Essential Overnight Trip Packing List

It’s far too easy to overpack for short trips. That is why you need an overnight trip packing list. With a solid overnight bag list, you’ll be able to keep organized and not forget anything important. 

With just an overnight trip, the temptation to overpack can really strong. Let’s avoid that if we can. Ready for the list? Just keep reading! 

Open suitcase with clothes and personal things packed for an overnight trip
Use an overnight bag list to keep organized even for very short trips.

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Need help planning your overnight trip? Check out our list of essential travel planning resources.  

Packing list for your overnight trip 

Use this overnight trip packing list as the basis for creating your own list for each of your trips. Of course, you don’t need to follow this list exactly. It’s designed to be customized. Use it as a starting place. 

The key thing is to keep it simple.

Tip: use an editable digital packing list to easily make changes to your list as you pack.


You only need to pack two outfits at the most

  • One outfit that’s appropriate for whatever activity or occasion you have during the one evening of your trip. 
  • One outfit for anything you have planned for the second day.  

For overnight trips, my preference is to pack only one pair of pants and then wear home the next day the same pants or even the same outfit that I wore for travel the day before. 

Pajamas—a simple lightweight set of pajama bottoms paired with a T-shirt like this works. I love my Amazon Essentials pajamas.

One pair of shoes for whatever you have planned for your trip. Make sure they work with whatever outfits you are taking. 


  • I usually just take one bra with me for overnight trips…the one I wear to travel to my destination.
  • 2 pairs of underpants. I always pack a spare pair. 
  • Optional: camisole 

Socks—to work without whatever shoes you have packed. 

Jacket or cardigan to keep warm in case of sudden weather changes, cold event venues or restaurants, etc. 

Optional clothing you could pack for an overnight trip 

If your hotel has a gym and you enjoy working out when you travel make sure to take your workout clothes with you. Or if you want to check out your hotel’s pool, add a swimsuit and coverup to your packing list. 

If you have room in your bag, consider packing a pair of flip-flops or slippers for wearing around your hotel room or in case you need to make a quick run down the hall for ice. 

Teeth hygiene and oral dental care products in golden travel cosmetic purse kit
When packing for your overnight trip keep toiletries to a minimum.


For a trip of just one night, keep skincare, haircare, and makeup products to a minimum. I always recommend that you just use your hotel bathroom product amenities when possible. That means you won’t need to pack shampoo, conditioner, soap, or perhaps even a facial cleanser or body lotion. 

Pack a basic toiletries bag with only the essentials. Here are some examples of what you might pack (all are products I actually pack for trips and have used for many years): 

Miscellaneous essentials 

There are a few other things you might want or need to pack to make sure you have a good trip. 

  • Charger for phone and other electronics 
  • Umbrella 
  • Prescription medications 
  • Essential dietary supplements or over-the-counter medications 
  • A few first-aid items. You can bring a small selection of things from home or purchase a compact first-aid kit designed for travel

Things you can leave at home 

  • Multiple outfit options for every possible scenario 
  • Extra shoes 
  • Large makeup bags 
  • Extra electronics (e.g., you don’t need to pack a laptop AND a tablet) 
  • Hair dryer. Use the one provided by the hotel. 
  • Shampoo, conditioner, and soap. Use the hotel amenities. 
  • Multiple jewelry options 

Minimize your overnight bag 

I find that the danger of overpacking is strongest with short trips. And overnights are no exception. Because it’s so easy to overpack for overnight trips, I recommend you use the smallest bag you can but still have room to pack the things you genuinely need. 

Using a small bag will help you avoid the temptation to overpack because you simply won’t have the room. 

A small rolling carry-on bag like this one from Amazon makes a great overnight bag. 

A large tote bag like this popular weekender would also be great for a short one-night trip. 

Open suitcase packed with clothing and things for a short trip

Get your overnight bag list organized 

Why do you need to get organized for your overnight trip? All you have to do is toss a few things in a bag, right? But when heading out on an overnight, it’s so easy to simultaneously overpack and yet forget important items

So, pause for a few minutes to think about what you really need. What plans have you made for your trip? 

  • A nice dinner out? 
  • A special event like a concert? 
  • Outdoor activities like hiking? 
  • Do the accommodations you booked include pool or gym facilities you want to use? 

Final thoughts on the overnight bag list 

When traveling for just an overnight getaway, try to resist the temptation to overpack. You don’t need multiple outfit options “just in case.”

But you don’t want to go to the opposite extreme either and not give any thought to what you need to take with you. That’s how you forget to pack essentials in your overnight bag. 

The packing list in this post is all you need to make sure that you pack well for your short trip. 

More articles related to packing for overnight trips 

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One Comment

  1. You made a good point that it’s important to have a thorough plan first when planning to stay in a vacation home rental. I want to look for a good vacation home rental soon because I want to start planning for my honeymoon. I think that a simple staycation in a villa would be a good option.

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