Traveling. One of my favorite things to do in life. Going places, learning languages, broadening your horizons. There is nothing like it. But there is ONE thing about traveling that I absolutely cannot stand: packing.
Oh the dreadful task of packing…. and when you think it does not get worse, you add “winter” to the mix and it becomes mission impossible. How can you possibly pack smartly when going on a winter vacation? Well my friends, if you know the answer to that, feel free to enlighten me because I fail miserably at it.
I would be lying if I said I don’t plan each outfit when I am going on any trip. It is almost like a “mini-fashion-show”. I find it important to feel good in what I am wearing from top to bottom – and when I say “top to bottom”, I mean that SHOES count too! Yes, shoes. My small obsession in life. I am very much aware of my OCD when it comes to shoes, so I learned that the best way to pack wisely (or semi-wisely in my case) is to plan each outfit for each day and evening.
I have learned that by choosing bottoms that can be used with a couple of different outfits, I can optimize the space in my suitcase. I am getting better at making sure I have at least two top combinations that I can use for each bottom. I try to pick neutral colors that will also make it easier to match with outerwear and shoes.
One of the most important words to keep in mind when packing for a winter trip is: LAYERS. I must have multiple layers when planning on sightseeing all day. Not only will I be moving and walking around for long periods of time, I will be going in and out of places with heating so I like to be able to easily remove the top layer. I am the kind of person who is constantly cold so I find that as long as I have at least two layers inside my winter coat, I will be okay.
I have recently purchased the best and most comfortable “thermal” set to wear as a bottom layer. I was reading a blog from Travel Fashion Girl (she is my inspiration when it comes to packing!!!), and she had some great recommendations for thermals. I found this brand Liang Rou on Amazon that was very inexpensive, and I am extremely happy with how they feel. These thermals are very comfortable, feel soft on your skin and they have kept me very warm throughout my recent trip to Prague and Vienna.
Interesting Fact: It is crucial to keep your extremities warm in cold weather to retain your body heat. Your body will restrict the blood flow to your extremities in order to keep your vital organs warm. This, coupled with the fact that the feet and hands are at the end of our limbs and don’t have much muscle (which produces heat) means that they cool down much more than other regions of the body. That being said, I ordered these super warm (and comfy) Merino Wool socks by Meriwool, and they were worth every penny!
My experience when it comes to Merino wool socks: yes, they will keep your feet warm and they have great insulation. The best part is that wool can absorb a much higher amount of moisture than cotton so your feet will stay nice and dry. But here comes the down fall… if you have shoes or winter boots that are your exact foot size, you might be in trouble. Wool socks are usually thicker than your regular socks so all of a sudden your comfortable shoes might feel really tight and uncomfortable. It takes a little while to get used to it (trust me, I suffered a bit in the beginning) but eventually – and hopefully – the shoes will adjust.
I also suggest investing on nice warm scarves and hats. Although it is a myth that you lose 70-80% of your body heat through your head, you will definitely feel much warmer if your head is covered – just as any other part of your body. So I always carry a hat with me that can fit in my hand bag. And let’s face it: winter hats are super fun and can be a great accessory on an outfit.
Now to the hardest part of the packing: winter jackets. Those monster size clothing items can be a royal pain to pack. I usually like to have an every day jacket that is “midsize” and a longer hooded jacket for those really cold days. Then I always bring a night coat for nice dinners and events such as an opera or concert. There really is no easy way to make this work. The good news is most winter coats are puffy so you can roll them up as tightly as you can to get the air out of them, and then they are easier to pack.
All in all, for an 8 day trip to Europe I ended up with 2 suitcases and a carry-on (none were completely full as to leave room for shopping and occasional souvenirs). There is so much room for improvement, I know, but I honestly feel I packed the exact amount of clothes I needed and went through each and every outfit I packed. True, maybe I did not need the nine pairs of shoes/boots (whooaaa) but when you have scheduled a Classical Concert, a dinner at a Michelin Star Restaurant, a formal New Year’s Eve party and two countries to visit, you need shoes to match your fabulous outfits! Ha!
I hope you have enjoyed this post and I have faith I will keep getting better at this packing business. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback – and if you have an awesome packing tip, I am all ears!!! I am looking forward to my next post, focusing on Prague and Vienna that I have mentioned here. Tschüss!