Packing strategies for temperature extremes during business travel

One dress two ways grayFrequent business travelers often visit two cities on the same trip. During much of the year, this means they are visiting two separate climates and must pack accordingly. I’ve talked a lot about strategies for packing for multiple climates, as well as sample wardrobes for various times of the year. But what about when you’re only visiting one place, but the weather varies from 30 degrees to 80 degrees?

A couple of weeks  ago, I headed to Dallas for a meeting. My part of the meeting was only one day, so I was in and out and the weather was not a big deal. Others had to stay the entire week. That was a strange week for temperatures, with Monday and Tuesday with lows in the 60s and highs in the 80s, then down to 30 degrees as a low on Wednesday (along  with lots of rain and hail). Fun times! One of my co-workers told she brought a large suitcase, too big to  carry on, because she felt she had to bring so many things to deal with the changing weather. “I didn’t know what the temperature was going to be each day! What was I supposed to do? I brought a stack of blazers, just in case it got cold.”

I get it, I really do. The temptation to bring everything you may possibly need, just in case, is strong. I would guess most travelers, especially business  travelers, have been there! But there are definitely different  packing strategies I would recommend to deal with large temperature variations.

Layers. The blazers my co-worker packed were a good step, but you definitely don’t need a “stack” for a 5-day trip. Bring two, at the max–one solid neutral (black, navy, whatever your best color is) and one patterned. If it’s warm half the time you probably won’t need to  wear  them more than once anyway.

Short sleeves. Bring dresses or skirts with sleeves. That way if you don’t need to wear a completer piece (blazer, cardigan) you will still  be warm enough  for 70 degree weather.

Scarf.  Bring a pashmina or lightweight scarf with you. Throwing that on will make you feel warmer than a sweater! (Or at least does for  me.) Plus it’s easy to keep in your purse and put on if you end up feeling chillier than expected.

Tights. Tights are a great thing to bring “just in case” because they have  a big impact but only take up  a tiny amount of space. Adding tights and a blazer to a dress can make a whole new outfit, not to mention keep  you toasty warm (pictured).

Here is my recommended packing list for a trip with a range temperatures:

  • One pair of pants
  • One dress
  • Two shirts
  • One skirt
  • Two blazers

All of this will fit easily in a carry-on. Here is a sampling of the possible outfits:

  • Dress+blazer A (travel outfit, remove blazer if needed upon arrival)
  • Skirt+shirt A
  • Pants+shirt B
  • Dress+blazer B+tights (if needed)
  • Pants+shirt A+blazer A (travel outfit)

Readers, what do you wear for weather extremes?


  1. […] Packing for two climates when traveling for business. Road Warriorette offers some helpful tips about how to pack an appropriate work wardrobe for extreme temperatures and limited space. I’m still working on my trip report for the Iditarod, which will include my dilemma/packing tips for an 8 day trip that includes subzero temperatures and humid 80 degrees and a complete unwillingness to check a bag. […]


  1. I travel exclusively on hand luggage. Managed the trip to Switzerland in winter followed by a week in the mangroves of Papua. Sometimes a down jacket in the tropics is ok.

  2. Don’t forget the silk long underwear! Several companies sell filament weight scoop neck tops that are undetectable under street clothes. If it warms up you can take the shirt off and stuff it into a quart sized zip lock bag.
    I prefer sleeveless or cap sleeve dresses. I wear them under a sweater or over a shirt (jumper style) when it gets cold.
    I also agree with @LevyFlight on the puff jacket. I have a Nano-puff from Patagonia that looks great and packs into its own pocket. I wear it under my rain trench when it gets really cold.

  3. I just discovered your blog and it’s great! Just the tips I need. I recently discovered the wonder of a brand of merino wool tights from the brand Janus. They tights are super warm – even for temperature extremes in a climate like Chicago in the winter. They are great to pack if you plan to wear a dress. If the climate is hot you can easily switch to a lighter pair of tights or (if appriopriate) where no tights at all.

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