Updated May 27, 2020.
It’s the dream! Winter in Europe is full of snowy mountain villages, Christmas markets, world-class ski and winter sports resorts, and in some countries… reindeer! But packing winter clothes can be a challenge. So here’s your quick guide to a packable, carry-on only, winter wardrobe that will allow you to enjoy fairytale-Europe at its most spectacular! This list will work for quick weekend trips or even two-week excursions!
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I recommend choosing one coat for the trip. If you’ll be galavanting in the snow, go for the puffy coat! If you’ll be enjoying the lights and atmosphere of the cities, take the peacoat and a classy brooch instead.
Who doesn’t love a cozy sweater? I recommend wearing one on the flight and packing two to three in your luggage. Remember you’ll be wearing your coat most of the time, so who cares if you re-wear a sweater underneath, right?
I recommend wearing leggings on the flight and packing your jeans as an alternative. It’s just more comfortable that way in my opinion. Feel free to switch that around, but don’t waste valuable space in your luggage with more than one pair of either! Oh, and if you’re traipsing around in the snow, opt for snow pants and leave the jeans at home altogether!
Boots take up space. Quite a lot of space, in fact! A good rule of thumb is to wear your heaviest (or largest) shoes and pack one other pair—maybe running shoes if you’ll want to hit the gym on your trip or flats if you need something for a nice dinner out! But if you have the right boots, you can wear that one pair of shoes your whole trip. I have found both of these styles to be perfect for walking all day, several days in a row!
If you’ll be heading to the Baltics, Nordics, or up into the Alps, you’ll be wise to pack a base layer—or two! They take up so little space, you can pack more than one set and not be too worried about valuable luggage space.
I’m about to let you in on a secret: I hate the cold! I’m actually a summer girl at heart. But I can totally get onboard with snowy days and winter weather if I have the right gear to keep myself warm! I love a good puffy vest and ear warmer! Scarves are arguably the most versatile piece of clothing (I even take a light one with me in the summer months!), and you cannot under value a good pair of warm socks.
The most important part of packing is not so much the things you pack, it’s what and how you pack it all in! Going carry-on only is easiest with a backpack, in my opinion, but if you have back problems or just aren’t sure about toting a backpack around, there are some good, carry-on-size rollaboards available these days. Just be aware that they will not fit into the overhead bin on small plane. Long-haul flights will have the right-size bins for you!
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