Heading home for the holidays and wondering what to pack for vacation? Since trips to see family during the holiday are usually less than a week, we’ve put together a guide that will help you know what to pack for your upcoming holiday travels.

Get our travel packing tips and find out what travel essentials to pack so you don’t find yourself without something you need while leaving room to bring gifts for family members – and the gifts you’ll be going back with.


The key to packing for short trips is to adopt a minimalist packing mindset. Two important components of this are having the right luggage and avoiding the urge to overpack.

Choosing the Right Luggage

With a trip this short, a quality carry-on is the way to go. A quality carry-on will go a long way in helping your winter travels go smoothly. Carry-on luggage should be stylish yet durable, easy to move around, have space for your travel essentials, and have pockets so you can easily access your most important items.

Avoiding Overpacking

Don’t overthink things or overpack by bringing “just in case” items. Trust us, you most likely won’t need them. And in the event you do need something, you can easily purchase it at a store, hotel, or get it from family and friends. Packing items you don’t absolutely need will only take up precious space you don’t have since you’re traveling light for a short trip. For this type of trip, less is definitely more.


Not sure how to pack for a five-day trip (or less)? Below is our holiday travel essentials list. Follow this guide, and you’ll be all set to travel light and enjoy the holidays with loved ones.

Weather-Appropriate Clothing

·  Warm, Waterproof Coat

Unless you'll be spending the holidays in a state (or country) where the weather is warm year-round, a jacket or coat that will keep you warm and dry is a must. And, if you are lucky enough to be headed to a location with a warm climate, it’s still a good idea to bring a lightweight fleece or hoodie for when the temperatures drop in the evening.

·  Winter Accessories

A hat and gloves are essential if you'll be in a cold climate – especially if you plan to stay outdoors for extended periods while engaging in seasonal activities.

·  Just the Right Number of Outfits

Bring 4-5 tops that you can mix and match with 2-3 bottoms to create different outfits, a set of pajamas, and, of course, enough socks and underwear. That’s really all you need (with the possible exception of the item below).

·  Dressy Outfit

If dining at an upscale restaurant or going to a theater to see a live performance is on your agenda during this trip, then you’ll want to include a more formal outfit on your home for the holidays packing list. While you may not need wedding attire, you’ll want to bring an outfit that’s dressier than a pair of jeans and a sweater.

Footwear Considerations

Comfortable shoes can’t be overlooked for traveling, no matter where you’re headed or how long your trip is. And a short trip home for the holidays is no exception. Slip-ons are highly recommended for convenience – especially when it comes to going through airport security.

Tech Essentials for Modern Travelers

A slim and lightweight portable charger is one major convenience (and, dare we say, necessity) when traveling. It will certainly help keep you sane if you happen to experience any sort of travel delay, short or long, helping you maintain uninterrupted connectivity.

The Convenience of a Large Tote

With all your clothing - and potentially some gifts – going into your carry-on luggage, you’ll still want a durable, spacious bag for your other essentials, such as personal hygiene items, keys, a wallet, phone, reading material, a laptop, and any other little extras. Our Large Shopping Tote is the perfect solution.


To help you pack as efficiently as possible and stay organized, we recommend a few travel accessories that you’ll use every time you travel.

Organizing with Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are a game changer when it comes to packing. Packing cubes offer many benefits, the two top ones being minimizing wrinkles and keeping your items organized when traveling.

Essential Travel Accessories for the Holidays

Other travel accessories that will enhance your holiday travel experience and make traveling easier include laundry bags, luggage locks, and luggage ID tags.

Laundry Bags

When you're on the go, it's easy for your clean and dirty clothes to become jumbled together. A staple for seasoned travelers, laundry bags help separate your worn clothes from the fresh ones, ensuring your suitcase remains organized and odor-free. It's a small addition that'll make a world of difference in your travel experience.

Shoe Covers

Shoe covers are lightweight and compact accessories to envelop your shoes, ensuring that any dirt, moisture, or street residue stays contained and doesn't transfer to your clothes or suitcase interior. 

Garment Folders

Every traveler knows the struggle of unpacking a suitcase to find their neatly packed clothes have turned into a wrinkled mess. Enter garment folders. Designed to hold your clothes flat and secure, these folders ensure your attire remains crisp and wrinkle-free throughout your journey. With their structured panels and folding boards, packing becomes an art, allowing you to maximize space and reduce the chances of creasing. 


Travel planning is important for making the most of your trip home for the holidays. Having quality luggage and being well organized when packing will help you enjoy a stress-free holiday journey.

With this packing list for Christmas, you’ll be able to pack quickly, easily, and with confidence. And you’ll reap the benefits of traveling lightly!

Explore Briggs & Riley collections for your holiday travel needs and find the best bag for your trip. See our Holiday Gift Guide to get our recommendations on the best gifts for travelers (yourself included).