When Nazani Karakashian, single and 21 years old, prepares to spend a night with a man she’s dating, she packs her Gucci duffel bag with products like soaps, deodorant and perfume. And extra outfits and cute pajamas. And her flat iron and toothbrush. And her Hydro Flask bottle and fluffy slippers. And sometimes a fruit bowl to snack on.

While Ms. Karakashian considers herself “an over packer,” she stops short of bringing things like her nose tape or red light face mask, despite wanting to.

A “spend the night” bag is for necessary essentials — things you bring to a partner’s home to ensure that you’ll look and feel your best in the morning. But what those bags look like depends on your level of spontaneity and need for comfort. What someone packs in their bag depends on many things, like the person they’re with, the status of the relationship and the length of the visit. For some couples, it represents the progress of a relationship. It could be as simple as a small pouch of toiletries that stays with you all the time, or be a larger tote, for planned romantic sleepovers.

One 26-year-old man in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn said that if he’s spending the night with a woman, what he brings doesn’t stretch beyond the bare essentials (like his wallet and keys) and “obviously condoms.”

“If it’s a more consistent thing, I might graduate to a drawstring bag, maybe a change of clothes or deodorant,” he said. When a woman brings a large overnight bag to his place early into dating, he added, he gets suspicious that she might be plotting something serious.

“It’s like they’re on a mission,” he added.

What you leave behind at your partner’s place matters, too. Ms. Karakashian recalled accidentally leaving a pair of earrings at a guy’s place.

“I guess he had a girlfriend, so it kind of started something,” she said, adding that she didn’t know he was in a relationship before they got together. “So whatever you pack in your overnight bag, make sure it goes back in your overnight bag.”

For Brianna Giannelli, a pre-med student at Binghamton University in New York, packing essentials in her large pink Telfar bag has become a regular occurrence while in her four-and-a-half-year relationship with her boyfriend. Because of this, she brings pretty much whatever she needs, but it wasn’t always this way.

“I do a lot of social media, so I always bring my iPad and my laptop,” she said. “But I when we first started dating, I would tend to leave those items behind.”

After asking my group chat of friends to share some of the things they’ve brought with them to a lover’s home, one admitted that she once packed a pillow because the man she was with had pillows that she described as “stone tablets.” Another friend said she once brought a seven-quart Dutch oven because she prefers to cook in her own pots.

Jordan Character is a natural health specialist in Los Angeles, so when he’s staying at a woman’s home, he brings a change of underwear, socks and an assortment of natural hygiene products that include fluoride-free toothpaste, shea butter and natural soap (“I’m definitely not washing my body with Dove”). He usually carries psychedelic mushrooms and essential oils on him, so that’s coming, too.

“I bring my own water as well,” he said, adding that it’s alkaline. “I’m not trying to get caught up drinking tap water, bro.”

He also brings all-natural lube and non-latex condoms: “I just bring one because I don’t want to seem like I’m there just for that.”

Josh Chou, a 23-year-old mental health clinic coordinator living in Los Angeles, usually packs skin care items like moisturizer and sunscreen because he doesn’t “trust” other people’s products. The first time his ex-boyfriend spent the night with him, however, he brought over two “huge” trash bags full of stuff. Mr. Chou was understandably surprised.

According to his ex, Derick Polanco, 25, he was running late and decided to throw his things in Hefty bags: “At the time, I don’t know what it was, I was rushing and the Uber was there and I didn’t really think to get the luggage.”

After giving it some thought, this became a way to test Mr. Chou. Initially, he worried that it would look weird to arrive like this, but after a quick call to his best friend, he was advised that if the guy laughs at him, then he isn’t a keeper. Thankfully for Mr. Polanco, Mr. Chou wasn’t fazed.

Mr. Polanco said he gets anxious and likes to be “prepared for any situation.” So he packed about four outfits — including at least three pants, four tops, a light jacket in case the weather changes and a bunch of bath products. Although he was supposed to leave the next morning, he ended up staying for the weekend.


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