT to need to check anything? 🙂

  15. I love making lists for everything in my life so making one for trips is a must.I did make the mistake to not leave enough room for souveniers when I went to Vegas so I was doing the sitting on my suitcase trick to make it all fit.

    1. Alas, babies do tend to need more than the rest of us – but it does get better as they get older, at least! 🙂

  16. I love all these ideas and use them although I don’t do laundry haha..I have learnt how to stop travelling with excess luggage always though, I have 3 kids 4 and under so it’s tough but hopefully I can make it work whenever we do travel again!

    1. I resisted the laundry thing for a very long time, but then we went to the Grand Canyon and I knew I had only so much clothes appropriate for all the hiking we’d be doing that trip – so it was either wash them out by hand, or buy tons more hiking/camping clothes! I’m glad I succumbed to the laundry thing; if you build it into your routine every evening and get the kids to help, it really isn’t that bad! 🙂

  17. I travel very frequently and often by myself with our two littles. So, I have to pack light in order to be able to handle the kids and the luggage. Travel cubes are an amazing help when packing light!

  18. This is perfect! We have two trips this summer that are both two weeks long. The first we are flying, so space will be an issue. I love your suggestion of making a list… I always have a list. I need to see if there are laundry machines at any of the hotels we will be at. We’ll be hiking through national parks, so our clothes will be dirty and smelly!

    1. Oh, yessss – you will definitely need to launder, then! Do get several sets of quick-dry clothes for each family member; that’s all we use when camping and hiking now, since it makes such a difference to be able to give them a quick wash-out. And if you can find any of the pants with zip-off legs, all the better for space-saving! 🙂

    1. DO – they are sooo worth it! I was skeptical til I tried them, but they’ve made such a huge difference in our traveling!

    1. Aww, I was hoping that this post would come out *before* your trip, Michele! Maybe you can use them for your next trip “home” to visit your family instead? 🙂 Sorry the timing didn’t work out!

    1. I was SO skeptical til I tried them – now I’m a diehard convert. And the price has come down SO much in recent years, so they’re really quite affordable now!

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