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Hi, my name is Sally and I kind of despise winter.
I was born in a cold place (Ireland) but was promptly relocated to warm and sunny Southern California, where I’ve lived the majority of my life basking in the warm desert sun. There was a brief stint in my early years that include Northern California, but many people have told me that San Francisco does not constitute “real winter.” Whatever.
Needless to say, the warmest thing I owned (until very, very recently) was what a friend referred to as a “spring coat.” Coats aren’t just for winter?! My mind was blown. I lived in blissful ignorance until I went to Turkey. See how sad I look in those photos? It’s because I didn’t own any winter clothes and resorted to wearing everything in my suitcase. Just snowman Sally reporting for duty.
ANYWAY. I have taken it upon myself to research (and purchase) the very best winter clothes for the other people who are lacking um, winter experience. I actively choose to avoid cold places in the winter but sometimes my wanderlust gets the better of me. I do like saving money and packing lightly (or trying to, anyway) in a carry on although I’m fully aware that packing for cold weather in a carry on can seem like an impossible task.
Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I am snowman Sally no longer because I’ve finally learned how to pack for cold weather in a carry on. You’re welcome.
The Golden Rules:
1. Only pack for a week
Whether your trip is one week or one month, and whether you’re packing for cold weather or hot days, only bring along one week’s worth of clothing. There are laundromats and hotel sinks in every country and winter clothes are bulky enough without you trying to bring tons of outfit choices. You’re not likely to be sweating, anyway.
2. Use packing cubes to compress the life out of things
Seriously guys, packing cubes are the best thing you can buy for packing. They make all your clothes way less bulky, which means more room to bring things in your suitcase! I LOVE these by Lewis N Clark that offer a 3 inch compression compartment to help consolidate everything.
3. Bring and wear layers.
Well, to a certain extent; don’t wear all the layers like I did (seriously, 3 pairs of leggings and ski pants did not a comfy outfit make). You should bring layers that are easily removable for when you’re indoors, but are still warm enough to brave the elements. Like thermal layers! Plus, you can remove your outer jacket / coat in case you don’t want to look like you wore the same outfit for the whole trip…because Instagram #priorities. A couple of scarves can also spice your outfit up, and they don’t take up much room.
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4. Bring waterproof boots
Your fuzzy uggs may keep your feet warm and cozy but they can’t do their job when they’re soaking wet. Chances are high that you’ll be dealing with elements besides cold (i.e. rain and / or snow) so make sure you get a pair of boots that are both warm and waterproof. Comfortable for walking is a given.
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5. Wear your bulkiest items on the plane.
If you’re anything like me, this should be no problem since sitting on a plane feels like revenge of the AC. Seriously, why are planes SO cold? Forever a mystery. Either way, you aren’t going to be able to squeeze your giant boots or your winter coat into a carry on so prepare to put everything on at home, take it all of at airport security (apparently body scanners can’t handle jackets or something) then rock the winter chic look for the rest of your journey.
The final packing list (including my favorite products):
- (1) Waterproof winter coat
- (1) Fleece
- (2) Thermal tops
- (2) Thermal Bottoms
- (4) Tops
- (3) Bottoms
- (5) Pairs of underwear
- (3) Pairs of Smartwool socks
- (2) Anti-theft scarves
- (2) Pair(s) of winter boots
- (1) REALLY warm hat
- (1) Pair of gloves
- (1) Anti-theft bag
Other things to note:
- Having multiple scarves is one of the best ways to spice up your outfit without taking up a ton of room in your suitcase.
- You can bring a dressy pair of boots if you anticipate going out to a nice dinner, etc but I find that the right pair of boots can worn day and night.
- I recommend bringing 1-2 heavy duty winter tops and 2-3 stylish sweaters because you gotta stay stylish!
Naturally this list doesn’t include all my girly items like toiletries, make up, electronics, etc but I’m under the assumption that those are items people bring no matter the season ;).
Have you ever packed for winter with just a carry on? What are some must-have accessories to add to this list? Share in the comments below!
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