With the holidays quickly approaching, many of us are getting ready for time away from home, either to visit family and friends or for some much-deserved vacation after a busy year. To help prepare for the journey, I called on my pal, Laura Sawyier – fashion consultant, style expert, and confidence coach – for tips on smart packing for holiday travel.
1. Carry-On Only
Whether you’re taking trains, planes or automobiles, keep your luggage light this season and stick with a carry-on roller plus one personal item. You don’t need as much as you may think for holiday trips (aka, let’s let the days of overpacking be bygone). For air travel, in particular, more and more people are moving to carry-on only luggage to avoid baggage claim waits or, worse, lost or mishandled checked luggage.
Over the summer, Laura helped a client pack for a two-week trip throughout Europe – all in a carry-on roller – and she had everything she needed while still feeling good about her clothing and accessories assortment. She went from cool weather in Switzerland to seasonably high heat in Rome during this trip. Yes, all in a carry-on. If you have access to laundry, use it (that’s why it’s there). If not, no big deal; utilize a travel-sized refresh spray, wrinkle releaser, and handwash in the sink or tub and let your clothing air dry overnight.
A carry-on will inevitably get you thinking more efficiently when it comes to what you put inside.
Laura’s carry-on roller picks: PARAVEL Aviator Carry-On Plus + TUMI Alpha International Expandable 4 Wheeled Carry-On
2. Think Technically
Whether technical fabrics to actual tech and accessories, it’s not about life-hacking as much as it is about ensuring you’re comfortable and have what you need readily available while en route to your destination. Wear layers on the plane if it’s cold, especially if you’re heading into a wintery spot. Down puffer vests and jackets are great for layering and highly lightweight – their surface area in luggage is designed to be minimal. And whether in the car or the air, cotton, merino or cashmere wrap, or travel blanket is the item you might be wishing for when you need it the most. Don’t forget the eye mask for travel and restful nights upon arrival.
From the actual tech accessory side, be sure to have cords and chargers on hand. With the amount of time we spend on our phones and devices, it’s easy to drain them during long days. Keep organized with your assortment of cords, chargers, and adapters so you can readily reach for the necessary items. No one likes rummaging through their bag in a contorted position as a red, near-empty charger image illuminates your screens.
3. Create a Capsule
Start by looking at your schedule or itinerary to guide your selection of clothing, shoes, accessories, and the overall assortment. From there, build out a capsule wardrobe and add 3-4 unique pieces to make it more personal to your aesthetic – a statement dress or blazer that you can wear with sneakers and dress shoes, a beautiful scarf or cape, and a fun yet versatile day-to-evening bag.
Build upon a color scheme that works interchangeably together. The goal is to mix and match tops and bottoms to create new looks with the same ingredients you’ve packed, which is why color can play a crucial role in capsules. Neutrals are an excellent starting place – black, white, tan, navy, and gray. Olive green and burgundy also act as neutrals if you want more color variety in your basics. And stay away from too many delicate materials for travel – focus on items that don’t hold sweat, fragrances, or body odors and can be washed or refreshed easily (cotton, polyester, nylon, cashmere, merino).
You should also pare down to shoes that can check multiple boxes and work for a mix of casual, comfortable, and the occasional dressy or elevated situation. For instance, if you are going to consider wearing a pair of heels one-time on a seven-day trip, maybe opt instead for a bootie or loafer that can be dressed up or down.
Laura went on to suggest that your itinerary can act as a structure to inspire mixing and matching. Laying out outfits in preparation and writing them down or photographing them is just as important as your dinner reservation if you want to reduce outfit stress before and during your travels.
Though this must be a conscientious effort in advance of your trip, the extra time spent on the front end will allow you to enjoy your travels and be fully present. Here’s to efficient packing, safe travels, and a happy holiday season!