Maybe you are going home for Christmas, maybe you are going to visit in-laws, or maybe you are just going somewhere warm! In any case, if you are travelling during the holiday season, it is best that you start preparing 1-2 weeks before you actually leave. It might seem early but with how busy the holiday season is, you probably won’t be able to take huge chunks of time to gather and organise what you need, in addition to stopping at the store for anything you might need. This guide will help you streamline your holiday packing!
This guide is mostly for air travellers, though it is applicable to anyone driving/on the train, as well. I firmly believe that unless it truly is a short term trip (five days or less), you should check a bag. We’ve all been planes where you have to make a connection but every second person has brought their entire life in their carry-on and you have missed your connection because you couldn’t get off the plane in time because it took all of those people four minutes apiece to locate their giant carry-on and shimmy it out of the overhead compartment. I personally am a big advocate of mentally including the price of a checked bag in your flight cost. $40 USD total will save you and the rest of us a lot of grief.
1. Check Your Dates/Times
Double and triple check the times and dates of every flight you have- confirm it on your email itinerary and on the airline website itself. Write down specifically what time you need to be at the airport (allowing for long security lines and craziness) and what time you will need to leave to get to the airport in time for that.
Also confirm any events or outings on your trip, and if you will need specific clothing or items for it. A cocktail dress, a bathing suit, athletic clothing, make note of anything you might need now!
2. Determine What Clothing You Will Need
I usually like to bring a top for every day of my trip plus an extra (if I’m not doing laundry on the trip). I typically go with two cardigans for layering, a sweater for colder weather, a pair of jeans, and two to three pairs of leggings. Confirm any events or outings on your trip, and if you will need specific clothing or items for it. A cocktail dress, a bathing suit, athletic clothing, make note of anything you might need now!
3. Make a List of Toiletries You Will Need
Unless you have oodles of extra space in your luggage, you are probably going to need travel sized toiletries. Make sure you have shampoo, conditioner, soap/bodywash, facial cleaner, dry shampoo, toothpaste, tooth brush, and floss. Yes, you can buy these things wherever you are, but as someone who has had to buy toiletries due to lost luggage, it can actually get very expensive to do that multiple times. I would recommend buying smaller reusable bottles that you can refill for each trip!
4. What Goes in the Carry-On?
After having multiple luggage mishaps, I have a set system of what needs to be in my carry-on. My carry-on usually consists of a small tote bag and backpack that can both fit underneath the seat in front of me. I would recommend having 3-4 days worth of clothing between your carry-on and your person. For me it’s usually:
-two pairs of leggings (one worn, one packed)
-four shirts (one worn, three packed)
-one black cardigan (worn)
-one hoodie (worn)
-one Lululemon Vinyasa scarf (worn)
-five pairs of underwear and socks
Would I be at my most fashionable with these clothes? Nope, but I will look somewhat put together and I could last for a week plus doing laundry once without buying more clothing…
5. Finish All Errands Five Days Prior to Leaving
All of us are crazy busy during the holidays, and last minute get-togethers, meals, and run-ins happen constantly on top of everything that has planned. Make a list of everything you need to buy or have done (ie. dry cleaning, shoe repair), and have it done at least five days before you leave. If you leave anything you need to the last minute, you may not actually get it (shoe repair shop closes before you can get there) or you may end up paying far more than necessary because that store is your only option left. Save yourself the hassle and get it done now!
6. Finish Packing Two Days Prior
Finish all packing a minimum of two days before leaving. Make sure that everything fits into your suitcase(s), that nothing is overweight, and that you have left enough space for any shopping you might do on your trip. If you are anything like me, you will decide to repack everything the night before, but if I’ve completely packed everything and fit it like a winning Tetris game, it squashes any wish to re-tool my luggage. Plus, getting a half-decent night of sleep before travelling will only help you, and staying up until 3am packing won’t do that.
(I don’t have a spreadsheet of a list of clothing on hand… if you would like one, leave a comment and I will rustle one up for you 🙂 )
7. Keep a Detailed List of Items
If you have time, I would make a detailed list of every item that you are bringing- name and time of item, store, colour, size, price. This will be immensely helpful if your luggage is lost. Most airlines have a set amount allotted for lost luggage but the more information you have on hand, the better off you will be! (Ditto for insurance purposes.) I would recommend making one large spreadsheet with all of your items when you have a few hours free, and then you will only need to copy and paste over what you brought on that particular trip!
How early do you start packing for holiday travel? What are your packing tips?