Your 5 Self-Care Packing Essentials for a Dreamy, Holistic Holiday

December 19, 2016

No matter where you call home this holiday, make it feel safe and grounded with these essentials.

Whether you’re heading home for the holidays, off to someplace new and different for vacation, or transforming your abode into an Airbnb stay-cation oasis, this time of year you’re likely to find yourself in some new surroundings. While this can be exciting and rejuvenating, staying someplace new for an extended period of time can cause some discomfort and disquiet: we are creatures of habit and like to have our things about us. To help you stay grounded and feeling safe during your upcoming travels, add these self-care essentials to your lists of packing and gifting, and you’ll be prepared for whatever merry-making shenanigans, family confrontations, and requisite alone-time you’ll encounter these final weeks of a tumultuous 2016.

  1. Munchies and Meals: Since November, you’ve probably been compiling creative answers to the question of “How can I veganize my holiday meals?” There are so many resources out there (including this comprehensive PD Guide!) to help you cope with family, work, and friend get-togethers during the holidays that you can pat yourself on the back for already doing a great job of incorporating your dietary needs into traditions. But when you’re temporarily living in a space that might not be vegan-friendly, what to eat is not only a question applicable to one meal or day but to all meals and many days. Make sure you take care of your body by bringing some of your favorite foods that your host might not have on-hand. If you’re traveling a long distance, you can also scope out the area ahead of time and find a grocery store where you can pick up odds and ends (just tell your host you’re doing so to she’s not offended and has room in her fridge!). When I go to my parents’ for Christmas, my mom is pretty good about stocking up on produce and legumes for my meals. But along with gifts and hugs, I have in tow the little things I turn to every day that make me feel nourished and are part of my routine: maca powder, almond butter, a box or two of Yogi teas, and an assortment of raw nuts–things that won’t weigh me down but are small reminders of my home.


    If your kitchen looks like this, pack up travel-sized portions of your favorite foods to have ready ICE.

  2. Cozy-Wear: Everyone has that piece of clothing you love to lounge around in when you’re stuck at home (voluntarily or not)–a sweater, a pair of socks, those leggings so well-worn you wouldn’t dare wear them to a real yoga class. In addition to your festive holiday outfits, make sure to pack those cozy items as well. Even if you’re traveling someplace warm, airplanes and hotels can leave you feeling chilly and dry; light-weight knits are the perfect protection from that and won’t take up much room in your luggage.

    cozy sweater

    Donning your coziest duds makes any place feel like home.

  3. Sweat-Wear: The holidays can throw a workout schedule very awry–which is fine!–but don’t let a lack of appropriate clothing or footwear prevent you from breaking a sweat when you’re away from home. It’s easy to pick up a home yoga practice if you have roughly the space of a yoga mat (even if you don’t have a mat with you), and one pair of leggings and a top with a built-in bra will sustain your practice for at least a week’s time. Likewise, if you’re heading someplace familiar, you can hit the pavement with a run or walk, and wearing your favorite sneakers in transit will help prevent your precious packing space from being eaten by bulky shoes. Load up your phone with a great playlist or two, and you’ll be able to reach for seconds during dessert without any guilt.


    Who says you need a swank studio or gym to work out?

  4. Your Desert-Island Skin Care Item: Like many other people on the cusp of or squarely in the category of millenial-dom (yes, I admit it!), going home means you’ll have a room waiting for you with all of your childhood things ready for use, including a bathroom full of toiletries and bath products. For a long time, I considered this state a reason to pack light (Mom has face wash, so why should I bring more?). Over the years, though, I’ve realized that my highly scrutinized set of body products aren’t really the same as Suave and Target-brand alternatives, and having to wash, moisturize, etc. with the latter is a highly unacceptable way of living for anything more than a day (still love you, Mom!). As such, I make sure to have with me my entire ritual of skin care (including the amazing Fig + Yarrow face serum I picked up from, ironically, Target). Since I minimalized my beauty products, I don’t have that much to pack, really, but if you fall more toward the 10-Step Korean Beauty end of the spectrum, pick the one item you couldn’t live without on the desert island we all imagine ourselves stuck on. As a cure-all for most problems, I’d recommend a moisturizer or hydrating mist, which helps with plane-face and late nights alike.


    A soothing rosewater toner can help solve skin problems while traveling as well as help you maintain your skin routine in an unfamiliar place.

  5. Inhale-Worthy Scents: Smell is a sense loaded with memories and emotions, so having something with you that’s calming, energizing, or simply familiar in an unfamiliar place can bring you back home without actually being there. Pick up a travel-sized tin candle or a stick of Palo Santo and place it wherever you’re staying–even without burning it, the scent will permeate the room just as is. If you’re looking for a double-duty essential, choose a scented body oil for #4 above that has a grounding aroma: look for products that include sweet almond, sesame, and/or jojoba oils that you can massage into your skin after you shower or simply rub into your palms and inhale in stressful moments. Deep breathing of any kind, especially enhanced with a calming fragrance, helps to soothe the nervous system and return an anxious body to homeostasis, which allows your body to digest, sleep, and generally regenerate itself as it’s programmed to without interruption. Sounds like just what the doctor ordered for holiday time!


    Earth & Herb Travel Candles, $36 for a set of 3 @ Food52

What reminders of home will you take with you this holiday? 

Also by Jennifer: A NYC Book Editor’s Vegan Budget

Related: 9 Packing Tips for Stress-Free Travel

5 Must-Have Vegan Travel Snack Essentials

Get more like thisSubscribe to our daily inspirational newsletter for exclusive content!

Photos: DesignSponge via Instagram, Pixabay: 1, 2Chrissy Charter, Jennifer Kurdyla,

Features Editor Jennifer Kurdyla is a New York City girl with Jersey roots and a propensity for getting lost in the urban jungle. An experienced publishing professional, yoga instructor, home chef, sometimes-runner, and writer, she adopted a vegetarian lifestyle in 2008 and became vegan in 2013. She has written for The Harvard Review Online, The Rumpus, and Music & Literature and maintains a wellness-based website, Be Nourished, which features original writing and recipes. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram @jenniferkurdyla, Twitter @jenniferkurdyla, and Pinterest.


always stay inspired!