The holidays might bring joyful times, but traveling to your destination is usually nothing to get happy about. Crowds, flight delays and the occasional lost bag or two add up to one big buzzkill. This season, things are looking particularly bleak with many airlines shrinking flight schedules. And those pesky bag fees can pile up when you’re dealing with winter gear and gifts.
So if you’re planning to travel by air to your holiday destination, get ready to get in your zen zone before you go. We asked a few experts for tips on smart holiday packing for a weekend, a week or a two-week trip.
Atlanta-based style consultant and frequent traveler Robanne Schulman suggests packing a pair of dark straight-leg jeans, a cardigan, lightweight T-shirts for layering, a jersey dress (women), nice slacks (men), one pair of flat boots (wear these to the airport), one pair of heels or dress shoes for men. Don’t forget standards like pajamas and underwear. Stick to one color scheme such as black or brown and only take along simple, less expensive jewelry. If you take the good stuff, don’t take it off. Ever! Wear an all-weather trench coat and scarf to the airport. Pack your items in a carry-on size rolling suitcase or a hanging bag. When packing your bag, place harder to wrinkle items like jeans on bottom. Tuck shoes along the sides, says Schulman.
Add a few more items to the above list such as cotton pants and turtlenecks or tops with a pop of color to break up the monotone look, Schulman said. You can also add a pair of flats depending on your itinerary. Put it all in a rolling suitcase, and pack smaller items such as lingerie, socks, etc., inside of shoes. It is also a good space-saving strategy to roll the thinner items, such as T-shirts. Make sure you pack enough clothing to give yourself a few options, but be ruthless. Over-packing was one of Schulman’s biggest mistakes. “That’s why I now just go with one color scheme,” she said.
Other travel tips: Schulman, who travels about once a month, swore she would never check another bag after her luggage was lost on consecutive trips. She keeps personal items in a giant tote that serves as her second carry-on. Fill it with a clutch purse, toiletries and other items such as a flat iron, extra shoes, etc.
Make sure your toiletries meet security standards by requesting samples of your favorite skincare and makeup when you buy your regular size products, Schulman said.
Rory Tahari, author of “Lists for Life,” (Simon and Schuster Adult, $19.99) offers an iPhone app with comprehensive packing lists (she even includes checklists for kids and a list of toiletries). For extended trips, her suggestions include the basics such as pajamas, underwear, socks and belts, as well as a cashmere blanket (1), jeans (3), long sleeve T-shirts (14), sweaters (3), nice outfits, tennis shoes, pants (5), raincoat, short sleeve T-shirts (8), and casual wear such as sweatpants. For trips to warmer destinations, don’t forget summer clothing such as shorts and sandals. For colder climates, pack a coat, glove, hat and scarf. Tahari uses her lists as a starting point to get her going, and then customizes them for each trip.
More holiday tips
● Weigh your luggage at home on a standard bathroom scale, then pack about 10 pounds under the known limit. Weight and size restrictions for luggage vary by airline as well as destination. Maximum bag weight can range from 50 to 100 pounds and fees vary.
● If you can, purchase holiday gifts upon arrival at your destination.
● If you decide to travel with your gifts, wrap expensive or fragile gifts in bubble wrap and carry them with you to make inspection easy. All other gifts should be packed in your luggage to make security check easier. Wait until you arrive at your destination to wrap your gifts.
● If you have a lot of gifts, ship them ahead. It might save you a lot of money (as well as your sanity).