Here’s How to Pack Luggage for a Week

By James Smith
how to pack luggage for a week
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Are you in the planning phase of packing for a short trip you might wondering how to pack luggage for a week?

Packing for a week-long trip can be stressful, but becomes much easier as long as you remember three general categories of things you’ll be bringing: your staple needs, your trip-specific needs, and your wants. 

If you prioritize your packing in that order, as well as have a checklist for your needs, you’ll find packing to be a much easier and even enjoyable experience.

Packing What You Need

There are two types of necessities for any trip:

  • the staple needs and
  • the trip specific needs. 

Staple needs are named such because they are, like staple foods that are eaten regularly, the items you’ll need for every trip.  Trip specific needs are just that, items that you absolutely need for the specific trip you’re taking, but might not necessary on other trips. 

With either of these types of items, it is a good idea to create a packing list to ensure that nothing necessary is ever forgotten.  Let’s look at each of these types necessities in more detail now.

The Staples

packing luggage one week trip computer camera

Staple needs are items like toiletries, clothing, a phone charger, prescription medications, and anything else you know you need or must use every day, regardless of your circumstances.  For these items, it’s a good idea to create a master packing list that can be tailored to the trip you’re taking. 

For example, you may create a word document that lists your hygiene products, changes of clothes for each day (and maybe even a spare change if you’re being extra cautious) and other daily use items on it; and then add trip specific needs to the document for each trip taken. 

This ensures that your staple needs are never forgotten in a theoretical rush to pack, and additionally, helps streamline the list creation process for future trips.  When initially constructing this list, it helps to think through your daily routine. 

What do you use every day? 

What could you never do without?  Start by writing these out, and then revise to add or subtract as you deem things more or less necessary.

Trip Specific

When thinking about trip specific needs, it’s best to start off by thinking about what the purpose of the trip is and where you’re going. 

Is this a business or leisure trip? 

Will you be staying at a hotel, with friends or family, or maybe you’re getting away from it all and going on a camping trip. 

When you have these things in mind, the trip specific needs will come into focus.  For example, if you’re going on a business trip, you may need a work-related laptop, but will almost certainly not need this if you’re going to be roughing it in the woods for a week.

When adding these items to your packing list, it helps to mentally walk yourself through your week. 

If you’re going on a business trip, and have an important meeting the day after you’re scheduled to arrive, what will be necessary to facilitate that meeting? 

If you’re going camping, mentally go through the process of setting up camp.  Another thing to consider when constructing this list is how will your environment or routine differ on this trip from your usual everyday routine? 

Are you going to an area that is significantly colder or warmer from your home? 

What will you need for that type of weather that you don’t normally need?

Finally, once you’ve completed your initial list, it is a good idea to go through it again to revise and refine. 

This will give you the peace of mind to know that you truly haven’t forgotten anything absolutely necessary.

Bringing What You Want

packing suitcase for a week essentials

Once you have your needs squared away, you’re now ready to start thinking about your wants. 

These are things that you could theoretically do without, but you might not want to. 

Examples might be a travel pillow or book to make a plane ride more enjoyable, or a particular food item you really enjoy, or maybe your preferred brand of coffee so you don’t have to hunt for it when you arrive at your destination. 

Chances are, you won’t have to think too hard to know what these items are. 

In fact, it is very likely these items will have been pared off your “needs” list.  The bottom line is that if you have items that you don’t need, but still want, and you have the room, feel free to pack them at this point.

One last important point on a related note: you’re going to want to leave some spare space in your bag, even after packing your wants. 

Why you may ask? 

Because you never know when you’ll spot something you’d like to bring back with you as a memento or souvenir from your trip.  Don’t miss out on the chance to bring back something great because you packed your bags to the bursting point.

Packing Tips and Tricks

Now that we’ve covered the broad strokes of packing for a weeklong trip it would be useful to get into some specific packing tips that can help you make the most of your packing experience. 

So here are some things to think about before, during, and after you pack.

How Are You Traveling?

One of the most important questions to consider before you start packing, and perhaps even before you create your packing list is:

  • how are you traveling? 
  • Are you driving yourself? 

If this is indeed the case, you may have more room to pack whatever you’d like, depending on the size of your vehicle. 

If you’re taking a form of mass transit such as a plane, a train or a bus, you may need to be pickier about what you’re packing. 

Otherwise, you may need to pay additional fees for checking bags or be limited in how many bags you’re allowed to store in the cargo area.  Keeping in mind how you’re going to travel can help you prioritize what you should be packing.

Think Is This Truly Necessary?

If you’re tight on space, and you haven’t fully packed all your needs yet, you might want to go through your list again and ask yourself “is this truly necessary”.   

Sometimes things that seem necessary even on a second pass through your list might not truly be necessary. 

For example, perhaps you packed shoes that go perfectly with one outfit, in addition to your shoes that go with every outfit. 

You might feel the perfect match is necessary for one reason or another initially, but upon further reflection, you’ll realize that you don’t need that special pair of shoes.  

The point is, sometimes you’ll have to make tough choices, and you shouldn’t be afraid to make them. 

Remember, it’s a weeklong trip.  You’ll be back in seven days.  You don’t need everything.  Prioritize and pack what you truly need.

Tips for Packing Clothing

Presumably, most of your packing space will be devoted to changes of clothing, and there are a couple of simple tips to help you make the most of your space. 

First, divide your clothes into what is and isn’t wrinkle-free.  Soft pliable wrinkle-free clothes should be rolled up, rather than folded. 

Stiffer clothes that are prone to creases and wrinkles should be folded.  Rolled clothes will be able to be packed more tightly.  In the case of a suit, you may find it best to pack it entirely separately.

One other tip is to pack a dirty laundry bag. 

This can be used for transporting dirty laundry if you plan on going to a laundromat, or keeping your dirty clothes separate from your clean clothes when you repack. 

Some luggage has divisions within the bag or suitcase itself than can also serve the function of storing your dirty clothes separately from your clean clothes.

A “Leaving Routine” Checklist

In addition to your packing checklist, it may also be a wise idea to create a “leaving routine” checklist to make sure you prepare your residence for a weeklong absence. 

Making a list with things like “switch off your lights, lock your door before leaving” and so on, can give you peace of mind and help ensure you don’t return to any surprises or unfortunate events.  Physically, rather than mentally, walking through your residence and taking note of anything you need to do to prepare for departure can make constructing this list much easier.

Online Premade Packing Lists

Perhaps the list making feels overwhelming or intimidating.  Or perhaps you don’t have a lot of time to mentally walk through routines. 

Regardless of your reasons, you may decide you need some help creating a packing list.  If this is the case, you’re in luck, as there are myriad premade packing lists readily available online to serve as the basis of your own. 

Just be sure to use it as a starting point.  Ultimately no one but you knows what is truly necessary for your trip.  However, adding and subtracting from these premade lists can make the packing list creation process much easier.

The conclusion for packing for a week

To sum up, you should create a packing list, with items divided into three different categories, (staple needs, trip-specific needs and wants) and then prioritize packing them in that order. 

Walking yourself through your daily routine and trip itinerary will help you create your packing list, but feel free to take advantage of the many premade packing lists available online, using it as a foundation for your own personalized list. 

You may also find it useful to create a “leaving routine” checklist, to ensure you don’t accidentally leave the stove on or a window open. 

Be sure to keep in mind how you’ll be traveling and where you’ll be traveling to when deciding what exactly to pack. 

Finally, use tricks like rolling your clothes to help maximize what space you have available.  If you do all of this, you’ll find your packing experience to be easier and far less stressful experience.

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Hi, I'm James Smith, I love traveling and always looking to optimize the traveling life to make it as comfortable and stress-free as possible. I especially love to nerd out about choosing the right luggage.