Travel Tips

Travel Tips: Dressing for the Cold

Travel Tips: Dressing for the Cold

Nothing is worse than being miserably cold…well maybe being wet and cold! I have been both miserably wet and cold on different winter vacations and I have always regretted my outfit choices for those days immediately. It’s always more difficult packing for a cold climate with limited suitcase space and even more difficult to pack items that are both cute AND functional. Although I haven’t perfected the capsule winter suitcase yet, but I have some do’s and don’ts about winter outfits while traveling.

Know your Itinerary

Knowing the temperature isn’t enough, you have to know what you are doing in the cold. Day out snowshoeing is going to require a very different outfit than a day museum-hopping. Pick out any days that require specialized equipment or clothing and pack those items first. You can find a way to incorporate those items into other outfits but you probably don’t want to spend a day skiing without the right clothes.

Now, each day does not need its own distinct head-to-toe outfit; there’s a lot of mixing and matching you can do with winter wear, for example I use my Hot Chillys as leggings to save on space. So when there’s a day that is extra cold I just slip those babies on under my pants and no one knows.

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Know your Personal Limits

My sister loves cold weather and now, after living in Baltimore and Germany for a few years, she is used to it. I, however, am a born and bred Florida girl. She can wear tights and a skirt while I’m freezing my ass off. For so many years I tried to match her cute style while in cold weather and just spent the day miserable. Now I embrace my thin-bloodedness and pile on those layers.
I’ve learned I can still look cute and wear twice as many layers as she does. So, know thyself: if you are like me, skip the thin yet super cute sweater and just grab the super thick, warm, equally cute, sweater in your closet. It’ll take up more space, but it’ll be worth it when you’re toasty and warm instead of freezing and suffering.

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Pack Wisely

This is an area I have to work on…by a lot. I’m a clinical over packer but I’m getting better! Bulky winter clothes makes this so much harder: sweaters, boots, and thick socks galore! There are two things you can do when you’re short I space: make your outfits do double duty and buy space-saving products. During the winter, most of the time you will have a layer or two that will remain hidden under a sweater, so use that to your advantage. You only need pack 2-3 tank tops and 3-4 long-sleeved shirts as under layers, and pick neutral colors so they match with lots of options.

Now you can certainly cut down on the bulk by doubling up on the days you wear items but sometimes that’s just not enough. I use packing cubes and SpaceSaver bags to squeeze in as much as I can in my suitcase. The space savers are fantastic for any really bulky items such as knit scarfs or sweaters. I know the rule of thumb is to forego bulk for layers but I just can’t be comfortable in the cold without some fluff.

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Invest in Good Pieces

In this case money can certain buy happiness…or at least warmth which in some cases is the exact same thing. You don’t have to go all out and buy professional, Olympics grade clothing but a few key pieces will make all the difference. Here are the things I suggest you purchase quality over economy:

  1. Shoes (especially waterproof boots)
  2. Socks
  3. Gloves
  4. Thermal layer (I love the Hot Chillys brand)

Depending on the climate and your itinerary (see tip above) this list can expand or contract. Each person is different too, so think about your needs for the trip you are going on first. The good thing about these pieces is that they can last you a long time and if you buy neutrals they can be used in a variety of grips and locations.


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