As a person who grew up in a quite cold country – the Czech Republic, I know how the real winter looks like. The coldest weather that I have ever experienced was around -15 Celsius.
In this article I would like to help you how to pack when you travel to Europe or USA during winter time. If you live in a warm country for your whole life, you might not imagine how the winter can be like.
If you travel from a very hot weather, it can be hard to imagine yourself wearing a warm jacket and a woollen hat. Then once you land, go outside and feel the freezing wind, then you will quickly change your mind.
There are few tips to follow when you want to avoid catching a cold and shaking from the freezing cold weather.
First of all we are all different. Whilst one person can handle winter better and doesn’t need to wear the warmest clothes, the other person can be very sensitive of even as light wind.
You probably know if you are the sensitive person and feel cold quickly or if you can wear light clothes and never get too cold. Either way, prepare in advance.
I definitely prefer a nice warm weather and want to be always ready for cold weather.
Tips how to stay warm
Protect your neck, waist and feet
Always think about how to protect the most sensitive parts of your body such as the neck, waist, feet or head. Use a base layer to cover these body parts. For example, buy thermal clothes or long sleeve shirt, leggings to put under your jeans. Wear a scarf for your neck.
You don’t have to wear a hat when is for example around 10 Celsius, but if it is below zero then rather protect your head to avoid headache.
Have more layers
This is a basic rule to know. When you travel to a cold country, always have some clothes that you can put under your jumper such as long sleeve top. You can also have an extra layer under your pants – leggings. Don’t forget and warm socks.
If you plan to stay outdoor for a sports activity such as skiing or hiking, use thermal clothes – underwear, pants, a t-shirt. You can literally buy anything thermal, depends on your budget.
I would recommend at least one thermal long-sleeve T-shirt and basic pants. Then have more layers of what you will be able to take off if you feel hot.
For example, if you are in some European country and walking in the city and then visiting a shopping mall or restaurant, it is not always super heated. Therefore, with a plain T-shirt you might feel cold and in a very hot woollen jumper, you will sweat.
If you stay in a hostel or cottage, you might feel cold at night. Your feet need to be warm, so prepare your layers.
Pack a jumper with a zip or buttons
From my experience, I like to have a jumper which I can easily take off or just open when I enter indoors. If it is still not completely warm, I can cover my arms to not feel cold.
Wear a warm jacket
It is essential to have a warm jacket that protects you from freezing weather rather than having two jumpers and tinny jacket. Even if you don’t have many layers and you have a long, warm jacket, it will make you feel comfortable during winter time.
On the other hand, it is not always handy to wear a warm jacket as it occupies a lot of space in your luggage. If you travel from 30 Celsius, you just cannot wear it and need to pack it separately. However, but for a strong and cold wind, the warm jacket is the best you can have.
Don’t like feeling like a big bulky snowman with a thick jacket? You can always buy a thermo jacket that is made from a thin material and keeps you completely warm.
What is good to know is that a long jacket keep not always keep you warm. When you buy a cheap synthetic jacket that is not windproof, the cold freezing feeling will get you.
Don’t forget a scarf, hat and gloves
For me, the scarf is the most important item for every cold trip! Whenever I travel somewhere where might be a bit colder I like packing a scarf. It keeps my neck nice and warm and I can avoid a sore throat from the cold wind.
Hat and gloves are definitely necessary for a freezing weather and winter sports.
If you plan just a city walk when is not too cold, you can survive without a hat and gloves. However, it is always handy to pack it rather than a hassle to buy some in your destination and feel cold.
Wear warm boots
If you travel and expect around 15 Celsius or below zero it is reasonable to take warm shoes. For mild weather, standard boots would be ok but for freezing weather you definitely need to have proper warm shoes.
If you expect that it might freeze and you plan to walk in nature or even a very long walk in the city, be ready to have some higher and warmer boots with warm thermal socks or just thick socks.
I remember how my feet were so frozen when I was wearing the wrong shoes back in the Czech during winter time. If you buy cheap shoes from synthetic material, they will not protect you against cold weather. It is better to invest in higher quality shoes.
Buy a type of shoes that can you use for the city and nature if it is the plan of your travel. For winter sports activities, invest in a good quality of hiking shoes. They will last for years.
How and where to Choose warm clothes
When you buy new winter clothes, think about for what particular piece you want to invest more money in order to feel comfy. On the other hand think where can you save money for a particular clothes that doesn’t need to have high quality standard.
If you live in a hot country, you might feel that you will use the jacket just for the trip and then not use it anymore. However, if you buy a good quality jacket and boots, they will last for many years and your size for it will probably not change much.
You can also always sell it later if you really don’t need it anymore.
The cheapest way to buy clothes is to online or search for specials and outlets. However, going to an outlet can be time-consuming and not everyone has plenty of time to go shopping before your holiday and search for sales.
You can also buy it at your final destination but if you have nothing that keeps you warm, then you definitely need at least a warm jacket and shoes.
To sum up, travel to a cold country, you can still look stylish and not like a big bulky snowman because of so many clothes. Winter fashion can be very elegant if you know how to combine fashion complements.
For ladies – you might even wear a skirt but with very warm stockings and a long stylish jacket with high shoes. Also, a scarf can be a sophisticated decoration for your outfit.
- Long leggings
- Long and warm socks
- Long sleeve t-shirt, top (thermal)
- Woollen jumper
- Warm jacket
- Pair of boots
- Sport shoes
- Warm hat
- Blanket (very handy to have when you are at your accommodation and feel cold and don’t have anyone to hug :-), just wrap up with a nice warm blanket)
Tip – winter clothes can be bulky and if you don’t want to all wear them on yourself (which is impossible when you travel from a tropical destination) use compression bags to reduce the size.