Winter Packing Essentials

glovesIt’s not winter yet. In fact, I wrote a post about what to pack for a summer business trip barely a month ago. But some events last week reminded me that winter will soon be upon much of the country, and I need to be prepared.

See, last year I was traveling home from Raleigh and got stuck overnight in Chicago. The difference in temperature between the two cities was about 40 degrees and 6 inches of snow. I ended up putting on everything I had packed (three shirts, two pairs of socks, a light coat, and my trusty pashmina) and with a lucky short cab line was able to get to my sister’s for the night in relative comfort. But had the cab line been longer, or the weather in Chicago worse, it would have been extremely uncomfortable.

This past week on my way home from Nashville I was thisclose to getting stranded in Chicago overnight again. While the weather there is quite mild right now, it reminded me that after that trip last year I vowed to keep a few winter essentials in my suitcase. I’m not talking about an extra winter coat or pair of boots (although that’s not a bad idea December-February) but small items that won’t take up much room, but could be incredibly helpful during the unpredictable winter travel season.

Here’s my short list:

Gloves and hat. Super cheap ones are available all over, and can make a big difference keeping you warm. (Although I love these beautiful leather gloves.)

Socks. Same as gloves and hat—don’t take up much room, but can be the difference in comfortable and freezing.

Light jacket. Unless, of course, I’m already bringing my heavy coat.

Pashmina. I always bring it anyway, but it’s even more important in the winter.

I plan to bring all of these items with me, on every trip–including day trips–starting in October.

Readers, do you add anything extra to your packing list for “just in case”?

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  1. I would put a pair of blue jeans, a turtleneck sweater and a sweatshirt in my carryon bag. That way if I get stranded in a city where it is cold. With those 3 items I could layer clothes to stay warm. A pair of hand knitted wool socks would also be in my carry on bag.

  2. A lightweight long-sleeved base layer top. It takes up almost no room and will provide a toasty layer underneath other shirts. Most will dry overnight as well so if you ARE caught out and need it for several days then you can wash and wear every day. I often take a fleece blazer (’s_Regular_Stretch_Fleece_Blazer/) which is useful as an extra blanket on the plane; warm under a lightweight coat and can be worn to meetings if necessary.

  3. I’ve been caught a few times in situations where the weather is much colder than I’d anticipated. I agree about the base layer – always throw in a top and bottom – even with light weight pants it can make a huge difference in terms of staying warm. I also bring sock liners – they are like trouser socks and so I can wear them under my socks and still fit into my shoes! Also, I’ve switched to taking a stylish rain coat with a quilted, removable lining and leave the lining in the coat even if I don’t think I’ll need it at my destination. If the weather turns cold (or I’m stranded) that extra layer comes in quite handy.

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