Home Forums Vacation and Travel Packing for Holiday Travel

This topic contains 49 replies, has 19 voices, and was last updated by  Irulan 7 years, 4 months ago.

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  • #159570

    Irulan
    Member

    Various threads have popped up about the wonders of one-bag travel, and I thought I’d revisit the topic now that (US) Thanksgiving and Christmas are approaching. If you’re planning to travel this season, what’s one new thing that you’re doing this time around, or one old thing that you’re not doing?

    This year, I’ve switched from a 20″ rollaboard to a small duffel bag. I’m a relatively petite woman, and one of my travel rules is that I have to be able to carry and lift my own bags into airplane luggage compartments. Duffels and soft-sided bags are a lot easier for me on that front.

  • #196348

    Ella
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    If it’s cold-weather travel, I wear my bulkiest clothes and heaviest boots aboard the plane. I like duffels or other soft bags for overhead bins – unlike a sturdier bag, a soft duffel doesn’t crack my head as I pull it down. I’m short (5’3″) so I can usually get a tall man to lift it up for me. If I’m in a window seat, I keep the bag down with me and use it as a foot rest. Another plus for window seating is that I can take off my bulky sweater and scarf, roll them up, and use them as cushions against the window side. My coat or jacket becomes a lap blanket.

  • #196350

    ninakk
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    I am fairly tall and semi strong for a woman. Unfortunately I am also persistent when I should not be; a 20-23 kg travel bag swung over my back and carried up the stairs of six unusually high storeys (no elevator) on numerous occasions has led me to have a spot in my back between the spine and right shoulder blade that never heals; it is like something has been ripped off or out. Stupid. A good bag as well as healthy lifting habits are key to pleasant travelling.

  • #196351

    bandicoot
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    i’ve got no holiday travel plans, but i love one bag travel and i’ll be watching this topic with interest.

    ninakk, i have the same permanently damaged feeling spot in the same place on my own back.
    after years of pain, i got a great suggestion from a physio: relax and lossen the thoracic spine.
    to do this, i simply use a yoga roller (a kind of super dense foam tube) and a pair of tennis balls taped together.
    i roll the top half of my spine over the roller and let it rest at various points.
    plenty of cracking and release accompanies this stage.
    then i get the taped-together tennis balls and position then them up and down my spine (one tennis ball digging into the muscle on either side of the spine) and relax completely onto them, then use my arms to increase the stretch.
    if you google bakballs, you’ll see techniques illustrated.
    i am not miraculously healed, but i am a LOT more comfortable.

  • #196352

    Irulan
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    Sorry to hear about your back, ninakk. I was thinking more along the lines of Ella’s head-cracking issue when I mentioned soft bags. Yikes.

    How does wearing the bulky clothes affect your movement through security, Ella? I wear slip on shoes and less bulky clothes because I find those more comfortable when I’m trying to pull my bag and take off my stuff at the same time. That could also be because I’m clumsy 😉

    I do make it a point to pack the least bulky clothes that are still weather appropriate rather than have to fight with bulky sweaters or have to explain leggings under my pants to the TSA people.

  • #196353

    Ella
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    I’ve never had security people make me remove any of my clothes beyond my shoes (except once when I was strip-searched in Cairo in the 1970s, but that’s another story…). Boots are zippered, so that’s easy.

  • #196355

    Anonymous

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    I would not be carrying books or photos to show family pictures. I can use my IPod Touch to entertain myself with Audio or digital books and music and can also load pictures on it to share with family.

  • #196360

    luxcat
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    I recently switched from my super light weight roll-aboard to a much smaller soft over-the-shoulder bag. I find that I pack less and do just fine for up to about 4-5 days in a moderate climate where layers suffice to keep me warm. I recently had great success traveling on a business trip (3 days total, 1 day travel only 2 days requiring business casual kit, the last day of business travel clothing to be worn on plane home that night) with:

    *one pair black Lucy pants, grey t-shirt, black cardigan, large scarf, slip-on comfortable dress shoes
    *one pair black dress pants (rolled carefully so no wrinkle), red silk sweater, same cardigan, same shoes
    *one pair black dress pants with stretchy waist (to make 4 hour flight comfy), short sleeved dressy top, black cardigan, necklace, same shoes
    *I tossed one dressy/evening wear top and a pair of heels in there in case of unexpected evening event
    *one set microfiber pjs
    *undies, stockings
    *one TSA approved plastic bag of (toothpaste, good moisturizer, foundation, toner, mascara, lipstick x2 (one light for day one dark for night), mini hand cream, hair gel, eyeshadow, under-eye concealer, small packet hair conditioner)
    *one 4″x2″x8″ waterproof bag of misc hygiene stuff (can post the list if anyone cares to see it) including earplugs, flashlight, granola bars
    *one large handbag with my iPad, phone, chargers, notebook and materials needed for business trip as well as my wallet and such.

    I didn’t even fill the bag, had plenty of room left. I was absurdly pleased when the taxi driver said “oh, you travel light” when I hopped in to get to the airport on the way home.

    DH and I are off on a new adventure for five days this Xmas (New Orleans) and I’ll have to decide if I can go with the small bag or break out my rollaboard carry on. The problem is that I will need two outfits a day- one day one night- which I usually don’t have to plan for on business trips (the majority of my travel).

  • #196397

    pkilmain
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    We are going to Hawaii for 3 weeks right after the first of the year. I think we will take one regulat suitcasefor the two of us, mainly because we both have swim fins, snorkels and masks, which take up too much room in a carry-on. We are at a level in our mileage plan where baggagefees are waived, and Kona is such a small airport that baggage comes out quickly. Otherwise packing is light – loce tropical vacations. We leave our Alaska winter gear in the car for our return.

  • #196441

    Robin
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    This year my one new rule is that I’m not bringing an extra set of “fancy” winter boots when I’m traveling. When it’s cold enough that you’re wearing ugly waterproof boots, nobody cares what they look like. Indoors you’re in stocking feet anyway.

  • #196452

    BreakingFree
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    I am lucky to live less than 200 miles from my family, so I do not travel light for those trips, although it would probably do me some good to try to travel lighter. <sigh> I sometimes have my trunk packed with stuff I am decluttering for my Mom and sister to look through before it goes to Goodwill. Then I bring my small softside suitcase (carry-on sized), laptop case, and purse.

    I do try to travel light for plane trips, though. I use the same small suitcase (purchased before wheels were the norm) and put the laptop in a smaller case inside that, then pack an empty tote to use as an everyday bag. I carry a small bag with stuff like wallet, kindle, ipod, etc. I try to use the same black slip-on shoes and switch slacks/jeans every other day. I bring along a small packet of detergent in case I need to wash something in the sink. I once packed too little for a week-long trip (I thought I would have access to a washing machine) and felt less than fresh by the end of that trip, despite a daily shower. :-/

    This works for me since I do not travel much, but if I did I would invest in a good small wheeled bag. If I traveled by plane for the holidays, I would shop online and have things shipped to my destination, or rely on gift cards.

  • #196456

    Irulan
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    Laetitia, I think carry-on size (max 22″ high) is a realistic limit unless you have specialty items, like baby gear or pkilmain’s snorkel stuff.

    I agree that traveling by car does not have the same “packing light” imperative as traveling by plane or train, BreakingFree. I still use a small suitcase, but I’m much more likely to take advantage of the trunk and bring a cooler, travel pillows, etc.

    One small thing we do that is a huge help is to keep some toiletries at my parents’ house (driving distance) and my in-law’s house (plane distance). We don’t have to pack toiletries and we don’t have to buy any when we’re there. If we run out, we just use whatever they have.

  • #196458

    bandicoot
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    luxcat, i know that feeling.
    i came through customs and quarantine at 3am one night in august, with my one small bag and pulled out a handful of vanilla beansto declare.
    the inspector goggled at my single small bag, then surveyed the room full of people opening enormous suitcases piled high on trolleys and asked me, is that really ALL you have?

  • #196542

    Rosa
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    What about winter travel? My son’s coat, snow pants, gloves & boots fill nearly his entire (slightly smaller than regular) carryon bag.

    I wish it were possible to cheaply rent a locker at our airport. I know they don’t allow it for security concerns, but the choice of getting home to -10 weather and no coats, or taking Minnesota gear to Arizona and back really sucks.

  • #196552

    irishbell
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    Layering a few shirts, a short sleeved t and a couple long sleeved shirts over that,
    usually suffices for us when we’ve travelled from warm climes back to MI in the winter.

  • #196562

    pkilmain
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    Rosa – we face the same issues. We leave winter gear either in the car (if it’s parked at the airport) or have whoever is picking us up bring it with them. Not 100% perfect, and I often do stick a hat and gloves in my luggage.

  • #196565

    Irulan
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    @Rosa: Can you pack one of those space bags? You could put the coat and pants in the bag once you get to the airport, and then roll up the bag to get the air out before you put it in your suitcase.

    I tried that one Christmas so that I’d have enough room in my bag to bring some presents. It worked fine, although my bag weighed a lot. If you’re flying domestic, the weight shouldn’t be a problem.

  • #196633

    geochica72
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    I spend a fair amount of energy figuring this out fairly often. I find it interesting that apparently people in other countries don’t have the same kinds of security issues as here in the U.S. I fly domestically about 10 times a year, and wouldn’t want to wear lots of bulky clothes on the plane because in the U.S. you have to take off all outer clothing layers to go through security – including coats, jackets, sweaters, if you have a shirt on underneath a bulky layer you have to take it off. And all shoes come off every single time, even flip flops. (Which is why I always wear socks to the airport, I think you can catch gross foot fungi from the floors in security. Ick.) I even specifically choose to wear an underwire-free bra to the airport to avoid extra screening.

    I live in a cold place, so in winter I wear my coat from the car to the actual airport, then often stuff it into my suitcase. I frequently check a bag, so I get it back out before leaving the airport upon my arrival. This means I have to weigh my bag ahead of time with my coat in it, because in the U.S. all airlines charge you extra – sometimes a LOT extra – for a bag over 50 lbs (22kg). I do usually fly Southwest, which still gives you 2 fee-free checked bags. I find it worth the extra time to avoid hauling my bag through security, the airport train, the miles of concourse, bringing it into the bathroom with me, keeping track of it the whole time, kicking it with my feet while walking, lifting it up into the overhead space, it’s just a hassle. I’d say one-bag travel for anything other than a two- or three-night trip in warm to cool weather is overrated. I just accept it.

    this year I think I’ll get one of those handy suitcase scales that you can take with you to weigh your bag, so if you’re in a hotel you can still see if you’ll be overweight at the airport.

  • #196643

    Netleigh
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    geochica72,
    The stringent security checks are not just a USA phenomenon, we have to take off outer garments, all metal and usually shoes too in most of Europe.
    I haven’t really done hugely hot to cold travel but often wear walking boots for summer or winter holiday flights as I’ll be using them for either trip and it’s easier than packing them.
    One bag travel, as yet, is not how I manage to travel, I either need winter sports things or walking/mountain gear. With a UK baggage allowance of around 20kg checked in and 5kg for cabin baggage on a lot of charter flights it’s always a bit of a challenge just to get the required gear in.

    Anita, your planned wardrobe sounds practical and workable.

  • #196693

    bandicoot
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    since this thread began, i’ve gone from “no plans” to “huge road trip in january”.
    i am pretty sure i will stick to one bag, but i will also be packing a chilly bin, thermos, aeropress, plates, cutlery, mugs, …..for diy food and coffee on the road.
    i know from past experience how queasy i feel after a few days of roadhouse food. i just need to be able to make basic salads and sandwiches.
    i reckon i can fit the kitchen supplies into one plastic tote, and not a huge one.

  • #196712

    Rosa
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    @everyone – thank you for the suggestions. I think what makes it so hard for us is that we generally take the bus/light rail to the airport, and that means up to a 45 minute outdoor wait, depending what time we get back, instead of the quick dash from the car. It might just not be possible to pack light w/a 1st grader & plan for public transit – last year, knowing we’d get in late on the way home, I just planned for a taxi so we didn’t have to be outdoors in our less-than-usual winter gear.

  • #196714

    bandicoot
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    rosa, i think that is a sensible compromise.
    it makes no sense to me to pack clothes for a trip, that will only be of any use for the final hour of that trip if it can possibly be avoided.
    consider the taxi cost against days of lugging extra clothing.

  • #196729

    ninakk
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    I have travelled by air within Europe many times enough (flight time versus time spent in security is not even remotely funny) to plan well what I wear when going through security. No belt, no accessories with needles or other beepy parts, preferably cardigan instead of sweater over head, as few pieces to hold in hands as possible (scarves, watch etc go into bag right before xray belt instead of individually on the trays) and laptop and liquids’ bag are easily removable from bag. I have removed my shoes in one country only, UK, so I wear whatever is suitable for the season without further thought.

  • #196731

    STLMom
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    We are going from winter weather to Florida on Saturday. When we travel for a long weekend, we pack it all in carry-on bags, because I hate to check bags. This time we are going for a week, so I’ve given up and we will check suitcases. Interestingly, once I decide to check bags I completely switch attitudes and just throw things in with abandon.
    Does anyone else always realize at the last minute that something they really want to take on their trip is in the dirty laundry basket?

  • #196759

    Rosa
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    Every time, STLMom. Every time. MOM MY POKEMON SHIRT I HAVE TO WEAR IT.

    Bandicoot, the problem is that even a taxi could get caught in the snow, here. There have actually been times when I have gotten off the bus and walked home through thigh-deep snow rather than sit stuck for hours – once when I was pregnant, we got 6 inches of snow during my one-hour doctor appointment. I spent half the Christmas Eves of my childhood sleeping in the Minneapolis or Denver airport. It really goes against every instinct to travel in winter with insufficient gear.

    But having the kid with us just puts it over the line from annoying to impossible to travel with one bag each and also all our coats & boots. (And I just realized, part of the reason I hate checking luggage is all the times I got stuck somewhere by a blizzard and my toothbrush & extra underpants got stuck somewhere else. I don’t mind sleeping on the airport floor but I want to wash my face, brush my teeth, and have a squishy winter coat to sleep on. And feminine hygeine products and granola and a pack of cards.)

  • #196770

    irishbell
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    Anita, I do exactly the same thing, even for just a weekend away, and even when my girls were little.
    No towels left in the hamper, no dishes in the sink! Who wants to come home to that?

  • #196800

    Irulan
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    I’m thirding the “wash everything before you go” thing. It’s so nice when you come home to not have to worry about smelly clothes or moldy dishes.

    How heavy are everyone’s winter things, Rosa? It sounds like doing without is not feasible. Maybe you can pack everyone’s winter clothes together in one lightweight bag?

    STLMom, does everyone check their own bag, or do you share checked bags? Does the “chucking with abandon” ever leave you with bags that are too heavy to check?

  • #196847

    ninakk
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    Haha, my worst was when I was late at packing my stuff. Packed, left a huge mountain of dirty dishes, to Denmark for a month. Washed dishes when back home. Needless to say I was so repulsed by my lack of organization that this became my first and last time of treating myself to such a welcome. Dust bunnies do not bother me that much, but man, dry food stuck on plates etc…

  • #196849

    bandicoot
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    rosa, you are dealing with weather i have never experienced and have no real concept of!
    my instinct would be to hibernate until it finishes, lol.

    we have very nice housesitters and i insist on leaving things sparkling for them.
    over the past 7 years, this has become easier and easier and overr the last two years, since renovating and decluttering began, it has become very easy.
    i still keep a checklist though, and the day we leave, no matter how early the flight, we are doing laundry, cleaning the kitchen and mopping the floors.
    in fact we usually look at one another as we have one final cup of tea in the midst of the clean house and ask each other, why are we leaving? this place looks great!

  • #196851

    Rosa
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    haha, Bandicoot, that’s awesome.

    I would have to weigh the winter stuff, my gut says maybe 50 pounds? Only the coats are heavy. 3 pairs of snow boots, coats (mine is not heavy but my bf’s is), long johns, snow pants for the little guy, hats, gloves. It’s all LARGE though (and getting larger every year, in about 10 years kiddo’s gonna have giant feet like his dad.) It is about half of each carryon without the snowboots, or was last year. Luckily we don’t have to fly this winter.

  • #197014

    Ella
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    Scram, spam.

  • #197050

    Irulan
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    Omg, ninakk, a whole month? I’m pretty squeamish so I probably would have barfed on return and then abandoned the dishes to my husband. You are one tough lady!

    In packing news, I’ve decided to layer a lighter jacked over a sweater rather than have to lug my heavy jacket through the airport. I’ll be okay as long as it stays above freezing (which it should).

  • #197069

    Netleigh
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    Just back from a long weekend in Barcelona and DH and I carried a rucksac each with cameras and checked in two small bags.
    So had we been without the cameras and other stuff like extra layers and scarves, which we wore here and took off on arrival, in the rucksacs we probably could have just managed with the two bags as carry on.

    Just to clarify though, when you all are talking about one bag travel are you meaning one carry on, no other bags like a handbag or camera bag allowed?
    Some airlines say just one carry on bag with everything in it, others allow a handbag as well as the carry on.

  • #197094

    bandicoot
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    netleigh, i am not too pedantic about this.
    for six weeks in europe, i’d take one bag plus a modestly sized messenger bag, separately.
    for a week in bali, i’d take one bag with my messenger bag stuffed into it.

    and omg barcelona?
    one of my top cities-i-want-to-visit!
    did you have a lovely time?

  • #197099

    pkilmain
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    Most American airlines allow a carry-on bag plus one “personal” item, i.e. purse or similar.

  • #197109

    luxcat
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    what’s frustrating is when you have a trip (which I often do) that combines the American carry-on rules with the more stringent international ones. Always makes me nervous that someone is going to take away my carefully planned carry on luggage. I’ve seen it happen to others but so far I’ve been lucky.

  • #197124

    Netleigh
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    In answer to Bandicoot’s question, yes we did have a lovely time in Barcelona and it was our 30th wedding anniversary so we drank Cava to another 30 years!.
    We saw a proportion of the buildings that were must see’s, still have some we didn’t get to and the art gallery so we could do a return visit sometime. Most unexpected thrill was the Paulau Musica Catalana, my guidebook didn’t prepare me for how intensively decorated it was.

  • #197478

    Irulan
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    Thanksgiving packing was a success! I had enough space in my small duffel that I could bring back gifts instead of having to ship them. It helps that I washed all our clothes at the in-law’s place before we packed to return home.

    The flight attendant teased me as I walked off the plane carrying my bag. He told me that I need to pick up something with some wheels. I didn’t have time evangelize in response, so I just laughed. I was seriously amazed at the size of some of the suitcases that they let the other passengers bring on.

  • #197495

    lottielot
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    I need to plan our packing for Switzerland in about 10 days. It’s only 3 nights/4 days but we’re going to see some snow the first day so I’m getting ds1 some waterproof over-trousers, maybe ds2 too as although he has a snow suit it’s bulky, both boys are getting warm boots each which they can wear the whole time, I need to buy waterproof gloves and then just one change of clothes each, they can wear their coats and I’ll take an extra fleece each for them too. I bought a little travel game in amazon which got good reviews, will pack pens and a small pad of paper, a pack of cards, 2 activity books and some kids books are already on my Kindle. That ought to do them, together with a DS and charger. Actually, I just had a thought: dh says he wants to go skiing the second day for a few hours, maybe with ds1. In which case I think we may be able to hire some ski clothes, may be cheaper than having to pack extra and going over the carry-on limit. Plus I won’t have to worry about drying wet things as we’re hopping on a train in the afternoon for Lucerne. Must pack suncream too…
    For me: warm coat, snow boots, a change of clothes, my Kindle, my iPod stuffed with podcasts and hopefully that will suffice. I want
    to travel as light as possible, it’s crap lugging a heavy bag about.

  • #197521

    pkilmain
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    So, if you’re doing only carry-on, do you decant shampoo/moisturizer into little bottles. I find that contact lens solution, toothpaste, lip balm and hand cream take up a lot of the 1qt bag. Adding shampoo would top it off. I usually rely on family or hotels for shampoo, or end up purchasing a small one. Since we’re checking a bag to Hawaii in January, due to taking snokels and fins, I’ll be fine for liquids as well, and we can likely put our winter gear in there as well.

  • #197533

    bandicoot
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    i love those silicon gotoobs for decanting shampoo/conditioner/face cream/hand cream/toothpaste into.
    regulation sized for airlines and indestructible so far in my experience.
    leak proof!
    widemouthed, so easy to empty, clean and refill.
    i can get by for many days with just a small amount of product.
    i don’t even carry a toiletries bag anymore….just a zippered mesh pouch from muji that gets me through all airline security everywhere (except for the one in darwin where the zombies insist i move everything into one of their plastic ziplock bags).
    i know it’s primitive, but it is so simple and easy and it works just fine.

  • #197538

    bandicoot
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    awurrlu, if we ever run into each other out there in the world, we’ll know each other instantly by our small and beautifully packed backpacks.

  • #197567

    Irulan
    Member

    Packing for Holiday Travel

    Contact lens solution is considered a medical item, so you can leave it out of the ziploc. It’s listed as an exempt item on the tsa website linked above.

    Pkilmain, I only decant hard-to-find items. I usually look for sample sizes of my favorites and bring those with me. That strategy works for me because I fly about 3 to 4 times per year, but it may not be enough for a frequent traveler.

    Sephora is good about giving you sample sizes of the products that you usually buy.

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