Holiday traveling can definitely be a pain. Last year, going home for Christmas was a bit of a nightmare. Weather in New York was foggy, so mostly every flight was delayed. And…to say that O’Hare was busy would have been an understatement. Between the long security line, lack of open seats at the gates, and switching our flight at the last minute and dragging all of our stuff to another concourse…the whole thing was a hassle. Now that we’ve lived away from home for over a year and have traveled back and forth quite a bit, I think I am a much more seasoned traveler and this year, I feel a lot more prepared for the rush of the travel.
I am getting ready to pack up my stuff, which will be a little bit tricky since I’m going from Chicago to Connecticut and then from there to Florida, then back to Chicago (sounds like a lot, but to say that I’m excited is putting it mildly. EIGHT WHOLE DAYS WITH MY FAMILY!). Luckily, I’m a pretty good packer. Take a look at my best holiday travel tips for an easier and more painless and convenient travel experience this Christmas.
Call ahead – depending where you are going for the holidays, you may not need to bring as much as you think you do. I’m going to my parents house, where I still have lots of clothes and cosmetics, which cuts down on the stuff I actually need to bring with me on my trip. Sometimes I forget just what I left at home, so I’ll call or text my mom and ask her to check on certain things as I’m packing. If you’re going to a friend or family member’s house where you don’t have your own stuff, you can still see if they have certain items you can use – like toiletries – to cut down on the amount of items that need to be packed.
Send presents ahead of time – lugging presents for people on a plane can be a huge pain. This year, I tried to have as many presents that I ordered as possible shipped directly to Connecticut, and I sent everything else that isn’t fragile home this past week (if you live in a city, I highly recommend using the app Shyp to mail items – so convenient and very quick!). I know it kind of seems like a pain to ship things home, but I’d much rather pack the boxes (as opposed to an awkwardly shaped suitcase) and get them home in advanced, plus I’m pretty sure it was less expensive than checking a suitcase would have been! For the small fragile things that I have to bring home (namely a few ornaments), I am going to just stick those in my carry-on.
Be realistic and smart about what you pack – because I am only bringing a carry on bag and don’t want to worry about not having room to bring a few presents back to Chicago with me, I will be packing the bare bones. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t look cute while you’re on your trip! Before I even start packing, I make a physical list of each day I will be home and what I plan on wearing every day. I pick outfits that are simple and versatile, allowing me to re-wear items. Especially because I’ll be at my parents, I can wash clothes and re-wear them no problem. This definitely cuts down on the amount of outfits I need to pack and gives me a lot more room in my bag.
Dress in layers for the plane – especially during the winter, you may need to bring some bulky clothing items. To cut down on what needs to physically go in my bag, I wear my coat and scarf on the plane and am sure to dress in layers to save room in my bag. The airport and plane are always freezing anyways, so it’s a win-win.
TRAVEL MUST HAVES
I have blogged before about my favorite travel essentials, but wanted to do a quick section on them here, too.
Comfy shoes – I honestly will probably wear my classic Uggs on the plane ride home. They are warm and comfy, which is a must for traveling.
Jewelry pouch – this is something I always forget and then regret. When I’m traveling, my bracelets always set off the alarm in the security line and there’s always a time I want to take my rings off but not put them somewhere where I’ll forget about them and then leave them when I head home. These Lolo pouches make the perfect jewelry pouches – I keep them in my gym and work bags and love bringing them for travel because they’re small but sturdy and can fit a lot.
Travel blanket/blanket scarf – last year when we went home for Christmas, I specifically remember the airport being freezing cold (despite the thousands of people there). I hate being cold, so I am always sure to bring a travel blanket with me when I’m going to be on a plane (typically, I just get a baby blanket at Marshall’s because it’s the perfect size). The great thing about the winter is that a blanket scarf is big enough to serve as warmth on the plane.
Listerine strips – I have these in every purse and bag I own, and I definitely bring them when me for traveling. Whenever I take them out, people are like, “I haven’t seen those in forever!” – but they totally work at freshening your breath and clearing weird tastes out of your mouth.
Mophie power pack – especially during plane delays or a long travel, I keep my Mophie Power Pack on hand to recharge my phone as needed. Traveling with a dead phone sounds like a death sentence, if you ask me.
Reusable to-go bags – even on my last trip to Florida in November, my mom and I did so much shopping (woops!) that I ended up packing a to-go bag in addition to my carry-on on the way back to Chicago. I always keep one of them in my travel bag, and it’s especially useful around the holidays when you may end up bringing home presents you received.
Extra holiday cards – just in case you ended up forgetting a gift for someone or need something extra, it’s useful to toss some generic holiday cards in your bag. Then you have them if you need them and won’t end up scrounging around for them.