Packing for a cold destination is tough, especially if you want to keep luggage on the lighter side. Here’s a full packing list for cold weather, covering everything from winter outerwear to shoes, thermal base layers and more.
Snowman © jonathanmcintosh
From t-shirts and underwear to coats, rain jackets and shoes, winter clothes take up a lot of space, making it important that you pack strategically. These are our suggestions on what to take for a comfortable vacation in a colder climate.
Things You Need On Every Trip
Below we’ve listed items specific for a cold weather trip. For items that you need on every trip regardless of the weather, see our Essential Vacation Packing List.
- Face mask – COVID is still very active in many countries and you may be required to wear an SFP2 facemask on the plane and in some indoor spaces. It’s also a good idea to carry a small bottle of hand sanitiser when you travel.
- Considering travel insurance for your trip? World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 adventure activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more.
Cold Weather Clothing
- Base Layers – Pack three or more base layer tops and thermal pantyhose to keep you warm in even the coldest weather, all without taking up much space in your suitcase.
- For men, Duofold sells excellent crew neck base layer tops that slip on unnoticed under a t-shirt or long-sleeved sweater.
- Duofold also has thermal shirts for women that provide excellent warmth without adding too much bulk to an outfit.
- T-Shirts – When it comes to t-shirts and travel, four is the magic number. A selection of four t-shirts gives you something to wear underneath your coat every day, while limiting your laundry to twice a week.
- Jeans – Cold weather calls for simple, durable and comfortable clothing. Pack a couple of pairs of jeans for your winter vacation so that you’ve always got something warm that looks good with just about any outfit.
- Coat – Whether you prefer a pea coat or a fleece jacket, it’s important that you pack at least one outer layer if you’re visiting a cold destination during winter. If you’re traveling somewhere rainy, bring two coats so you can dry one while you wear the other.
- Rain Jacket – Another obvious essential. If you’re visiting a rainy destination in winter, it’s best to pack a good quality rain jacket. Brands like Columbia and The North Face offer a great selection of thick rain jackets that also insulate you from the cold.
- Dress or Smart Casual Clothing – If you plan on dining out, it’s worth packing a dress or smart casual outfit into your suitcase.
Cold Weather Footwear
- Winter Shoes or Boots – Pack at least one pair of durable boots or thick leather shoes for your winter trip. For light winters, a pair of leather boots is more than enough. For snowy weather, opt for a pair of hiking boots with a grippier outsole.
- Sneakers or Walking Shoes – If the weather is fairly mild, replace the winter boots with a pair of walking or sports shoes. You won’t get the warmth, but you’ll save a lot of space in your suitcase.
Cold Weather Accessories
- Scarf – If you’re traveling at the peak of winter, make sure you pack a scarf or two. Your head, neck, hands and feet will feel cold first, and a scarf can make all the difference for your overall comfort level.
- Gloves – If you’re traveling somewhere seriously cold, take two pairs of gloves – thin woolen gloves work well in mild climates, while a pair of leather gloves is your best best for looking fashionable in very cold weather.
- Hat – A good winter hat will keep you warm and comfortable in even the coldest weather. Stick with a classic woolen hat if you’re visiting a city, or choose a lighter fleece hat if you plan on skiing or snowboarding.
- Sunglasses – Yes, sunglasses. If you’re traveling to a snowy destination, bring a pair of polarized sunglasses to protect your eyes from sun damage. The winter sun sits lower in the sky, which can damage your vision when combined with reflective white snow.
Cold Weather Health and Personal Hygiene
- Sunscreen – Since snow reflects light, it’s possible to get sunburn, even in the middle of winter. If you’re visiting a ski resort or any other destination with both snow and sun, bring some SPF 15+ sunscreen to protect your skin from sun damage. Neutrogena SPF 45 Drytouch Sunscreen is a great choice for cold weather, since it protects your skin without feeling oily or wet.
- Chapstick – Cold, dry weather can quickly lead to cracked lips and dry, itchy skin. Keep your lips moisturized and safe from the weather by packing Chapstick and applying it as frequently as possible on cold, dry winter days. We like Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Balm.
Remember The Essentials
- Make sure you’ve got your passport, flight tickets, travel vaccinations and all the other items essential to every trip abroad – see our essential vacation packing list to doublecheck you’ve got everything!