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If you always feel like you forget something when you go on a short weekend getaway or if you are going for the first time, I have something for you: a packing list with all the items you should pack for a weekend or other short trip (2-4 days).
You might be wondering how a trip using Couchsurfing is different to staying at a hotel? There are some items you should definitely consider bringing when you are packing for a Couchsurfing trip that you won’t need when you are staying at a hotel. I have marked these articles with an (X). All other items will be useful for any kind of weekend trip.
If you are new to Couchsurfing and looking at this packing list to get some tips you should also check out the following post: What is Couchsurfing and how does it work
So, let’s get right to it:
First of all, you need items for transporting all the things you want to bring, and items to organize them, if you are into organized packing.
For a short trip, I recommend bringing a small trolley. It has the advantage over a backpack that you don’t need to carry it around on your shoulders. In case you are flying you can also use it as hand luggage so there will be no need to check it in, which can save you some money as an added bonus.
My favorite suitcase brand is Rimowa. If you are looking for a new suitcase in cabin size you should check out the Rimowa Salsa Cabin Multiwheel. You can check out my Rimowa Salsa review here (the review is for a full-size suitcase but most points are true for the smaller one as well).
You won’t want to walk around all day with all your belonging, so you will need a backpack or bag for your day-trips and explorations during the day. I recommend you to buy the Ospray Ultralight Stuff Pack because it can be folded super small and won’t take up any space in your suitcase while you aren’t using it.
It has the added advantage that the backpack itself weights almost nothing and won’t add any weight on your shoulders while you are out and about. It comfortably holds the belongings you will need during the day like a water bottle, your wallet, your phone, your camera and equipment for it, a rain jacket or umbrella and much more.
The items I use all the time don’t usually go into my daypack or suitcase but a separate designated bag for easy access. I am still looking for the perfect bag for this purpose. It should fit my wallet, phone and headphones, and passport and additional papers like flight and other tickets and maybe some tissues. I am still undecided but might actually go for one from MINICAT because of its small size and cute designs. They are also cheap.
Now, this is only if you are a neat person. I usually put all my clothing and everything else directly into my suitcase and when I need something I just go searching through all my stuff. My boyfriend is more organized and he puts underwear and other things in a separate little bag with a zipper.
You can also buy some packing cubes, they are quite cheap and come in packs of multiple sizes. There are travelers who love them and others who say they just take up space and weight that could be used otherwise. You should make up your own mind and because I don’t have the knowledge to tell you about the benefits of the different packing cubes, you should check out this comparison post from Tiki Touring Kiwi: The Best Packing Cubes For Travel A 2018 Buyers Guide.
Again, for the neat people: If you want your toiletries all in one place you can buy a toiletry bag like the one in the picture.
You can also just put the fluids in zipper bags (see next step) and put the rest into your suitcase as it is. Guess which one of those options I use, and which one my boyfriend.
If you are planning on flying with only carry-on this is essential. All your fluids mustn’t exceed 100 ml and need to be packed into see-through zipper bags. For my next trip I am going to get the one in the picture, it is reusable and kind of cute.
Let’s move on to the next category. Essentials are the things you probably shouldn’t forget, so I am going to list them up here real quick. Make sure to go over this list before you leave the house on the day of your departure!
When going to a foreign country you usually NEED your passport! Don’t forget it. Also, some countries won’t let you enter if your passport is valid shorter than 6 months so check your validity date and apply for a new passport if necessary.
While most of us probably put all their money and credit cards into one wallet, depending on where you are going this might not be advisable. Either carry a second wallet in a different place and split the money and credit cards between both or just put some of your money in a sock or your toiletries bag so you will still have some if you lose your wallet or it gets stolen.
Another security measure is buying an RFID blocking wallet. This means thieves can’t read your card information using RFID readers. There are many different wallet designs with RFID protection so just have a look. It doesn’t have to be anything expensive. To be honest, it might be better to only bring a cheap wallet just in case it gets stolen. You never know.
Even for just a short trip, you should definitely consider travel insurance in case of any emergencies. Especially if it is just a short trip there are many really cheap options for just a couple of dollars per day. We all hope we never need it but in case of an accident or an injury, you will be happy to have an insurance wherever you are.
Don’t pick up your insurance at the airport, where the coverage will be more expensive in many cases then when you do your research in advance.
Make sure to bring 2, best would be one Visa and one MasterCard because these are the ones you are most likely to be able to use everywhere in the world. Having two cards is also good in case you lose one. Like mentioned above, don’t put both in the same place. Also, know how to lock your credit cards (either online or via a phone number) in case you lose it or even worse, it gets stolen.
If you are planning on driving where you are going don’t forget your license. You should also find out if you need some kind of translation of your license or an international driver’s license for the country you are going to, so do your research in advance.
I go by the rule to bring one set of clothing for each day if it is a short trip (don’t forget to prepare clothing for your first travel day but don’t pack them into your suitcase). So if I am staying 3 days and 2 nights I will put the following in my suitcase:
Above are the things I think are essential on a weekend trip. The clothing items I have listed below are things you should consider bringing depending on where you are going and what kind of person you are.
These T-Shirts are not only fun to look at but also really functional. When talking to someone who isn’t fluent in English just point at the icon on the T-Shirt and it will be easier for them to understand what you want, no matter if you are looking for a toilet, a hotel or a taxi.
If you don’t want to have your icons printed on your T-Shirt but still think having some icons to help along communication might be useful, check out my free icon printable.
I always pack one additional pair of socks in case the ones I am wearing get wet, get a whole or if it is cold so I can wear two pairs at once. If you are planning on hiking bring hiking socks. Planning on going to a fancy dinner bring some stockings (only for the ladies).
Depending on where you are traveling, if there is a chance of rain better be safe than sorry. Did you know there is a difference between water repellent and water proof. If you are visiting a country with a lot of rain and you plan on being outside for a long amount of time make sure your jacket is water proof rather than water repellent, it will keep you dry much longer.
I am using the UNIQLO Blocktech Parker and I love it. UNIQLO is a Japanese brand with simple but super modern functional wear at a low price.
I like to bring my UNIQLO Ultra-Light Down Jacket, it doesn’t take up space but it really keeps me warm when I need it.
You could also bring a fleece jacket, these jackets are made of a nice warming material. They are not as light and small as my ultra-light down jacket but it comes down to preferences here.
If you are planning on going to the beach, a pool or a spa bring some swimwear. If you are not sure yet about your plans, as can often be the case when Couchsurfing bring one just in case.
For me a scarf is super important. If I travel to a country that is cold I bring a scarf. If I travel to a country that is super hot, I also bring a scarf because the air-conditioning in public transportation, restaurants and department stores can be super cold. And lastly when I fly I also bring a scarf because I often feel cold on planes and there is nothing worse than catching a cold during your trip.
Did you know there are traveler scarfs with secret compartments where you can stow some cash or a credit card? Super useful when you go to dangerous countries with a risk of being robbed.
Depending on the destination you either need a sunhat or cap to keep the sun of your head, or a warm wool hat to keep you warm when it is cold outside.
I usually only have one pair of shoes when I travel for only a couple of days, the ones on my feet. Usually some sneakers, preferably waterproof. I recently bought the Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX W and they are not only waterproof but also super comfortable when you are walking all day long. They are super-light hiking shoes so even if you are doing some walking in nature you are covered.
If you can think of occasions on your trip where you might need something else like a fancy dinner (dress shoes) or the beach (beach sandals) don’t forget to pack those.
We are living in a world where no traveler can live without their electronics. No matter if it is just your smartphone or you also need headphones, a laptop, iPad, camera etc. etc. There is so much to bring and it is hard to remember everything. Especially to bring all the different charging cables for all your devices.
I mean who of us can live without their smartphone nowadays.
You need a charging cable so you won’t run out of juice. By the way, it might be a good idea to bring an extra-long charging cable on your weekend trip using Couchsurfing. You never know where the next power plug is located in your Couchsurfing hosts apartment. They are super cheap so it really isn’t going to be a huge investment.
Especially if you use your phone for directions at your destination, there is nothing worse than running out of juice during the day. For this reason I recommend you bring a power bank that will be able do refill your phone multiple times. We use one power bank for both of our phones when we travel so a small one just wont do.
With the model above you can get in about 5 full charges, which really should be enough even if you share it with your partner or family or you want to charge multiple devices within one day.
I love my new Olympus OM-D Mark II and bring it everywhere I might be able to take some pictures. The camera is mirrorless and has the advantage of being small and light while producing really beautiful pictures. I am not a very good photographer but it is so much fun using different lenses and trying the many options the camera has to offer. If you are looking for your first “good” camera for your travels I can really recommend the Olympus OM-D Mark II with all my heart.
And as you can see in the picture the design is also really cute. Not that I chose it because of how the camera looks like… Ok, maybe just a little bit.
If you rather travel light, I guess your smartphone camera will do fine for your travel memories. In that case you might be interested in learning how to take better pictures with your smartphone. Check out this post by my fellow blogger Jennifer at Stewie Overseas on how to do just that. She even offers a free two week e-mail course, in which I learned a lot.
There is nothing more annoying than having a new camera that you love and then the battery dies halfway through your day. So I suggest you buy at least one (or more) battery for your camera. Carry it with you everywhere you go, you never know when your battery might die. Usually at the worst timing when you just wanted to take that one picture.
Don’t forget to bring your battery charger and don’t forget to charge all batteries for your camera every night.
Aside from the camera and battery you probably also want to remember to bring any other lense and other equipment for your camera. Like for example a tripod or cleaning eqipment.
I recently bought new headphones. And this time I didn’t choose the 10$ ones from Sony that I had been using for years (buying new ones every couple of years). I chose to invest in my comfort with BOSE QuietComfort 20 noise canceling in-ear headphones.
Because of their noise canceling function they have super clear sound, but not only that. They fit perfectly in my ear and never fall out. They really cancle the noise of trains and planes that usually drive me crazy after a while.
If you are not used to traveling this might be something really important that you might forget. So be sure to check what kind of plugs are used in your destination country and if they are different from your home plugs you need to bring an adapter. There are some adapters that can be adapted to all types available all over the world and you might want to get one of those just in case. They are usually bigger than a simple adapter from your plug to another countries plug. But definitely very practical.
If you are like me, a girl (or guy) of too many devices, a USB wall charger for multiple USBs might become your best friend while traveling. Especially when you stay on someone elses couch you don’t want to patronize all their power outlets. So be respectful by only using one for all your devices.
Now let’s move on to everything you will need for your morning and evening routine.
If you are visiting a sunny country and are as white as me you don’t want to forget to bring sunscreen. Nothing is worse than having to deal with an evil sunburn during your trip.
In many countries especially in those where the use of sunscreen is not common it can be quite expensive to buy!
Even if you usually wear glasses if you are planning activities like sports or swimming where you can’t wear your glasses don’t forget to bring some contact lenses. If course if your eyesight is impeccable you may ignore this point!
I usually only use my glasses but when going skiing, swimming or to hot springs I always wear contact lenses because I want to see what is going on around me.
You are staying at another persons house, probably in close proximity to them, so your personal hygiene is important. So if you have problems with body odor bring a deodorant and don’t forget to use it. You don’t want to leave a bad impression just because you smell a little bit (we all do).
Go buy a deodorant in travel size, so it will take up less space. Also when you fly with carry-on only all your fluids have to be smaller than 100ml and deodorant is often counted as a fluid.
A good mouth hygiene is also important if you want to leave a good impressions. So bring a toothbrush and toothpaste and don’t forget to brush in the morning and evening (at least).
There are special travel toothbrush and travel size toothpaste sets available on amazon. Check it out.
I don’t really use much makeup, maybe some mascara, but that’s it. If but if you are a makeup person, don’t forget it. The same goes for the remover and some cotton, or makeup remover wipes.
Boy or girl it doesn’t matter, if you want to get rid of any body hair during your short trip don’t forget to bring a shaver. I usually shave everything before I go and can go a couple of days without.
If you can’t go without you might want to buy this really cute shaver from Venus. It is super small and won’t take up much space in your toiletry bag.
Especially if you are flying to your destination, don’t forget to bring some lip balm. In plans the air can be very dry and a split lip can be uncomfortable. So have your lip balm handy in your hand luggage or a pants pocket for easy access when you need it.
If you are couchsurfing you are a guest in someone elses home. If they offer you the use of their shampoo and body soap when you want to take a shower you can of course take them up on their offer. But just in case they don’t offer for whatever reason it is only polite to bring your own supplies. Don’t just use your hosts products without asking. If you are unsure what you should or shouldn’t do while you are a Couchsurfing guest at someones home check out my Couchsurfing Etiquette guide.
Here you should again consider bringing small sizes. You can either buy small sized shampoo and conditioner or fill some of your favorite shampoo and conditioner into small refillable bottles. The choice is yours.
In this category, I have put some other items you might want to take with you that didn’t really fit in any of the other categories.
For the environment and because buying water is expensive I always bring a refillable water bottle. There are foldable water bottles that won’t take up any space when you are not using it. If this is something you might be interested in check the prices below. You will be surprised.
I have some friends who can’t go anywhere without their sunglasses. I am not like that. I always tend to forget mine and then wish I had brought them when the sun is right in my eyes and I start to get a headache because of it. So here is the reminder for everyone like me: Pack your sunglasses you never know if you might need them.
The cooles sunglasses brand in my opinion ins RayBan. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a pair that suits me. But if you like RayBans you should check out this model. You can fold it super small and it wont take up space in your small handbag or daypack.
Bring a pack of tissues. Just do it. Put it in your hand luggage and just be happy that you have it when you (or the person next to you) needs one.
In Japan it is common to carry around a handkerchief. The Japanese either use them to dap their sweat in summer (it can get unbelievably humid) or to dry their hands after the use of a public restroom. In many public toilets in Japan there are no hand towels and you will wish you had a handkerchief while wiping your wet hands on your pants.
If you are a light sleeper you want to do everything you can do to get the best quality sleep possible. The first step should be having it nice and dark. Bring a sleep mask. If you didn’t know before if you pay a little bit of money you can get some that fit comfortably and make it really dark. Try using a proper one and you will never want to get back to using the flimsy ones you sometimes get in planes.
I have tried so many different travel pillows in the hopes of finally finding one that is actually comfortable and won’t leave my head stiff after a rough night in a plane. And I have finally found one. The Trtl Travel Pillow is not like other travel pillows. You wrap it around your neck and it holds your head in a comfortable position while you sleep.
Try it and you will never want to use another one again.
I love the travel towels from the Australian company called Tesalate. They make sand resistant, quick drying, super-light towels that are also very water absorbent. So exactly everything you want from a towel you take with you on a trip.
The designs are also all beautiful and colorful. For more information and all the designs check out the collection on the Tesalate website using the button below.
If you are Couchsurfing at someones place show them that you appreciate them. You can do that by giving them a gift or even by doing something for the. Check out my post on Gift Ideas for your Couchsurfing Host.
I know this seems all like a lot of stuff, but it actually isn’t really. Just make sure you don’t forget any of the essentials, everything else you will probably be able to buy at your destination.
I used this packing list for my 2 day trip to Taiwan last November. If you want to read about what we did there check out this Taiwan itinerary.
You want to print this packing list to check off all items while packing? Then I have something for you. I mad this packing list into a 2 page PDF file. You can get it for FREE, right away!
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Authors Note: This posts contains affiliate links. I receive a commission if a product is purchased through one of these links, at no extra cost to you. Please support me by purchasing products through my links!
Lena is the creator of the Social Travel Experiment. Planning her trip around the world took a lot of effort. To make it easier for future world travelers she has made it her mission to teach others how to have an unforgettable trip around the world, through short stays with locals, without wasting valuable time or money.