I've been making frequent trips to New York City on weekends. I find that packing for an overnight visit is quite a challenging task. For starters, even if you went on a week vacation (vs. only one day) there is a certain "fixed" amount of things you have to bring with you... namely toiletries, which take up not an insignificant amount of room.
I have gotten fairly good at packing only the necessities. I also do a good job of bringing only the homework I will realistically get done. One time I lugged around a heavy textbook and I never cracked it open. Now, I load my iPad with all the PDF readings I might need and generally leave everything else behind.
Is packing considered a form of art? I think it should be!
Of course, suitcases are definitely the easiest things to use while traveling, but they only make sense when you're gone for a while and/or need to actually bring a lot of stuff. Bulky duffel bags seems like a good idea, but they always end up being to heavy. (If I have the room, I will pack more stuff than I need.)
The next best thing for quick and easy trips? Weekenders!!!
My large Longchamp is my go-to weekender bag. It zips shut, fits the necessities, and is easily thrown over the shoulder. It's surprisingly durable and doesn't show dirt... so I'm a-okay throwing it on the floor/ground wherever I end up.
This Cross Continent Weekender from Anthropologie is super cute. I like how you have the option to have the handles (for lighter loads) or the shoulder straps. You could bring this on your trip, unpack in the hotel, and use during the day as a tote to carry around the city! Two Birds, One Stone. #win
Obviously, I'm a sucker for plaid. The reviews for this Urban Outfitter's weekender describe how large it is and how much it can fit! Definitely a good option for overnighters.
Even though it's not as sophisticated, the Vera Bradley bags are always a classic for getaways. I think just about every girl in my high school had a duffel for sleepovers! I like this updated version.
If you need a little bit more room and want to go for a classic/retro look, try this duffel from L.L. Bean Signature. It comes in a few colors, but I'm fan of the red!
This brown leather Madewell tote is also a great travel companion. While it may not be big enough to carry all of your things, I recommend carrying it as a second bag. You can bring the extra homework or that pair of shoes you think you might want to wear.