How To Pack Light For Winter Travel & Cold Weather

packing for snowy

Written by Kirsten Alana on

Kirsten Alana is a professional photographer, writer, teacher, and social media consultant. She has worked with brands like AOL, Expedia, and Beck’s Beer; co-hosted #ExpChat, #TNI and #FriFotos on Twitter; as well as been on-air talent for commercials and travel shows on networks like CNN and AMC. She enjoys teaching photography at conferences all over the globe but her true passion is simply inspiring people to see and know more of the world.

packing for snowy

With bulky winter clothes, boots, and coats taking up so much room in your bag, it can be tough to pack light for a cold-weather vacation. Find out how to fit everything in—without racking up excess baggage fees in the process.

Packing light—or more accurately, packing right—can be one of the most challenging parts of travel preparation, especially for winter trips. Take more than you need and you’ll be dragging unwanted weight and bulk through airports, hotels and across new cities. Underpack and you’ll be forced to hunt down the items you need to stay warm in an unfamiliar destination (and probably spend more than you need to in order to get them).

Finding the perfect middle ground, especially when you’re jetting off to a cold-weather destination, is practically an art form. How can you get all of your extras, like scarves, sweaters, jeans, boots and outerwear into the same bag that holds nothing but swimsuits and flip flops when you’re taking a beach vacation? The short answer? Don’t wait until the day you leave to start planning for your cold weather adventure! We’ve compiled a list of eight expert tips to help you pack the perfect bag for your wintery destination. Follow our advice, and you’ll have no trouble zipping up your suitcase or carry-on without sitting on it first!

1. Use compression bags to organize items of clothing before packing

Use one bag for sweaters and tops, another for pants and bottoms, and a third for miscellaneous items, like hats and scarves. When you have all the items you want to pack, compress the bags, which will then shrink to half of their original volume.

2. Buy convertible clothing and remember to layer

Most travel clothing companies now make jackets for men and women that have multiple layers. A typical style involves an inner layer and outer layer, which can be used together for extra warmth or taken apart for differing weather conditions. Choosing such a jacket will lessen the bulk you will need to pack and the overall number of items you will need to carry with you.

3. Bring a versatile flat shoe

For winter trips, there’s no need to try to be extra fashionable—heels won’t be of much use in the ice and snow! Keep it simple with just snow boots, and maybe a pair of sneakers if you’ll be indoors a lot.

4. Reuse and recycle (your outfits)

Remember the simple fact that in cold-weather, clothes can be worn more times than in a hot climate. Therefore, less clothes are needed to begin with and items do not have to be washed as often as when traveling in the summer or in high temperature locales. Especially if you bring thin shirts that can be worn under the same sweater and versatile jeans or black pants that go with everything.

5. Carry on your bulkiest items

Planes, particularly in winter, can be very cold places to spend a prolonged period of time. Wear your bulkiest boots, your main jacket and heaviest sweater on the airplane. Even if you find it’s more than you need, you can always store it in the overhead bin. At least you’ve saved yourself the added cost and bulk of trying to fit it in a suitcase.

6. Invest in cashmere

Cashmere is lighter than other fabrics, yet enables you to be warmer than when wearing sweaters made of cotton or synthetics. It’s also a great idea to invest in silk thermal underwear, which also packs very light, but keeps you far warmer than other fabrics can

7. Choose a color scheme and stick to it

Packing tops and bottoms that all go together will enable you to pack less but get more miles out of the items that you do have at your disposal. Usually, you won’t see the same people day after day while you’re traveling anyway, so it’s more than acceptable to wear clothes more than once.

8. Choose the right luggage

For winter and cold-weather travel, you’re going to want a suitcase that can handle the snow without getting your clothes all soggy. The Gear Warrior 4-Wheel Duffel International Carry-On is water-resistant and had treaded wheels to handle icy terrain. It also has a spot to attach your coat (or scarf or sweater) to the top of the bag, for when you get overheated at the airport). And don’t forget a clean/dirty packing cube, to separate your wet, snowy gear from your clean clothes if you don’t have time for everything to dry for your trip home.

Whether you’re going skiing or just hitting up a lodge, enjoy your winter vacation and stay warm!

Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):

Snow Trip Packing List

Video: 10 Best Tips for Packing Light

How to Pack for Two Weeks in a Carry-on