How to Pack for a Winter Wonderland Vacation

How to Pack for a Winter Wonderland Vacation

So you have decided to spend your winter vacation in a true winter wonderland. Maybe you are taking the family on a fun and active skiing adventure. Perhaps you have decided to rent a romantic cabin in some wonderfully snowy part of the world for a sweet and cozy relaxing time. Heading to the arctic tundra hoping to catch a glimpse of the famous northern lights? Wherever you are headed this winter, you are going to need to know what to bring and how to bring it.


When considering your winter jacket, you will first need to decide what types of activities you will be doing and how much time you will be spending outside. Also, consider the climate. Are you skiing on the sunny and dry powdery snow of the Rockies? If so, you can probably forgo the heavy waterproof outer shell or rain jacket. Instead, opt for a lighter down ski jacket. Are you heading to Canada’s Vancouver for whale watching and outdoor holiday markets? If this is the case, be sure to bring that waterproof outer shell and maybe even some rain pants, too.

Your outerwear will likely not need to be packed, as you will be wearing it for most of your travel. If you will be traveling between drastically different environments, however, and need to stow your outerwear away for a portion of your trip, grab a packable down coat, which can keep you warm and cozy in your winter wonderland destination and can also be easily rolled up nice and small to fit in your luggage. If you are headed somewhere that requires a big bulky parka, don’t worry about the space it might take up—just bring it. Better to be safe than freezing.

Sweaters and Fleece

Next, consider what you will want to wear under your outermost layer. We recommend bringing both a sweater and a fleece pullover. Packing a cute and cozy cable knit sweater is a stylish and practical decision. For ultimate warmth and comfort, plus a chic look, opt for a thick and buttery-soft cashmere sweater or sweater dress. Cashmere is the ultimate choice for style and warmth and a cashmere sweater dress is the ultimate choice for winter travel. Pack by tightly rolling the sweater dress up, smoothing wrinkles out as you go. A sweater dress is a great option for travel because it is easily packable and can seamlessly take you from your daytime adventure look to your nighttime dinner date look.

Bring along a fleece sweater as well for a versatile and warm layer that is also easy to pack and take on and off during your day’s activities.

Winter Vests

Another must-pack item is a good winter vest. Keeping your core warm is absolutely vital in any winter wonderland environment and a good down puffer vest is perfectly designed for this purpose. A down puffer vest is also a great option, as it is highly packable and will take up very little space in your luggage. A vest is a smart choice as it will keep you warm without overheating you or restricting your movements, especially if you plan on having an active winter vacation.

Thermal Layers

Next, and arguably most importantly, you need to invest in some good thermal layers. A solid and warm base layer can make all the difference between having a blast while spending hours playing in the snow or freezing and being ready to leave the great winter outdoors. Materials such as silk and bamboo make for great options for a more active vacation as they are sweat-wicking. For those headed to more Arctic temperatures, you probably want to invest in the warmest option possible, such as wool base layers. Merino wool can also absorb up to 30% of its weight in moisture and still maintain its ability to insulate, keeping you dry and warm. These natural materials are also a great option for those of us with very sensitive skin that's easily irritated by more synthetic fabrics.

That being said, however, synthetic base layers can be a great and affordable option for keeping you warm in most winter environments. For example, fleece-lined leggings are warmer and softer than most long underwear options.

Footwear, Hats, Gloves, and Scarves

For most winter wonderland vacations, you will want to wear your warm winter boots while traveling and also pack another style of shoe, such as a lightweight ankle boot or bootie, for nights out or spending time indoors. Don’t forget your winter accessories either. Be sure to bring a warm beanie or packable ear muffs to protect your head and/or ears from blustery winter winds. Bring at least one thick and warm scarf, which can easily be fit on top of the rest of your clothes in your luggage. Gloves are also a must-bring and you don’t even have to worry about packing those, just throw them in your jacket pocket and you’re ready to travel.

Packing for an environment much colder or wetter than the one you are accustomed to can seem daunting or overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. May this list be your guide and inspire you to get going on your winter wonderland vacation. Happy packing!


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