Packing for cold weather and winter wonderlands can be daunting whether you are a family or solo traveler—big coats, layers and boots often make for cumbersome, uncomfortable traveling. Add in any recreation equipment and traveling for a winter vacation can seem like more trouble than it’s worth. But, with a few simple tricks, winter travel can be painless.

Pack Less

People pack too much, for every kind of trip. Seasoned globetrotters will tell you this: pack much less than you think you need. By nature, we try to anticipate every possible (mostly worst case) scenario, and plan ahead. Don’t lug around an extra suitcase that you don’t need. That backup jacket you thought you’d use for hikes? Unused. The sixth pair of socks you thought you’d need? Never touched.

The golden rule is this: err on the side of packing light. Aim for one carry-on and one checking bag if you can.

Pack Necessities

Only pack what you absolutely need. Pack one coat, and a light sweater or hoodie. Depending on how long you are away for, packing two sets of layers should be more than enough. Invest in quality clothes that will keep you warm. You should limit inexpensive items like undershirts and socks that you can purchase at your destination.

Other key items are thermals, water-proof gloves, hats and balaclavas or scarves.


Thermal layers are the easiest and most efficient way to stay warm. They can be costly, but they last forever, can be waterproof or resistant, and are light and breathable.Thermals are particularly ideal when hitting the slopes.

Use compression bags to pack your layers. These will conserve space and are useful when organizing. Wear your heaviest clothes while traveling to reduce the weight of your bags.

Quality Over Quantity

Invest in quality, trusted brands for your clothing. Opting for the cheaper options may be easier on your wallet, but dealing with a ripped jacket or hat out in the cold is not fun. Making an investment in good clothing will keep you warmer, will be less expensive than continually replacing lower quality articles, and will make your bags lighter in the end.

Ship It

If you have a family, you may have more bags than can feasibly be carried on a plane or packed in a car. If you plan to bring sporting equipment, like unwieldy snowboards, shipping can ease that pain. It can be very expensive, but worthwhile depending on the circumstances. Look up and compare rates to ship to your destination, and see if it makes sense for your trip.

As with all types of travel, do your homework and plan ahead when making arrangements. Make use of a few of these simple tips, and your journey should be that much smoother.