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Packing for Winter Travel: Pack Like a Pro with These Genius Tips

Packing for Winter Travel: Pack Like a Pro with These Genius Tips

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Planning your winter vacation? Find out my top tips for packing for winter travel so you will be prepared. Scroll down to read more!
This packing for winter travel post was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links, which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Are you traveling somewhere cold this winter? Packing for winter travel doesn’t have to be stressful at all as long as you know what to pack for winter trips.

I have some great tips that will help you pack light and make the most of your luggage space. You’ll be able to fit more in without having to pay extra fees! Plus, it’s easier than ever with kids.

You won’t believe how much money and time these simple tricks will save!

Bulkier clothing and winter jackets can weigh down your checked luggage during cold weather trips, making winter travel more expensive than necessary.

And when you add in kids, all that luggage multiplies.

These time and energy-saving tips when packing for cold weather travel will not only ease your load but potentially save money and your sanity.

Whether you’re packing for the snow or need a road trip packing list, I’ve got you covered.

Scroll down now to read my article about how to pack for winter trips so easily!

Here are some great tips when Packing for Winter Travel that could save you time and money.

Winter Packing FAQs

What should I add to my winter cabin packing list?

Check to see what your cabin provides. You might need to bring a hairdryer, laundry supplies, kitchen stuff, firewood, toiletries, etc. Plus, you’ll want to bring sturdy hiking shoes, lots of warm layers, warm socks made of wool, knit hats, etc.

What are some winter road trip essentials?

If you’re heading on a winter road trip, be sure to pack an ice scraper, an emergency kit, a first aid kit, emergency blankets, kitty litter, jumper cables, a portable phone battery charger, and a stash of snacks.

What fabric is warmest for winter clothing?

Out of all the fabric options, wool is hands-down the warmest. It retains heat better than all other fabrics. You can also check Merino wool socks since they’re known for reducing odor. You can add a wool hat, wool socks, wool base layers, and, of course, wool sweaters to your cold-weather packing list.

Packing for Winter Travel Destinations

Take time before you jump into packing for winter travel with some pre-travel preparation to get you started on the right foot.

First and foremost, because winter travel items can be heavy and bulky, consider traveling with just a carry-on. We have this Samsonite one, and it’s been super sturdy, even when my kids are rough with it. Check the latest rates here.

Otherwise, if you can swing it, using a backpack designed specifically for backpacker travel vs. rolling luggage can make all the difference. This is my top pick for a super affordable travel backpack.

Packing for Winter Travel includes choosing the perfect luggage for the weather.
You won’t want to haul rolling luggage at icy destinations.

Navigating rolling luggage on icy or snowy walkways can prove challenging. It can also be difficult to ensure your luggage stays dry so low to the ground.

Keeping your items in a backpack not only frees up your hands to wrangle an energetic toddler or preschooler, but it can also keep your luggage dry and protected from the elements.

Another way to ensure your belongings stay dry is to use a waterproof spray on soft luggage or your backpack. Check the latest prices here.

Waterproofing your travel items before your winter trip is a great way to prolong the life of your item and keep your clothing dry.

Plus, waterproofing your winter travel gear is a simple five-minute task that can save you time, money, and aggravation while traveling.

You may want to bring along a stainless steel bottle for water or to keep liquids hot during winter travel. We seriously never travel without at least one of these HydroFlasks!

If you’re not carrying a bottle on the plane, stash an empty one in your luggage and store small items like jewelry or toothbrushes inside.

Keep reading for other handy tips on what to tuck into small spaces while packing for winter travel.   

Be smart about what you are packing for winter travel.
Be smart about what you are packing for your winter vacation.

What Types of Clothing Should You Pack for Winter Travel?

Choose black or dark winter clothes when packing for cold-weather travel.

While you may be inclined to reach for bright, fun colors to offset the mood of long, dreary winter days, you might remember from science class that black absorbs wavelengths of sunlight.

When you wear black clothing, you’ll stay warmer as darker objects absorb light and convert it to heat. There’s your fun fact of the day!

Sun Protection

Speaking of sunlight, despite the fact that winter sunlight is weaker, when it reflects off the snow, it can significantly impact your eyes.

Polarized sunglasses will block damaging reflected light and reduce glare. These ones are a cute and affordable option, and they are gender-neutral.

Don’t forget the sunscreen, too. A sunburn from the reflection of the snow is just as damaging as the summer sun. We usually have a lot of reef-safe sunscreen left over from our Hawaii trips.

Winter Layers

Purchases like thermals to wear under your clothing will keep you warm and dry and may save you from having to pack ultra-bulky clothing. I’ve been a huge fan of Cuddl Duds for the past 15 years.

They fold or roll well into luggage and can even be stuffed inside hats or side pockets.

When choosing layers, be mindful of hoodies and fleece pullovers with hoods. If your winter outerwear has a hood, choose layering items without a hood to eliminate bulkiness and discomfort.

Winter Accessories to Keep Warm

When traveling in winter, you’re likely to be covered up much of the time, so change up your look with different winter hats. To save room in your bag, bring along this packable wool hat.

Packing for Winter Travel? Don't forget to pack as much thermal or heating clothing as you can. Bonus if they're cute!
Yes, you can be warm and still look cute!

Save the jewelry for warmer destinations and accessorize with fun scarves and hats.

Leave the cotton socks at home when planning your winter travel packing and opt for wool socks instead. I have this set, and they are SO warm and cozy!

Wool often has a bad reputation for being uncomfortable and itchy. However, thermo-regulation is the scientific way of saying that wool fibers help your feet warm in winter. And not all wool is the same.

For a less itchy option, Merino wool is perfect for all seasons and has been increasingly used in newborn clothing for its thermo-regulation factor. 

Handy Accessories to Include When Packing for Winter Travel

  1. A small travel umbrella can protect your camera or phone when taking photos outdoors. Check prices here.
  2. Hand-warmer packs are great for stuffing into gloves, boots, or winter coat pockets. We use these ones and keep them in the car during the winter.
  3. Use wet bags like those used for diaper bags to keep sopping socks and gloves away from other clothing. Check prices here.
  4. Fingerless gloves are great for traveling in winter when you need to stay warm but are able to access documents and devices. Those gloves with the tech finger never work for me.
  5. Hoard silica gel packets when you buy new products throughout the year or purchase some to throw into a wet bag to draw out moisture.
  6. A hard case for your camera and devices in case they fall onto ice or into water, snow or slush. This is a great, affordable option.

Hand-warmer packs and silica gel packets are useful winter travel items that fit into small spaces like a packed water bottle or thermos.

The above-mentioned winter travel items can eliminate potential travel disasters and inconveniences. 

One way to save when packing for winter travel is to leave your winter sporting gear at home and rent one instead. You don't have to pay extra for luggage allowance.
Being prepared with your winter packing list cuts the stress so you can enjoy your winter vacation!

Winter Travel Packing Tips You May Not Have Considered

Of course, typical winter packing travel tips will remind you to wear as much as comfortably possible on the plane.

This way, you won’t have to include big, heavy, bulky items in your checked baggage, which will help you with packing light and keeping your fees down.

It is also widely recommended to leave your own winter sports gear, like skis and snowboards, at home and rent them when you arrive at a ski resort. While not the most frugal option, renting saves time and energy.  

But what about those one-off tips that you may not have considered?

If you’re traveling from a warm climate to a cold one, you may want to add another layer in case you haven’t traveled to places with cold climates before. The cold may come to you as a surprise, so it’s best to acclimate to the cold slowly and on your terms.

If you’re packing other accessories like your earmuffs or scarf, you may just them in your checked luggage.

These items, however, can do double duty on an airplane. Earmuffs work well to keep out the cold but can also muffle sound and help you rest more easily (if you’re not a parent of little ones and have the luxury of sleeping during a flight).

A large blanket scarf can be a trendy, warm addition to your winter travel packing list. And it can also be draped over your body on the flight. I’m seriously obsessed with this one!

If you want more packing tips, here are 9 of the worst packing mistakes to avoid!

Simple Packing List for Cold Weather

Cold Weather Essentials for Your Family

Ok, now that you know generally what to pack for a winter vacation, let me give you more specific items.

These are my personal favorite items to include on our winter vacation packing list.

Women’s Winter Essentials

Men’s Packing List for Winter

Kid’s Winter Packing List

Packing for the Snow

Check out this cold weather trip packing list if you are traveling to a snowy destination (like the mountains or a ski resort).

If you know a family or friend who loves to travel, these items above are great gift ideas. Here are perfect travel gift ideas, too!

Winter Travel Packing Wrap-Up

Hopefully, now you know what to pack for cold-weather vacations this year.

Packing strategically for winter travel adventures can mean the difference between a stressful vacation and an amazing one.

Successful packing for winter travel just takes a little out-of-the-box thinking and preparation. These tips and a positive attitude can help make winter travel easy and fun.

Looking for more winter travel tips? Get my winter road trip packing list, holiday travel tips, top cold weather hacks, biggest packing mistakes, and how to create a travel first aid kit for families.

Don’t know where to head this winter? We have a few suggestions like the best winter weekend getaways from Seattle, magical Christmas getaways in the United States, top winter destinations in the US, and 5 Amazing places for a winter hike in the USA.

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