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From the best footwear to what clothing I recommend you include in your winter packing list, here’s my top winter packing tips.
It may be summer in Australia right now, but everyone in the Northern Hemisphere is still in the depths of winter (sorry, guys). I’m not a novice when it comes to winter holidays. In fact, I’ve only ever visited Europe in the fall/winter. One day I would like to see London in the summertime!
Nonetheless, after too much winter travel and my time in Vancouver, I like to think I’m now pretty good at packing resourcefully for cold climates. Keep reading for all my hot tips and your winter packing list will be sorted.
WINTER PACKING TIPS
LAYERS ARE IMPERATIVE
Winter packing is all about the layers. I always start with a thermal singlet and then pop on either a long-sleeved t-shirt or a collared shirt. I like the preppy look of a denim or patterned collar popping over a jumper/sweater. Layers don’t just have to be practical. You can choose stylish layers that will still keep you warm. The best part is, your base layers should be nice and thin, to maximise space in your suitcase.
Your third layer should then be a jumper. Now I’ve lived in colder climates, I’ve accumulated quite the jumper collection. Depending on how long you’re travelling for, be mindful that jumpers can be bulky and take up a lot of room in your suitcase. I recommend checking out H&M, Uniqlo and Old Navy overseas for inexpensive jumpers. For my 10-week trip, I only had five different jumpers I alternated between. I was basically wearing one of two jackets in photos anyway, and I did laundry every 10 days – two weeks.
THERMALS ARE LIFE
Back in the day, thermal layers were quite the sight. I remember the pair my mum gave me for my first trip to New Zealand. They were not pretty and made me feel about 50 years older than my teenage self. Nowadays, you can find basic thermals at outdoor clothing shops and department stores. In the past I’ve bought thermals from Target, but I’ve recently discovered Uniqlo’s affordable HEATTECH range as well. Their singlets, shirts and tights would be perfect thermals for layering.
ALWAYS ROLL AND CUBE
If you’ve read any of my previous packing list posts, you know I am a big believe in rolling my clothes when I travel. This is especially important when packing for winter, as you have bulky jumpers to contend with. I always place my rolled clothes in packing cubes as well. Available in various sizes from Amazon, Walmart and outdoor stores, they make life so much easier.
PICK THE RIGHT OUTER LAYER
On my most recent winter trip, I actually packed two coats (I know, how luxurious). I was always wearing one and the other one was fortunately easy to pack. My wool coat from Target has been with me for many years and through many seasons. It’s stylish, warm AND practical. I also bought a cheap puffer jacket from Primark, which was surprisingly warm. With the right layers underneath, it got me through many cold days in Europe. Again, Uniqlo is a great place to start when it comes to outer layers as well. I think I should be a Uniqlo spokesperson, no?
ACCESSORISE, ACCESSORISE, ACCESSORISE
The key to keeping warm in winter is all about the accessories. The more the better, I say. Fortunately, winter accessories don’t have to cost a lot of money. A beanie (toque for those in Canada) is imperative when walking around cities in winter. I don’t know how people can walk around all day with frozen ears! I also wore a felt hat around Europe, which kept my head warm and the sun off my face. Winner, winner. Other warm headwear ideas include earmuffs and woollen headbands that cover your ears.
I have quite the scarf collection as well, which fortunately roll up very small. I actually purchased a couple of different scarves on my most recent travels. The perfect practical souvenir. I got a woollen plaid scarf in Scotland and a fun patterned one from Galeries Lafayette in Paris (don’t worry, it was very much on sale). Keep your scarf wrapped tight around your neck and you’ll be set!
The final accessory piece of the puzzle is gloves. To be honest, I found gloves to be a nuisance when I was constantly taking photos, so I just kept my hands shoved into my pockets. But I think a pair of tech gloves or fingerless gloves would be a worthy addition to your winter packing list.
BOOTS ARE BEST
Boots are hands down the best shoes to include in your winter packing list. Find a pair that lace up, have good grip and are waterproof. Then they’ll get you through all cold weather situations. I purchased mine from Call It Spring in Canada. Just as important as the shoes are the socks. Thick wool socks will keep your feet toasty. I find the best pairs are always in the men’s section at department stores.
I also travelled with a pair of wool runners from Allbirds and I loved them. They seriously keep your feet so warm, even when it’s under five degrees. You don’t have to wear socks with Allbirds, but I wore a simple pair of ankle socks as an extra layer.
Now, let’s talk about toiletries. Winter weather unfortunately sucks all the moisture out of your skin. Don’t forget to pack some body moisturiser. Personally, I usually buy a mini bottle or decant some of my regular body lotion into an empty travel-sized container. I also recommend a good hydrating night cream. I like to use rosehip oil and then night cream every evening in winter. If you’re in Australia like myself, I can’t recommend Sukin’s cheap and all natural skincare more. I am obsessed.
Finally, don’t skip sunscreen just because it’s winter. Even if your face is the only skin exposed, always apply sunscreen daily. I use a Garnier BB Cream daily, which has SPF.
I hope these winter packing tips help you to plan a winter vacation. Although it’s easier to pack a summer suitcase, a winter holiday in the Northern Hemisphere usually equals less tourists and thus cheaper travel deals.
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