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Packing light for cold weather with kids

Greetings! We are headed to Iceland, Austria, and France in early December. We will have 2 young kids in tow. I really want to lighten our load this time. Previously, with one child, we used 3 suitcases. I don't want to do that again. I think we will still have to use 2 normal suitcases and maybe 1 smaller suitcase.

Question is, what is your winter packing list for women, men, and kids in the winter? We will be gone 3 weeks. Where are women getting quick drying pants that look nice and not like "travel clothes"? We know we will bring gifts and souvenirs back home too.

I see lots of packing lists for warm weather, but not many for cold weather, and next to none for kids. I don't want to purchase an new wardrobe of "travel clothes" for us or the kids.


Posted by
5131 posts

Hi, I've packed cheap grocery store tights to wear under normal pants for our last two trips with cold weather, and they're great to keep me warm and also don't take any extra room. You can also buy very thin thermal tops. I brought a black one and a maroon one, and layered or wore them alone with a scarf for different outfits. All of those wash quickly in a sink and are dry the next day.

Posted by
5818 posts

My key to winter travel is a good light weight thermal base layer. Light, not heavy, because stripping the base layer is not practical when you enter an indoor environment. My base layer is wicking quick drying that I wash and dry overnight.

The other packed adds to summer travel are more long sleeve shirts than short sleeve. I carry/wear my outer shell (rain) jacket and fleece jacket in transit. With small kids you will need to have space to carry their outerwear while in a protected environment e.g terminal.

I should add that I prefer wool or synthetic pants as they dry faster than cotton.

Posted by
351 posts

I will be watching this thread in case someone does point us to the holy grail of women's travel pants that don't look like travel pants. :-)

Personally I have resigned myself to looking like I am traveling and at least during the day wear pants from LLBean that are obviously travel pants. And then pack a lightweight skirt that doesn't wrinkle for nicer evening meals.

I haven't really traveled in cold weather, other than for business, but almost all of our travel is in cooler weather - early March, and late September through mid November. One thing that helps us travel light is being OK with alternating between the same 2 sweaters and 2-3 pair of pants for the whole trip, and not having a fresh clean outfit everyday. We always have a fresh base layer every day (underwear plus t-shirt) and wear the outer layer at least twice before laundering. This is possible in cooler weather because you sweat less. You can spot clean coffee drips and the like in the sink.

This could work with kids, though perhaps in a less extreme fashion. Kids might even be quicker to adjust to the philosophy of not needing pristinely clean clothes every day than adults. :-)

Posted by
351 posts

Should add - the key to cooler and cold weather is layers and Edgar's point about a light thermal base layer is a good one. When sightseeing in temps near freezing I'd wear normal layers on days we'd be indoors a lot - t-shirt + sweater and a light coat.

If we were planning to do a lot outdoors I'd wear a light thermal layer, such as a silk undershirt, with a long sleeved shirt & sweater over. Indoors I can strip off the sweater to be cooler.

I personally wouldn't wear a thermal leg layer except in the coldest or most prolonged outdoor activity - but only you know how hot or cold you and your family run.

The absolute most important part of my cold weather travel wardrobe is a warm hat, gloves and scarf. Keeping my head and hands warm and keeping the wind out of my neckline goes a long way to keeping me comfortable.

Posted by
215 posts

We traveled to Lyon France in early December a few years ago for the light show. We checked the weather before leaving home and they were calling for unusually cold weather. We packed light long underwear, I found some nice fleece lined tights at TJMaxx for $5. We also packed LL Bean packaway primaloft jackets, a fleece jacket and our packaway rain jackets to use as wind breaker or as a rain jacket. Of course, hats, gloves and scarf. I am glad we packed as we did because the forecast was right, it was cold.
The packaway primaloft jackets are a nice lightweight, thin, but warm layer. A must have for us now when going anywhere that might be cold. It can be used as a light jacket by itself for just chilly days, too.
For our kids. when they were young, they both had a packaway rainjacket/windbreaker layered over fleece. It is harder to pack light in colder weather.
Definitely check the weather before leaving home so you can pack accordingly. If we hadn't been watching the forecast and just packed for typical Lyon December weather we would have been buying some warmer gear there.

Posted by
5818 posts

Re: ...Definitely check the weather before leaving home so you can pack accordingly.

While it's useful to research climate data, forecasts beyond 3 or 4 days are an educated guess for most weather environments.

Example of climatic data for Salzburg:
Vs the Tyrol village of Fierberbrunn:
Realizing that the data are averages.