The absolute most important rule of packing for a 3 day weekend, and in fact packing for any trip, is: don’t overpack. If you’ll be gone for 3 days, you probably won’t be needing 15 shirts when you wear the same 3 shirts all the time anyway (yeah, we know your secrets). Whether it’s by car or plane, you’re headed off to have fun, not to drag around a full-size checked bag that barely squeezes in under the weight limit. That’s a recipe for a bad time and a lot of stress during both the packing and unpacking periods. The only exception to the “don’t overpack” rule is socks and underwear. I’d recommend bringing an extra one or two pairs of each, because you never know what can happen.
Keep things simple. Pack items you can wear more than once, and pack your favorite pieces – the ones that all go together. Beyond that, think about what you’ll be doing. Nice dinner with family? Barbecue with friends? Running your yearly 10k? If you’re going to be lying by a pool or a beach all weekend, you probably won’t need a suit. On the other hand, if you’re meeting your grandparents for dinner, maybe you do (you probably don’t).
Here’s the thing: a lot of sites are going to tell you that you need things like laundry bags and dopp kits and endless accessories to be prepared for a 3 day weekend. And, if you’re throwing a bag in the back of a car, you have the freedom to pack some extra stuff. If you’re taking a plane, however, it just takes up a lot of room, and all your fancy skin creams and sunscreens are going to have to go in an infernal ziplock bag anyway. Instead of packing a laundry bag, either grab a plastic grocery bag (which can be used to protect your bag from a wet swimsuit), or just use a worn t-shirt to keep your dirty laundry separate in your bag from your clean.
If there’s anything that can’t get wrinkled, fold it flat on the bottom of your bag, then roll things such as tees and undies and pack those on top. If you’re not wearing a jacket to travel, try to keep an extra layer near the top of your bag in case you get chilly. You probably won’t need more than one pair of shoes, but if you’re set on bringing an extra pair, wear the ones that take up more room on your travel day – an elementary tip, but still.
For warm weather vacations, try to bring things that feel good against bare skin in case you don’t want to wear a shirt – that way, you can get up in the morning and pull on a sweater, overshirt, or even jacket against the chill and enjoy the feeling of fine fabric without anything getting in the way. And finally, don’t forget things like sunglasses, sunscreen, and swim trunks.
Oh, and if you’re planning on lounging in the sun, bring some reading material. It’s always nice to take a break from your backlit computer screen.