This holiday season, I took the opportunity to visit out of state family for a couple of weeks. While I absolutely love working for myself and being able to have the flexibility to do this, I admit I stressed about packing for my trip. In a very uncharacteristic move, I actually stayed up until 3AM the day before (day of?) because I just kept putting it off. With no set itinerary and varying temps, I was mainly overwhelmed by the different types of clothes to bring and how to fit it all in. Just like with everything else, the answers are always already in your own noggin. All you have to do is use it!
The most important thing to remember is that while you won’t be home, everything in your bags should have one. The idea is that once you get to your destination, you don’t have to scramble looking for what you need but, rather, know exactly where it is. Here, I will break down where I keep everything in my suitcase and how I find best to pack. So, if you have the pleasure of traveling for the holidays, hopefully these tips will help you avoid unnecessary 3AM stress. To grandmother's house we go (quite literally for me)...
Wrapped in swaddling clothes
A trick that I’ve found to be super helpful is to pick a color scheme and run with it. Although I’m in sunny Florida, it is still winter time so I stuck with lighter fabrics in neutral colors. This way you can mix and match and get more use out of less items. I’m fortunate to have access to a washer/dryer so I scaled my workout clothes and PJs to just a few of each knowing I can wash and rewear. If you’re in a hotel and not in the mood to pay for their dry cleaning services for your yoga pants, try using Tide sink packets to get extra wears out of your clothes.
The next best trick? Suitcase specific space bags! Use them for the smaller items - tanks and tees, jammies, shorts, bathing suits - and simply press down to flatten em out. Lastly, for my underwear, I use a zippered wash/wear bag I found years ago in the Gap that I swear by. There’s a superrr cute Kate Spade version available right now at Saks!
Layering your stuffs is important as well. Place your shoes on the bottom and any hats in the middle (my Nikes are actually hidden under the hats). Socks are rolled up and lined up in the small inside pocket. Then in goes the space bags alongside some bulkier clothes, presents (if you have), and undies leaving a little room so your hats don’t get squished.
Everyone’s gotta accessorize, especially if you’re sticking with a neutral wardrobe. Use the front inside pockets of your suitcase to house belts, scarves, and small bags. The top zippered mesh pockets hold my jewelry with each category - necklaces, earrings, and bracelets - separated into three Kate Spade drawstring bags (which come free whenever you buy a piece of jewelry). If you’re headed somewhere warm - or are like me and can wear flops no matter the temperature - stick a couple pairs vertically in the front pocket of the suitcase.
Stash your sleigh with looks to slay
I randomly found this weekender bag by Kestrel at Saks off 5th but there are similar ones everywhere, such as this one from Ulta. They’re big enough to hold all of your toiletries and keep them from spilling. Divide the sides into categories, for instance, your hair and shower products on one and skincare on the other. There’s also a slim middle section that can hold items such as a comb, tweezers, and Q tips. For dudes, you usually have much less products to work with (lucky ducks) so one small zippered bag like this is perfect.
What about hair tools? Well, I’m half lazy and usually air dry my hair so no blow dryer needed. If it’s a must for you, most hotels have one in the room, you can borrow from friends or family if you’re staying with them, or there are plenty of travel sized options. I guess I gotta look good at some point so I bring this little gem - a mini two in one curling and flat iron. Jet.com has one on sale for 17 bucks right now!
For those makeup obsessed, use a smaller cosmetic bag (many toiletry bags have matching counterparts) and use as many multi purpose and trial size products as you possibly can. Almost all name brands carry mini versions of your favorite products so you don’t have any excuse to be lugging around full size bottles. If you’re flying, this especially becomes so important and if all of your liquid makeup is under 3.4 ounces, you can carry it on (great for in flight touch ups!).
Pack full of misfit toys
Speaking of carry ons, for all other items, I bring a decent sized Longchamp bag with me as I can manipulate the material a bit to fit under the seat. In addition to makeup, I like to bring a ziploc bag of Emergen C, asprin, and Zicam swabs. I purchased a larger than necessary laptop case so I can also slide in a book and my planner. My glasses and any electronics - headphones, portable charger, etc. - are contained to a see through zippered case. Lastly, the small inside pocket is where I keep the important stuff such as a credit card/cash/ID holder, boarding pass if I don’t do it electronically (most airlines have an app now), a pen (crucial for international flights when you have to fill out the customs slip), and chapstick. Yes, chapstick is v important.
Phew! After all that packing, you deserve a vacation. You'll arrive at your destination much more relaxed if you take a simple approach to the packing process and only bring what you truly need and will use once you're there. Also, try to leave a little bit of space, especially this time of year, for any special gifts you may be bringing home. Just remember, Kevin stressed about packing his suitcase and he didn't even get to go to Paris! Plan, pack, and enjoy wherever you're headed this Christmas.