How To Pack For A Holiday: The Ultimate Guide

Packing nightmare | © racom/Shutterstock
Packing nightmare | © racom/Shutterstock
Photo of Kelsey Grace Pfeifer
27 September 2017

To roll or to fold… that is ever the question when it comes to packing. With all of the traveling restrictions these days, it can be a complete nightmare to know what to pack for a certain trip. The Maldives will certainly require more sunscreen, but the Midwest can be deceptively harsh on bare skin! Here are some tips and tricks on what to bring so that there’s a solution for every occasion. Whether the trip is 10 hours or 10 days, these are the items to never forget.

Convertible items

Convertible items are the staple for every tried and true traveler. Is there a skirt that can be worn as both a beach cover-up and for a nice dinner out? Get it now! Wrap dresses are perfect, due to their versatility and ability to be dressed up or down. A chic one piece swimsuit can easily be worn as a killer bodysuit to the club later on. A bralette could be perfect for a warm hike, whereas a grimy t-shirt meant for winter layering could read vintage if placed under a sleek moto-jacket. It’s all about seeing one item and imagining it as two.

Pack 70/30

Everyone has fallen culprit to packing either too much or too little. Some people genuinely can’t wear a shirt twice, whereas others will live in the same top for weeks as long as it doesn’t smell. To find a happy medium, try the following ratio: make sure your luggage consists of 70% day clothes that can be worn for any occasion, and 30% special occasion clothing. Planning day by day can be tricky based on weather, and honestly, mood, so packing this way saves a lot of heartbreak. Also use it to know how much to bring. A seven-day trip, for example, means that 70% of that adds up to five everyday tops and that leaves 30% left for two nice tops. This method saves space, and there are definitely extra travel kudos for following tip number one and packing 100% convertible items.

Pack smart, travel smart | © sebra/Shutterstock

A coat with lots of pockets

This is a sneaky item that most people don’t think about, but swear by once they figure it out. Coats with lots of pockets provide space to carry valuable items such as a passport, ID, and wallet. Find a jacket that works for the trip’s specific climate; backpacking in a hot climate requires something light like a linen army jacket, whereas skiing in the Alps calls for a well-thought out parka. Make it cute, and make sure it goes with most of what is already packed. Just make sure to grab a pullover with zippers on the pockets if the area is known for pick-pocketing.

Three pairs of trousers. Seriously.

A bit of a controversial opinion, but there should be no reason to ever pack more than three pairs of trousers. When weight restrictions come into play, trousers can get heavy fast, so having one great pair that goes with every top is perfect. Workout or yoga pants are also a must. They can be worn touring around a city, or even under a maxi-dress on a cooler night. The last category of trousers are those that are dependant on weather conditions. Headed to Hawaii? Shorts will be needed. Adventuring in Alaska? Buy some ski pants. They take up space, but they’ll be necessary in the biting cold.

Sensible shoes

This should be a given, and yet there are still people who think it pertinent to bring five pairs of stilettos on every trip. That being said, at Milan Fashion Week stilettos are sensible shoes, so pack for occasion. If there’s no chance of visiting a Michelin starred restaurant or walking a red carpet, then leave the six-inch heels at home. For business trips, adorable mules or ballet flats are perfect, whereas a backpacking trip should be limited to trainers or long distance flats like TOMS. A pair of cute trainers can go a long way as well… style them right and they could even work for a night out.

Comfy shoes for cycling in the city | © gonabo/Shutterstock


Laugh…go ahead! Laugh until the soles start coming off of shoes or a dress rips ten minutes before heading off to the clubs. Superglue is the be-all-end-all of travel items. It can fix outfits, a piece of hotel room that wasn’t meant to be broken, or even electronic devices. Just make sure it’s packed in a plastic bag so it doesn’t ruin any clothes before the trip starts!

Skin and hair essentials

Hotels are fantastic for stocking up on free shampoo and conditioner, but for those with more sensitive skin, it can be hard to trust the samples. It’s always better just to pack haircare favorites in travel bottles, as a rash or inflammation can certainly be a quick way to ruin a holiday. Body chemistry can freak out from airplane oxygen alone, so it’s best to keep consistent with as much hair and skincare as possible. Speaking of skin care, it doesn’t matter the climate or trip—sunscreen is a must. The sun can still cause damage through the clouds, so at the very least, look into a moisturizer or foundation with SPF protection.

An appropriate camera

Finding the right camera for a trip comes down to personal preference, as well as the type of trip. There’s not much of a reason to bring a DSLR on a weekend getaway to the in-laws’, but if that’s what feels right, then bring it! Cameras can take up a lot of space and weight, so for most trips a GoPro or phone camera will work wonderfully. A GoPro can be particularly effective on trips with lots of physical activity, whereas more scenic retreats could be better suited to a phone camera or DSLR. Whatever gets the best Insta shot, right?

Holiday Snaps | © Kim Wutimet/Shutterstock

Extra provisions

It’s no lie, airport food is expensive, and gas station food is mostly complete junk. However, traveling is incredibly taxing on the body, regardless of the destination. It’s best to pack some provisions in either a carry-on or that adorable coat with lots of pockets mentioned in tip number two. Something high in protein will keep energy high on a flight across the world or during an hour-long road trip. Energy bars are a go-to for quick energy, but peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are actually phenomenal travel snacks, providing a full balance of sugar, fat, protein, and carbs.

Electronic adaptor

This is one of the last things people think about when traveling. While going international, it is necessary to find an adaptor that works for every continent or country. They’re also incredibly handy on domestic trips when those pesky outlet plug-ins get detached from the USB. Getting a universal adaptor saves a lot of worry when it comes to phone charging, but if the trip is extended a few months, or even years, make sure to grab permanent chargers or replacements for things like laptops and hair dryers.

Great attitude

This is by far the most important thing to pack! A sense of adventure and positivity is the best accessory on a trip, as it can set the tone for everyone involved. No one wants to wander around with a storm cloud of negativity, so come into every city, town, and village with an amazing attitude. The best way to start the trip with a positive outlook? Pack like a champion!

All smiles on the Great Wall | © Maridav/Shutterstock

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