Between gifting, celebrating, decorating, cooking, traveling, eating, and general merry-making, there is a lot to be responsible for during the holidays. One way to relieve holiday stress is steam-lining your travel packing. To do so, there is one thing to remember: simplify.

Bring only two of everything, and half as much as you need.

If leaving on a weeklong holiday vacation, everything you need should be able to fit into two parcels: one carry-on and one personal item. Carry-ons are perfect because they allow you to fly (pun intended) through the check-in process, give access to your goods during flight, and force you to pare down what you bring making transferring between cars, shuttles, trains, and flights a more effortless process. They also ensure your luggage will not get lost in transport, which is always a plus!

Simplify the contents of your personal item with two forms of entertainment along with all pertinent travel documents. Load up your iPod with a few good podcasts, start a game of cards with your travel partner, catch up on that novel you’ve been reading for the past year, or make a new friend by striking up conversation with the person seated next to you. You could also try trading reading material with them. Who knows? Maybe you’ll find a fellow Darling reader!

When it comes to clothing, bring two of everything (undies and socks excluded). Two pairs of pants or leggings, two dresses or skirts (or one of each), two winter sweaters or cardigans, two long-sleeved button downs, blouses, or thermals, two pairs of tights and two pairs of shoes. In each category bring a casual and a formal option, or just one option that can be dressed up or down with accessories. Before loading everything into a suitcase, lay everything out on your bed. If it feels like you have too much, remove a few items – allowing a moment for mourning. If you’re bringing a heavy jacket, conserve room by wearing it on the plane. If gone for six days, bring enough clothing for three. The place where you’re going will most likely have laundry facilities so you can load up a wash halfway through your stay. Get creative and reconfigure new outfits out of what you’ve already worn. When packing, roll everything up like a burrito. This utilizes those tiny crevices between garments and will allow for a few extra items to be brought along.

Pare down toiletries.

Remember, most beauty items can be found in stores and pharmacies around your destination. Before arriving at your accommodations, ask your host to make a quick pit stop at a local market with you. Bring only the items you know you won’t be able to find locally like a novelty hair product, a special order facial cleanser, or favored toothpaste. Parents and grandparents tend to keep arsenals of health and beauty items in their homes, so if headed to one of their residences for the holidays rely on their inventory. If headed somewhere remote, visit Target or Whole Foods before you take off to stock up on travel size goods. Coordinate with a sister or cousin traveling to the same location and divvy up responsibility for various heat-styling tools and essential toiletries.

Streamline gift-giving.

Although often thought of as impersonal, gift cards make the perfect present when you’re traveling. Consider your loved-ones’ interests in order to make them more unique. Perhaps an uncle has been anticipating new fishing gear, then an REI gift card would be wonderfully relevant. Maybe your sister has been saving up for a trip to New York City, then a Southwest gift card could be a thoughtful contribution to her excursion. Instead of using the standard envelope gift card, wrap each in an inventive way and send each recipient on a treasure hunt by hiding them around the house. If you’re simply not a gift card person, think about arriving a few days early to get your holiday shopping done locally. The timing isn’t ideal, but you’ll avoid traveling with bulky items.

From all the women at Darling, may you have a safe and blessed holiday season surrounded by the ones you love most. Be energized and refreshed for an epic and adventurous 2014!

Image via Perpetually Chic



  1. Jennifer– The blouse is Joie- I recognize the label. Don’t know about the shoes, but I’m dying to know about the scarf now! 🙂

  2. I would love to know where those heels and blouse came from. They’re gorgeous! Every year I try to pack less and less, and I always end up packing too much. Thanks for the reminder!

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