Traveling this holiday season? Here are the best packing tips from a professional stylist

Traveling for the holidays? Stay stylish and stress-free with these stylist-approved tips.
Traveling for the holidays? Stay stylish and stress-free with these stylist-approved tips.

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Whether your holiday plans include a road trip or flying the friendly skies, chances are they also involve packing for a seasonal stay with family or friends. You’ll want to be comfortable while traveling—and stylish while visiting—so figuring out what to pack can be a struggle.

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We asked Laurie Graham King, a long-time personal stylist based in St. Petersburg, Florida for the best solutions for what to pack for holiday travel. With her expert tips, wearing the perfect outfit is literally in the bag.

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Choose vibrant colors for a mood-booster while traveling

Add a pop of color to your comfortable travel outfit for instant joy.
Add a pop of color to your comfortable travel outfit for instant joy.

Holiday travel has the potential to be dreary, but that doesn’t mean your outfit (or outlook) has to follow suit. “With long travel days filled with unexpected delays, I always advise my clients to wear a colorful leisurewear outfit in a shade other than black,” says King. “Choose a rich, deep jewel tone that makes you feel happy.” The Featherweight Lounge Around Midi Jogger from Beyond Yoga fits the bill. Pair the relaxed piece with a long matching duster sweater and a soft gray T-shirt tucked in for a chic fall look. “Add platform street sneakers from Steve Madden, and you’ve got yourself an upgraded outfit ready for take-off,” she adds. For a minimalistic look that still reads modern, check out the Catcher Platform Sneaker.

Get cozy during your trip with loose and luxurious loungewear

A pair of stretchy joggers are ideal for long flights and road trips alike. Try these vibrant cargo pants from Athleta.
A pair of stretchy joggers are ideal for long flights and road trips alike. Try these vibrant cargo pants from Athleta.

Comfort is key for holiday traveling, and today’s loungewear is just the (plane) ticket. “Thankfully, looking stylish and being comfortable are no longer mutually exclusive,” explains King. Reach for pieces with looser silhouettes that rival sweats without actually being sweats. Think joggers paired with a trendy silk bomber (hello, prep revival) along with a tee, hoop earrings and platform sneakers. “I love the straight-leg silk cargo pants from Athleta,” she says. “They’re incredibly comfortable, flattering and hold their shape all day."

Stay prepared with a cashmere wrap

Stay warm and toasty on the flight with the Cashmere-wool poncho from J.Crew.
Stay warm and toasty on the flight with the Cashmere-wool poncho from J.Crew.

Whether you’re under the freezing blast of an airplane’s overhead vent, or your car companion prefers to keep it chilly, there’s a wrap for that. King recommends bringing a soft cashmere wrap or pashmina on your trip. “The wrap is ideal, too, because it can double as a pillow if you’re someone who can sleep on a plane or car ride. And it tucks into your carry-on easily,” she adds. The J.Crew Cashmere-wool poncho is available in eight colors and envelopes you in softness as a great alternative to a light jacket or cozy blanket.

Pack versatile garments for holiday gatherings

Select garments that do double-duty for easy day-to-night looks.
Select garments that do double-duty for easy day-to-night looks.

While you’re away, you may not always have time to stop and change between holiday gatherings, so choose versatile pieces in neutral colors and styles that serve as blank canvases. Look for elegant, simple pieces in comfortable fabrics, like this Bamboo Ultra-Soft Midi Skirt from Cozy Earth—a nod to the ‘90s skirt trend that serves up cozy vibes in a packable piece that complements almost anything you pair it with. Frankly’s Charlee Dress in basic black, blue or white can be dressed up or down to fit any fete. As an added bonus, the built-in size-inclusive cups mean you can skip the bra. Wear the dress with a cropped cardigan and booties for afternoon play, then pull out a pair of heels and a statement necklace to hit the town for nighttime celebrations.

Make a splash with a carefully selected statement piece

Don’t be afraid to go bold with your dressed-up holiday look.
Don’t be afraid to go bold with your dressed-up holiday look.

Having room for one showstopper in your bag shouldn’t take a Christmas miracle. By choosing a festive statement piece in the right fabric, you can take time to shine instead of iron. The Sami Mini Dress has a reputation for packing perfectly (read: no wrinkles), and the bright holiday red will turn all eyes on you.

Keep it simple with a jumpsuit

For the easiest head-to-toe look, throw on a jumpsuit for function and style.
For the easiest head-to-toe look, throw on a jumpsuit for function and style.

A one-and-done style is a holiday travel style life-hack. Jumpsuits are perfect for a head-to-toe style that’s a no-brainer when packing your outfits for time away. The Florence Jumpsuit by Smash + Tess is great for daytime get-togethers when anchored with sneakers, and transitions into the night with heels for a festive gathering after sunset.

Pack a casual jacket for quick outdoor jaunts

Light outerwear is ideal for quick errands and getting from gathering to gathering.
Light outerwear is ideal for quick errands and getting from gathering to gathering.

For King, another travel must is a plush sherpa jacket, preferably in a versatile rich tan. “Usually, holiday travel is to see relatives in a casual environment, so you will undoubtedly bring something very casual to wear in someone’s home for watching sports, playing games or cooking as a family,” she says. This unisex Deep Shag Sherpa Jacket by Baja Llama is ready for walks, outdoor chats and errand running, with tan faux-leather patches. “You will be so happy to have a warm jacket that looks stylish and feels amazing,” she says.

Dress up your look with cashmere

Cashmere is soft and insulating, and a matching cashmere set is the ultimate in luxury.
Cashmere is soft and insulating, and a matching cashmere set is the ultimate in luxury.

When a holiday get-together requires more than just jeans and a sweater, stay away from satin and silk which tend to wrinkle easily – an issue if you won’t have access to a steamer. Instead, keep things soft and holiday ready with cashmere. “I love a cashmere pant set which feels luxurious, is on-trend and will stay wrinkle-free,” says King. Fabrics like knits and denim don't wrinkle so these are great casual go-tos. This lightweight and luxurious State Cashmere pant set is purchased as separates and can be styled up or down based on what your celebration calls for. Pair the top with cigarette pants, heels and gold accessories to capture an elegant look for your holiday parties, or wear it with the matching pants for a cozy-but-considered vibe.

Versatility is key

Select pieces that will match easily with everything else that you pack for your holiday trip.
Select pieces that will match easily with everything else that you pack for your holiday trip.

Travel style completely relies on hero pieces that can do double duty. Translation: you get more use from each piece while packing less. “Pack pieces that can be styled multiple ways like a blazer over a hooded sweatshirt for a low-key look, or worn with a cami underneath for dressier occasions,” says King. “Separates like vegan leather leggings can also pull double duty from day to night, paired with a rocker tee and then a black lace top later in the day.” For that touch of style no matter the time of day, the Women’s Faux Leather Leggings from Spanx ticks all the boxes. Meanwhile, the Sweater Duster Midi-Dress by Kada can be worn as a sexy sweater dress statement piece, but also works great layered over an outfit as a duster.

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This article originally appeared on Reviewed: Holiday travel packing tips: What to pack this season to stay cozy and stylish