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Packing for Germany in December

Good evening.

I'm traveling to Germany (Berlin and Munich) from 4 December to 15 December. It has been some years since I've been to Europe and I've never been in the winter.

I am flying Iceland Air and I will be checking a bag, plus bringing my carryon (and a CPAP, in it's own little suitcase).

I have a tendency to overpack anywhere I go and I am trying to prevent that this time around.

From researching I see that lots of folks do a little bit of laundry in their hotel room (or apt) every few days, I am concerned though about heavy winter clothing drying quickly, so I am not sure that's an option for me. Also, I just had the brainstorm that I need to bring a pair of winter boots, almost missed that lol

Are laundry facilities readily available in Germany? Perhaps letting my hotel do a little laundry will be worth the expense.

Help :)

Posted by
1194 posts

So the first thing to do is to not take heavy winter clothing. Instead take lighter clothes and layer for warmth. So a T-shirt overlaid by a light sweater overlaid by a jacket. Each piece dries separately. Add in a light to medium weight base layer as needed.

The same is true for pants. Wear a pair of light wool leggings under a regular weight pair of pants. Each is laundered separately.

Wool socks and waterproof shoes work well.

Add in gloves hat scarf and perhaps a light rain coat.

One thing to remember is that the clothes closest to your body need to be washed more often. So the T-shirt and leggings should be light and washable. The other clothes won’t get dirty nearly so fast.

Posted by
8234 posts

Just follow Rick Steves' packing list as it works year long.

Even my wife can travel indefinitely in an ultra light 21 inch swivel wheel carry on bag and a shoulder bag. So can you. I use a day backpack that fits under a seat, and the carryon bags are never checked with an airline.
There's no reason clothes cannot be worn two or three days in a row. I rotate shirts daily, and then start on a second rotation and even a third rotation before washing. This is even more valid in the winter when you don't sweat as bad as going to Italy mid-Summer.
One of my best tricks is wearing jeans day after day. Sending them out to be laundered with heavy starch before leaving works very well. I do the same with a pair of khaki pants. Unless they get soiled, starched pants still look okay after a week's use.
And every time I get home, there are clothes I never got around to wearing in my bag.
On the boots, leave'em at home. I only carry the shoes on my feet no matter when and where I travel.

Posted by
2387 posts

Packing for 11 days in a checked bag plus carryon should be no problem. Six bottoms, six tops, one sweater, a jacket. Those are your basics. Wear each piece twice, or wash in the sink after the first wear. Most hotels have heated towel racks that work great to dry socks, underwear, thermals & shirts overnight. Pants might take 2 days. Bring a hat & gloves. Wear your bulkiest clothes on the plane. Bring waterproof shoes, but not necessarily winter boots. We’ve traveled to Italy, Ireland, England & Scotland in winter and never packed winter boots. If you find yourself in need of something you didn’t pack, they sell it there!

Posted by
5417 posts

I've been to Berlin in December, you won't need winter boots. Even if it snows the pavements will be cleared so you won't find yourself traipsing through the snow.

Posted by
15679 posts

Unlike you, I live in a place without real winter, so I'm not used to it and I don't have "real" winter clothes - no wools, no heavy-weight pants or tops. I took an 11-day trip to visit the Xmas markets. Here's what worked for me.

Shoes - I wore my low-cut hiking shoes with a pair of thin socks and a pair of very thick wools socks over them. That kept my feet warm and made walking and standing (lots and lots of standing) very comfy.
Outerwear - It never got much below freezing, and when it snowed, my coat got pretty wet pretty quickly. After the first time, I wore my rain poncho over it when it snowed, which kept me dry from head to knees. Make sure the coat you take is large enough that when you wear several layers, you have freedom of movement. If you don't have a warm hat, you can pick one up at the first Xmas market you come to. There are lots of styles.. A warm scarf kept my face warm. I have a couple pairs of shearling gloves I bought in Italy and I love them. A Chicago friend recommended them (where winters are really cold). Though they are thick, I can use my camera while wearing them. I also take handwarmers.
Layers - I wore thermal tops and bottoms under my clothes. They kept me nice and warm when I was outside, but were a problem when I entered heated buildings. If you're going to be outside all day enjoying the markets, that's fine. If you are planning on a museum day, not so practical. The good thing is that thermals are easy to wash out and dry overnight.

Posted by
985 posts

I spent six weeks in the Netherlands year before last during December and January. We stayed in an apt. that had a washer/dryer in the basement but I really only used it to wash my jeans, which only needed to be washed once a week, mainly due to knee stretching and wrinkles, and just because I thought it was time. Cold temps mean less sweating which means less washing. Still, that year I took four bottoms and nine tops since we were staying in one place and day tripping to others. That was way too many clothes. Max I might have needed were three bottoms and four or five tops.
I used the Lands End Thermaskin top and bottoms for my base layers on the coldest days. I wore the shirt almost every day and the pants only a few times when temps really dipped. They are lightweight and easy to wash out at night, wring, roll in towel and wring again, and then hang to dry. They are sort of silky to the feel so your clothes just slide right on over them. I also sometimes wore a Cuddlduds fleece top on top of the Thermaskin and under another shirt worn open front as an overshirt. If needed I could have easily ducked into a restroom and taken off the fleece if I was hot while in museums and such. That didn't happen
I took a few pairs of medium weight merino wool socks to keep my feet warm, plus a heavy weight pair for wearing after we were in at night.
I washed my top shirts every three or four wears just in case they smelled and I couldn't smell it. I only rotated between two shirts at a time so everything did not end up dirty all at the same time. That also meant everything had plenty of time to dry. I'm very comfortable with hand washing and hanging to dry so I found that preferable to building up a huge load of laundry.
My outerwear was a mid thigh length removable hood rain jacket with built in fleece interior lining.
Before we left the US I had found a large, square, very soft scarf at Walmart for about $5. It was one of the most valuable pieces of my wardrobe. I never found anything as soft and warm at any of the markets, although I could have made do. I folded it in a triangle, pulled it up and around my neck, and then tucked the loose ends down inside the front of my coat, giving me extra front warming while out and about.
A cap that covered my ears was essential as well as warm gloves.
I wore my boots on the plane and although I had taken low boots, I found myself wearing the tall boots almost daily as they helped to keep my lower legs warm.

Have a wonderful time on your trip!

Posted by
173 posts

As mentioned above, take light inner layers. These can be adjusted to the temperature and dry overnight when sink washed. Outerwear does not have to be cleaned as often. A fleece or puff jacket and a waterproof, windproof outer layer make a good combination. For me it's important to keep ears, neck, hands, and feet warm! Enjoy your travels!

Posted by
5837 posts

Pack what you would pack if you were a tourist heading for NY City in December. That would for me translate into the layer system: Outer wind/rain proof shell, mid-weight insulation layer (i.e. fleece jacket/sweater), pants/shirt and base layers. Thin moisture-wicking (not cotton) base layer for legs adds comfort waiting for buses and walking about in late fall/early winter outdoor environment. And of course a knit or fleece cap, light gloves and wool or sythetic socks.

If you base (under) layers are light weight moisture wicking synthtics, they will easily dry overnight and with a spare pair overnight sink laundary should be all the lundary you need.

As to winter boots, what would you need to walk about on NYC pavements during December, blizzards excepted? My low cut waterproof light hiking shoes are not stylish but are go everywhere outdoor shoes.

Posted by
335 posts

We did 16 days the end of November the beginning of December in 2015. I packed a 4 pairs of jeans, 8 Longsleeved Shirts, and 3 cardigans. Then warm socks, a hat, gloves and two scarves. My shoes were waterproof hikers. I also packed some long johns, but I only used them once when we were out a night at a Christmas market. My coat was a Columbia that has reflective material in it and it reflects your body heat back towards you. Best purchase :) I packed in a carry-on and even had room for my coat. I really only wash underware and socks in the hotel room. We only had snow the first day, the rest of the time was in the 30s with sun or a misty rain.

Posted by
9039 posts

This is what I wear in Germany in the winter.:
Jeans and if it gets really cold, tights or cuddleduds thermals. Honestly though, I hardly ever need these in Dec. they are more for Jan. and Feb.
Long sleeved turtle neck t-shirt and a sweater or a blouse with a sweater. If it gets hot in a museum, take the sweater off.
Long coat, scarf, hat, gloves. Many Americans forget to wear a scarf. It keeps the cold air out of your coat. I like coats that come down to my knees if possible as it keeps the thighs warm.

Layering sounds great, but if you are on trains, buses, or going to museums you will swelter. I would rather have a thick coat to remove.

I like hiking boats and wear them year round. Thick soles is what will keep your feet warm if you are going to Xmas markets and standing around. Please no UGG boats though. They suck in the water like a sponge if it snows or rains. I feel so bad seeing women wear these and know their feet are soaked and miserable.

You are only there for 9 days. You shouldn't need a checked bag at all. 1-2 pair of jeans, 2 sweaters, 8 blouses or t-shirts, 3 pair of socks, 3 pair of underwear. Wash the socks and underwear in the hotel sink. Roll your clothing and it will all fit in a carry on.

Posted by
10395 posts

I have to agree with Ms. Jo regarding the layering vs. warm coat scenario. I did a winter trip one year in late December/early January. During my two weeks in Amsterdam, Bruges and Paris (most of the time we were in Paris) it never got warmer than 33 degrees F. I'm a California gal and it felt very cold to me. I followed the recommended process of layering and I was miserable every time I was on the metro, in a museum or restaurant, etc. I swore I would never do that again. Two years ago we went to NYC in December. I wore a shirt and cardigan or a pullover sweater, plus a warm coat. I also had a packable down vest if I needed an extra layer. I wore jeans with thermals underneath. When indoors I just had to take my warm coat off instead of feeling like I needed to take off 3+ layers and wonder what I was supposed to do with the clothes.

Posted by
1194 posts

I wore a shirt and cardigan or a pullover sweater, plus a warm coat. I also had a packable down vest if I needed an extra layer. I wore jeans with thermals underneath. When indoors I just had to take my warm coat off instead of feeling like I needed to take off 3+ layers and wonder what I was supposed to do with the clothes.

Um, this is the classic definition of layering.

Shirt + cardigan + coat = layers.
Jeans + thermals = layers

Posted by
10395 posts

When I was there I wore a shirt, a sweater, a lighter jacket, and maybe a waterproof outer layer and it was too much. How many layers can come off in public? I wear a shirt, sweater and heavier warm/waterproof layer. That way I only have one layer to remove.

Posted by
4012 posts

I'm traveling to Germany (Berlin and Munich) from 4 December to 15
December. It has been some years since I've been to Europe and I've
never been in the winter.

wonderboynj, the weather won't be much colder than where you live in the NY metropolitan area.

Are laundry facilities readily available in Germany? Perhaps letting
my hotel do a little laundry will be worth the expense.

Since I can no longer pack heavy luggage, I have halved what typically have packed previously and thus use the hotel's laundry service. It's easy and worth it for me.

Posted by
12172 posts

Costco sells a Weatherproof coat I think works great for Europe in winter. It's light weight for the amount of warmth and wind protection. Under that a base layer/shirt and a warm sweater (much easier packing if it's not too bulky). I like the packable down jackets as a warmth layer because they work as outer wear and can be rolled up tightly for packing.

For laundry, I pack non cotton underwear, socks and t-shirts. They work better in the cold and also dry faster either when they get wet outdoors or when you launder them on the road. For bigger items, I plan a laundromat visit every couple of weeks.