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Packing light for cool weather

Planning for our Venice/Florence/Rome tour in mid-October. Trying to balance packing light with staying warm in what might be rainy cool weather. Any tips from seasoned travelers on how to best achieve that balance when deciding what to pack?



Bellingham, WA

Posted by
10344 posts

If you check a bag, then this will not be a problem. If you do carry-on only, it will be a problem to both pack light and pack warmer clothing. It's one of the issues when you go in shoulder season. It's possible (nobody here can predict the weather that far in advance) that mid-October will not be that cool. You probably will want to look at weather websites for average temps and weather that time of year in those locations--of course, these will only be averages.

Posted by
68 posts

One carryon suitcase is doable for Italy no matter what time of the year you go. I did it last year with room to spare and specialty items. It looks like the weather will be comparable to what it's like in Washington that time of year (Highs 50-70 lows 40-50) if not a little bit warmer. Layers will help you deal with cooler mornings and evenings. I like merino wool as a base layer, others here like silk. Both options are light, pack small, and dry quickly. You will probably want a light jacket (fleece or similar), whatever you wear to the airport will be fine. I like to take a packable rain jacket as well (it's never rained on me when I have had it in my bag) but I know a lot of people do not. Ladies might like to have a longer scarf for dinner but you can always pick one up near any train station or tourist attraction in Europe.
For the most part wear what you are comfortable in at home. There are sample packing lists that go into how much of each thing to pack. If you are a shorts in snow kind of guy then bring your shorts, if you break out the winter jacket at 50 degrees then you should probably pack that.
I think you picked the right time to go. Several people I know hated Italy (Rome) because they visited the forum when it was 90+ degrees. Don't stress too much about packing, there are plenty of clothing stores in Italy

Posted by
752 posts

When you board your flight, wear all the clothes that dress you appropriately for the October weather where you live. That way at least some of the layers will be on you and not in your carry-on bag. And those cabins can be cold anyway.

A jacket with hood or nice parka with hood may be helpful. October rains more than September, and may be cool morning and evenings, but can still be quite hot and sunny midday. I say this from recently lodging the whole month of October in the mountains 70 miles SE of Rome along the coastline. I'm thinking the inland valleys may be warm/hot and sunny as well.

I spent the last two Novembers in Le Marche on the Adriatic, and this year packed a nice heavy pair of jeans, but ended up wearing my cooler cotton summer pants more often.

At times I have packed the RS umbrella and the RS rain cape with hood, both are lightweight, nice useful items, but other times I just wing it.

Posted by
14241 posts

I would definitely go for a waterproof jacket layer which will of course work well as a wind resistant layer. I use a Marmot Precip but there are many that will fit the description. I just want to be able to fit it into my purse. The Marmot plus a long-sleeved cardigan worked well for me on the Village Italy tour last October. We ended around mid-Oct and it would have carried me thru much chillier weather than we saw. For you, you might consider as someone suggested upthread, a light fleece jacket, say a Polarfleece 100, but nothing heavier unless you are pretty cold-natured. That with the waterproof layer will probably be more than adequate.

Posted by
1068 posts

A lot of people ignore the importance of core warmth in battling cold. So my first layer will be a t-shirt. Then a "regular" shirt followed by either a fleece or rain jacket. If it is very cold, I will wear both. Rarely travel in winter so the hat I take is usually for the sun, but I'll wear it if it is cold and pull up the hood on my rain jacket. So far, the layers mentioned above have comfortably handled shoulder season travel in Europe.

Posted by
16082 posts

I'm a fan of layers too, and wearing the heaviest piece on the flight works great as planes are almost always cold! Fleece is my #1 choice for warmth as it's lightweight and can be rolled/stuffed without wrinkling. With a water-resistent, wind-resistant outer layer - also lightweight and packs small - I've been pretty comfortable on damp and chilly days, or evenings which are cool and windy after the sun goes down.

Posted by
5837 posts

...average temps....

Average temperatures are almost always wrong usually being hotter or colder than the mean.

Most international flights allow one checked bag at no extra. That saif, I would wear my rain jacket and a light fleece pullover or jacket in the plane. Airlines have been cutting cost by reducing weight eliminating extra blankets.

And if you don't bring a fleece or sweater, there is always the souvenir sweatshirt to remind you of the time you froze in Italy.

Posted by
3 posts

Wow, what a wealth of information and experience. Thanks for all the helpful responses. Keep 'em coming.


Posted by
16894 posts

I often travel in mid-October and for Italy, I sometimes include my Gore-tex rain jacket and layers, but not especially warm layers. This past fall, I brought an umbrella but no rain coat; cotton sweaters, not fleece; and a versatile, mid-weight scarf. There happened to be some heavy rain (and resulting mud slides) in the second half of October, but it wasn't very cold (at least warmer than Seattle in October). If it's colder, you can wear all your layers together.