Whether you’re making the annual winter pilgrimage to your childhood home to spend time with family or striking out with your favorite partner in crime on an overseas adventure, it pays to get your ducks in a row, especially around the holidays when travel can become even more complicated than usual by crowded flights, weather emergencies, and the need to schlep gifts. Don’t worry: We’re here to help.



First, if you’re flying, know the dimensions and weight restrictions provided by the airline or airlines with which you’ll be traveling. Second, start shopping for luggage: If your goal is to be more organized than ever before, our extended Mar Vista 2.0 luggage collection has the perfect bag for every size trip. Softside spinner carry-on luggage fits effortlessly into overhead luggage compartments. The compact 17-inch International Carry-On and 21-inch Carry-On Spinner Upright are excellent on-board options, as standalones or complements to checked luggage. For longer journeys, consider the expandable 25-inch and 29-inch Spinner Upright cases. Both the 39-inch Carry-On Garment Bag and 43-inch Rolling Garment Bag offer the convenience of leaving clothing on hangers.

Shop Mar Vista 2.0 here


Make A List. Check It Twice

It sounds obvious, but starting a packing list early (and even setting items aside) will make it easier to feel relaxed and on task as your departure time approaches. Think: gifts, toiletries and cosmetics, outerwear, clothing and accessories for the weather, jewelry, prescription/non-prescription eyewear/sunglasses, over-the-counter remedies or prescription drugs in original packaging, mobile devices and chargers, e-reader/books/magazines, pen and notepad, camera, spare batteries, games, maps and guide books, noise-reducing headphones or earbuds, earplugs, eye mask, small pack of tissues, travel pillow, blanket, slipper socks, folding nylon tote bag, sewing kit, electrical adapter/converter (if traveling overseas)…And always bring an umbrella, because, as everybody knows, if you have an umbrella, you won’t need it.

Must. Have. Phone.

If you’re traveling to another country and want use of your smartphone without buying a new SIM card, check out options with your provider. For most popular destinations, no more than about $10 per each day of usage on top of your normal charges should get you “just-like-you’re-at-home” functionality. Over a two-week trip that may sound like a lot, but having live navigation when you’re in an unfamiliar city can be priceless.  

Arrange For Pet Care

Animal boarding should be booked as early as possible, especially over the holidays. You don’t want to be scrambling to find care for your best furry friends at the last minute.  

Suspend Trash and Recycling Pick Up

Don’t pay for something you’re not using.


Do a “Practice Pack”

Now’s a good time to see if everything’s going to fit, including gifts. If not, start editing. (Do you really need four pairs of footwear?) Compression travel bags can reduce volume of soft goods by up to 80%, particularly bulky items like sweaters and fleece. Standard packing cubes (a misnomer: they’re rarely cube shaped) don’t remove as much air, but what they lack in volume reduction they make up for in superior organization. Otherwise, try rolling clothing before packing instead of laying items flat in your luggage. Attach exterior luggage tag, identified with your name and contact phone number.

Schedule Delivery Hold and Suspend Newspaper Subscription

Still get the paper? Make sure a friend will pick it up for you or stop delivery while you’re away. If you don’t have a neighbor or house sitter who can take care of postal and package-service deliveries, arrange for the USPS to hold your mail and set your vacation parameters with UPS Vacation Hold and FedEx Delivery Manager@reg, among others, so packages aren’t left on your doorstep.  

Contact Banks

Let your bank and credit card institutions know where you’ll be traveling and the duration of your trip: You don’t want hyper-diligent fraud departments to withhold a transaction or cash withdrawal because they weren’t aware you were on vacation.

Confirm Flight Departure Times

Check email and phone messages to make sure the airline or airlines didn’t make changes to your flights. Set flight alerts if offered.

Add Personal Info to Flight Reservation

…Such as your phone number, emergency contact, special meal preferences (where applicable), and KTN, or “known traveler number,” which you are given upon TSA Pre?® approval. (If you don’t have a KTN, consider applying to the program before your next domestic flight. Once you’ve been approved, the $85 fee will grant you five years of expedited security screening at any participating airport/airline.

Download Airline and Travel Apps

Not only can apps keep you current with up-to-the-minute flight information, but many display your boarding pass as a scannable QR code, eliminating the need for a paper boarding pass. Research your destination to find the best travel apps to supplement your itinerary.  

Hotels, Entertainment, Rental Car, Other Transportation, Etc.

If you have reservations for anything other than flights, either print out confirmation emails and/or tickets, or make a list of all applicable confirmation numbers and corresponding telephone numbers.


Check In To Your Flight

Set an alarm to go off exactly 24 hours before departure: If you’re not happy with your seat assignment or don’t yet have one, this could be your last, best chance to avoid getting sandwiched on a 6-hour flight.

Re-Think Your Wallet

Leave your everyday wallet at home and use a different one for travel, whether it’s a special security wallet with RFID protection and a clip-in leash or nothing more than a small zippered pouch. Bring only what you reasonably might need: Driver’s license, passport or other ID, cash, credit card(s), health and auto insurance cards, physician information, car rental membership cards, and the like. You won’t be flashing your local coffee shop’s punch card when you’re hundreds of miles away.

Pack Your Carry-On Travel Bag and/or Personal Item

Holiday travel mishaps can separate you from your checked luggage, sometimes for days: Consider packing a change of clothes and prescription meds, along with toiletries like a comb and toothbrush. Valuables such as ID, cards, currency, essential documents, jewelry, a laptop, and small, fragile items should be kept with you on board. Bring anti-bacterial wipes so you can clean all hard surfaces around your seat. Don’t forget to stow liquids – of no more than 3.4 oz/100 ml – in a clear, TSA-approved bag or pouch. (Six pieces in the Mar Vista 2.0 luggage collection include a removable TSA-friendly pouch.) For longer flights, bring travel-friendly snacks. In addition to the no-drinks rule, TSA agents may also confiscate wet foods like yogurt or Jell-O. Pre-load your smartphone, iPad or e-reader with any music, TV/movies, or books you might want during your travels.

Double-Check the Weather Forecast

…And even then you’ll want to be ready for an unexpected cold snap or sudden warming trend. Nobody wants be in Chicago for a week, equipped with a 750-fill down stadium coat and moon boots during an unseasonal heat wave. (Unless you’re hankering for an excuse to go shopping, in which case, never mind.)

Set an Out-Of-Office Email

If you have the kind of job where people need responses fast, make sure to provide the names and emails of one or two colleagues who can assist in your absence.


Last-Minute Home To-Dos

Water plants and set or turn off thermostats as appropriate. Turn down the water heater. Unplug any devices or appliances that won’t be used while you’re gone. Consider automatic timers on lamps, a radio/stereo, or a TV to make your home seem occupied. Park the car in its usual spot. If you don’t have a house sitter, consider leaving a set of keys with a neighbor or friend in case of an emergency.  

Include Lost Luggage Contact Information

Put a copy of your itinerary along with your cell phone number inside the bag(s) you plan to check, in case the luggage tag is accidentally removed. Oh, and HAVE A GREAT TIME!