If you’re preparing for a spring trip, you’ll want to learn about my formula for packing for a weekend trip in the spring with nothing but a weekender duffle bag. My technique will help you pack for difficult spring weather and give you guidance on defining your trip activities and vibe to narrow down your packing list.

The Four Packing Parameters

If you’re new here, every packing list I make starts with determining the four parameters of my trip: weather, activities, vibe, and trip length.

Determining Your Spring Trip Weather

Spring weather is finicky because not only does spring look very different from one region to another, but even within the same trip, weather can vary wildly. This can make packing light tricky but I have a few tips and examples to help you make smart packing choices this season. Check the weather of your destination and pay attention to the highs, the lows, and the precipitation. You’ll want to evaluate your exposure to this weather, i.e. your activities on the trip, and whether your outerwear and footwear are well suited.

Considering the Trip Activities

In terms of activities, two-day trips can also have a variety of activities. Maybe the trip will involve being outside a lot or even include a hike. Perhaps this is a business or networking trip. Or maybe it’s a chance to hang out with your friends, get brunch and browse bookstores, all just in a different city than where you live.

Setting the Trip Vibe

Vibe factors in the destination itself, your personal style, and any dress code or expectations related to your trip activities.

Keeping in Mind the Trip Length

Trip length for this exercise is a weekend. You leave on a Friday midday, to arrive at your destination for dinner, and leave on Sunday late afternoon to arrive home by midnight, getting a very short night’s rest before going back to work Monday morning.

I know lots of people who do this regularly to save money on travel and to not use up all their vacation days on one trip. They monitor budget airlines for last-minute weekend deals and only travel with one bag to avoid additional baggage fees. In this case, having a lightweight bag that fits airline restrictions for under-seat storage and overhead bins on even the smallest commercial regional jets is key.

Building a Blueprint Packing List

For this length of trip, I’ve determined that I want to have three distinct looks. I could easily cut down to pretty much wearing one outfit and swapping out underwear and packing even less which is what I did in my video about 36 hours in Toronto. But, I want to show you how much you can pack in one duffle bag. Therefore I’m aiming for as many outfits as possible.

That means:

  • 2 pairs of pants
  • 2 tops,
  • a sweater
  • a dress
  • a coat
  • one pair of shoes
  • one purse

If that seems like a lot, it is. But we’re going for bang for your bag here.

How Weather, Activities, and Vibe Impact the Packing List

Now here is where it gets interesting. For weather, activities, and vibe, I’m going to show you a variety of scenarios and some ways to tweak your choices to fit your trip.

We’ll consider that sporty means active or outdoorsy activities and fancy represents business meetings, networking, or any upscale event where you want to dress to impress. We’ll place these into a spectrum and use that to determine the vibe of the capsule. Weather will go from hot to cold on the y-axis.

I’ve placed my spring clothes on this grid to illustrate how I envision my wardrobe meeting the needs of different types of trips. Here are many options depending on the activities, weather, and vibe. These are just some suggestions:


  • Ballet flat
  • Casual sneaker
  • Bootie, either something flat, with a slight, heel or even a rain boot
  • Sporty sneaker


  • Leather jacket
  • Trench coat
  • Leather jacket
  • Puffy coat
  • Bonus: little down vest to layer under another coat for added warmth


We need one pair of jeans which is the dealer’s choice. This is where you can make a statement, or go with something super comfortable.

You’ll also want a non-jean option. For sporty or particularly rainy trips I’d recommend a technical fabric pant. For a fancier trip, I’d wear a pair of black wool trousers. Or if it’s already getting quite warm, maybe go for a lighter fabric like these silk trousers.


To keep tops simple, let’s say you bring a white and black one, and a solid-coloured sweater. I love blue, so I’ll just use that as an example. You can go long-sleeved and warm, packing merino wool tops and thick sweaters.

Or, pack more cute tops, opt for a sweater vest, or if it’s really warm, a sweater draped over a sleeveless shirt.


For a dress, I’d opt for a midi dress to give you more warmth, but then the rest is up to what you have in your wardrobe. The colder it is, the more I’d lean on sweater dresses, finely knit dresses, and a lighter jersey for warmer days.


Now that I’ve shown you options across the whole weather spectrum, think about your trip and pick out the combinations that will suit your weather, activities, and vibe.

Accessories like hats and a casual bag will be much easier by the end because you’ll know how to complete the look to make it feel more you.

How to Pack Your Weekender Duffle Bag

Once you’ve landed on your picks, the next step is to pack them. The secret to lightweight one-bag travel is to wear the bulkiest clothes on travel days, i.e. the bulkiest pants, sweater, and coat.

Put your wallet, phone, keys, passport, hand sanitizer, lip balm all in your purse. Or, you can also attach your keys right in this nomad lane bag. Then, lay out your clothes. I’m a fan of packing cubes, rolling clothes, and folding. I think all methods have their place and different spaces call for different techniques.

I’m also packing:

  • Underwear
  • Pjs
  • Cosmetics
  • Laptop and cables
  • Water bottle
  • A magazine

Once you’ve packed all your items, you’re all set!

Happy Travels xox