Travel style tips – pack light for winter travel to Europe

If you stress after travel plans are made because  …

  • You don’t know where to start,
  • You overpack and/or pay overweight bag fees,
  • You end up wearing half of what you packed, and/or
  • Feel that you have to buy a new wardrobe for your upcoming trip,

Then this post is for you.

I wanted to share how to pack for winter travel to Europe using one bag (a carry on size bag) that is easy to navigate without overpacking or having to buy an entirely new wardrobe. You have everything you need for a trip in your closet, you just have to visualize it differently.

This post is all about how to pack for cool weather, for warm weather travel see this post.

Travel style tips – pack light for winter travel to Europe:

  • Know how you travel and what you will be doing each day. When my husband and I travel, we walk and use mass transit. When traveling abroad I know what I will be doing each day, want to dress as stylishly as I can, pack light and bring comfortable shoes. Your daily activities may be completely different, but I advise that you know what you are doing (more or less) each day of your vacation or trip.
  • Plan on doing laundry. This is key for any trip that is more than 7 days. We always plan to do laundry during our trip (sometimes trips to the laundromat are adventures unto themselves!). Plan to do laundry at least once during your vacation – it is the only way to pack light and for it to work over a longer time period.
  • Check the weather. I think this goes without saying, but I will say it. Check the weather before you go. I tend to check about 3 days before packing and again the day before for any drastic changes. Once you have completed steps 1-3, it’s time to pack.
  • Start with the shoes. As I mentioned above, I walk A LOT. However, even if you do not walk a lot, still start with the shoes. Why? Because when you start with the shoes, it automatically limits and refines what you will take with you. The shoes will dictate the style and color of the clothing you pack. You don’t want your entire closet to be available for packing. You have to narrow down the selection somehow. Start with the shoes. For any cold weather trip, I always pack one pair of tall boots (I started doing this on a trip to Paris four years ago) and it worked great. These boots have taken me from Paris to the Alps and they are perfect for the activities and places I go when I travel.

Here’s a packing list to help

*I started taking a casual dress on my last winter trip to Europe and I wished I had more. I added another dress and realized the versatility of layering a sweater over the dress to create another outfit. You could pack a pair of jeans in lieu of one of the skirts. Regardless of if you wear skirts or dresses, do not pack more than three pairs of pants!

**The reason I started packing base layer shirts is to protect my sweaters. Sweaters are heavy, difficult to wash and take even longer to dry. I wear my “base layer” shirts, they get sweaty and then I wash them – not the sweaters I wear over them.

See how all of these pieces go together to create outfits:


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