I know this isn’t a particularly original thought, but here goes: I love going away for the weekend. Nothing beats a change of scenery, and when you throw in some good company and some even better wine… well, all these things are good for the soul.
But every single time I take a weekend trip, there’s one thing that causes me enormous grief: packing. Managing to put together a collection of outfits that will (a) accommodate weather variations, and (b) fit into a modestly-sized suitcase or bag alongside everything else I need is quite the challenge.
Sartorial woes aside, there are some weekend getaway essentials that ease the stress of packing because they just so happen to be useful AND space-conservative. Here are 11 items worth having in your bag:
1. A lightweight scarf (the bigger the better).
Essentially, this will be the Swiss army knife of your weekend getaway. Aside from wearing it around your neck or around your shoulders (or around your head as a disguise for day-three oily hair), it’ll serve a number of more practical uses.
Impromptu picnic in the park? Your scarf is now your rug. Found yourself on the beach? You’ve got something to lie on. It can also be balled up and used as a neck pillow in the car/train/bus/plane.
This big, soft, pale grey ASOS scarf looks perfect for the job.
"The Swiss army knife of your weekend getaway." Image: ASOS.
2. Sunscreen with a hint of tint.
Depending on your destination, weekend weather can be hard to predict - even our beloved weather apps betray us sometimes. This makes outfit selection hard, but rest assured there’s one thing you’ll always need in your bag: sun protection. And that doesn’t just apply to Snow Whites like me.
A high SPF sunscreen is a non-negotiable, and packing one that has a slight colour to it is extra smart (one less thing to pack in your beauty bag, see?). I’ve been using Hamilton’s Everyday Face SPF50 for years - it’s affordable and does the job.
Slip, slop, slap. Image: Chemist Warehouse.
Anyone who’s tried to pack for a weekend away knows toiletries are deceptively space-consuming. The trick is to find products that’ll multi-task.
The latest member of Garnier’s Micellar Water family, Micellar Water in Oil, is quite the over-achiever in this arena. Not only does it serve as a soothing, no-rinse-required cleanser - it leaves your skin feeling very soft and hydrated with no tightness - it’s also got all your makeup removal needs covered, meaning less bottles to carry around in your bag.
Micellar water has always served this dual purpose, but adding argan oil to the mix has upgraded it to ‘triple threat’ status as it nourishes skin at the same time . The formula can now take off even the most painfully stubborn scraps of waterproof eye makeup (it also removes all sorts of waterproof and stubborn makeup, not just eyes) without too much effort on your part, meaning you’re free to live a life devoid of morning panda eyes. (Side note: it also smells delightful.)
"Micellar water has always served this dual purpose, but adding argan oil to the mix has upgraded it to ‘triple threat’ status." Image: Priceline.
4. Hand sanitiser.
Sure, it’s not glamorous, but hand sanitiser is an essential - you never know what roadside public toilet horrors await you on the drive to your destination, after all. Plus, keeping your hands clean can also prevent you from coming home with a sniffle.
Essential. Image: Priceline.
Saw this one coming, didn’t you? I honestly don’t know how I travelled or even got through the working week before I was introduced to dry shampoo. If you play your cards right by washing your hair the day you leave for your weekend away, a travel-sized bottle of dry shampoo should carry you, and your roots, the rest of the way.
There are countless versions out there, but at the moment I’m really liking Klorane’s Gentle Dry Shampoo - it absorbs nicely and doesn’t tend to leave that ‘chalky’ feeling.
Fun Fact: Klorane is Karl Lagerfeld's holy grail product. Image: Priceline.
6. Wide brimmed hat.
Again, sun protection is important, particularly as we’re heading into summer. A wide-brimmed hat will keep your face protected and potentially rescue you from the dreaded and deeply unpleasant back-of-the-neck sunburn. The floppy felt variety, like this ‘70s style camel design by Sportsgirl, is a personal favourite.
"This ‘70s style camel design by Sportsgirl, is a personal favourite." Image: Sportsgirl.
7. Eye mask for sleeping.
Fact: if you value your sleep, you NEED to pack a sleeping mask.
When you’re in a new location that doesn’t have the blinds/curtains situation you’re used to, you can find yourself being rudely awoken by the sun at a much earlier time than you’d hoped for. Nobody likes to be deprived of their Sunday sleep-in, so this is where an eye mask will come in handy. Block out the light streaming into your eyes = problem solved.
I own several eye masks, and I can’t even explain how essential they’ve become to my life/sanity. They don’t cost much at all, and will take up next to no room in your suitcase.
That said, if you’re one of those people who could sleep in direct sunlight or through an earthquake, you’ll probably be fine without one.
"Fact: if you value your sleep, you NEED to pack a sleeping mask." Image: CottonOn.
8. Band aids.
I have just one word for you: blisters. Seriously, I would advise lining your bag with band-aids.
Don't leave home without them. Image: Priceline.
9. Lip balm.
The laws of the universe would have it that the very moment you’re in desperate need of lip balm, you won’t have any in your handbag. The solution is bleedingly obvious: always carry a lip balm with you, duh. This beeswax lip balm by Burt’s Bees is delightfully soft and will save your precious lip skin from the ravages of sea breezes (or whatever outdoor elements you might be exposed to).
Delightfully soft. Image: Burt's Bees.
In theory, the idea of an “unplugged weekend” is wonderful. But in reality, the ol’ smartphone is bloody useful for a weekend away - you might need to navigate your way to your destination, or to look up where the nearest supermarket is, or to stay in contact if you’re away with a group of people and you separate for whatever reason.
Also, if you don’t share a photo from your trip on Instagram, did it really happen…? #philosophy
Crucial. Image: JB-HI-FI.
There are plenty of eye-and-cheek makeup products on the market, and they’re practically designed for weekends away. At the moment I’m a little hooked on my Nudestix Lip-Cheek pencil in Sin, from Sephora. It’s got a really nice creamy consistency, making it easy to apply to your lips and to blend into your cheeks, and I love the neutral but not-too-light shade.
Neutral but not too light. Image: Sephora.
What's on your packing essentials list?
Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Garnier. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.
At Garnier®, we believe beauty is within us all. Everyone possesses their own natural beauty and everyone has the power to make beauty shine through. As a pioneer in home hair colour and a true skin expert, Garnier also comes in a wide range of products from skincare to hair colour.