Winter is my favorite season to travel in! Imagine tourist-free travel destinations, cheap airline tickets and discounted hotel prices and you might understand why. However, traveling in winter requires a different approach to your packing strategies, if you don’t want to pay for luggage fees that is.
Bulky sweaters, boots and a big coat aren’t necessarily items you’d wish to Pack for traveling carry on only, but in winter you might have to. Not to worry, as I became a master on this subject * cough* and today I will share my tips on how to pack your carry on for winter trips.
Whether it was Christmas in Berlin or Prague or strolling around wintery Stockholm, I’ve never felt cold or unprepared with my carry on Packing method. Recently I added a new carry on backpack to the luggage family, making it even easier for myself to move around freely with as little luggage as possible to hold me back, however my tips apply on carry on suitcases as well.
How to pack your carry on for winter trips
Pack for a week
Even when I travel for a month or more? Absolutely!
When it comes to packing clothes, the duration of the Trip isn’t something you should worry about. When you wash your clothes regularly – which I do in the hostel sink or a launderette – you should be able to travel months with a weeks’ worth of clothes.
Make smart combinations
Lucky for us, wintery clothes tend to have natural colors that are easy to match with your other clothes. I always go for blue or black jeans, and natural colors like brown, copper or grey.
The amount of outfits for a week can vary, depending on your activities. In general I pack one outfit per two or three days. Lay out all the clothes on your bed and pick items you can make at least 2 outfits with.
I always leave a little bit of space open for souvenirs. My cats bum is about the size I need.
Forget bulky knitwear and go for layers instead! Ideal for me is a sleeveless top, a (long sleeved) shirt, a light sweater, a warm coat and a scarf. When temperatures drop far below zero I add (thermal) leggings for wearing underneath my trousers and thick socks. Also, a raincoat doesn’t take up much space and can be much, much needed.
Admittedly, I don’t do much outdoorsy activities on my winter trips but when you’re planning to anyway, I’d suggest you pack items more suitable for moving around and the different weather conditions you might run into. However, layering always works.
Wear you heaviest items on the plane
You just need one coat and – for a city trip – one pair of boots. Be sure to wear those items on the plane. I usually wear my bulkiest sweater and my scarf too. As it tend to get cold on flights anyway, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Make sure your feet and head are warm
Keeping certain parts of your body warm will help tremendously for your winter experience. Pack thick socks (3 pairs at the most), a hat and gloves. These items don’t require a lot of luggage space, yet they are not to be missed on your winter trip. You can store them in your shoes or any space you have left.
Small accessories make the difference
Don’t want to walk around looking like a tourist and more like yourself? Pack your favorite accessories, such as earrings, a beanie or a funky belt. You’ll feel like yourself, packing the absolute minimum. My favorite accessory is red lipstick as it fluffs up any look I go for.
Minimize those liquids
Ladies, we all know those 1 liter zip lock bags we have to stuff our toiletries in. Sure, I don’t like them either, but it can be done!
For short trips I only bring samples with me, such as a day cream, shampoo and even perfume. In winter I do like some make up on my face, but I pack the essentials only. This means one lipstick, one eyeliner and one kind of concealer. No fuss.
For longer trips I’d suggest you buy your toiletries at your destination. A small bottle of shampoo isn’t that expensive compared to luggage fees of €30 and up. This will leave you some room to pack the items you can’t purchase where you’re going. What I always pack is toothpaste.
- Bring samples only
- Buy products at your destination
- Prep your hair for short city trips
Where would I be without my beloved packing cubes? I’ll admit right away that I have a sick obsession with organizing my luggage and perfecting my packing skills for that matter. Packing cubes are the best thing ever happening to me, as you can easily organize your luggage and slim it down to fit your suitcase or travel bag. I use PackTidy packing cubes, but any kind will work.
Tip: Rolling your clothes and stuffing socks and other items into your shoes are major space savers!
What to pack for a carry on winter trip
I guess you have been looking for an exact list of what to pack for a carry on winter trip. Below you’ll find my go to packing list for any city trip within wintery Europe. Please note that this is just an indication of what you’ll need. For other kind of trips and activities be sure to pack what YOU need.
Items that I wear on the plane are marked with *.
- 2 t-shirts (long sleeve)
- 1 blouse
- 2 basic tops
- 3 light sweaters (I prefer merino wool)
- 2 pairs of jeans*
- Only bulky sweater of jacket*
- 3 pairs of thick socks
- 3 pairs of underwear
- 1 pair of leggings or tights
- 1 pajama set
- 1 pair of boots*
- A scarf*
- A hat
- A small handbag or purse
- Electronics: laptop, phone and camera + chargers
These were my tips on how to pack for carry on winter trips. Have you used them? Let me know what you think by leaving me a message or tag a photo of your fully packed bag on Facebook or Instagram! For now I wish you happy (and warm) travels!
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