How to Pack for a Cold Weather Holiday

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Photo by Hampton Lamoureux from Pexels

While we might be in the tail end of winter, there are still some cold days ahead. With many people planning an early September getaway,  its important to get your head around how to pack for cold weather, as the weather can be unpredictable at this time of year. This is especially true if you’re planning a final trip to the snow this season. Between down jackets, snow boots and thermals, it can be easy for the multiple layers needed for cold weather to translate into a very heavy suitcase.

While it can be hard to keep to a luggage limit for cold weather holidays, it helps to know exactly what you need to prioritise to be prepared. Here’s my guide to packing for your next cold weather holiday:



While everyone’s cold weather holiday will be different, there are some essentials that you’ll likely need to keep warm:

  • A down jacket. This is ideal for travel, as it ticks the boxes of being both incredibly warm and relatively lightweight. Many down jackets sold these days come with a small carry bag that they can be stuffed into, thus taking up little room in your suitcase.
  • A warm hat/ beanie. Not only is a hat or beanie a stylish addition to an outfit, they’re a must for keeping your head warm in cooler temperatures.
  • Gloves. Cold temperatures affect the extremities first. Especially if you plan on being out for a long time in very cold temperatures (such as when skiing or hiking), it’s essential to have a good pair of gloves. Make sure they’re waterproof too – you don’t want to be tempted to take them off if they get soaked in the rain!

"Scarves, mittens, and hats are a great way to express your personality in the cold weather."
- Brad Goreski, Celebrity Stylist


  • A scarf/ neck warmer. This is something that can easily be forgotten when packing, but it’s worth remembering to have one in your luggage!
  • Leggings/ thermal pants. Leggings are an absolutely essential activewear item for a cold weather holiday. While you might not want to head out in the cold in running shorts, leggings or long thermal pants are perfect for keeping your legs warm during physical activity.
  • Wool socks. These are a must if you intend on spending days in the snow, as it’s important that your feet are kept as warm as possible. Like your hands, your feet are the first to lose blood flow when you’re cold. Invest in some woolen socks if you can, and even layer up with another, thin pair of socks underneath.
  • A fleece jersey or sweater. This is much needed for those cold-but-not-freezing days, or as a lighter layer during aerobic activities like hiking.
  • Long sleeved thermals. These are great as an additional layer to keep your top half warm. They also take up less bulk than multiple sweaters.
  • A good pair of boots. Boots are the ideal choice for winter climates, but unfortunately, they’re also likely to be one of the heavier items in your suitcase. If you can get away with it, bring a stylish pair that you could wear both to the snow and for a night out (they do exist – here is a good example!). Otherwise, a snow/ walking pair and a dressy pair is fine, but be sure to wear one pair on the plane to bring the overall weight of your suitcase down.
  • A rainjacket. If possible, bring one that’s lightweight and won’t take up too much room in your suitcase.
  • A day pack. This is a travel essential for any holiday (not just those in the cold), and it’s worth adding to the list!
  • Lightweight t-shirts, cami or tank tops. These take up very little space in your suitcase and can be worn over thermals.
  • Dressier outerwear. While all of the above is great for keeping you warm, you’ll probably also want some chic outerwear for nights out and roaming the city. Consider packing a stylish coat and some nice jeans for a more sophisticated look.


Heading to the slopes?

As well as the above essentials, if you’re headed to the slopes for a ski trip, you’ll also want to pack:

  • A pair of ski goggles and/or sunglasses. You’ll definitely need at least one of these if you plan on hitting the slopes. Keep in mind that sunglasses are fine for protecting your eyes if conditions are good, but ski goggles have the advantage of guarding you against wind and rain. The fuller coverage that ski goggles provide will also keep your face warmer.
  • Waterproof pants. Especially if you’re new to skiing and snowboarding, you’re almost guaranteed to be spending some time on your bum in the snow. Waterproof pants are a must.
  • Yes, sunburn on the ski slopes is a real thing. The higher altitude means greater exposure to UV rays, putting skiers and snowboarders at risk. Make sure you pack a broad spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30.
  • A GoPro or camera. Skiing and snowboarding is an experience that you’ll definitely want to capture if you can!

What's your pro packing tip for cold destinations?
Let us know in the comments below. 

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