Winter Travel Packing Tips

When it comes to packing for a winter trip, the key is to travel light.

That might seem counterintuitive considering the colder temperatures, but packing light allows for ease of transport and helps you avoid extra baggage fees. The process might feel like solving a puzzle, but we’re here to help with some winter packing tips.

Pack fewer outfits than you think you need. Especially during the winter, it’s about layering and choosing versatile pieces that can be worn in different combinations. Think function and comfort (warmth) before fashion. Also, when you pack light, you leave room in your luggage for the souvenirs and gifts you’ll pick up during your trip. With that mindset, let’s break down your packing list into layers.

Base Layer

One strategy to eliminate bulky luggage is to create warmth using layers, rather than packing your heaviest down coat. These layers can be worn in different combinations depending on the temperature, weather conditions, and your activities.

The priority with your base layer is to keep your core warm. You can wear merino wool long-sleeve shirts, thermals, moisture-wicking compression shirts—pieces that are lightweight but warm. Tank tops and undershirts can also add a little extra heat without adding bulk.

If you’ll be spending the day outside, you might also want to wear a pair of leggings, thermal long underwear, or tights underneath your pants. Base layer pieces also make great pajamas!

Mid Layer

This is where you can incorporate your favorite fall/winter outfits: Sweaters, cardigans, flannel shirts, Henleys, tunics, zip-up fleeces.

Keep layers in mind here. For colder destinations, you’ll likely be wearing sweaters over your flannels, Henley shirts, etc., so we recommend more sweater options and fewer tops. For example, rather than packing two sweaters and seven tops, consider packing four sweaters and four tops. These pieces can be mixed and match to create different looks, all while keeping you warm.

Outer Layer

If you’ll be traveling to a few different cities during your trip, pack for the coldest destination that you’ll visit. This might require a heavy parka, but hopefully, you’ve been able to generate enough warmth with your base and mid layers that you can opt for a lighter coat.

Look for a hooded jacket that’s water-resistant. Ultralight down jackets are also great for insulation without extra bulkiness. Ideally, your coat should be thin enough that it’s easy to roll or fold up to use as a pillow during flights or train rides.

And no winter traveler should be without good boots. A pair that’s insulated, water-repellent, and comfortable for walking. We recommend wearing them onto the plane to save space in your luggage.


Don’t underestimate the power of hats, scarves, gloves, mittens, fleece headbands, ear warmers, and wool socks. These are the cherry on top of the warm-layer sundae.

We also suggest a hard-sided suitcase to protect against snow and inclement weather. Plastic gallon bags are also useful for storing and separating any clothes or gear that gets wet.

Finally, lotion, lip balm, sunscreen, and nasal spray are all important for protecting yourself from the dry winter air and sunny slopes.

Discover Our Favorite Winter Itineraries!

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