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Close up of suitcase full of clothes, with a stocking hat and headphones on top, sitting in front of a fireplace
izzetugutmen | Adobe Stock

The Ultimate Holiday Packing List

No matter where you’re headed this holiday season, you’re going to need to pack smart. After all, overweight and oversized bags could cost you dearly (and who wants to cut into the presents-and-eggnog fund?). Read on to find out what to pack for a stress-free holiday vacation, what to leave behind, and how you can download our editable packing list to keep with you on-the-go.

Happy holidays—and, of course, happy travels from all of us at SmarterTravel!



What to Pack for Cold-Weather Trips

What to Pack for Warm-Weather Trips

Holiday Essentials



Suitcase full of clothes, sitting on a couch next to a Christmas tree
magdal3na | Adobe Stock

Make sure what you’re packing matches the climate of your destination—the fluffy hats and cozy sweaters that are a hallmark of the season won’t do you much good visiting family in Orlando. Some trips will require hats, gloves, winter coats, and snow boots while others will require swimsuits, sunblock, and sandals

In addition to the weather, keep your itinerary at front of mind. That glittery holiday jumpsuit in the back of your closet is perfect for attending a high-class New Year’s Eve soiree, but will realistically eat up valuable luggage space if the only event you have lined up is brunch at Grandma’s. Items that can be reworn and dressed up or down are key.

Lastly, don’t forget any holiday-specific garb like your classic matching PJ sets and Christmas sweaters.


Travel toiletries surrounded by white towels and candy canes
sunny_bunny | Adobe Stock

Keep toiletries travel-sized and tucked away neatly into one compact dopp kit or toiletry bag. Having everything in one spot will keep you from leaving anything behind, especially if you plan to split your time between different houses or hotels during your travels.

Holiday Essentials

Three wrapped gifts sitting on top of packed suitcase
Анастасия Семашко | Adobe Stock

From beating the traffic to finding the best flight deal, holiday travel requires even more forethought than a typical trip. Take the guesswork out of what extras you’ll need to pack by throwing the items below in your suitcase.

Gifts and Gear

If you’re traveling for a holiday get together, you’re likely bringing along (and bringing home) some extra baggage in the form of gifts. Make sure to have enough space in your luggage, and note that gifts passing through the security may be unwrapped by TSA agents during screening, so its best to leave the decorating until you reach your destination.

Staying With Family

If you’re staying with friends or relatives, you may want to pack a few extra items for increased privacy and comfort, like a pop-up bed tent or noise-canceling headphones.

For more strategies to survive staying with family over the holidays, see our handy guide.


No matter where you’re traveling, there are a few things that are convenient to have on hand. A laundry bag helps keep your clean and dirty clothes separate in your suitcase, while a laundry kit with travel detergent allows you to wash items in the sink at your hotel or when the family washing machine is occupied.

Download Our Holiday Packing List

Download our editable holiday packing list for a stress-free holiday travel season.

All of the products featured in this story were hand-selected by our travel editors. Some of the links featured in this story are affiliate links, and SmarterTravel may collect a commission (at no cost to you) if you shop through them. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

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