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Knowing how to pack for cold weather travel can be quite daunting especially if you want to pack light. To help you make the most of your winter gear and limited luggage space, I’ve put together this easy three part guide on:
How to Pack for Cold Weather…Like a Boss
Start by reading these general tips on packing for winter travel:
- Capsule Wardrobe for Winter
- How to Pack for Cold Weather
- How to Stay Warm in Cold Weather (without the bulk)
- The Best Travel Shoes for Winter
1. Use a Packing List
Refer to one of our international packing lists to determine how to pack for cold weather and what type of clothing you’ll need for your destination. Make sure all pieces work well for the weather and the activities you plan to be doing.
Below you’ll find a sample packing list for cold weather travel featuring clothes, shoes, and accessories.
Please note that the items shown in all of our visuals are meant to act as inspiration. We know now at women share the same body type, style preferences, or fall into the same age group so it’s up to you to tailor each guide to your specific needs. Learn more.
2. Mix and Match
As with any travel wardrobe, it’s important that all items can mix and match to make the most of your clothing. Dresses are surprisingly versatile in the winter for moderate temperatures and can be worn over tights or leggings.
Read these posts for the best clothing for winter:
- 10 Best Leggings for Women that Travel
- How to Choose the Best Travel Coat
- 18 Stylish Travel Raincoats
- Readers Choice: Best Waterproof Boots for Rain and Snow
Below you’ll see how we mixed and matched the pieces from the above 10-piece packing list:
Please note: our packing lists don’t count outerwear (jackets/coats), thermal underwear, or pajamas so these would be additional items in your total. However, even with these pieces you should still be able to pack carry-on only. Watch this video to learn how to pack.
3. Learn How to Pack for Cold Weather Travel
Here’s a step by step breakdown of how to choose each item of clothing. Remember, this capsule wardrobe can be used for a one week vacation or more! Don’t believe me? Learn how to pack carry-on only for every single trip!
7 Tops + 3 Bottoms
Tops that fall below your hips are best paired with leggings and can also be tucked into jeans. Choose tops you can layer if needed. Pack a dressier top to pair with a skirt for formal events.
For a one-week trips, pack different tops for each day of the week. Mix and match with three bottoms to create seven unique looks or a total of twenty-on different outfits!
Alternate Option: Replace skirt with trousers or faux leather pants with thick leggings.
2 Pairs of Shoes
Avoid items that look overly casual. Choose a basic pair that can be dressed up or down. Choose neutral colors such as tan, brown, or black because they need to mix and match with everything and comfort is key. Three pairs is also okay if you need a little more versatility.
Struggling to choose shoes? Read our guide on how to choose the best travel shoes!
2 Outer Layers (Warm Cardigan + Coat)
When deciding how to pack for cold weather, choose items that you can layer or wear separately, and are not too bulky. Remember thicker fabric doesn’t mean it’s warmer fabric. Find out why here. Choose a statement jacket or classic coat you love- it will be in all your trip photos!
Here’s a guide on how to choose the best travel coat.
One Set of Thermals
Invest in one (or two) sets of thermals to wear underneath all your clothing. Here’s a list of our favorite thermal underwear for women. One set should do but if you’re going to an extreme cold weather destination then you can wear two sets if you plan to spend a large amount of time outside.
Wear your thermals underneath everything!
Merino wool or silk thermal underwear is the best. Find out why here!
Last but certainly not least are your stylish winter accessories. These are essential and can save you even if your clothes don’t keep you warm! Bring a warm hat, gloves, and blanket scarf to avoid the harsh cold winter weather
Tip: The sun might set as early as 4pm in some European destinations in the winter. Keep this in mind when you leave your accommodation for the day. Bring layers if you plan to stay out until the evening time.
It’s important to note that bulky fabrics won’t necessarily make you feel warmer! You have to choose the right cold weather fabrics and layer your items strategically as explained below.
What are your tips on how to pack for cold weather travel?
For more packing strategies, please read the following:
- Arctic Clothing: Extreme Cold Weather Gear for Women
- Long Term Travel Tips: Transitioning from Hot to Cold Weather
- The Easy Packing Solution for Trips with Cold and Warm Destinations
- Traveling from Cold to Hot Climates: My Layering Strategy