Holiday travelling season is upon us. Meaning for many of us it’s time to make the annual arduous journey to the houses of family or friends to exchange gifts, stuff our faces and celebrate the festive season.

When to pack

Doing a bit of packing every day in the lead up to the date of travel is recommended by packing experts across the board. Last minute packing leads to reckless and thoughtless decisions that you will regret once you’re in situ and realise you’ve packed a swanky sequin number *just in case* but not enough pants. Experts and non-experts here at Thought recommend you start about a week before the date of travel. Here’s a day by day packing countdown to guide you through this daunting task:

7 days to go – choose your outfits and pack multi functional shoes

6 days to go – wash clothes thoughtfully

5 days to go – start ironing and rolling items

4 days to go – wash underwear and nightwear

3 days to go – rolling underwear and nightwear, tuck into shoes and boots

2 days to go – pack limited accessories (jewellery, scarves, hats etc)

1 day to go – pack non-daily items and toiletries (laptop, book, razor, etc)

On the day – pack essential items toiletries (phone charger, toothbrush, moisturiser etc)

How to pack

Firstly – don’t use your biggest suitcase. The bigger the case the more you will want to pack, it’s a fact that you can deny all you want but as soon as you see a gaping hole in your bag you will want to fill it with things like you would a metaphorical hole in your heart. We are hoarders by nature and must overcome this mental barrier to achieve packing greatness.

Another pro tip is ironing your clothes before you pack them.

“But Packing Sherpa”, I hear you cry out, “why would I iron things that will immediately get creased when I pack them?”.

Because, dear reader, you will ROLL your clothes once ironed. Avoiding creasing because no corners means no creases.

But first, pack your shoes at the bottom of your suitcase, making sure to roll up and tuck pants and socks into your boots. There is no excuse to have that kind of packing real estate going to waste. If you’re packing a parka or waterproof layer, now is it’s time to shine. Put this down flat as a barrier between shoes and clothes and to create a flat surface for your rolled ironed gems to lay them down to sleep.

When choosing what clothes to wear; stick to a specific colour palette. Split your wardrobe into base colours, accent colours, textures/patterns.

Example packing colour palette:

Base colours – black, white, brown
Accent colours – green, red, orange
Textures/patterns – floral, velvet, cord

Once you have decided what you need, edit down in the cold light of day the next morning. You’re much more likely to make better packing decision having slept on it. Also, if you can, find out from your hosts what the rough itinerary is and what the general dress code will be. There is no need to bring a second pair of boots if you’re not actually going to do that winter walk on the beach.

Along the same lines: cull the ‘I might need this’ category if staying with family or friends. Unless you think there is no chance of your hosts having it, put down the sewing kit.

If you can, have a designated toiletry bag for travelling so it’s easier to pack ahead of time. Minis are great for this; pack a toothbrush, mini toothpaste, mini deodorant, combo products like SPF moisturisers. A more sustainable alternative is to decant a small amount of your everyday products into reusable pots and bottles and store them away, so you know you have them ready to go.

Wear your biggest items, such as a winter coat and boots, when travelling to save precious space.

What to pack

A capsule Christmas wardrobe is your best friend during the winter season. Pack multifunctional pieces like trousers that can work with smarter shirt or casual tops or coats in neutral tones that can go on top of more colourful or patterned pieces.

Think about how you can pack more effectively based on your surroundings. Sure you love that very festive chunky knit turtleneck but after a big Christmas dinner and a few drinks plus heating on plus a cosy lit fireplace you will be warmer than your glass of mulled wine.


Always pack extra underwear and socks. This may seem slightly counterintuitive but you can always use an extra pair, whether you go for a long walk and have sweaty feet, or knock a glass of wine all over your lap. Don’t jinx it by under-packing essentials.

Little snacks – working on someone else’s eating schedule and dietary preferences can be tricky if you don’t want to seem fussy. Packing a few healthy snacks like granola bars or premaking your own in Tupperware that can be eaten quickly with hands is a great way to keep your energy levels up through the holiday season!

So you should be ready to go by now, let us know your favourite packing tips in the comments…