Winter travel = packing heavy? Doesn’t have to!

packing-winterI’m writing a blog post every day in November as part of a writing challenge. Read why here.


On my first backpacking-around-Europe trip I stuffed my backpack full jeans, sweaters, and shoes so I’d have options on the road. It took exactly one day for me to regret my over-packing. I swore I’d never pack too much again.

These days I limit myself to a carry-on suitcase (or travel backpack) and a small backpack or laptop bag. This year, most of my traveling has been done in wintery weather. It’s easy to think winter = more clothes but I’ve found it’s actually pretty easy to pack light while traveling during the winter months.

On Friday I leave for 1.5 weeks in the UK. During the first part of the trip I’ll be on a workation, and then I’ll be working in a school. Since my natural tendency is to bring too much, I have to remind myself that…

1. If it’s winter, my coat covers up most of what I’m wearing.

2. I can only wear one outfit at a time. Everything else I have to carry.

3. If I really need something, I can borrow or buy it.

I also follow a few personal packing guidelines:

1. I only bring items that go with ¾ of the other items I’m bringing. My goal is to have many options with a small amount of clothes. Even if an item is my favorite thing in the world, I won’t bring it if it only goes with one other thing.

2. I layer for warmth and variety. Sweaters can take up a lot of space and I can only wear one at a time. So, I typically bring a thin fleece, a nicer/thicker/warmer sweater, and a cardigan. I also bring a some tanks, a couple ¾ sleeve shirts, a couple long-sleeved shirts, and one or two scarves that I can layer and mix-and-match.

3. Unless I know I’m going to be in a lot of rain, snow or wind, I leave the very weather-specific clothes at home. If I’m only likely to wear something once or twice, I leave it at home. Most of the time I can get by without it. If I ever have packing regrets it’s usually because I’ve packed too much, not that I’ve brought too little.

For not being a fashionista I feel like I spend far too much time thinking about what to pack. Sometimes I wish I could be more like my husband and not think about what to bring until the night before my flight. (That will never happen.)

I think I just like the challenge of packing the perfect items for each trip. Sure, I like to look nice and feel comfortable, but I think what I enjoy is that packing is kind of like solving a puzzle.

I think I’ve got a good packing list for my upcoming UK trip. I’m creating a Scotland culture kit for Carolina Navigators at UNC, which means I need to reserve a good amount of space in my suitcase for bringing cultural items home. I really want to see how minimal I can pack for this trip. We’ll see. It’s always those last minute what if’s that take me down!

What about you? How much time do you spend choosing what you’re going to pack? Do you have packing guidelines? And for you fashionistas out there, how do you pack light and still manage to look put-together?




There are three topics I definitely know I’m going to write about this month, and so I invited Sabrina, my #GlobalLife2014 Summit Co-host, to blog about these topics on the same days so you could get two perspectives on each topic.

Then I thought, hey, wouldn’t it be even more interesting to read several perspectives on each topic? So I’m inviting you to join a mini blog challenge and blog about the same three topics on the same three days! Click here for the details.

image: here