Travel Light(er), Packing in a Tote

Travel Light(er) - Packing in a tote for a weekend trip.

While I love a good weekender bag, packing in one for an actual weekend still seems like overkill for me. Today I’m sharing my strategy for packing in a tote for the upcoming holiday weekends, as well as some tips to help you pack in a tote too.

Travel Light(er) - Packing in a tote for a weekend trip.
Above: J.Crew Funnelneck Coat, Everlane Highrise Skinny Ankle Jean, Everlane Pleated Midi Skirt, Everlane Cashmere Sweaterdress, Cuyana Turtleneck Tee, Everlane Waffle-knit Cashmere Square Sweater, Cuyana Long Sleep Set, Everlane Modern Loafer Mule, Cuyana Classic Leather Zipper Tote.

I chose to pack in my Cuyana Classic Leather Zip Tote and bring along my usual Cuyana Travel Wallet. In a bind the wallet can act as a clutch, and the tote is good enough sized to hold all of the items I’d like to bring.

Travel Light(er) - Packing in a tote for a weekend trip. Travel Light(er) - Packing in a tote for a weekend trip.

How to Pack in a Tote

Plan Ahead
This is such a given with packing for any trip, but for packing in a tote it is extremely important. Know the weather as well as any planned activities for the duration of the trip.

Clothing
The 10 items I chose were not hard to narrow down since I’d only be gone a few days, but they all can be put together to form very different outfits. If in the very unlikely event that I need to dress up, the skirt and loafers with the turtleneck would be perfect.

Shoes
I opted to go with the two-pairs of shoes rule: pack one, wear one. Both are casual as I don’t have formal plans, and I chose to wear the bulkier pair to save on space.

Accessories
Unless it’s some sort of beach or ski trip, these are really unnecessary when packing in a tote as they can take up a lot of space. If you need to fly, a light or warmer scarf would be great and you can loop it around the handles instead of storing it inside.

Personal Care
My rule is to not pack items that I don’t use daily. The only hair products I bring are dry shampoo and oil, and heated hair tools are out of the question as they take up way too much space. If I absolutely need to wash my hair, I can do so just this one time on borrowed items, but for a 3 day trip it’s very unlikely. Instead of packing a day and night skin routine, I opt for the day only or pack a small amount of oil for night.

Tech
Packing a laptop in a single tote bag with other clothing items is not only bulky and heavy, but it is very unlikely that I’ll use it for such a short trip. I’d rather use my phone for backup and prioritize spending time with friends and family.

Travel Light(er) - Packing in a tote for a weekend trip. Travel Light(er) - Packing in a tote for a weekend trip.

Outfit Above: J.Crew Funnelneck CoatCuyana Turtleneck TeeEverlane Highrise Skinny Ankle JeanEverlane Boss Boot.

Quick Tips for Packing In a Tote

  • Always, always check the weather.
  • Know what you plan to do during your trip.
  • Pack items that can very easily be mixed together to form additional outfits.
  • Do not pack items that are similar in shape or function.
  • Be sure that all colors go well together.
  • Wear your bulkier items for travel so they don’t need to go in your bag.
  • Do not pack a one-piece item (i.e. dress, jumpsuit) unless it can be worn in more than one way.
  • Limit your toiletries to those you absolutely need every single day. Opt for a day routine v.s. both day and night.
  • Using minimal makeup is helpful as well.
  • Do you really need a laptop? I packed mine and didn’t end up using it. I will spend all my time with family instead.

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Do you ever pack in smaller bags? What tips do you have to share?

11 thoughts on “Travel Light(er), Packing in a Tote

  1. This is perfect timing! I love love travel packing posts. And I’m heading down to Toronto to visit my sister in a couple weeks. Just a quick 48ish hour weekend trip in early January! I’d love to pack in my tote bag (instead of my usual carry-on suitcase) and take advantage of a quick trip without all the stuff that comes with travelling with my kids. Since I’ll be visiting her at her apartment I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to borrow most of the bulky toiletries I would need otherwise. Although it is winter in Canada and that worries me a little for packing so light. And my big tote doesn’t have a zip top, which is a little problematic. Wish I had a zip top one like this!

  2. thank you for sharing such an amazing post. i always used to pack my stuff in my tote bag whenever i have to go for some urgent short travel trips. your post will definitely help me in my next trip.

  3. I always INTEND to pack light, but then am never able to make that happen. I use lots of products and makeup (I’m older), I always need several choices for outfits and shoes, and this curly girl needs her diffuser.

  4. Wonderful tips, very useful. Cuyana really has you covered with both tote and wallet. I really like that idea and that tote! I preferred dresses when traveling and now I see why I had so much luggage.

  5. This has been my greatest struggle! Packing! I think this post is really helpful especially for people who tend to over pack, like me. Thanks for all the wonderful tips!

    1. It is so easy to add extras but most of the time I find I don’t use them. I do bring a tiny bit of laundry soap to wash an item or two in the sink if I need to.

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