The winter season brings with it many wonderful things: occasional dustings of snow (for those of us who live in the South and consider snow a novelty), the opportunity to reacquaint ourselves with the clothing we’ve had in storage for the last six months, and of course, time to travel to new places. In addition to the summer months when the kids or grandchildren are out of school, winter travel between Christmas and the new year is also prime time for leisure travel.
Now, we’re a little more than a week past that peak winter travel time, which means we’re in the off season for travel to Europe. For many major cities in the Old Continent, “off season” only means that there are fewer tourists, but not much less to do! If you’re thinking about taking a trip across the pond between December and March, give these winter packing tips a read before you go.
General Tips for Winter Travel Packing
Let’s get the obvious one out of the way first: packing lighter can make your trip more manageable. For one thing, checking in multiple bags costs time and money, and for another, lugging them around can be a hassle. Chances are good that you’ll be navigating cobblestone streets at some point and those were clearly not designed for suitcases. In addition, most luxury hotels will have elevators to transport your items, but homestays may not.
With that one checked off, let’s get more specific.
You’ve probably heard that sticking to neutral colors and one or two accent ones can help streamline your travel wardrobe and provide you with maximum versatility. While this is true, it may feel a little restrictive when you’re accustomed to an entire closet’s worth of options. To help give your outfits a little more flare, you can use winter accessories as accents where you might usually use color. Hats, gloves, and scarves will keep you warm and expand your outfit choices.
Key Items to Pack
When it comes to winter travel, there are two main items that take priority over everything else: an excellent pair of shoes and a versatile coat. Notice that I did not say, “a good pair of shoes.” If you’re going to spend money on any item of clothing for your travels, let it be on a pair of shoes that will keep your feet dry, warm, and comfortable. You will realize the value of the money you spend on a quality pair of shoes time and time again; just be sure to break them in before you leave.
The coat is secondary, but still at the top of the list. It will likely be in all of your outdoor pictures, so be sure you get one that you like. It also needs to be roomy enough to have layers underneath.
Beyond those two items, the key to winter attire is layers. The majority of these layers should not be bulky; go with thinner layers that are buildable (and highly packable). Leggings and long-sleeve shirts can serve as additional warmth during the day under other clothing and possibly as pajamas at night.
The items in this category are things that you should either bring with you or pick up when you land.
If you have a high-quality moisturizer that you like, bring it along. Grab your trusty chapstick as well, as both air travel and the winter air in general will dry out your skin.
Depending on where you go, winter weather may mean rain instead of snow. I usually travel with an umbrella, which I’ve used to combat both rain and sleet on winter trips.
Putting Everything Together
Once you think you have everything you need, lay everything out and take stock. When you have everything out at once, you can identify items that are basically duplicates; put the unnecessary items back in the closet--nine times out of ten, you won’t need them.
After you’ve done all the eliminating that you can, pick out what you’re wearing on the first travel day. Wear the bulkiest items on the flight over--think boots, coats (and possibly layers underneath), and your largest sweater. This will take some of the weight and bulk out of your luggage.
Finally, do a test pack. Put everything in your suitcase(s), weigh your baggage, and check the limits imposed by your airlines. If your bags are overweight, you’ll need to revisit the contents of your bags or pay for the extra weight at the airport.
When you’re satisfied with your items, you’re ready to go. Happy travels! If you would like assistance in planning a future trip, booking transportation (to minimize the time you spend pulling your luggage around), or anything else travel-related, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Author: Debra Harris
As founder of Life’s Journey Travel, I’m deeply passionate about creating custom travel experiences that allow my clients to truly savor the journey.