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winter packing help needed

I will be traveling to London, Paris, and Frankfurt in the weeks before Christmas. I am from Arizona and have absolutely no idea how to dress or pack for wintery destinations. Please help! Ideally I would like to carry on my luggage but I don't know what to pack so not sure if that's possible. Thank you for any advice.

Posted by
5762 posts

From a one carry on Winter traveler, all about layers. My original RS Classic Carryon has been to Italy, England, Ireland, NYC, and D.C. in winter. Keeping head and feet warm is the key. My layers are capiliene top and bottom, jeans, Land's End Therma Check Fleece Pull Over, (so lightweight I take two) scarf, gloves, Smart Wool socks (swear by these) and a hat. For me a skull cap that covers my ears. Light weight but sturdy and ever so comfortable Keen shoes. Two pairs. Packing list includes pair of slacks, 2 turtlenecks, 2 blouses, one sweater and 3 pairs of underwear, 2nd bra. You wear the jeans and sweater on the plane and take the jacket as well. Since I do an overnight from LAX I use it as a blanket. In one pocket of the jacket are my gloves, in another my iPod so I can listen to my audio choices enroute and in another some kleenex.. Passport and ticket in a neck style pouch that goes beneath the sweater. Moneybelt is in the carryon. Don't take a hair dryer. Minimal makeup, Bare Essentials. Use packing cubes. 1 dedicated to iPod charger, Laptop charger, adaptors, extra camera cards. All the clothes mentioned above fit in another cube. Third cube has the toiletries. Travel size shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrush, hand creme, Niva face cream tins, wash cloth, chapstick, kleenex packets, ziplock bags of all sizes rolled up with some rubber bands, small roll of gaffer's tape, door stop, glass case with extra pair of glasses. All this adds up to about 10lbs I think. This bag goes in the overhead bin. I carry the laptop and my DSLR in a Timbuktu bag that fits under the seat. In it is also my travel journal, water, snacks, zip lock bag with tea bags, pens, Airborne, hand sanitizer and hairbrush. Lastly, a small zippered purse that carries earplugs, nail clippers, twist ties, paperclips and a tin of aspirin and an Airborne packet.

Posted by
3419 posts

We've been to the UK and Austria in Nov/Dec a lot. Layers are what you need to plan for. You may get mild, rather dry weather or you could have cold, windy, rain, or snow- all in one day (lol). Here's what I usually took: Wear on plane: black cotton-blend pants, long sleeve turtleneck/T-shirt and a long-sleeved "big shirt" {button up that can look a bit like a jacket}, water resistant winter coat with hood, good walking shoes - black. Pack in carry-on suitcase: 2-3 pair black or khaki cotton-blend pants (I am allergic to wool and rather hot-natured), 3 or 4 T-shirts/turtlenecks (1 short sleeve, rest long) 1 or 2 "big shirts", optional 1-2 sweaters/cardigans or fleece vest that go with all of above, 3-5 bras, enough pantiesfor at least 1 week (often enough for entire trip) same with socks, hand wipes, stain wipes, first aid "kit" in a baggie- band-aids (small packets of Neosporin, dental floss, Advil or Aleve, Benadryl, Dramamine, Nyquil gel capsules, etc.), sewing "kit"( various colors thread wrapped around a small piece of cardboard, 2 needles, buttons, safety pins), medications, medical info sheet, copy of insurance info, 3-1-1 bag with deodorant, perfume, shampoo, lipstick, chap stick, toothpaste, etc., another quart baggie with eye shadow, blush, powder, comb, brush, tweezers, razor, clippers, etc. , "feminine supplies" if needed, wash cloth in a baggie, gloves, hat or hooded scarf. Totally optional- scarves, phone, charger, adapter plug, camera & charger, extra memory cards for camera, paper & pen, extra shoe liners, umbrella, day pack. My suitcase will weigh about 15 lbs.
We even did an around the world trip with the same type stuff! It all fits in Rick's bags that we bought more than 20 years ago and that still look almost new. I carry a day pack and move stuff into it as needed.

Posted by
3696 posts

I have traveled often in the winter months and tend to also do some layering. One of my favorite cold weather travel outfits is a midcalf skirt, leggings underneath, thin knee socks and a tank top with a thin t shirt over it and some sort of soft top. Then I have my coat, which is a midcalf unlined velvet simple coat. It is warm enough and not bulky and always looks good. I also bring a number of scarves and one or two heavier shawls, which I will put over the coat if its really cold. Also hat and gloves and the only shoes I wear in the winter are Haflingers and as they are wool my feet are never cold, and better yet, never sore. Not a fashion statement...but if I wear different shoes my feet and back hurt. I only take a carry on and find it easier to choose clothes for winter. If I am in the mood to take jeans I will and still wear them with my velvet coat. Or, I will take some kind of soft black yoga pants that are comfy and still look good. Lots of dark colors and soft fabrics. I use a small cross shoulder bag (ie Maruka) and everything is in that. I do not use a money belt...way too uncomfortable for me. I am one of those people who cut all the tags out of their clothes immediately, so a money belt would drive me crazy.

Posted by
11450 posts

I have been to London in March.. mid march. It was so cold , windy and rainy,, and in fact is sleeted one day( sleet, aka rain snow mix) Take gloves and a hat. Bring thin silk long underwear to layer under clothes then you can cut down on bulkly layers. Find this stuff in sporting goods stores, where they sell ski clothes etc. ( I am assuming its not normal winter clothing stock in Phoenix regular clothing stores)
Fleece is lightweight and warm,, I always take a thin fleece to layer under a windbreaker for summer trips,, so for winter I would of course take one to layer under a winter coat ! Good weather resistant shoes that are comfy and not too heavy. It is possible to pack a carryon, you will wear all the super bulking things on the plane, ( carry coat on, its a good plane blanket anyways) .. wear heaviest shoes( do take two pairs , that way they can dry out between wearings) . The silk underwear will help keep you warm so that normal clothes( long pants and long sleeved shirts will be fine when layered with a fleece under the coat. Frankfurt can be colder then London, but London is so damp!

Posted by
964 posts

As everyone has says, layers are the answer. Since you live in Arizona, you probably won't need most of the cold weather clothes after your trip.
You could consider bringing just enough for a couple of days and then buying some inexpensive things once you're here. For example, in London, head for Marks and Spencers, Bon Marche or Primark and New Look. They will all have inexpensive cold weather clothes. You can then leave what you don't want to keep.

Posted by
11798 posts

For winter, I pack almost the same as for spring or fall - light layers rather than heavy items. I do switch to heavier wool socks and waterproof shoes. The things I add for true winter are a ski cap, knit or leather gloves (something that isn't bulky), and a scarf. For really cold weather, a set of silk long johns is perfect. They don't take up much room or weight but add a lot of warmth. Since you will be inside much of the time, peeling off layers allow you to stay comfortable even in heated areas.

Posted by
37 posts

Bear in mind that if you are a UK 10 - 18 you will be able to get clothes at Primark. The UK 20 is stocked in some ranges but has always sold out and Marks and Spencer are not anyone's idea of cheap, although I would say they are usually good quality. Layering is a great idea. Bear in mind that you could get soaked through so consider how things dry and that you will need enough clothes to have one dry set. (That includes shoes.)