Packing for the Holidays

Packing for the Holidays

Every December, we fly out to California to visit our relatives. Over the years, I’ve learned by trial and error some of the best ways to pack for a family trip, as well as what not to do. (For example, don’t let Anton’s milk spill on my laptop!) Here are a few favorite tricks, brought to you in partnership with Joe Fresh

Packing for the Holidays

1. Bring along a pillowcase for storing dirty clothes during the trip. When you get home, just throw the clothes and pillowcase into the washing machine.

2. Consider packing travel-sized versions of games to play with relatives on the trip — we like Apples to Apples and Bananagrams and the very addictive Set.

Packing for the Holidays

3. On the flight, have kids wear the same shirt (or at least the same color palette). That way, when they’re running around the airport, or you’re juggling all the luggage after the cab ride, you can easily spot them and keep everyone together. (I’m putting the boys in these matching baseball tees, and these waffle stripes are sweet, too.)

Packing for the Holidays

4. Pack comfy, mix-and-match looks, plus something you’re excited to wear. (I remember my friend Abbey saying she bought a new dress for her honeymoon, which I thought was such a sweet idea.) Pictured above are shirts and sweaters from Joe Fresh. They have such lovely and affordable pieces. For example, this soft sweater has become one of my go-to tops, and I’ve been living in these waffle knit jogger pants, which feel like pajamas yet are tailored enough to wear out of the house. (I’ll definitely be wearing them on the flight!) Finally, this red dress would be so pretty for holiday gatherings.

Packing for the Holidays

5. Snap a photo of your luggage before checking it. That way, if it gets lost, you can show the airline exactly what it looks like instead of trying to describe it.

6. Bring slow foods for your children. And by that I mean food that takes forever to eat. A lollipop (no crunching!). Raisins. A day-old bagel. You want them sitting still and calming snacking for as long as possible during that six-hour flight. ;)

Packing for the Holidays

Do you have any packing tips you’d add? Anything you always bring on vacation?

P.S. How to pack without wrinkles, and how to entertain a toddler on a plane.

(Photos by Christine Han for Cup of Jo. This post is sponsored by Joe Fresh. Thank you so much for supporting the brands that help support Cup of Jo.)

  1. Alexandra says...

    We lived in other countries growing up (Singapore, Austria, Saudi Arabia) and we’d always fly back to the U.S. each year to visit family. Those were some LONG flights! To make the time pass by, my mom used to buy little gifts (inexpensive toys, a new book, a game we hadn’t played before, a snack) and she’d wrap them up. Every hour or two during the flight, we could pick out a present and open it up. I always looked forward to it! It didn’t really even matter what was inside — could be a pack of gum — but it was so special/fun to have a “gift” to open.

  2. Amelia says...

    where is the grey skirt in the main photo from? so cute! :)

  3. Meghan says...

    Slow foods…genius!

  4. Nikita says...

    Such a helpful post!!! I’ll be using some of these tips on my solo trips as well! And where on earth did you get your luggage from? It is beyond perfect! Thanks for this lovely article!

  5. Michele says...

    Each of us has an Eagle Creek zippered pouch containing all the things you need to have with you in your seat-electronics, headphones, reading, gum/mints, a snack, wipes/tissues, etc. That way, we can quickly grab the pouch from our carry on bags instead of delaying everyone while we rummage through to find the items.

  6. Emily says...

    Oh man. I’m on vacation now with my 11-month-old, and the best thing I brought was a roll of wide painters tape. I’ve taped over outlets, I’ve taped drawers and cabinets shut, I’ve taped wires out of reach…instant baby proofing! Now I can actually relax instead of chasing him around! Amazing!

    • Sadie says...

      Yes! I bring outlet plugs, but tape would be even better.

      I also bring a super-fat pool noodle cut to length, because my son is an “active sleeper” and falls out of bed. I put it under the sheets on either side of him. The one time I didn’t, he fell and cut his eyelid on a nightstand, and we spent that holiday morning in urgent care. :(

  7. Lucy says...

    Your blog is my new favourite… I just found it and I LOVE it. I’m packing for the holidays today so I’m definitely using this! Thanks for sharing :)

    Lucy xoxo

    http://lucyannblog.blogspot.co.uk

  8. Christi says...

    Great tips! One to add – packing cubes. Perfect for separating clothes and everything else. One extra thing to pack, but it makes keeping things organized during the vacation so much easier.

    • Emily says...

      LOVE packing cubes!!!

  9. Lisa says...

    Where can I find the suitcase featured in this post? We are looking to get one that looks similar and I’m having trouble finding one. Thanks!

  10. Meg says...

    Regarding slow eating… my mom used to always bring tiny food and had a genius way to make it last and be fun. Sunflower seeds, dried fruit, cheerios, orange tictacs, frozen peas, etc. We would play a game where she would clench ONE tiny treat in her fist. First I would try to guess what it was, then I would have to pry each of her fingers open in order to see what the morsel was. We couldn’t eat our excavated prize until we had opened all her fingers and the bit was flat on her palm. This works great for younger kids when they don’t get too rough about it :) I do it now with my kids… one sunflower seed at a time seems so ridiculous but I’m telling you it’s magic! It takes those chubby little baby hands forever and they are genuinely entertained to see what is hiding for them next! It takes them 2 hours to have a snack haha

    • Erin says...

      Doesn’t your hand get tired!! : ) : )

  11. Alex says...

    We always pack a longer book for our 3 year old (Richard Scarry’s Best Storybook Ever is my top suggestion) and for this Christmas we got him a new book and a Magnetic MightyMind. Also, he’ll be wearing his bright orange hoodie from Hanna Andersson so I can spot him easily.

  12. Cara says...

    When traveling with young kids (5 and 3) we’ve gone through quite a bit of trial and error. A few products that really seem to keep our boys entertained: Melissa and Doug’s Water Wow (reusable paint with water), Make a Face sticker pads (stickers are fun and sharing their crazy creations makes it last even longer), Highlights magazines (hidden pictures, both fiction and nonfiction, easy to pack and no stress if something happens to it). Hope you have a great trip!

  13. Lauren says...

    After two separate cross country trips in November, I just learned that the airplane bathroom is the PERFECT spot to tweeze unwanted facial hair. The absolutely atrocious lighting really highlights every stray hair, and instead of getting down about it, you can actually use it to your advantage and arrive at your destination in style. I’m serious — for 10 minutes of the long flight I wasn’t completely bored out of my mind.

  14. Tara says...

    We flew with a 1 & 3 year old from Toronto to Indonesia, and balloons saved us at our stop over in Hong Kong! We found an empty section of the airport, blew up the balloons, and chased them for an hour. We even had other little ones waiting for flights join our fun, and have the greatest pictures of kids who didn’t speak the same language laughing and playing together. It was perfect.

  15. I love these tips! Especially keeping the kiddos dressed similarly to keep track of them (will keep that in mind for when I have kiddos in a decade hehe). I’m big on packing a HUGE blanket scarf for the flight to double as a pillow or blanket.

    xColby | Fossypants
    How to Decorate Your Teeny Tiny Bedroom: http://www.fossypants.com/how-to-decorate-your-teeny-tiny-nyc-apartment/

  16. Christie says...

    I haven’t read through all the comments, so I hope these aren’t repeated. I always wear comfortable pants and slip on shoes. I hate standing behind people who have to untie or unzip their bulky shoes. The Bensimon tennies you recommended before are my go-to for travel. Normally, I would only wear yoga pants for yoga or around the house, but I need something comfortable for flying.

  17. I love the pillowcase idea for dirty laundry! I always bring an oversized plastic ziplock, but the pillowcase idea is great. Safe travels on your family vacay!

  18. Meggles says...

    Joanna, I love your makeup in this post. It looks you have a smoky eye thing going on, and it’s really pretty. :)

  19. Joanna Goddard says...

    thank you so much for all these amazing comments!! so many good ideas.

  20. lindsay says...

    Over the last 2 years, I’ve become a frequent business traveler. I’ve grown to love ebags packing cubes. I have a few different sizes and they’re so wonderful. I can usually stuff a week of clothing into one (unless I need to be careful about wrinkles, then I pack a little more loosely). I usually take an extra empty cube for dirty clothes, although on my trip last week, I ended up using the extra cube to hold Christmas gifts I picked up on my gift.
    When I travel with my husband, we each use a cube of a different color and it makes unpacking when we get to the hotel a little easier too.

  21. Catherine says...

    Would you mind sharing where that fox stuffed animal is from? It is so cute! Thanks!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      of course! Mr. Fox is toby’s best friend and bunkmate :) we have a slightly slightly different version i think, but this is basically him: http://bit.ly/1O6fbxa

  22. Katie Larissa says...

    I rarely ENJOY sponsored posts on most blogs, but I always like reading yours. And just in the past two months you’ve introduced me to Fat Brain Toys, where I purchased almost all of my son’s Christmas gifts, and now Joe Fresh, which I had never heard of before…but I just ordered a few shirts that were SO reasonably priced and look SO comfy. (Stocking stuffer for myself – that’s okay to do, right??)
    Thanks, ladies @ Cup of Jo! Keep on doing what you’re doing, please!

  23. All good tips! Just a small callout– try not to wrap your gifts until you get to your destination. TSA may need to unwrap them. And I always get a water, no matter if I’m thirsty or not, when they come by with the cart. You only start to feel dehydrated and head-achy once you are really dehydrated. Just drink up while you can. Enjoy California :)

  24. Mac says...

    Having just travelled across the country with my little family (and having lost, but then found! bags) two tips in addition to your gray ones:
    Put pajamas, lovies, and any medication in a bag to keep with you. Lesson learned! But thankfully the easy way. :)
    And take a pack of bubble gum on the plane. My girls, ages 4 and 1 are both mesmerized for a good half hour while I blow bubble after bubble. Will it pop?! My mouth gets tired, but the quiet is worth it.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      what a great tip!!! love the bubble gum idea.

  25. Missy says...

    Just took a trip back to see my parents and friends from Ecuador to Virginia.We have a 2 year old and a 6 month old so I thought packing oodles of snacks and a small lunch would help us keep things running smoothly. My thinking ahead went awry when we got to customs and had to declare the fruit we´d brought for lunch! Should´ve dumped it on the plane, but now we´ve learned our lesson and won´t be going through that extra customs line to have our mandarin oranges, pears, and bananas thrown out for us!

  26. LJ says...

    What pants are you wearing, Joanna? Love the length, color and fit.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thanks! they’re these waffle jogger pants, and they’re SO comfy: http://bit.ly/1YkJhTx

  27. Jana says...

    I always bring a nail file in my handluggage. That way I am not bothered by a broken nail for several hours.

  28. Heather says...

    Good tips! The pillowcase seems much nicer than a plastic bag for dirty clothes.

    I’m sure this has been brought to your attention, but lots of people were singing your praises in the comments of a recent Cupcakes and Cashmere post about advertising. You really do a good job of A. making readers aware early on that it’s a sponsored post and B. incorporating sponsors who mesh well with your original content. (I think the only one that stuck out for me was for Uggs, but it was a very cute post!) Anyway, thanks for all you do, I so enjoy reading Cup of Jo each day.

  29. I have a personal travel rule: if I can’t comfortably carry it, I can’t bring it! With this guideline, overweight luggage is never an issue and I know I can hoist my own items into the overhead bin. It also makes “schlepping” things through the airport and to security much easier!

    Eagle Creek packing cubes are brilliant! I only have one but it has become indispensable. They take up no room and help keep your clothes organized and compact.

    I always bring an empty water bottle, because who wants to pay $$$ for airport water? No thanks!

    I also wear my bulkiest items on the plane and then try to pack lightly (nearly impossible; I am a chronic overpacker!)–flying home for Christmas I wear my boots, bulky sweater/scarf, coat.

    Enjoy your time in California!! xo

  30. cindy says...

    I spy a copy of everything I never told you. I loved that book! However, be prepared to cry in front of strangers if you are reading that on the flight. It’s so good!

  31. Katie says...

    I have to post, again, how bad an idea bringing oranges on a flight is. The smell is SO strong. Please don’t do that to your co-passengers.

    • MissEm says...

      That’s good to know, because i always love it when someone has an orange on the plane – to me it makes the stale air smell so refreshing! But I shouldn’t assume others feel the same.

  32. Megan says...

    In my experience plane travel is a time when flexibility is key and not the time to sweat stuff like healthy eating (within reason) and limited screen time – pack tons of snacks, let them use the iPhone/iPad/other device as much as they want, and bring a change of clothes for them! Unless you’re a millionaire, flying is a rare treat so view it as a special occasion. This is a good time to break out a cool new (and quiet!) toy or book that they can use in their seat. Also, it’s worth checking to see if the airport/terminal you are departing from has a kids play area – if they do, think about arriving early to use it for a good length of time to wear them out a little.

  33. Angela says...

    Oh, also, if you have Amazon Prime, you can download the Instant Video app and many of the shows are eligible to be downloaded to your tablet. We don’t watch a ton of tv, but we did download some shows we know our 2 year old will be entertained with.

  34. Angela says...

    In addition to packing clothes that mix well, I also try and remind myself that, unless I am planning on camping in the wilderness for the holidays/any trip, there will be stores there, and probably washers and dryers. I don’t stress about packing ALL the diapers because I can buy more when we get there. I don’t stress about bringing precisely enough underwear because we can wash them at Mamaw’s. You catch my drift here! It’s really saved me from stressing too much about trips.

  35. I LOVE the one about bringing a pillowcase for dirty laundry – genius, simple & so much prettier than a rattly plastic trash bag :) xoxo

  36. nohatnogloves says...

    1. Each child has a small backpack that they wear or carry. In it is a new comic or magazine, favourite snacks, small toys, small games, colouring books and pencils (no felt tips) and teddy if needed. Wipes. Always.
    2. Hold hands in airports. No discussion.
    3. Let them watch all the crappy stuff available on the plane. And order their own snack or meal if it is a long flight and they can converse.
    4. Capsule wardrobe for me – no thinking required re colours.
    5. Wear trainers or shoes you can run in happily. Well, you never know.
    6. Children reminded that travelling should be as fun as possible for everyone…so no whining. I have no idea why the plane is late or what the pilot is doing. Hush.
    7. I hate flying so always ring up a good friend and ask her to compose a suitable tabloid headline to be phoned through to local paper should disaster occur: Talented Mother Of Two in Fireball Terror, Middle Aged Matron Who Spread Only Love in Downed Jet…you get the idea. Magical thinking that also amuses. True, I really do this.

    • I’m loving your tone regarding the children and your travel guidelines. Kind, but firm- what great parenting! I’m definitely taking notes!

  37. MissEm says...

    So many good ideas! We pack travel size play dough for the airplane tray tables.

  38. The pillowcase idea is a new one for me – will be packing one on our next trip!

  39. Joanna, nooooooooooooo! Joe Fresh has gotten such a bad name for their use of inhumane and horrific factories in Bangladesh. I know, I know, I’m being a total Debbie Downer here, but I think this is an issue worth considering behind the scenes of your blog. You’re a sensitive, worldly woman, after all. And a mom! I know you get it.

    • emily says...

      Agreed! Fast fashion is awful. And reading about that Bangladesh Joe Fresh disaster and the thousands hurt, killed and disabled – so inhumane. All to get a cheap pair of pants, that will go out of style soon (or fall apart sooner).

  40. The pillowcase tip is something I never would have thought of. Genius! Definitely packing one in my suitcase next week.

  41. Laurel says...

    I have no words of wisdom as our last trip was an international move with an 18 month old and I feel like I barely survived. Side note Joanna, your hair looks fantastic in these photos! Nice cut. Good luck! Seems like you’re a pro with this trip.

  42. Anita says...

    I usually take old clothes with me I want to get rid anyway. I wear them during the vacation and dump them before traveling home so the suitcase is more empty.
    I have an excel sheet to print where I have a list for my daughter, my son, my husband and me what to bring with like “[ ] underwear [ ] socks [ ] t-shirts [ ] multi-outlet power strip [ ] pacifier [ ] toothbrush …”. I print it out and make ticks so I don’t forget anything for anybody. And after every vacation I think about what I didn’t need and what would have been nice to have had with me and update the list.
    I also have a list with all addresses from all people I want to write postcards to (32 last vacation) , I print it out on self-adhesive paper so I can stick the address to the postcard and don’t have to write it per hand.

  43. Mette says...

    On a recent 3 hour flight, I brought play dough for my 2 yeah old, along with snacks and cartoons on the iPad, it kept her entertained on the plane ?

  44. Mónica Leal says...

    I have to praise how you guys do sponsored content on this blog. These posts are always seamless, creative, authentic, and done with genuine respect for your readers. Just feels like when a friend wants you to share the excitement of something new that they’ve discovered, tried, and enjoyed. Well done! :)

  45. shopgirl says...

    I just do not understand these American habits; all that showing of christmas at home, decorating, making a christmas tree, all those lighting, baking, cooking, shoping …all these festive photographs of home sweet home, ….and then when the holidays actually begin, they all leave and go somewhere on a tropical island or to relatives …? I don t get it.. ;-)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha, you have a point :) we used to skip getting a tree since we left for california around december 23rd, but once toby was born, he really wanted one. since we would enjoy the christmas tree at home for 3+ weeks before leaving on our california trip, it felt worth it:)

  46. …P.S. YOUR TREE IS GORGEOUS!!! :-D

  47. Oh my gosh, the luggage picture tip! I can’t believe I’ve never thought of that before – it’s genius!

  48. vroni says...

    pack items of different members criss cross in your suitcases, every suitcase should contain some clothing stuff for every family member. that way, you still get over the first days if one bag or suitcase gets lost. :)

    • This is genius!

  49. Steph B says...

    I love how sweet and positive this blog is. I just heard a creak in the house and thought earthquake!! (we’re in SD CA). Within 5 minutes my anxiety had worked up an epic panic that ended in my mind with my little family living buried alive in rubble for weeks as rescuers tried to find us. Ugh. Anxiety. So I came to your blog and as always the photos are beautiful and have me looking forward to packing for our family trip in a week. Cupofjo > Anxiety :-)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      this was the sweetest story! i’m so glad! :) (and i totally get freaked out sleeping at home by myself too)

  50. Nancy says...

    I would always dress my boys in high visibility colours, preferably patterned, (spills aren’t as obvious) when out in large crowds whether traveling or at theme parks. At the very least, I would give them red baseball hats to wear to make it easier to spot them. When they got older, I think our youngest was 5, we started using carry on luggage only. As well, I usually pack a clear garbage bag to be used as a laundry bag as odours won’t transfer to clean clothes and if there is a last minute, messy laundry emergency, or last dip in the pool, damp laundry won’t ruin the inside of your luggage. Of course you could use a plastic grocery bag for the damp things, but I found that putting it within the larger plastic bag was another layer of protection. Be sure to pack a change of clothes in your carry on. Nothing like watching a young one accidently spill juice (or any other minor catastrophe that you can imagine, lol!) all over himself and his mom mid flight to realize the benefit of that one.

    Have a great trip and a wonderful holiday!

  51. Anitra says...

    We’re going to FL for the New Year! We’ll be traveling with our three kids (4, 4, 5). These tips are so helpful! My children have never been on an airplane before so I’m a bit nervous. One of the things I was planning on doing was bring a ziplock bag full of new stuff. Coloring stuff, joke books, books, etc. things they’ve never seen before. Hope it works! :)

  52. I’m a frequent traveler to California. To make the plane ride a success in my mind, I have to have Coffee, Snap Peas, and reading material! I double the amount of tops to pants, always including jeans and cropped black pants. Another must is a lightweight carry-all bag for the plane and a pretty cross-body bag for the trip! For your kids, for entertainment, get them Zig-Zag City Guides, San Francisco. Happy travels!

  53. Amy P says...

    Joe Fresh was created for a supermarket chain in Canada so I did a double take when I saw you featuring it – I didn’t know it had crossed the border! I buy a lot of my kids’ clothes there but not many of my own.

  54. We, meaning my husband and two boys ages 8 and 4, leave for 3.5 weeks in Brazil (plus quick stops in Argentina and Uruguay via a cruise) on Sunday. I haven’t started packing yet but will soon. I have lots of tips for packing for kids but one that stands out for me right now is having a surprise for them on the plane. It will occupy their time for the first hour or two and then it’s time to sleep (or so I hope!).
    Have a nice time in CA. Lots of snow here this winter! :)

  55. Adriana says...

    Seeing the oranges, I panicked. I am super sensitive to smell and hate when there are really pungent smells on airplanes close to me! Especially orange since it lingerssss. Bread, pretzels, or any neutral smelling snack is ideal.
    Other than that, these are my travel musts:
    – I love traveling with a pillow to sleep on the plane (I take my actual regular-sized pillow I sleep with!) – it fits perfectly between me and the window (no awkward head bobbing as you fall asleep), and the humming of the plane lulls me to sleep just as we’re taking off. I usually wake up around the time they ask you what you’d like to drink and read or watch tv until we land.
    – I am a huge fan of blanket scarves! If you’re wearing it, it takes up no space in your bag, and you can use it as a blanket when it gets cold on the plane.
    – Three words: empty water bottle. You can fill it after you pass security at a water fountain and don’t have to buy airport$ water$ or wait for the tiny cups of drinks to come along.

  56. Sara says...

    Loved the “slow food” comment! Cups of dry cereal is a hit with my two. One tip of mine to offer is that I have created master packing lists, one for a short trip and one for a long trip that has everything that we need to bring. When it’s time to gather things, I just go down the list and am confident that I haven’t forgotten anything. It’s taken quite a few revisions, but it’s pretty much easy peasy now. Also…even though my boys are out of diapers, I always have a small package of baby wipes with us. Have a great trip!

  57. Juliet says...

    Excellent tips! We are possibly going to CA as well from NYC in a few days. Our boys are 4 1/2 and 28 months. What tips do you have for travel times (during nap time for our youngest vs. red eye flight). Also when you book your seats, do you make them all in the same row next to each other or do you break up the seats? Thanks and have a great trip!

    • Mac says...

      Hey Juliet. After lots of flying with my two, I’ve accepted that there’s just no guarantee that they’re going to sleep, no matter what time the flight is. That said, I like to pick a flight in the morning to hopefully limit delays and I find that even though it’s tough to skip a nap, the times my girls have, they make the switch to a different time zone much easier. Good luck!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      We ALWAYS book separate seats — one parent sits with the kids for 2 hours, while the other parent gets a break (to watch a movie, read a book, take a nap, do some work, eat dinner…) then we switch. it’s a lifesaver on long flights. it’s fun to play with the boys for two hours and as soon as you’re ready for a break, you get one! :)

    • I have twins. They’re now 6 but we fly regularly with them, and after the first flight when they were 17 months, I always separate them. One parent with each child on separate rows. The airline staff always helpfully try to seat us together and I say, “it’s best for EVERYONE on the flight if you leave us separate” and it really is :)

    • tracey says...

      We flew from CA to NYC for Thanksgiving with 2 yr old twins and took a red eye in hopes they would sleep. They fell asleep immediately but woke up after 2 hours and screamed the remainder of the way (once one starts the other always chimes in). It was BRUTAL. On the way back our flight was at 5pm which was perfect for us. The kids were worn out enough from the day that they weren’t antsy to run around but they weren’t exhausted. They comfortably sat in their seats and ate, watched movies, colored, read books, etc. I will never do a red eye again. We do the same as Joanna and have three seats together and one separate. Unfortunately the kids are always partial to me sitting with them which is sweet but it means I don’t get a break. That’s ok bc my wife gets a much needed break (she stays home with them during the days).

    • Juliet says...

      Joanna,
      When you fly out to CA, do you book red eye flights or flights during nap times? Thanks!

  58. Susan T says...

    We love Set and Apples to Apples, too. If you haven’t played it, you should pick up “Spot it.” Our family (parents + teens) have a ton of fun playing with younger relatives & the little kids are often better than the adults!

  59. Susan M. says...

    Toby’s smile! thanks for the clothes tip!

  60. julie says...

    I used to pack a lot of books for my kids, because books are quiet. Now I save these two for travel, and only pack The 20th-Century Children’s Book Treasury by Janet Schulman and then a fun poem collection…like Read-Aloud Rhymes for the Very Young by Jack Prelutsky. I love that theres less to keep track of, but still tons of options to read.

  61. Becca says...

    Carry on only! The biggest time saver of them all and very doable for anything 2 weeks or less. Of course if you have kids all bets are off…

    • Nah, my husband and I traveled to the UK from our home in Oregon this summer with our toddler (so, tons of diapers and wipes!) and lots of camera gear and we managed it with only carry ons. My secret is to pack a carry-on size bottle of laundry detergent and hand wash things in the hotel sink as we need them. Much easier than finding a laundromat in a strange city (or country!)… And SO much easier than lugging around large luggage.

  62. I love the idea of using a pillowcase for dirty clothing! I always end up shoving everything in pockets so as not to dirty everything else, but what a perfect idea! Have a wonderful time in California!

    xoxo http://www.touchofcurl.com

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      how wonderful! and what a magical season to travel abroad. have a beautiful trip! xoxo

    • Jade says...

      I travelled to Paris by myself a few Christmas’ ago now and cannot describe it as anything but magical- it appeared abandoned there was no one else of the streets after dinner i walked to the lourve and didn’t see anyone else. I hope you have a wonderful wonderful time!

  63. Shelby says...

    If you’re going to be staying in a hotel, pack lots of moisturizer and chap stick! Hotels are so dry and I’m practically shedding after a week there. Also, pack a water bottle (filled or empty which you can put your toothbrush in) since the cups they provide in the hotel room are practically shot glasses.
    Dehydration makes you tired, grumpy, and makes digestion hard – not what you need on a trip!

    I like to pack a new nail polish color with me so that I can paint my nails while waiting for the flight, or just a nice calm moment during the trip.

    Also pack a dryer sheet which will help your clothes smell good, but you can also rub it on your clothing or hair to take care of static :)

  64. Wendy says...

    I don’t use a steamer. I always pack a tiny spray bottle. I fill it with warm water when I get to my destination, hang up my outfit for the next day and give it a quick misting. By morning, all wrinkles are gone.

  65. cg says...

    If you’re traveling with others consider splitting your suitcases so if one gets lost, you still have a change of clothes.

    always pack your meds on your body (purse, carry on), always bring at least a day or two’s worth extra in case of flight delays.

    roll most clothing, takes up less space.

    each main item of clothing should be able to be worn multiple times with some other item (mix and match. no single wear items except undies, but you can wash in sink) this can go for makeup too (lipstick can double as blush)

    consider bringing a “thermal” type under garment/tank to help stay warm through layers vs. bringing bulky sweaters.

    freezer ziplock bags work well as inexpensive vacuum space saver bags. You can even seal with packing tape to make sure it doesn’t accidentally open.

    if traveling with kids:
    have each kid carry their own backpack, include an empty water bottle. if possible, avoid salty snacks (gold fish, bunnies, etc), they’ll just get thirsty…then they’ll need to pee… right as the plane is about to take off or land.

    young kids: consider making/buying a surprise ball- little trinkets/candies/stickers/temp tattoos, etc. one item wrapped up in a bit of wrapping tissue, item, tissue, item, tissue all wrapped/rolled into a ball. Takes the kids a while to unwrap each layer. Kills time, and you can crumple up the tissue into one big wad to throw away. You can also stop the activity at any time and resume later. Have a good pay off in the very center.

    very young kids: to offset pressure in ears, have them suck on a lollipop. Not when the plane is taxing or about to take off (they may finish the lollipop before the pressure starts). Rather, have it at the ready, the minute they show discomfort, pop that pop into their mouths.

    slightly older kids: start a small, simple sketch book for them (think blank moleskin). they can draw (journal) their adventure/trip. Activity books full of word search, mazes, etc are fun.

    idevice is always a saver for long trips, no matter your views on devices.

    • Summer says...

      This is amazing! I don’t have kids, so my travel planning is pretty simple, but I’m totally saving this for friends (ooor just in case, hahaha). Thank you for sharing, CG!

    • freya says...

      awesome tips!

  66. Marielle says...

    Love this post and all travel/packing related posts, and love how you do so well incorporating sponsored content into them that still aligns great with the Cup of Jo brand. Keep it coming! x

  67. Della says...

    I’ve been following your blog for years and I have to say that I’m disappointed to see you partner with Joe Fresh.

    Joe Fresh is “lovely and affordable”, as you put it, but this affordability comes at a major price. In 2013 a factory in Bangladesh where Joe Fresh clothing was manufactured collapsed, killing over 1,100 workers and injuring 2,500 more. It was huge news in Canada (it’s a Canadian company – not sure if it was in the news in the US) and it caused me to reconsider these cheap clothes.

    Before the collapse workers had complained about cracks in the building but were told it was safe. These workers make little money and work in often unsafe conditions. At the time of the collapse these workers were making $38/month. Since then minimum wage has risen to $68/month, which still is not much. The raise in wages was largely due to all the negative media coverage this tragedy received, otherwise I imagine nothing would have changed.

    I’m just an average person who, when I became aware of this decided to ask myself – is the $8 t-shirt worth it? And the answer for me was no. I’d rather purchase products from a company that it a little more expensive to know that workers have a livable wage and work in safe conditions.

    I’m just hoping you’ll consider this next time you buy a cheap shirt and your corporate partnerships.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Thank you so much for your thoughtful comment. I really appreciate it. I’ll also pass your comment along to Joe Fresh. Thank you xo

    • Kirsty says...

      To the ladies that raised the ethical and moral issues of purchasing Joe Fresh clothing – thank you, thank you, thank you. Clothing labels create many needed jobs in the developing world – it isn’t an issue of eliminating these jobs but rather putting pressure on the label, the agents and the manufacturers, governments to insist that the working conditions of these factories are improved as well as the rights of the workers. If unions were ever needed in the 21st century, it is in this context.

      Joanna – I would sincerely ask you to think twice about taking sponsorship support from Joe Fresh – this isn’t just about passing along comments. Their track record isn’t a good one.

      As consumers, Joe Fresh epitomizes fast fashion – and we should be willing to pay more than the sticker price to ensure equity and safety for garment workers.

    • I agree as well. It is very disappointing to see that brand here for all of their ethical violations. Joanna, I encourage you to watch the documentary True Cost, and rethink your partnering strategy. http://truecostmovie.com/

  68. Love the tips! I’m about to pack to California as well with a 4.5 month old baby boy! Xx

  69. Cait says...

    I don’t have kids, so I’ve never put any thought to dressing them in something easy to spot, but I am currently sitting at the gate in Philly waiting for a flight to LA and there is a family with three little ones. The kids are all dressed in the craziest colored PJs I’ve ever seen, they look super comfy and are very easy to spot!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      that is so cute!!

  70. Set isn’t dorky! It’s the most brilliant game ever!

    • I was going to say the same thing! Set is a really fun, simple yet complex game. What makes it dorky? Especially compared to a game that comes in a banana shaped bag?!?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      oh yes, i love it so much and play it with our family all the time. it’s just so weird how you end up sitting there in silence and staring at the cards and it looks like you’re all having the worst time even though you’re actually having a great time. we’re always laughing about it. that’s what i meant haha, but it’s a brilliant game, i agree!

    • Lauren E. says...

      Love Set! I also love that it takes a long time to play. At first I could not understand why my friends loved it so much, and then I played one round and I was hooked.

    • Lauren E. says...

      I actually confused this game with another my friends introduced me to called Phase 10. Also SUPER fun.

  71. Love the tips to take picture of the luggage. Never think about it before.

  72. love every single tip here!

    i also like to have an external battery on hand, magazines on my ipad (usually i prefer to have actual magazines and books, but when traveling, digital is just easier because i can download multiple magazines on one device), a toothbrush + toothpaste for right before i get off of the plane, AND my favorite- an eyemask. it makes it so much easier to fall asleep!

    hammyta.wordpress.com

  73. ashley b says...

    i travel for work a ton, and there are definitely things i’ve learned. for example:

    – start the packing process with shoes and outerwear
    – once they’re in place, pack your outfits. i tend to stick to one color palette OR one silhouette. but basically, everything you pack should go with everything (including shoes/jackets/lipsticks/jewelry). don’t pack anything overly fussy (huge bulky sweaters or capes, for example). i tend to stick to basics.
    – roll instead of fold
    – take along a huge water bottle (empty). most airports now have water bottle refilling stations.
    – and on that note, always take snacks of course! nuts are my go to. they’re filling, they don’t spoil and they don’t take up a ton of space.

    now i’m off to pack! have a great holiday jo!

  74. M says...

    My parents regularly used the same colored t short trick on the four of us. I always find myself downloading new albums to listen to on long flights. It gives me more time to mull over them, like slowly reading your way through a good book :)

  75. fran says...

    Do you mind sharing the brand of your suitcase? Love the look of it!

  76. Clare says...

    If you’re taking more than one suitcase divide the contents evenly by type – or don’t put all your underwear or shoes on one case, split between all cases. If one/some go missing then you at least have something to wear then and there. It happened to me, and I was very grateful I’d done this.

    Also with putting something on your that marks out easily – I had a red pompom. It was easier to say that it had a red pompom than it was a medium size gray case. Didn’t think of photographing it though, will do that too next time!

  77. Janet says...

    I have a nearly 5 yr old and 2 yr old boys. Thanks. I picked up some goods tips in this. I like the wearing same colour t-shirts idea. Definitely slow foods, amazing how fast some foods go down!

  78. Maz says...

    Totally using the pillowcase idea!!

  79. Caz says...

    I’m just about to pack for my Christmas trip and currently trying to decide what to pack as I’m only taking hand luggage!

    My packing tips would be:
    * Roll, don’t fold.
    * If you have chunky but airy things (i.e. wool sweaters etc) buy travel space bags (they don’t need a vacuum, you seal them then roll the air out) – you’ll save so much space!
    * Use packing cubes / zip pouches to keep things organized (cables and chargers in one, underwear in another etc)
    * You (almost certainly) need less than you think you need.

    P.S. Normally I find those thick, loose fitting wool sweaters make me look like my grandpa, but you look gorgeous Joanna! What sorcery is this?!

  80. Lynn says...

    I’m a big fan of eagle creek packing cubes for organization, especially as the boys get older- give them each a color (green, blue, red, or black) and that’s they’re responsibility for the entire trip. It makes packing weirdly Fun to have them keep their treasures in the cubes.

    • Michelle says...

      I agree it took me a while to convince the family, five of us, but we in June (winter) went to Australia for 3 weeks using one suitcase and a backpack carry on. Hubby now goes on business for 9 days with just a carry on

  81. The floral shirt you have in several of these photos is so, so pretty. And it’s on sale on their site for only $20! Thanks for featuring a budget-friendly brand.

    Also, I LOL’d at “day-old bagel” :)

  82. Jamie says...

    Awww The Very Hungry Caterpillar! A classic I remember reading when I was young :)

  83. Capucine says...

    Fold everything ala Marie Kondo. (Try it! Space will appear!)

    If it is a grandparent-heavy photograph circus kind of trip, micro-manage your kid’s wardrobe so no clashing outfit is remotely possible and shirts have no phrases on them.

    Personally, we’ve become Type-A about having the same number of items as adult hands, no more, no matter what – including strollers, carseats and carryons. Because this one time, we had to get on a train…

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “If it is a grandparent-heavy photograph circus kind of trip, micro-manage your kid’s wardrobe so no clashing outfit is remotely possible and shirts have no phrases on them.” = love this comment!!!

  84. Jill says...

    Joe Fresh has the cutest clothes for boys. Seriously. I love their t-shirt slogans because they aren’t lame (i.e. say things like, “Mommy’s favourite”). I just bought my son a few shirts. One says “TEAM COZY” and the others are “Rookie Tricycle” and “Trekking through Fun Times”. I love them!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      trekking through the fun times = so cute. anton has a little tee that says “keep on truckin'” and i love it so much :)

  85. Danielle Sargent says...

    travel. steamer.

    • M says...

      This.