As with most things in my life, I’m very organized when it comes to packing for a trip. Meticulous really. Over the years and through many trips worth of experience, I’ve come up with a goof-proof packing system so that when I’m packing for a trip, I’m always prepared and never leave an essential behind. I think this is especially important when traveling to a colder climate because forgetting your warm weather essentials is never fun. I also sometimes suffer from a bit of travel anxiety, so having everything I need packed and ready-to-go really helps me feel more comfortable when traveling.
How to Pack for a Winter Getaway
1. Check the Weather
The first thing I do before packing for a trip is to check the weather. The weather in most places tends to fluctuate a lot, especially if your trip is longer than a few days. Plus there is nothing worse than being unprepared if the weather is cooler, warmer, or rainier than you expected. Once you’ve checked the weather you can have a better idea of what you’ll need during your trip.
2. Make a List
I know this seems elementary, but making a list tends to help me mentally prepare for a trip. Not only can I start to wrap my head around what clothing I should pack, I can also include little reminders about things I often forget such as toothpaste, hairbands, and a phone charger. I always write my list down a few days ahead of time in the notes section of my phone, that way if I’m out-and-about and think of something that I don’t want to forget, I can easily add it. Apps such as Wunderlist are also really helpful for list making. Once I start packing, I can begin to check off things as they go into my suitcase, this way nothing gets left behind.
3. Create a Color Scheme
I almost always pack in a carry-on suitcase, whether I’ll be gone for 3 days or 3 weeks! Many people are surprised by this, but I always say my biggest trick is to create a color scheme for your clothing and accessories. This way, you can effortlessly mix and match pieces in your travel wardrobe to get the most out of each and every piece. I find this particularly important when traveling to a cold climate because I normally don’t ever pack more than one coat. I choose a warm, neutral colored coat in a classic style, usually camel or black, that I’ve been loving at the moment. Then I plan my entire travel wardrobe around this piece, making sure everything looks good together.
4. Plan Your Outfits Ahead of Time
Planning my outfits ahead of time is essential when I’m trying to pack light, especially in the winter when your clothing can be bulky and take up a lot of room. Once I’ve decided on my color scheme (usually black and neutral tones) and selected my coat, I can begin to plan outfits accordingly.
First, I start off by selecting two or three of my favorite outfits of the season that work with my coat. Usually this means a pair of black jeans and two favorite tops. If it’s really cold, I grab some layering pieces, such as tank tops, to throw under my tops and a sweater or two just in case I decide to choose warmth over style one day. Now I’ve got four outfits (my black jeans will go with each of my two tops and two sweaters).
For a longer trip, I can expand my travel wardrobe in the same way by adding another pair of pants, some tops, or even a dress. The key is making sure than each piece can be worn a least two or three ways. This way, you may pack 6 pieces, but really you’ve got 10 outfits.
*Travel tip. If you’re worried about staying fresh when rewearing pieces, throw in a few undershirts. This helps keep your tops and sweaters fresh for a few wears. Also, try hanging up your clothes after you wear them so they can breathe.
5. Don’t Forget Your Cold Weather Essentials
The day before you leave for your trip, recheck the weather. Now that you’ve got a more accurate idea of what weather to expect you can choose your cold weather essentials. For this trip to NYC, I knew the temperature was going to be in the 30s and one day it would snow. Because of this, I chose to pack a pair of lightweight gloves, a super snuggly scarf, a hat or two, and some thick socks. My hat and scarf would keep me warm and protect my head from snow and light rain.
I only packed one pair of shoes for this trip, black booties that would keep my feet warm and were good walking shoes. Usually I pack two pairs for a trip, one good walking shoe and another pair that helps take your outfit from day to night. Thankfully, these booties bridge that gap.
6. Skincare? Prepare for the Worst
My skin always freaks out when I travel, so I have learned to prepare for the worst. I have a little travel toiletries bag that holds minis of all the staples in my skincare routine. This keeps me from overpacking, while still allowing me to stick to my regimen. I also avoid trying new things when I travel, simply because I don’t want my skin to breakout and leave me searching for a solution in a new city. I also try to throw in a mini detoxifying mask and hydrating mask. This way I am prepared for a breakout or for red, chapped, or dehydrated skin.
*Travel Tip. Skip makeup on the plane. Just give yourself 15 minutes after landing at your destination to refresh your skin and prepare for the rest of the day. Trust me, your skin will thank you. I also try to apply a detoxifying clay mask the night after flying to help keep post-flight breakouts at bay.
7. Set Up Your Travel Makeup Bag
I’ve got a great post here, about what to pack in your travel makeup bag, so definitely give that a read. The only thing I have to add to that post is to choose a small makeup bag. This keeps you from overpacking and makes you stick to your essentials.
8. Get Your Things in Order the Night Before
The night before you leave, go over your list. There is always one or two things I’ve left until the last minute, so this helps keep me from forgetting them (it’s always my phone charger or an adapter). I also pack my personal carry-on bag the night before to keep from forgetting something like my wallet, keys, or ticket information in the chaos of getting out the door the next morning. If you’re waking up early, set two alarms. Knowing that I’m not going to miss my alarm always helps me sleep.
What I’m Wearing
Pretty much, my entire outfit is from Zara. I don’t think many of them are left in stock, so here are some similar pieces.
Please let me know in the comments below what your packing system is? I’d love to hear all your special tips and tricks on how to pack for a winter getaway.
* Some of the links I provide for reader convenience are affiliate links which I include to provide a better customer experience. To read more about my use of affiliate links, click here.