I consider myself something of a packing pro. I always pack in a carry on, no matter the length of the trip and I always am prepared for every situation. Here is what my husband and I packed for Labor Day Weekend this year. We were gone from Friday to Monday, so a typical 3 day weekend. My husband and I always pack in the same suitcase. So, here are 11 easy steps for fitting everything two people need into one suitcase for a 3 day weekend. I’ll call this the “third trimester edition” because I do give myself two extra bags at this stage in my pregnancy and because the things I choose to pack are different right now than they would be if I were not pregnant (think: bigger clothes, always bringing stretchy leggings, and of course snacks and water).
Why have two people pack in one bag? It makes life a lot easier for us for two main reasons: 1. I pack for both of us because Kenny always forgets something he needs unless I check his things, so I just eliminate the middle man, 2. Instead of my chivalrous husband trying to tote two bags around so that I don’t have to wheel/ carry mine, he just carries our one shared suitcase.
For reference, on this particular weekend, the weather was supposed to be slightly chilly for the end of summer (high of about 60 to mid 70s during the day) with warmer temperatures on Monday. Our activities included playing with my cousin’s son, swimming, walking outside, lots of baking and cooking, and family dinners for my birthday and my uncle’s birthday.
Here is everything we packed:
In the back you’ll see a stack of three pillows, one is just a regular pillow and the two grey patterned pillows are Boppy pillows designed for pregnancy. Then there’s our suitcase, my blow dryer (I use a small dryer with a brush on the end to blow dry the hair right around my face and that’s it), and our toiletry bag.
From back to front and left to right, the columns of clothes and things contain:
- Duffel bag for pillows
- Macbook and charger
- Ipad and book
- Chargers for my fitbit and my husband’s apple watch
- Sweatshirts for each of us
- 3 Shirts for me
- 1 Dress for me
- 1 Tank top for me
- 4 pairs of underwear for me
- 3 shirts for Kenny
- 1 Pair of jeans for Kenny
- 2 Pairs of Pants for me (1 black jeans, 1 black leggings)
- My pajamas (shorts, tank, t-shirt)
- Kenny’s pajama shirt
- 4 Undershirts for Kenny
- 3 Pairs of Underwear for Kenny
- 4 Pairs of Socks for Kenny
- 2 Water bottles (We don’t always bring the same water bottles, but we ALWAYS bring something)
- Bathing suits for each of us and a cover up for me (NOT PICTURED because I forgot them until later!)
Step 1. I pack the duffel with pillows since it’s the easiest.
This is one of my pregnancy-only items that make this a “third trimester edition.” Normal people, proceed to step 2.
Step 2. I stack all the clothing into about 5 piles.
My piles are usually something like this:
- My pants, dresses, shirts
- My pajamas, tanks, underwear, socks
- Kenny’s pants, shirts, pajama shirt
- Kenny’s underwear, undershirts, socks
- Outerwear (here, just sweatshirts)
Step 3. I set aside the items that don’t lay flat nicely (usually socks and underwear)
Step 4. I take the stacks of clothing and put them vertically into the suitcase. I start with Kenny’s clothes because they tend to be bigger and I put them at the wheel end of the suitcase to help keep it balanced.
Packing Tip! Always pack your heaviest items at the bottom of the suitcase (closest to where the extendable handle bars are in the interior) and close to the wheels. This will keep you bag from constantly tipping over when free standing and will help keep your bag balanced when wheeled over door frames, off the curb, etc. Examples of things to pack at the bottom towards the wheels: hiking boots, toiletry bag if you carry full-size products or many things, pouches with gear or tech that is heavy (like hard drives, cameras, tripods).
Step 5. I fit my clothes on top of and/or next to Kenny’s depending on where they fit best.
Step 6: I add in outerwear (and shoes if we had other pairs we were packing)
Packing Tip! If you don’t have space like I do here for outerwear or you’re bringing things like a raincoat just in case, a great place to pack them is laid flat in the top (the sort of “lid”) of the suitcase. Mine has straps that will hold them down and out of the way when the suitcase is opened. Many suitcases have a large pocket that is useless for most things but great for large flat items like a folded jacket!
Step 7: I add in the things I set aside earlier that don’t lay flat (usually socks and underwear)
This time I just lay them flat on top of the pile of Kenny’s clothes. Other times they go in open gaps, in packing cubes, or in the suitcase’s front pockets.
Packing Tip! Put these items into packing cubes to keep them organized. I generally only do this on longer trips or trips where we are staying different places every night. Packing cubes make it easy to pull all these items out and access the rest of your suitcase. About half way through our trip, we will consolidate the clean socks and underwear into one packing cube and use the other for dirty socks and underwear. We also use packing cubes for things like bathing suits so that we can easily find them when needed and get them out of the way when we don’t!
Step 8: I pack toiletries and my blow dryer on top of Kenny’s clothes to keep them closer to the wheels.
Step 9: I pack anything I forgot or want to unpack first when I arrive.
In this case, I forgot our bathing suits and my cover-up. Other times, I’ve packed gifts or cards for our host, mail I’m bringing to my brother that I don’t want to forget, or nicer clothes that I want to unpack first and get on a hanger to prevent wrinkles.
Step 10: I pack the front pockets of the suitcase with small items or things I want to access easily
Step 11: Pack up the real essentials: 1. Water bottles go in the cup holders or my purse, 2. Groceries and snacks go in bag #3 (I’m eating for two here, people, I need some extra space), and 3. Kenny’s guitar
But wait! You say. “There are definitely things missing!” Only the things we are wearing. I’m writing this on Monday wearing jeans, a blue tank, a hat, and sandals. Kenny is wearing shorts, a shirt, and grey shoes. We are wearing the only shoes we brought, I wore one bra for the weekend, and I’m wearing a maternity support brace that I wear most of the day every day. That’s it.
(The grocery bag is pretty hefty on this trip because we are bringing home days worth of Kenny’s baking. You can see his freshly made baguettes popping out of the bag and next to them are bags of fresh bagels. On a trip to any other destination, I would just put some snacks in our suitcase or my purse.)