Packing tips for holiday travel

By Jeanine Hanson Lewis

We have all experienced the stress of last-minute packing, taking too much, yet forgetting something important. Once, in my haste, I packed for a camping trip and had everything except the jacket I really needed! Whether you are headed out for the holidays visiting family or your favorite vacation destination, thoughtful planning can make the difference between a successful, relaxing trip, and one filled with stress.

Use a packing list
If you are a frequent traveler you have probably created a list of your travel essentials. If not, a good place to begin is the internet, where you can find free templates of packing lists for any type of travel. Print the list that is most useful to you and customize it to meet your needs.

Just remember that many things can be borrowed or purchased at your destination, and family, friends and hotels can usually provide things like a hair dryer or toiletries. Take sample sizes for backup. For long-term travel it is often smarter to purchase these items at your destination. It can be a delight to try similar products from another country. A hair dryer purchased locally insures it works in a foreign country.

Pack early
Start packing as early as possible. Then a day or two before closing up your suitcase, edit, edit and edit. Keep your check list as an inventory of contents as this is useful if a suitcase is lost. For extra insurance take a few photographs of the suitcase and of its contents.

Pack light
Unless your plans include mixing with the rich and famous, you can probably get away with wearing clothing multiple times in the same week. Wash-and-wear items are ideal for warmer climates. For cooler destinations consider wash-and-wear items under warmer clothing.

Send packages ahead
For domestic travel, reduce your stress by sending holiday gifts ahead of you by FedEx, UPS or USPS. Often the local offices of these carriers will hold your package for pick up when you arrive.

Important documents

Just like “the three laws of computers – back-up, back-up, back-up,” make photo copies of your important documents, i.e. passport, driver’s license, credit cards and contact information. Keep one set of copies with you, and leave a second set at home with a friend or family member.

Early in my travels I was fortunate to visit Europe for a three-month stay. The first month I lugged around three suitcases, just to be sure I had everything I might need. The second month I reduced my load to one suitcase, and the last month I traveled with just a tote bag consisting of one change of clothing, and my guide book. Traveling light gave me the freedom to wander, take public transportation, and move about easily, without returning to fetch my heavy suitcase from a hotel. I experienced more, while spending less than I had the first two months of my visit.

Traveling light gives you freedom and reduces your stress. Remember, clothing and sundries are available at most destinations. It is easier to keep your attention on what is most important if you are managing fewer bags. So start packing early and have a wonderful trip!


Jeanine Hanson Lewis, owner of The Organizers, has been helping clients clear clutter, organize, feng shui and redecorate their homes, using what they already own, since 1993. Jeanine has been traveling and studying home environments across the globe. She holds a B.A. in Art from UW, is a graduate of The Western School of Feng Shui, San Diego, a member of the Interior Redecorators Network (IRN), New York City, and member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). Jeanine was previously an owner of the Ovens of Brittany restaurants and bakeries for 20 years.

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 Published in Nature’s Pathways Magazine, December 2014