I saw your blog and decided to ask for your help. Hopefully you will respond before I depart warm Florida for my business trip to Boston leaving mid-January 2015. My job assignment will be from January to August. Here’s my dilemma, I will be staying in a hotel weekly and commuting daily to work using public transportation in Boston. I’m a Southerner so I don’t have a true four season wardrobe.
#1 I’m having trouble trying to decide how to dress while commuting to work in the winter weather and to not overdress in too many layers. I do not have an office or a dedicated area to store my belongings, so I have to keep my things with me at all times. I heard other say they have a jacket or shoes they keep at work so they only have to dress for the commute.
#2 Trying to pack for two weeks while the employer will only pay for one piece of luggage. No luggage overage charges will be reimbursed. Winter clothes weigh more and take up more space. Can’t decide between slacks, blouse and a jacket or dresses and a jacket.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Wow. That is a lot of complicating factors! Let’s take them one at a time.
First, the commute. There are three critical things you need for commuting in winter—a great coat, a pair of waterproof boots, and silk underwear.
- The coat. When I travel north this time of year I always bring my black puffy coat.Glamorous, no, but it is super warm.
- The boots. I really like La Canadienne boots. They are waterproof and designed for comfortable walking in super cold temps. Of course they are pretty pricey. A less pretty option (but just as warm) is a pair of Sorrel boots. On days you don’t want to wear them all day bring shoes to change into and a collapsible tote bag to hold your boots.
- Long underwear. The other important thing you need is silk long underwear, both leggings and shirt. It’s great because you can wear it under everything, it will keep you warm outside, but you won’t overheat once you go inside.
You can keep your coat and the tote bag with your boots in it with you at your desk.
Second, outfit planning. Find out if your employer will cover laundry service since you’ll be gone for longer than a week—I know many employers will pay for dry cleaning if you are gone for a certain amount of time.
When planning what clothes to bring, make sure you choose items that you can layer. Sweaters over button downs over your silk underwear, etc. If you wear a dress bring a sweater to wear over it and wear the silk underwear under your tights and boots. Another tip to remember: two thin items will keep you just as warm as a thicker one (especially when adding silk underwear!) but will take up far less room. So avoid your heavy sweaters, even though it feels natural to pack them.
Here is a post I wrote last year with a two-week packing list for a winter trip. (If you have to wear suits, here is a post from Outfit Posts with suggestions on how to wear a suit during crazy-cold temperatures.)
The third, and final thing to consider, is how to pack it all in one bag. It is certainly possible to fit all of this into a carryon, as long as you wear your boots and coat on the plane and utilize a few packing tricks.
- Packing cubes. I know I talk about them all the time, but they are so useful! I can compress a week’s worth of clothes into one packing cube.
- A trick a reader suggested to me before a two-week conference a few years ago: fill up your travel containers with your normal shower products (shampoo, conditioner, facewash, bodywash, etc) and see how long they last you. Mine lasted me far longer than the two weeks I would have needed, so I knew there was no reason to pack more toiletries. However, if you need larger quantities it may make sense to buy some of your products at your destination. If you are staying at the same hotel each trip see if you can leave a few things there between visits.
- It’s not always easy, but even for longer trips I recommend bringing only three pairs of shoes, including the pair you wear during travel. Shoes take up a lot of room and weigh a lot, so be very deliberate about every extra pair you bring!
Even if your boss will pay for you to check a bag I would still try to carryon. There are just too many variables when you check a bag, especially with winter weather delays and flight cancellations.
It will take a lot of planning, but it is definitely possible to carryon for two weeks in the winter. Good luck!
Readers, do you have any tips for Reader S?
Be sure to check out my page with the best carry-on luggage according to readers.
Have a travel question or suggestion? Send it to RW @RoadWarriorette.com.
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