Packing Tips for City Trips & Weekend Getaways

The Vanderbilt Lobby of Grand Central Station in New York City. Photo by Shayna Marchese
By Kara Murphy

Whether you're off to New York City, London, or Rome, traveling to any major metropolitan city around the world presents similar packing challenges. How do you stay comfortable but look stylish? How can you protect your valuables from pickpockets?

Supplement your packing list with these easy solutions for your packing dilemmas. Have you developed a perfect packing tip for weekend getaways and urban adventures? Share your best packing tips on the Frommers.com Packing Forum.

Photo Caption: Navigating Grand Central Terminal in New York City
View Next Slide
Samsonite's Lift 21 inch spinner luggage, $300. <a href="http://shop.samsonite.com/Samsonite-Lift-21-Spinner-Luggage/dp/B004UKD6XY?ie=UTF8&field_availability=-1&searchKeywords=lift&field_keywords=lift&class=quickView&searchRank=salesrank&field_product_site_launch_date_utc=-1y&id=Samsonite%20Lift%2021%20Spinner%20Luggage&field_browse=2235433011&searchSize=12&searchPage=1&searchNodeID=2235433011&refinementHistory=brandtextbin%2Csubjectbin%2Ccolor_map%2Cprice%2Csize_name&searchBinNameList=brandtextbin%2Ccolor_map%2Cprice%2Csize_name" target="_blank">www.samsonite.com</a>. Photo by Samsonite
"Definitely bring a wheelie bag," says Melanie Fascitelli, founder of Clos-ette & Clos-ette Too (http://clos-ette.com). "You don't want to have to lug a duffel doing things like getting in and out of taxis." Spinners -- suitcases with four wheels instead of two -- are great for navigating crowded streets, and they're super-easy to maneuver on escalators. Most luggage companies make them, including Samsonite (www.samsonite.com), Tumi (www.tumi.com), and Bric's (www.brics.it). Always go for a bag that's expandable. An inch or two of extra room may prove to be a lifesaver, but make sure that you don't exceed your airline's weight restrictions for luggage.

If you're checking luggage, pack enough clothing in your carry-on in case your bags are lost or delayed. Also bring a day bag, such as a cross-body or messenger bag, to carry with you while you're out exploring. If it's not big enough to hold everything you want to have with you on the plane, carry it inside of a larger tote and take it out once you've reached your destination.

Photo Caption: Samsonite's Lift 21-inch spinner luggage, $300, www.samsonite.com
View Next Slide
Pottery Barn's Tomlin canvas and leather weekender bag, $149. <a href="http://www.potterybarn.com/products/tomlin-luggage-weekender-bag/?pkey=e|tomliln|3|best|0|1|24||2&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH||NoFacet-_-NoFacet-_-NoMerchRules-_-" target="_blank">www.potterybarn.com</a>. Photo by Pottery Barn
If the bag is light enough to carry, consider a weekender bag that can hold what you need for two or three days of travel. Go for one with sturdy arm and shoulder straps (short tote handles and a long, adjustable strap), so that you'll have the option to shift the weight or free up a hand or shoulder when needed. Look for durable nylon, leather, or canvas bags with several inside pockets to keep your items organized. Fossil (www.fossil.com) has great canvas options with handy pockets). LeSportsac (www.lesportsac.com) and Kipling (www.kipling-usa.com) make colorful options in heavy-duty nylon; Kipling also makes rolling duffels.

For your personal bag, opt for a purse, small messenger bag, or a backpack that can double as your day bag. For such a short trip you should definitely limit yourself to no more than two bags. If you need to bring your laptop, stow it in a sleeve instead of a separate computer bag. That way you can slip it into either your larger bag or your personal bag.

Photo Caption: Pottery Barn's Tomlin canvas and leather weekender bag, $67, www.potterybarn.com
View Next Slide
The Essential Kit by Malin + Goetz, $30. <a href="http://www.birchbox.com/shop/malin-goetz-essential-kit" target="_blank">www.3floz.com</a>. Photo by Malin + Goetz/3floz.com
Bring travel-friendly sizes of as many items as possible. This includes electric shavers, toothbrushes, and toiletries. Even if you're traveling by car, stick to 3.4-ounce travel sizes. You can buy them either with product already inside, or you can fill your own. GoToob (http://humangear.com) makes squishy silicone bottles with wide mouths for easy refilling.

No need to bring along a fancy toiletry bag -- all of your toiletries should fit inside the TSA-allowed quart-size plastic bag. Flight001 (www.flight001.com) makes sets of empty bottles,too.

Consolidate any medications you need to take. Instead of bringing several separate bottles, take out only the pills you will need for the weekend and stash them in a pill case.
View Next Slide
Pashmina. Photo by Zach Davis
In case you end up going out to a nice dinner or a show, you should always bring a dressy ensemble with you. It can be as simple as bringing along dressy accessories like jewelry, a bag, or a scarf -- hints of sparkle are an easy way to kick an outfit up a notch.

Men can take a collared shirt and a pair of slacks and amp them up "with a vest or jacket, a tie, and nice shoes like dress shoes or loafers," says Kirshan Murphy, style advisor .

In general, build outfits around a neutral color like black, navy, or khaki so that you can mix-and-match pieces. Choose space-saving fabrics like cotton, cotton blends, rayon, cashmere, and wool blends. Fine-gauge knit sweaters are not bulky and travel well.

"If you go away for three days you only need one pair of jeans, not three!" says Ari Goldberg, CEO and co-founder of StyleCaster (www.stylecaster.com).

Photo Caption: A pashmina or scarf can dress up a casual outfit.
View Next Slide
Ash canvas Original Classics by TOMS, $44. Photo by TOMS
Definitely wear your bulkiest shoes on the plane, and pack pairs that can be flattened in cloth shoe bags or plastic bags. Women, if you can go without heels, absolutely leave them at home. There are so many stylish flats and sandals that go with everything, even dressy outfits. If you can get away with only bringing one pair of shoes, kudos!

Pick a muted, simple pair that can be worn with all of the clothes you pack. Converse sneakers, boat shoes like Sperry Top-Siders, TOMS, and boots are all great unisex options. For women, a pair of ballet flats always works, and for men, driving shoes from a brand like Tod's are comfy yet stylish. Other brands to consider are Clarks, Ecco, Born, and Josef Seibel.

Make sure you break them in a bit and test them out before you leave. Uncomfortable shoes can easily derail your trip.

Photo Caption: Ash canvas Original Classics by TOMS, $44, www.toms.com
View Next Slide
The Apple iPad 2, from $499. Photo by Apple, Inc.
Equip your smartphone or tablet with city-specific maps, apps, and guides. A quick search in the iTunes store or Android market will yield tons of options. Remember to download them ahead of time. If you prefer to carry a city guide in hard copy, consider bringing only the pages that you plan to refer to that day; leave the rest of the book in the hotel room. You may find it helpful to flag points of interest.

For international destinations, remember that roaming charges are expensive, so look into apps that work offline.

Photo Caption: The Apple iPad 2, from $499, www.apple.com
View Next Slide
Flat Pack umbrella by Samsonite, $16.95. Photo by Samsonite
On city trips, you'll be walking a lot, so plan accordingly. If the forecast calls for a lot of rain, you might want to bring a pair of rain boots or another type of waterproof footwear. But typically, you can get by with a pair of shoes that will hold up in the rain and keep your feet dry.

If you're expecting to encounter a few downpours, stash an umbrella in your bag and if it's cold, bring a rain coat. Otherwise, you can always buy a cheap umbrella once you've reached your destination. In warmer months, a lightweight windbreaker will do. Always bring a lightweight sweater or cardigan -- fine-gauge knits like cashmere and wool blends are great choices.

Photo Caption: Flat Pack umbrella by Samsonite, $16.95, www.samsonite.com
View Next Slide
SlingSafe 50 security bag by Pacsafe, $29.85. Photo by Magellan's Travel Supplies
No matter what city you're traveling to, tourists are always prime targets for pickpockets. Be smart about where you stash your valuables. Bags that you carry in front of you, like messenger and cross-body bags with secure closures, are good options. Just remember to place valuables like your wallet in harder-to-reach inside pockets, and use any outside pockets for things like maps, lip balm, and tissues.

If you're going to be in areas that are particularly crowded or notorious for pickpockets, carry your money, credit cards, and ID in a security pouch or money belt that you wear underneath your clothes. Look for versions with slash-proof straps like over-the-shoulder styles from Pacsafe (www.pacsafe.com). Eagle Creek (www.eaglecreek.com) and Magellan's (www.magellans.com) both make belts with hidden zippered pockets that discreetly conceal cash.

Photo Caption: SlingSafe 50 security bag by Pacsafe, $29.85, www.magellans.com
View Next Slide
advertisement
advertisement