Holiday Travel: Packing List

Each year, we fly to my husband’s hometown on the weekend before Christmas. His immediate family is large – three siblings, three step-siblings, six spouses, and fourteen nieces and nephews – which accounts for the tradition of getting together the weekend before Christmas (there is no way we could get everyone in the same place at the same time on Christmas day).
We are lucky to have such a large family to celebrate with and the weekend visit is always a whirlwind of fun family activities. But, the trip always presents a packing challenge.  There are a number of things to account for – a much colder climate requiring more gear than we are accustomed to, daytime and evening activities, airplane entertainment for the kids, and, last but not least, my obsessive desire to avoid checking bags. Here are the top five tips and tricks that I have refined over the years.
1. Pick a color scheme.  I pack with one color scheme in mind for each person. By doing this, I can limit the shoes and accessories. I tend to go with basic black for myself. I pick one pair of daytime shoes (booties or booties do the trick nicely) and pair of evening shoes (mid-heel, just in case I’m treading on thin ice). I wear the daytime pair on the plane to avoid taking up valuable real estate in my suitcase.
2. Pick one coat and wear it on the plane. This is an easy one. Coats take up a lot of space and it is always cold when we arrive. Again, why waste space in the suitcase?  These are a couple of my current favorites.  (The boys’ coat is currently on sale for $19.00 at Old Navy – you can’t beat that!  The women’s coat can be found here.)

3. Use your kids’ rain boots as snow boots. Because it does not snow in San Francisco, we generally do not have snow gear. Rather than invest in pricey snow gear that we most likely will not use very much, I like to try to use what we already have. My go-to footwear? Hunter rain boots with the fleece inserts. They are warm enough to get us through the weekend and actually squish down nicely in a suitcase (or sometimes I fill them with socks and other items for packing).  Get them here and here.

4. Roll your clothing. I started rolling the clothes in my suitcase years ago and in my opinion it is the best way to pack. It tends to keep wrinkles at bay and it saves space.
5. Bring adequate entertainment for your children. Plane rides can be long and boring, and winter travel almost always guarantees airport delays. Our favorites items to pack are our iPad and Kindle (with kid-friendly headphones) loaded with movies/shows for the plane, coloring and activity books with new crayons or markers, small dolls and Hot Wheels cars for playing on the seat tray, and each child’s favorite “lovey.” Don’t forget about the return trip! I typically hold a few things back on the ride out so that there are “new” items for the flight home.

Do you have your own favorite packing tips?  We would love to hear them.  Leave your comments below!