How to Pack for the Holidays

’Tis the season for family, holiday cheer, and, well, stress.

Keep it Together

Traveling for the holidays? Exciting! Packing for the holidays? Not so much. And while packing is often listed as a dreaded task, we found some ways to make it a whole lot easier. Here’s a quick and easy guide to get you packed and ready to go.

Stay one step ahead. Start planning about a week in advance.

About a week before your trip, start making two lists: everything you need for your trip (including gifts!) and everything you need in-flight. Starting ahead of time helps reduce the last-minute scramble.

There are many generic packing lists available for download, but we recommend creating one based on your calendar and your needs. It’s your holiday trip, and every list will be different.

Carry-on woes begone. How to pack the most important travel bag.

Your personal item, usually a backpack or tote, should contain everything you will need on the plane. It’s quite common to have to check your carry-on suitcase at the gate. Keeping everything on your in-flight list in your backpack or tote reduces the risk of an at-the-gate repack. This is also where you should keep all your valuables, so there’s no chance you’ll get separated from them.

We recommend packing a small selection of toiletries, vitamins, and a change of clothes in your personal item. If you’re on a long flight or your luggage takes a vacation without you, you’ll be grateful for the forethought. Consider bringing pain relievers, chapstick, earplugs, headphones, and snacks.

For entertainment, load your laptop with downloaded movies or tv before take-off so you don’t have to worry about wifi. On a second electronic device, do the same for your kids so you guys can both watch. This will come in handy if your flight is delayed or cancelled and you end up stuck in the airport.

The personal item is a perfect opportunity to use Adero. Place a Smart Tag on your tote or backpack, and attach Taglets to the things that go inside and we’ll help make sure this bag is good to go.

When packing this bag, don’t forget to consider the order in which you pack your items as well. Pack your liquids, laptop, boarding pass, and identification last so they will be at the top of your bag for easy access at TSA.

Pack it up. Time to put it in the bag.

Now let’s actually start putting your stuff in your suitcase. Think of packing like a big game of Tetris; you want to make sure all the items fit as tightly as possible.

Take everything you think you need and lay it on your bed. When you think you have everything, start eliminating items. A good guide is the 5-4-3-2-1 rule. Per week of travel, pack 5 tops, 4 bottoms, 3 shoes, 2 dresses, and 1 swimsuit or coat depending on climate. This rule can be customized based on needs and preferences; it’s just a guide. Look for versatility in your items. The idea is to eliminate as much luggage as you can, hopefully you can get rid of about a third.

Whether you’re checking a bag or just bringing a carry-on, try to use the smallest suitcase possible. The more space you have, the more stuff you’ll bring, and eliminating the space at the upfront helps reduce the chances of overpacking. For many trips, you will only need a carry-on suitcase.

Think of packing like a big game of Tetris; you want to make sure all the items fit as tightly as possible.

The first thing you put in the bag should be shoes. Stuff socks or underwear into your shoes to maximize space, then pack heel to toe.

For t-shirts, jeans, swimsuits, and other casual clothing, roll into tight balls. Fill the space between the shoes and create an even base layer.

Next comes the items like dresses, skirts, slacks, and collared shirts–items that need special attention to avoid wrinkling. These items are folded, then neatly placed into a layer. Once these are packed, use a dry cleaning bag to eliminate the extra space and keep the folded items wrinkle free. If you don’t have a dry-cleaning bag, try a plastic trash bag. You can use this to hold your dirty laundry on return.

Even if you are checking a bag, using travel-size toiletries is advisable to eliminate empty space in the bottles themselves. Double bag toiletries to avoid drenching your entire wardrobe in shampoo. For vitamins and medications, count out the supply you’ll need and put into a plastic bag. Pack toiletries and medicines in a side or top pocket.

For the organization obsessed (read: us), packing cubes are to travel as a cold drink is to a hot summer day (a.k.a. AMAZING). Packing cubes essentially function as drawers for your suitcase by grouping like items together. When packing with cubes, we still recommend rolling your clothes. Then, play your packing puzzle by placing the larger items on the bottom and smaller ones on the top.

The holidays present an additional packing challenge: presents.

Forgetting something? Oh right, the gifts! Traveling at the holidays presents an additional packing challenge. The easiest option is to ship the gifts directly to where you’ll be spending the holidays, but sometimes that just isn’t doable.

Eliminate any unnecessary bulk. Sure, you don’t want to take the gift out of its packaging, but get it to the smallest possible state. Do not wrap your gifts before traveling. TSA may unwrap them, and they aren’t exactly known for their rewrapping skills.

For fragile items, wrap with soft clothing items like sweaters and t-shirts. These items should be in the middle layer. Items that are flat, heavy, and durable such as books can be placed at the bottom next to shoes to build the base layer. If they don’t fit alongside the shoes, use the top pocket.

Ready for lift-off? We think so. Wishing you safe travels and happy holidays.