4 steps to packing for winter travel

Ah, winter. A beautiful time of year.

Fresh snow crunching beneath your boots, the dance of a candle against a window splattered with grey rain… One of the most delicious sensations of the season is the joy of wrapping yourself in a giant, warm coat, or swirling a scarf around your instantly-warmer neck. Chunky sweaters and waterproof boots grace the covers of the magazines in grocery store checkout aisles, and you spend an entire afternoon sipping coffee, browsing department stores decked out in holiday displays for that perfect pair of gloves.

But… how do you fit all this warm, thick, comfortable clothing into a carry-on suitcase for that trip you’re taking to Europe-

in January?

The highlight reel of cozy winter moments screeches to a halt as you realize that one winter outfit takes the same amount of space in your luggage as two weeks of clothes did for that beach vacation you went on in August.

So here’s how to pack for your winter travels.


A caveat: this method focuses on winter travel to large cities. If you are travelling to a more rural area or participating in a winter sport of some kind, you may need extra and more durable clothing. Obviously, though, this method is adjustable- do what you need to make your trip a success!

1. Check the weather forecast.

This sounds so obvious, but I’m sure many of you have made the mistake of skipping this step. I know I have! The first time I visited my family in Houston, I brought a tank top, a pair of shorts, flip flops and a breezy dress. I assumed Texas was hot all the time and didn’t look at the forecast. Had I done so, I would have avoided the freezing-my-butt-off that accompanied Houston’s record-breaking low temps that week…

Once you’ve checked the forecast, you can plan accordingly. For instance, if there’s a lot of rain in store, make sure you bring an adequate amount of waterproof gear. You should bring a raincoat anyway, just in case, but this way you can plan on an extra rain shell, or at least make sure the place you’re staying has a dryer.

2. Make a list.

Using the weather forecast and the activities you’ll be doing as a guide, create a list of what you’ll need. For winter, it’ll probably look something like this:

2 pairs of pants: I have two pairs of these super-comfy “treggings” from H&M in black- they go with everything! But you could also do jeans, trousers, whatever- just stick to a basic color palette.

1-3 long sleeved shirts: the number depends on how long you’re staying and if you can do laundry. I promise you don’t need more than this, though! Pick two basic long-sleeves and one nicer blouse. For me, this is a basic black long sleeve, a white button up and an emerald green blouse.

1 warm sweater (not too thick): again, versatile color. Mine is black with small zippers on the sides, from GAP. It’s super comfy, and really easy to layer, while still looking classy.

1 raincoat: an essential

1 hooded jacket: make sure you can fit this underneath your bigger coats, for layering.

thick coat: your warm, heavy coat that you live in when it’s cold

sneakers/ walking shoes: the more durable, the better.

boots: these should be sturdy, walkable, waterpoof and warm! I have a pair of black Timberland boots that work for this purpose. They’re pricey, I’ll admit, but they last forever.

Accessories: 5 pairs wool socks, 7 pairs underwear, 1 versatile bra, 1 beanie, gloves

a dress: depending on your style and whether or not you are doing anything that requires getting a little more dressed up.

3. Plan your plane outfit.

Extract the weightiest or bulkiest items from your list and designate them as your plane clothes. Usually your boots, sweater and heavy coat are easy to wear to the airport. That way you don’t have to worry about fitting all that into your bag.

4. Roll up the rest.

Roll the rest of your items to fit them into your carry-on suitcase, and use your backpack for small things like your camera, laptop and paperbacks. You will have so much room left you’ll fill the need to fill it with more stuff. Don’t! Leave space for souvenirs, or maybe a handmade sweater you’ll pick up on your travels.

Happy winter travels!



Flat lay photo by Alice Donovan Rouse on Unsplash.
Girl in snow photo by Joseph Pearson on Unsplash

4 thoughts on “4 steps to packing for winter travel”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s