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Montreal/Quebec City mid- December Packing List for a Week?

I have always enjoyed and learned from the seasonal packing lists! I am of carry-on only philosophy and fortunately Air Canada doesn't have weight restrictions for the bag or personal item (they do have size/sizers). I need to eliminate a few things and am stymied. Thank you in advance!
I should note I won't have an up-to-date weather forecast, traveling to Canada from prior destination, so these bags need to packed now vs when I actually leave!
AllBirds Mizzles are a winter home fave, unless it's super cold/rainy/snow on ground. They are weather resistant, plush and cozy, don't trouble my awful feet and are good for long distance walking. They are also lightweight. (I would usually wear them on the plane but have the heavy boots.)
I have an Away hard- sided carryon I use when weight isn't a factor, it's 5+ lbs empty. And my personal item varies, this time my ancient leather tote from Duluth Trading Company.
I invested in some travel clothing ahead of retirement, mostly all-season merino that can be worn repeatedly without washing. I only have two hotels for the week and will use the included kitchenettes since I am very cautious about Covid. Weather depending, I only anticipate a few very long walks for sites, bigger concern is QC and being outdoors at night for the markets? Mostly museums planned and if it's really nice and warmer than anticipated then that's a good thing!?
EDITED after final packing check:
FjallRaven 100% waterproof 3 season longish parka, has zip in synthetic down liner (field tested in the rainy NW, great hood)
Fleece fedora style hat covers ears (hate hats, but know it's a necessity) and 3 pairs gloves/mittens. Cashmere big "buff" that double wraps, covers ears if needed.
Cougar brand waterproof lined ankle boots with heavy lug sole. Wearing wool blend compression socks on plane (both ways)
Big heavy turtleneck sweater plan to wear most of the days, rolled in tote, light marled brown
Will wear/take all this on the plane and rewear my 24+ travel hours plane outfit the next day.
In the carry-on, for remaining 7 days:
3 quick dry underwear
Another bra (wearing one)
1 lightweight sleep/comfy pants
1 long sleeve sleep/lounge top
(BTW, all my clothes are black and gray! )
1 Unbound Merino leggings
1 athleisure style merino sweatpants/joggers
1 light long underwear set (top is ancient from Athleta, using super lightweight lined leggings from A Day as the bottoms, or can wear if needed as extra pant
3 merino or wool socks ( stuffed inside:) these:
Sorel waterproof black booties
AllBirds Mizzle shoes (good weather, long walks)
Cream cashmere turtleneck
White lightweight waffle weave long sleeve for under cream sweater
Long ribbed warm sweaterish dress for the one
restaurant dinner, likely will wear it on long travel day home
Comprehensive first aid kit in Sea-Summit small pouch
Protein snacks scattered around (dietary restrictions)
Small zip-into-a-pocket tote bag (shopping/day walking- my small cross-body is too small)
Minimal toiletries -I take just what fits in the baggie
I have never taken so many, or, such heavy shoes!
Were I reading this list, my first suggestion would be to eliminate one of the boots. My concern is my very problematic bunion-plagued feet and that they get cold first. My thinking was, take another pair of waterproof shoes and 2 less outfits, to compensate for the space?
I am not sure if I need another top? I don't plan on doing laundry other than sink washing the underwear.
Thank you in advance for your suggestions!

Posted by
14247 posts

"Were I reading this list, my first suggestion would be to eliminate one of the boots."

This is what I was thinking as I read thru your list and before I got to this statement, lol!! You DO have to take care of your feet. I'm wondering about the AllBirds? What if the weather is never good enough to wear them - wet every day? I am just thinking out loud here as I've not been to Montreal and Quebec City but I'd imagine there might be snow or rain.

Are there different occasions you'd wear the Cougars vs the Sorels? Are either comfortable enough for day after day wearing? I have Sorel calf high snow boots and use them to shovel but they would not be comfortable enough for all day wearing. Your booties may be more comfortable or your feet may be awful in a different way than my awful feet, hahaha!!

I'd probably take the light long underwear and skip the joggers. Are you changing into the joggers in the hotel room or are you wearing them outside? Or looking at your list again, are there only 2 bottoms?

Will you wear the cream cashmere under the marled turtleneck sweater?

I would cut one of the pr of socks. With wool I can wear them many days in a row although that might gross you out, lol? I'd take no more than 3 for a week. NOT that one pr socks will make much difference but less to keep up with!

What a fun trip! I'd love for you to do a Trip Report when you get back!

Posted by
224 posts

I saw QC and my eyes lit up - I went there in September, following in Inspector Gamache's footsteps, and loved it. Even without freezing temps, the sidewalks are narrow, lots of slippery hills, and slick street materials so bring your best non-slip shoes. Also beware, Air Canada loads the plane differently than you may be used to: they load rear first, then windows, and aisles LAST. So I struggled mightily to find space for my carry-on in the overhead bin. If you are back, or window, or paid for a better seat, then you should be ok. (Sorry to hijack your packing list.)

Posted by
110 posts

Thank you!
Thanks to Pam, I swapped a "pj" only bottom for upscale lightweight merino sweatpants I really wanted to bring, that will now serve double duty. Per KC, also thank you- for the great book idea and mostly, the concern about slipping and falling-that's a huge one, for me, even more than the cold!
That leads back to the lug- sole boots, hey, they're on sale:
They seem to have really good traction, at least in mud and slippery leaves and even for me are comfortable. My concern is if. after extended walking (they were fine for 3+ miles) I wouldn't have a back up if one of my several foot issues crops up. I'm hoping the lug soles and coat will keep me both upright and warm enough.
Bringing a "just in case" item of any kind is the antithesis of light packing, so it's an adjustment. In the end, I'm really hoping the one really heavy sweater and a few lighter layers is going to work...
More thanks! (Merci beaucoup!)

Posted by
3234 posts

I think your list sounds great, but I think two pairs of gloves is enough.
Make one of them mitts as they are warmer.
DO pack the long underwear.
Also, how about bringing a pair of these?

Just don’t get the type that are like ball bearings.
You do have to take them off when walking indoors, but they would help in snow.

Have a look at the ongoing thread in “Packing” about packable down, etc.
Lots of tips there.

Posted by
110 posts

Wow, thank you, especially from a Canadian perspective! I am going to try to be careful about shopping, but since my hands are always freezing I thought it would be a good excuse to look :) when there for mitts.
I hadn't thought about using ice "cleats"! I do already own a pair, for my NW ice. They are portable stretchy bands without much metal, but doing carry- on only I wonder if the little sharp "teeth" would be an issue? (I have to fly SEA- Vancouver the first leg of the trip. )
It's a challenge having to guess what the weather will be 2+ weeks from now...more thanks!

Posted by
597 posts

Some years back I would have said count on cold and snow, but weather everywhere seems to have become less seasonally predictable. The Environment Canada website currently shows snow in the forecast later this week but not outrageously cold. A few years back I bought lovely gloves and mittens at the Quebec small department store Simon’s. There are locations in both cities.

Posted by
110 posts

Merci, Claire!
Yes, this week's Montreal and QC forecast shows some potential snow showers, but not the single digits (in F) that I'm not used to. Looking for awesome Canadian mittens gives me a very good excuse to go indoors on my quest :) thank you for the suggestion!

Posted by
39 posts

If you are there in mid December, more than likely there will be snow on the ground. In Montreal they put lots and lots of salt on the sidewalks to melt the snow, so there will be large puddles at the street intersections. Waterproof boots are essential if you want to be sure to have dry feet.
You are there early enough that you will miss the bitter cold of January and February and the heavy snow falls and the amazing clean up process that happens afterward.

Posted by
110 posts

Thank you for the cautionary note about big puddles of melted snow, when I was thinking about slipping on ice! I am such a fan of these Canadian Cougar waterproof booties (link is above) and have tried them out in hometown puddles, one was actually well over my foot and they really are waterproof and very warm.
I'm still trying to decide about taking a second pair that are also waterproof but made of a material that looks like suede and fits a little more tightly. For a week-long trip, I'm nervous to rely on just the Cougar boot if an issue crops up with my feet. (The Mizzles are great if it's a cold and sunny day and some packed snow here and there on sidewalks, but would be useless otherwise.)
I will certainly report after, since winter markets are a common post!
Thanks more!

Posted by
3259 posts

I'm one that usually just wears my one pair of shoes. HOWEVER, if I had foot issues, I would pack a second pair of good walking shoes or boots. Your feet are the most important part of your body for travel, IMO. If your feet are miserable, you will be miserable. While you can always pick up another piece of warm gear on vacation, you can't always find a good pair of shoes for your feet. This is one 'just in case piece' that I would pack. You can wash everything else.

Posted by
33301 posts

When I lived in Montréal for December it was Mukluks, a snorkel and gloves inside mittens.

One day I was walking to Dorval airport and even with the snorkel one eye froze open.

That may have been January or February though, don't remember. Sure remember the relief of walking into the terminal.

I'm trying to remember when the Quebec Ice Festival/ Winter Carnaval was - now that was cold. I don't drink but sure remember being around when a great deal of Moose (Caribou) was drunk to stay warm. (this is off topic I know, you can look at a post from 2016 for a discussion

You may have it warmer. I hope so...

Just one word of warning, if you are in Montréal after a snowfall stay off the sidewalks until they have been plowed. Those mini-snowplows-on-tracks do a great job, but they fly down the sidewalks - they are FAST. And the snow goes everywhere. Give them room!!!

Posted by
110 posts

:) ha, thank you! The Ice Festival begins later than my visit, I would have loved to stay in that Ice Hotel! Interesting thought about the shoe situation, as a tourist/traveler, with a lot of walking planned, or even in museums, vs someone going about daily routines in their home environment.
I checked out my snow boots while reconsidering, and they just aren't at all comfortable for walking distances. Plus wearing them for several hours indoors in a museum...
Typically (Greenland. Iceland. Alaska, etc ) I have sturdy old waterproof and grippy hiking shoes. Wear on the plane, easy. I guess I am making an attempt at something more chic, with zero hiking, skating, sledding....the goal is to speak French as much as possible and not fall!!!

Posted by
110 posts

Thank you to all of you for your helpful suggestions!
On my way home now, with a report about how I did :)
(At some point will post about the incredible trip on its own.) Besides a destination I have always wanted to visit, this winter trip was a good trial run for Europe in the winter, which I haven't done yet but want to.
In fact, all that matters is being dressed to safely and comfortably cope with the weather, regardless of season. The Montreal temps were down into the low single digits (F) during the past week, and I arrived just after a big snow. The Uber literally deposited me from my "red eye" flight next to a snowbank past my knees running the length of the block where the hotel was...somewhere.
I parked my carryon on top of it and hauled myself over, first test of my Cougar ankle boots which performed perfectly then and after. Like a skating rink on the sidewalk despite a bunch of sand for traction.
So my #1 requirement is shoes with really good traction, waterproof, warm and yet comfortable enough to walk long distances. These were definitely heavy and I felt leg muscles long forgotten in the days after, but the sidewalks were quite often treacherous and I crept at a slower pace than my normal speed.
My feet did ok, but I was still glad when conditions marginally improved to use my back up pair for a change. I never did use the water resistant wool Allbirds, just too slippery. Lesson learned, but they were the lightest.
I also hadn't considered that some sights/sites outdoors might be under 3 feet of snow, since I don't live in that kind of climate and planned over the summer! I had a back-up plan if it was a snowy/rainy day but not that I literally couldn't see something!
Lesson learned.
Hills and cobblestones can be treacherous. That freaked me out, the fear of a fall ( even at home). Another lesson: study Street view in Google Maps, etc to be prepared.
I wore/used everything on my list above, except happily not the first aid kit or even a bandaid or Tylenol! And the little shopping bag was too slippery to stay on my shoulder in my winter coat. It was easier to put some stuff in my coat pockets.
I rewore each top/bottom 2-4 times. Didn't use the long underwear bottoms, but should have, one day.
Washing unders is easy with only 2 hotel changes, 3 pr was perfect. 2 pr of socks would have been fine. Here's to merino everything :)
I feel successful when I am totally out of clothes the day I come home!

Posted by
776 posts

I’m glad to hear if your packing success and if your great trip. What impresses me is how you.managed to get all that stuff into your carry-on and personal item. How much did they weigh?

Posted by
110 posts

Thank you! I really like my Away suitcase but although advertised as very lightweight it's almost 6 lbs empty, although it fits in the sizers, even Iceland Air. But were there weight restrictions I couldn't have done this.
I didn't bother weighing either item but I know they were each really heavy. I barely was able to hoist the Away into the overheads. The shoulder tote was also a literal pain!
I'm a small person, I don't know how much difference smaller clothes and shoes make, overall?
Best idea was taking the big, beautiful and very warm sweater in the tote and I wore it every day plus to lobby breakfasts. It would have filled half the suitcase.
The merino clothing also was a game changer.
My formula is now going to be 1 outfit for 3-4 days and adhere to it strictly (I really could have worn what I brought longer) when packing! Personally, airplane clothes always feel gross, but this trip I did wear the same pants for another day and flew home in a day 3 ensemble!