Packing Smart During Winter

a woman in a long black coatWinter is a tricky time to travel. Flight delays, holiday travelers, and cold weather can lead to stressful situations of all kinds! Unfortunately, flight delays and infrequent fliers are out of your control. But you can deal with the snow and cold temperatures—you just have to pack smarter!

I have found that I can follow my normal strategy for packing (one pair of pants for every two days, and a shirt for each day), my winter suitcase becomes insanely full. After my last trip, I figured out why. In the spring, “a shirt for each day” takes up almost no room. But in the winter, a sweater plus undershirt for every day takes up at least twice as much room, and I can hardly zip up my suitcase! Oops. Here is a refined packing strategy, specifically for winter.

  • Wear your base layer more than once. There is no reason to have a long sleeve tee for every day. Make sure each undershirt you bring matches multiple sweaters. Neutrals are very helpful here—black, brown, and white will be much more versatile than a colorful print. Also, silk will help keep you extra-toasty.
  • Thinner is better. Two thin sweaters take up less room than one thick sweater. Before you grab that bulky knit cable, see you have a sleeker cashmere or wool. It will keep you just as warm (especially with your base layer!) and take up far less room.
  • Wear boots and coats. As long as your boots are reasonably easy to take off and put on, wear your boots on the plane. Unless you have a ton of extra room, it makes sense to carry your coat as well. If you aren’t used to navigating a suitcase, briefcase, and coat, practice around your house before your trip so that you can manage gracefully.

Yes, it takes a little more strategic planning. But packing smart in the winter is definitely possible!

For more tips on winter travel, check out my post about What to Pack for a Winter Business Trip.

Readers, what are your best tips for packing smart during the winter?


  1. I’m a [male] landscape photographer by hobby, and in winter I need to dress for cold. I also need to pack to travel, worldwide.

    I went to an outdoor store with knowledgeable staff and said, dress me for warmth, but I have to be flexible and able to hike. That’s when I learned about base layers, wicking materials and that cotton kills.

    I’ve shared my knowledge with my wife and have bought her some base layers in neutral colors that she wears under blouses and even sweaters. She’s toasty warm. She also bought some after-ski pants (we don’t ski). They look great, roll thin and can be worn to a lot of places. (The Spandex doesn’t hurt, either). It pays to make good use of the technology-based clothing we have available today.

    As for me, I always carry a silk turtleneck (white) that lives, inside out, in my backpack and pads my laptop. It is really small and only weighs a few ounces. I’ve had a few occasions to pull it out and slip it on under my shirt.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.