• Carrie Mitchell

Winter Travel Packing Hacks

Updated: Jan 28

Here come the holidays! For most of us, that means heading to colder climates for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and trying to stuff those sweaters and boots into you small suitcase is an annual challenge. Fear not, I have some tips for you

Between trudging between flights, dragging your luggage, and attempting to look like effortlessly chic-looking locals (ha),  packing for winter travel is practically an art form. You want to pack light, and keep warm, but still look good – and if you are like me, you find yourself furiously sitting on your (hopefully expandable) suitcase to get it closed with bulky sweaters.

*I should state that winter is the only season in which I break from my carry-on only rule. Or if I have to take my small trusty roll on, I bring along a duffle bag too and wear as many heavy things as I can on the plane.

I use this condensed list of what to bring while packing for my winter trips to Canada, Europe or to Ski. It helps me pack everything into one carry on (mostly)


No matter when and where you’re traveling, your basic carry on packing list shouldn’t change much. Winter or summer, you’re still going to need to pack underwear, right? Start by packing your basics, and light items you can layer. Extra socks as always and flannel Pjs.


Do you know the secret trick to pulling off skinny jeans and boots in below freezing temperatures? Wearing an invisible layer of long underwear underneath! Plan to bring one pair of thermal leggings, and one long-sleeved thermal top.

Swap Out

Sweaters, though cozy and chic, unfortunately take up more space in your bag than other tops. So swap out three+ tops you normally would have packed for two sweaters or sweatshirts. I’ll wear one bulkier sweater with jeans or leggings while traveling, and have one or two lightweight cardigans, or sweaters, that I can wear over a thermal top packed away in my bag. Ultimately the rule here is: don’t add in sweaters, but replace other tops with them.


I love black clothes. Black clothes are chic, easy to match, and never look as dirty as they really are. So I always pack one pair of black pants. They’re easy to pair with a t-shirt for a casual outfit, or dress up with a nice silk top or sweater when going out for a nice dinner.


I do not subscribe to the silly one-pair-of-shoes rule. I mean, come on. One pair boots and one pair “other” like sneakers 100%


Boots alone won’t keep your feet warm. It’s important to pack warm socks though bulky winter socks also take up more space than thin socks in your carry on. So pack 3 or 4 pairs of lightweight wool socks so get you covered.

Warm Accessories

Accessories are an easy way to change up outfits while traveling and are generally small and easy to fit in your bag. They’re also a great way to add color to an otherwise neutrals-heavy travel wardrobe. So a colorful scarf and hat can go a long way.


Winter weather can vary in temperatures day to night, so you might want to bring a light weight #2 in case


I always, always, always forget how dry my skin gets in wintery weather. After your clothes are chosen and packed away, don’t forget to toss in chapstick and a travel sized bottle of lotion before zipping up and taking off!

Now for some Winter Wonderland inspiration by way of Visit Colorado

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About Me

Travel Oracles founder Carrie A. Mitchell is an entrepreneur, strategist, podcaster, writer & author. Inspired by global culture and history, this project was born to spread knowledge, connection and creativity 


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