Happy Holidays! If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve got some holiday travel in your future. From one scatterbrained traveler to another, I know the stress this can cause. How are all of your shoes going to fit in one bag? Two laptops or a laptop and a tablet? Pairing down can be tough, and remembering to pack everything on your list can be even tougher.
The good news: we’ve been there, and we know how to help. I travel with BOTH of my assigned teams and am basically on the road from August to June. Even in my “off-season,” I am very fortunate to be able to go back to Florida for Christmas, which means that once I pack my suitcase at the beginning of the academic year, I don’t put it away until the summer.
Figuring out what to pack -- and what not to pack -- has taken a lot of trial and error, but I think I’ve finally gotten the hang of spending half of my life on the road. So here’s my advice for traveling during the holidays… or really at any point in your near future.
Be strategic when packing clothes. The biggest thing I worry about when packing is my wardrobe. I work with both indoor and outdoor sports, so I have to be prepared for many different temperatures and weather conditions. (Side note: I never realized that arenas in the north might not have air conditioning!) The best way to pack strategically is to plan for a capsule wardrobe -- meaning that most (or all) of your clothes and shoes can work cohesively to create multiple outfits. Even though ALL of your shoes are cute and fierce, you most likely don’t need to bring six pairs on your trip. You also don’t need 17 pairs of pants... I promise! Find some cool capsule wardrobe inspo here. (Note: Underwear and socks are excluded from this list.... always bring extra!)
Three words: Travel size toiletries. Having short hair means using a TON of hair products, but thankfully having travel size options means that all of my hair products (and lotions, deodorant, etc.) can all fit in my bag without taking up too much room. Unless you’re packing for a month-long trip, you do not need to bring a full bottle of shampoo because, chances are, you’ll only truly use a few ounces anyway. Here are some great and affordable travel size bottles for you to invest in. I promise the space you save in your luggage will make them worth it.
“Oops” products/miscellaneous. This part is basically a list of things I usually forget when traveling, especially for work. Quite simply, I always forget to bring a lint roller, a Tide-to-Go pen, and a steamer/iron. I usually wear nice clothes at some point during my trips (re: volleyball matches, church, etc.), and I usually have to make a stop at CVS because my clothes have cat hair on them or I spilled my coffee on my shirt. Also, it’s a given that your clothes are going to get wrinkled because you shoved them in your luggage, so here’s a travel size steamer available from Bed Bath and Beyond that won’t break the bank.
Power cords. I forgot my laptop charger on one of my many work trips and had to make an emergency trip to Best Buy, so I’ll never make the same mistake again. Now when packing, I bring two of every type of charger, including two for my computer. Having an iPhone and an iPad makes this part easy, but I also have a different charger for my mobile hotspot and my external batteries, as well as two chargers for my Apple Watch. In order to keep my backpack from being a crazy tangled mess of cords, I usually leave one version of each power cord in my luggage, just in case.
A really really really good pair of headphones. I have like 15 pairs of headphones but I seriously do not know what I’d do without my noise-cancelling headphones when on road trips. Having those babies allows me to plug in focus on my work when on a bus or on a plane. In typical Katie fashion, I also bring backup earbuds just in case my headphones break or someone else forgot theirs. With all of the holiday deals going on, I’d bet you can snag a good pair at a discounted price.
Food. I’m an extremely picky and sensitive eater, so bringing snacks or meal replacements on my trips is really important for me. If you’re on a specific diet or workout regimen, this could also be a non-negotiable for you, so it’s important to pack wisely. When flying, I usually bring a carry-on bag just for snacks because it’s cheaper to bring my own than purchase anything at the airport, and there might not be stores within walking distance of our hotel. Our meal schedules are also always determined by our practice or game time, and I’m usually starving right before first serve or first pitch, so having snacks with me is key. My favorite snack? This awesome trail mix from Target.
If you plan on delivering gifts, send them to your final destination beforehand. I did some serious online Black Friday shopping last week and almost had a panic attack when I realized than none of the gifts I bought for my family were going to fit in my luggage… So I had them shipped to my mom’s house and told her not to open the boxes! I love holiday shopping and especially I love sales, so shipping the gifts ahead was a great way to save money and still participate in the holiday festivities.