Ahhh, the joys of holiday traveling! I am always intrigued by the negative relationship of holiday traveling to holiday cheer. In theory, we should all be bouncing around filled with Christmas joy. Set foot in an airport from December 22 – December 27 and the falseness of this statement will hit you in the face along with the woman in seat 16 F’s suitcase.

With the stress of overcrowded airports, impending family dynamics and gifting, traveling for the holidays is no easy task. I have often found myself staring at my two suitcases – the carry on size and my grossly larger roller which I faithfully refer to as Big Blue – and struggle with my choice of dealing with a serious lack of clothing for my trip or paying the fee for checked baggage. This year, I didn’t even question the decision, Big Blue and I are on our way to Florida for Christmas, but what is the most efficient way to pack my clothes, gifts and have room for my own Christmas loot?

Here are my essentials for a 5 day trip:

  • Two pairs of jeans – wear one, pack one. Try to choose a skinny/straight leg and a flare for some variety. 
  • Leggings and/or black pants. I have a great pair of black pants from Lucky Brand that are much nicer than leggings but just as comfortable, These are my go-to for my travels, they work with anything. J Crew’s Minnie pant is another great options. 
  • 1 “going-out top” – make it fun and flirty, but not anything skimpy so you can get double wear out of it for a nice dinner. Think fun prints, ruffles or embellishments. 
  • 1 classic button up in a fun color (if you go with a basic white, which is also a great option, make sure you pack some accessories that pop)
  • 1 great cardigan – I packed a basic black, mid-thigh length lightweight cardigan. It goes with anything and can dress a basic tank top up for a nice dinner. 
  • 1 wrap dress – any type/color/print wrap dress is your best friend. 99% of the time they are made of a fabric that won’t wrinkle, look great on every shape and can be dressed up or dressed down. 
  • 2 of your favorite tops – I packed a chambray button up from J Crew and a great basic lightweight sweater with lace detailing at the shoulders. 
  • In the winter, a pair of boots. Wear these on the plane. Sure, going through security and showing everyone how stylish your jeans look in your penguin socks can be a smidge daring, but I promise, you’ll get through it and be VERY happy you have the extra space in your suitcase!
  • 1 pair of great flats. I went with leopard print because the outfits I brought were mostly solid colors and the patterns I do have, I can wear with my brown boots. 
  • Toiletries – Hit up CVS or Target’s travel size section and get yourself shampoo, conditioner, hairspray, toothbrush and toothpaste. All other items are nonessential. I keep my toiletry bag stocked at all times so I never forget anything and don’t have to repack it every time I travel. Buy extras when you think of it and keep them under your bathroom sink. 
  • Jewelry – My love for jewelry rivals Elizabeth Taylor’s, but even I have to travel lightly with respect to baubles. Pick 2-3 statement necklaces; 1 pair of statement earrings; a great watch; 1 basic necklace, think gold chain with your initials or a simple silver necklace with a small gemstone; 2 pairs of basic stud earrings, cubic zirconia studs and fun, oversized pearl studs lend themselves to many outfits. 
  • Makeup – Keep it simple! Don’t switch up your routine too much, but don’t pack the 7 eyeshadows you keep in your makeup bag because you saw how to do a smokey eye in a magazine and wanted to try it but know you NEVER will – at least not on THIS vacation. Moisturizer, foundation, bronzer, blush, 2 eyeshadows, mascara and eyeliner. Done and done! Throw your favorite lip gloss or balm in your purse. 
Pack your gifts for others in your suitcase and then you’ll have room for the gifts you (hopefully) get in return!