Packing is the tricky part of traveling. If my recent trip to the East coast has taught me anything, it’s that you never really know what to expect with Mother Nature. An October trip should have been brisk and cool. Instead, I saw 90 degree heat waves with only booties and sweaters in my carry-on. It seems the only two trips you can count on average weather conditions is somewhere sunny and tropical or somewhere cold and snowy. I love winter travel. There’s something about the shorter days and getting to see a place at night all lit up after a long day. It’s also a great time to be indulgent because you won’t be showing that belly near sandy shores. So go ahead and get that second mug of hot cocoa. No one’s judging!
Before all that fun stuff though, you have to pack the suitcase. A general rule of thumb for me...if it doesn’t fit in my carry-on, it’s not coming. Naturally, extra long trips that require extra layers (like in winter), are the exception. If you’re planning a winter getaway this season, see below for a few things to make sure you include to stay warm. These are, of course, in addition to your regular packing items like undergarments, toiletries and most important...a winter coat! This of this list more as a guideline for the winter packing items you might not have thought of. Add what's clearly missing to the suggestions below.
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The more you can warm yourself with base layers, the less you have to pack in the end. There’s no need to pack two sweaters per outfit when you’re wearing decent quality thermals underneath. These options from REI Co-Op and Odlo are a good start for thermal tops and at different price points. These thermal leggings from Duofold are at a great price and a good intro into thermal clothing. Start here with one set for a long weekend, two sets for 5-7 days and three sets for 7-10 days.
GOAL: 1-3 sets for a trip lasting up to 10 days
Warm Sweaters + Outer Layers
Once you’ve taken care of the thermal layers and have your general outfits planned out, it’s time to consider the outer layers. It’s important to pack smarter here. Just because a sweater is chunky doesn’t necessarily mean it’s warm. I have thin sweaters that are warmer than some of my chunky sweaters. This isn’t the time to go on a shopping spree either. You want to bring outer layers that you’re already familiar with and can trust are warm. I have the Emily Rose Zipper Detail Cardigan from StitchFix that is literally my life. It’s one of the warmest sweaters in my closet and is super cute. These are the kind of pieces you want to aim for. Another warm sweater I have is the RD Style Sonole Boucle Open Cardigan. Both these sweaters pair well with many different colors and outfits. For a trip that’s no more than 5 days, I’d pack just these two. I’ll also pack chunky turtlenecks and pullovers like the Evolution by Citrus Abbot Cowl Neck Sweater and Leo & Nicole Poncho Pullover. I’m wearing the Emily Rose Cardigan as I write this post and it’s so freaking cozy I won’t be taking it off until my shower tonight.
GOAL: 2 warm cardigans, 2-3 warm pullovers sweaters for a trip lasting up to 10 days
Neutral Winter Accessories
This is where you can save a lot of space. Instead of packing a scarf and a hat and a pair of cloves for every single outfit, pack one of each. Black and nudes are always great go-to colors but deep colors like plum, burgundy, navy or evergreen can also work. Make sure they’re more functional than fashionable or at least functional and fashionable. They should add an extra layer of warmth. I personally love a good blanket scarf or voluptuous infinity scarf that wraps easily. If the scarf doesn’t wrap well with the coat I’ve brought along, it’s not happening. The only exception in this category to bringing more than one is for hats. If you are desperate to changing up your outer look, bring two or three hats and make sure they’re warm because a cold head is a cold body.
GOAL: 1 hat, 1 pair of gloves, 1 scarf
One Pair of Warm Shoes
Shoes are the biggest thing that will weigh you down no matter what the season is but especially so in the winter. Stick to one pair of sturdy winter shoes whether that’s a trusty, warm pair of gym shoes or a solid pair of boots. The choice will depend on where you’re going and what the average weather conditions are for the time of your visit. If you’re planning on doing any specific winter activities, you might want to consider purchasing a pair of boots that you can use for the activity and also for regular things like walking around. If the shoes are too specialized for whatever you might be doing, you’ll have to suck up the extra weight of two pairs of boots. However, if the normal pair are functional enough, you can wear them on the plane making it not matter too much. Disclaimer: skiing, snowboarding and other typical winter sports are completely out of my expertise as I do not have the coordination to even give them a thought. A good pair of winter boots should be insulated, if not waterproof at the very least water resistant, and they should come up over the ankle. Any higher is your personal preference. See below for a few suggestions:
Ankle-High → Sperry Maritime Repel Waterproof Bootie
Above the Ankle → The North Face Shellista Roll Cuff Waterproof Insulated Winter Boot
Stylish Above the Angle that looks more fashion than function → UGG Niels II Water Resistant Bootie
Lower Calf with “Fur” Accents → SOREL Joan of Arc Waterproof Snow Boot
GOAL: 1 solid pair of winter boots
Bring all the Socks!
I am the #1 supporter of cozy socks. I tend to run hot but for some reason, my feet are always a pair of icicles. The great thing about socks is that they pack easy. Fold them up and stuff them into shoes, crevices of your suitcase, your bras, and hats. I like to have enough pairs of regular ankle socks for each day I’ll be gone plus pair of cozy socks for every other day. I also don’t discriminate where the socks come from. I have cute, cozy pairs from the Gap, pairs that I bought at the grocery store, pairs that my mom got me from her work...I take ALL the socks. So pack it up, wanderlusters! You can never have too many pairs of socks.