4 Days in Santa Fe with the girls and only 1 personal carry-on bag. If you've never traveled with just a personal bag, you might be surprised to know that not only was it totally doable, it made the trip easier and more effortless!
How to Create Your Santa Fe Packing List
How to fit the Most in your Personal Bag, Packing in One Personal Bag Efficiently
I think of myself as a pro at traveling with carry on only, and have traveled with a personal bag a number of times on short trips. For me, the main difference boils down the the clothing strategy, which I will outline in this post!
I always start with my go-to Ultimate Packing Guide and from there I'll narrow down the type of clothes I need, depending on the season and planned activities, and then start to figure out what I don't need for this particular trip.
I will list every item that I ended up bringing as well as notes about how they worked out during the trip later in this article as well as in the video above.
Packing for the Seasons of Santa Fe
What to pack for Spring in Santa Fe
Packing for a spring trip in Santa Fe might sound like it should be nice, warm days but it actually doesn't warm up until late April. Still, you'll want to pack a jacket as it gets chilly at night. Spring highs can range between low to mid 70s to low 40s – high 30s at night.
Pack for Spring: Light layers you can shed through the day, with a warm jacket for the morning / night. Pack a hat for the daytime.
What to pack for Summer in Santa Fe
By June, the highs average between 80 – 90 degrees, and nights may require a light layer.
Pack for Summer: Light shirts, shorts, walking sandals, and a hat. A light waterproof jacket may be nice for the occasional rain. July is monsoon season, so prepare for short, warm showers.
What to pack for Fall in Santa Fe
From August to early September, days highs can still be 70s to low 80s before cooling to down to 40s at night. It will continue to cool, and by end October you'll want to be prepared for anything from cold to warm, rain or even some snow.
Pack for Fall: Light layers you can shed through the day, with a warm jacket for the morning / night.
What to pack for Winter in Santa Fe
Winter snow brings great skiing and winter sports activities, and temperatures can vary from high 50s to low 30s. Note that the air is dry, so it doesn't feel as cold as the wet cold air, but you'll still want something to keep the chill out.
Pack for Winter: Warm puffy jacket, thermal layers, warm shoe boots, scarf, hat, gloves. Winter active wear if you want to do any of the winter sports.
Santa Fe Packing List Essentials
- Refillable water bottle - at 7000+ feet in the air, the Santa Fe air quality is excellent but thinner. So be sure to stay hydrated throughout your stay (and while tasty margaritas abound, the alcohol will creep up on you!), and take it easy for the first day or two to acclimate.
- Sunscreen, Hat, Sunglasses - the sun shines and average of over 300 days a year in Santa Fe, so pack items to keep you protected and comfortable in the sun.
- Comfortable walking shoes - Santa Fe is incredibly walkable, especially if you are staying in the downtown area like we did. With beautiful walking trails and fun outdoor activities bring shoes that you can comfortably hike and bike in. I also suggest some cute walking sandals that you can double for any nice nights to enjoy a fancy dinner or the arts culture scenes.
Everything I Packed for Santa Fe Trip, My Packing List
This is the exact list of items I packed for my late April/Early May trip for 4 nights & 3 days in one personal bag.
* Indicate items that forgot but wished I packed, items that you may not need, or items I would swap out for if I were to pack for the trip again.
The Bags Lineup:
MB Packing Backpack: Packs the majority of my items
Victoria Tote: Packed inside the MB Backpack, I took this out to use as my day bag and brought two short jacquard straps to turn it into a backpack. During the day I use it to carry my water bottle, sun lotion, sun glasses, hat, portable charger, wallet, cardigan, and any souvenirs I pick up along the way.
Kelso Passport Pouch: wore as my belt bag / fanny pack at the airport and as a shoulder bag to dinner. Easy access for airport / plane necessities like ID, cards, cash, boarding pass / tickets, head phones, ear plugs, eye mask, mini bottle of hand sanitizer. One short jacquard strap to wear as a belt bag / fanny pack and short shoulder bag, then later added to Victoria Tote with a second one to turn it into a backpack.
- Phone & charger
- Portable battery
- * Laptop & charger, I had to for work, but you may skip this
- ID, Cards, Cash, Keys
- Ear plugs
- Eye mask
- Hand sanitizer
- Face masks
- Lip Balm
- * Hand lotion, so necessary in this dry climate, I used my friends' hand lotions!
- * Empty water bottle
- * Cameras, battery, SD cards / film, I enjoy using these items, but you may skip
- Sun glasses / glasses
- First aid kit & medications you need
Packing light layers is key for a comfortable trip. I suggest wearing all the heaviest clothing onto the plane (cardigan, jacket, largest pair of shoes), and using gallon ziplock bags or vacuum seal bags to compress the clothing for space efficiency.
Before the trip, I outlined each activity we planned to do and picked out outfits based on those plans. For us, this included more active wear for hiking and yoga, swim wear for the pool and spa, day dresses for shopping and exploring the town, and one nice evening dress for a special dinner. That way, you pack exactly what you need.
Tip: Choose clothing that you can mix and match and consider picking one color palette.
For the most part, casual dress is the norm here. You can pack a nicer outfit for a fancy dinner at Santa Fe's many wonderful restaurants or culture scenes at night. Some small streets are unpaved, uneven, or covered with loose gravel so maybe rethink any tall stilettos.
What Clothing to Pack for a Long Weekend in Santa Fe:
- 4 pairs of underwear
- 4 pairs of socks
- 2 sports bras
- 1 pair nipple covers (pack your preference)
- 3 T-shirts, for sleeping and active wear
- 2 leggings, one for airport, one for workouts/ hiking
- * 1 pair of shorts, sleeping / lounging
- 1 jacket
- * 1 medium weight cardigan, my friend packed one cardigan and skipped the jacket which was enough since we didn't stay out at night too much, would suggest this or a jean jacket for May and throughout summer.
- 1 cami
- 1 button short sleeve for layering
- 1 midi skirt
- 1 day dress
- * 1 dinner dress, I packed a fairly thick material dress that I loved, but a thinner material would be the more practical choice to save space
- * 2 bikinis, I like switching while they dry out & they don't take up much space, but feel free to bring 1 swimwear of your choice
- * 1 lightweight swim coverup
- 1 hat
- * 1 active shoes, for airport, hiking, workouts. I would consider just one pair of all purpose sandals you can hike in
- 1 walking sandals, daytime and dinner
- * 2 pairs of earrings, pack your preference
This is a completely personal choice of what body care items you'd like to have. Don't forget to check the sizes of your liquids, gels, and aerosols to be under 3.4 ounces or 100 milliliters.
Tip: This is the best time to use those sample products you always get with beauty purchases! I also like decanting products into smaller bottles / jars or even clean contact cases to save space.
Mini hair brush, hair ties/ accessories, travel sized razor with built in shave gel bars, deodorant, sunscreen for face & body, mouthwash (finished and disposed at end of trip), floss, toothpaste, toothbrush (I brought just the head of my electric toothbrush), makeup remover (small bottle with cotton pads or individually wrapped wipes), pads / tampons / feminine products as needed.
I just use whatever body wash, shampoo, conditioner and soap that the hotel provided.
Sample packs of cleansing face wash, serum, eye cream, and face lotion. I love saving these sample packs just for travel so I can use and dispose of at the end of the trip.
Small eyeshadow quad with blush, eye liner pencil, liquid eyeliner, eye lash curler, mascara, cream blush, small highlighter, concealer, tinted moisturizer
Glasses, extra contacts, contact solution, contact case. * Skip if you're blessed with perfect vision or had Lasik!
And there you go! I hope this post was helpful, and of course you can see everything packed as is in the video. If there is anything else you like to bring on your trip, I'd love to hear from you in a comment below.
Karin is the co-founder of Arden Cove and co-creator of the Anti-Theft Waterproof Crossbodies - bags created for women who want all the practicality and safety features without compromising in style. Shop ArdenCove.com.