Tips for Traveling Warm While Packing Light

It’s cold outside, so your coats, beanies, scarves, gloves and thick socks are all helping protect you from the harsh winter air. But as a traveler, the amount of gear you need to keep you warm is enough to burst out of your suitcase. There has to be a way to pack for your favorite cold-weather destination and still have a manageable amount of luggage, right?

You bet. Just follow these tips and you can travel to those frigid destinations with ease (and warmth):

Don’t Bring Bulky Clothing

What to avoid:

  • Thick sweaters and coats.
  • More than two pairs of jeans/sweatpants. A good rule of thumb: Limit yourself to one of each style you want to wear.
  • More than two pairs of warm socks. Wool socks can take up a surprising amount of room as well. If you can find a pair that traps the heat and remains relatively thin (such as these merino hiking socks from REI), all the better.

There are some items you just can’t travel without, such as boots, scarves and gloves. Carry or wear these and the rest of your biggest items to save as much room in your bag as possible. Planes can get cold anyway, so you’ll want to be prepared if that becomes an issue.

Middle-aged couple stood on secluded snowy mountain

First and foremost, always dress for the circumstances.

Do Bring Thin Layers

The purpose of sweaters, jackets, coats and blankets is to trap warm air that your body naturally provides. But the more layers you pile on, the easier it is to capture that heat. Have you ever had two blankets on top of you at once? It gets toasty under there.

That’s why we suggest packing a few small-volume shirts and jackets that you can transport with ease. This would be your ideal set-up:

  • A thin base layer made of polyester or merino wool (for both lower and upper body).
  • Whatever shirt you want to wear: thermal, fleece, etc. This will depend on the temperature.
  • A strong jacket, if you think it will be warm enough. North Face and Patagonia are brands that most people associate with this type of apparel.
  • A pair of warm pants. I’ve never worn fleece-lined jeans like these, but they look divine.

These are broad packing tips, but please always dress for the circumstances. If it’s going to be below freezing where you’re going, you should grab whatever you think you need.

Make the Washer and Dryer a Non-Factor

Many people worry about having clean clothes on a regular basis during condo stays, but I’ve never felt the need to consistently wash anything during cold-weather trips since there’s little dirt or sweat. Though you won’t be packing as many clothes as you would in the summer, you can re-wear them more often. Don’t feel like you have to have a different outfit each day.

So even if you have to pack light for a cold-weather Global Discovery Vacations destination, you can still pack warm with a couple of adjustments. It’s all about finding the perfect balance between light, yet warm enough.

How do you approach packing for the winter? Let us know in the comments!

Corey is a writer from Overland Park, KS, and has been with Global Discovery Vacations since September 2013. Once a sportswriter, he traveled the country and became proficient in airport security line etiquette and leaving items in hotel rooms.