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Expert advice

Holiday Travel Packing Essentials

One Owner shares her must-haves for safe travels full of holiday cheer

Casey R.
Couple excitedly packing their car for a Christmas vacation.

Packing for holiday travel can be daunting, especially if you're visiting a new destination and are unsure what to expect.

Even in tropical climates, you may need a cover-up, and in winter locales, you might need to transport wet clothing. And let's not forget the gifts. Whether you're traveling by car or air, maximizing luggage space is key.  

Here are my top packing tips for stress-free holiday travel. 

Woman placing a wrapped Christmas gift in a shipping box.   

Ship Your Gifts

Save yourself the hassle of cramming your gifts in your luggage, taking up precious cargo space or paying a fee to check extra baggage and ship your gifts ahead of time. One of the benefits of vacation ownership with Hilton Grand Vacations is the ability to call ahead and have the resort ready to accept your packages before you even check-in. 

Repeat the same process before check-out and ship any additional gifts back home. 

Packing Cubes

Packing cubes are light, soft fabric storage cubes of varying sizes that make it easier for you to pack like items and keep them organized.

They make unpacking super easy as you can see where everything is and move it all to the drawers or bathroom in your room quickly.

I put undergarments in one, swim and beach clothes in another, general clothes in a third (and maybe fourth) and then toiletries in a separate one. I also have a waterproof one for wet clothes and swimwear.

If I’m traveling somewhere warm, I’ll add a small cube with things I’ll need if the weather turns bad or I’m not likely to use that often. I keep it at the bottom, out of the way.

A Power Board

This is especially handy if traveling somewhere that uses a different power outlet to your home country. They can be just as useful if traveling locally.

I find that hotels often don’t have many outlets and it’s difficult to charge your phone, tablet, camera and other items at the same time. 

A power board really helps. You’ll only need one converter and be able to charge all of your powered devices at once. You can keep the power board and all the associated chargers in a packing cube.

Wipes

Infographic explaining the high touch areas cleaned and sanitized as part of Hilton CleanStay™ protocols at Hilton Grand Vacations.    

In today's world, it's good to have both sanitizer and baby wipes. Even without kids, baby wipes come in handy. They're good for freshening up during a long layover or flight. They also double as makeup wipes and wet wipes after a messy meal.

They'll even take small stains out of clothes.

Make staying healthy this holiday travel season a priority. Sanitizer wipes come in handy in high-touch, high-traffic areas like airports, gas stations or restaurants. However, one place you won't have to worry about wiping down is your Hilton Grand Vacations Studio or suite. 

As part of our participation in the Hilton CleanStay™ initiative, our housekeeping staff pays special attention to high-touch areas in suites and throughout properties. 

Ziploc Bags

I always pack anything that could spill in a Ziploc bag, so I don’t end up with a soggy mess at the other end of my journey.

I also keep a few bags on hand to use when I’m there. They’re great for leftover meals, snacks and on-the-go lunches. They're also useful to separate clean from dirty clothes until you have access to laundry facilities. The great thing about a Hilton Grand Vacations timeshare is that most suites are equipped with a private washer and dryer, but the Ziploc bags are still good to have for travel days. 

Wind/Waterproof Lightweight Jacket

Unless I’m positive I won’t need it, I’ll always pack a light windproof or waterproof jacket. It folds into a small square and doesn’t take up much room but has been great for those days we have gone on rain forest walks or stayed somewhere that the weather can turn quickly.

You can always layer up, but having at least one waterproof item can be very handy.

On the other hand, if you're heading to a travel destination for a white Christmas, wear your heaviest outer layers on your travel day. This travel hack keeps bulky items out of your luggage and saves you space. 

Layers

I always try to pack items that I can layer. Consider a tank that goes under a T-shirt that goes under a light, long-sleeve shirt that goes under a sweatshirt that goes under a jacket. 

I also try to stick to basic, dark colors that will go together and won’t show up dirt or wear easily. This means I can mix and match for any weather and keep the packing to a minimum.

Toiletries and Medicine

Most travel destinations, including Hilton Grand Vacations properties, have stores where you can buy what you need if you forget anything. Still, toiletries can be very personal to you and 

Travel toiletries in a brown travel bag.    

can also be very expensive in a foreign country. (i.e., sunscreen is super expensive in a lot of Asian countries).

You also can’t assume that something you buy over the counter or prescription will be available away from home. Always take enough medication along with you for the entire trip along with any prescriptions you may have.

If you’re traveling with large quantities of any medication, including non-prescription, it is advisable to bring a letter from your doctor. I pack these in a Ziploc bag or packing cube to be easily accessible and, I can produce them if required at the airport.

If you have sensitive skin or use specific creams or lotions, don’t forget to pack those, too.

Do your research, and make a list. 

Admittedly, I tend to overpack. But one trick I've learned is to make a list and to keep the list updated every time I travel. 

It's more important than ever to stay on top of travel recommendations from the CDC and the areas you'll be visiting. To travel responsibly this season, you'll need to keep abreast of any local mandates requiring face coverings or social distancing, which will affect which must-have items to pack. 

Update your list accordingly and stick to it. Your luggage (and future self) will thank you. 

Read If You Think Travel in The Time of Coronavirus is a No Go, Think Again, to hear how another Owner updated his packing style to travel safely.

 

Casey

Casey R.

A Member since 2016, Casey’s home resort is Hilton Grand Vacations Club on Paradise in Las Vegas. Casey is from Australia, and when traveling the globe, she loves to embrace different cultures. She does this by exploring off the beaten path, eating unique foods, and lounging around the pool or beach. Casey loves to travel with her husband and appreciates all the brilliant places they have visited together. She enjoys having breakfast in her HGV kitchen, and values this money-saving hack while traveling. Casey is a night owl who loves reading books and sipping cherry limeade cocktails by the pool.

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