Skip to main content

7 Universal Tips for Selecting Your Winter Travel Wardrobe

Packing a week’s worth of clothing in a carry-on is fairly easy in Summer, but in Winter—when you have bulky sweaters, hefty shoes, and multiple layers of clothing, it can be a bit tricky. After I spent an afternoon planning ahead, I managed to get it all in one carry-on with room to spare for other essentials. 

A friend who wanted my packing help said to me, "I love your outfits, but I don't think I can do what you do because not only is your style is different than mine, but also your size."

So I'm aspiring to share 7 universal tips for packing in Winter. These tips are cumulative, so I've labeled them in Steps--
and if you want to see my personal 7 day wardrobe, click here.

Step 1: Check the weather. My 7 days in Rome forecasted 5 days of cold rain.

Step 2: Plan your shoes. Most of the time when you travel, you spend more time on your feet than on ordinary days, plus you don't have access to your entire closet of shoes. You need GOOD SHOES--supportive, comfortable, weather-appropriate, and versatile. When packing for Summer, I work the outfits around a color pallet, in Winter, I work it around the shoes.

I knew for a week of rain that I would regret not having rubber rain boots (because in Italy the main mode of transportation is by foot!) Even though mine are hot pink, they were the first item selected—all else then revolved around this. However, they are not my most comfortable shoe, so I knew for those really long days of excursions, I would want my black boots by Hushpuppies (this was a trusted brand when I was a kid! They still don’t disappoint!) I added a Doctor Scholl’s arch support to them as well. I can seriously walk in them all day and my feet don’t hurt (they are tired, but not hurt).

Then I packed a comfy pair of canvas flats, just in case I wanted a break from boots in and around the hotel. I was glad I did this.

Step 3: Choose pants that work with your shoes and weather. I needed pants that would tuck into my boots (boot cut/bell bottoms walking on slushy streets = bad idea.) I chose warm, fleece-lined brown and black leggings and my most comfortable pair of skinny jeans, which happen to be navy. Immediately I thought, "Can I bring 3 different neutral colors and still keep my packing to a minimum?" Yes!

Step 4: Select versatile coordinating layers.  Limit to 3 outer layers.

This is where I spent the majority of my time planning. You can't fit 7 days worth of double layers in a carry-on unless you repeat the layers. Everything must coordinate and hold the potential of being worn multiple days. If you think this is not clean, keep reading.

I chose 3 under layers, 2 versatile layers, and three outer layers. Italians do not have extensive wardrobes. Yes, Italy is fashion central, but people invest in quality, not quantity. It is the norm here to see people wearing the same things repeatedly in a variety of ways. Also laundry in Italy is a lengthy and expensive process. Washing machines are small, dryers are rare. In the winter, it can take a few days to complete a wash and dry cycle, therefore, people wear things multiple times before laundering. You can too, especially in Winter when you're not sweating as much. ;)

But I still planned my layers for optimal cleanliness. Each under layer worn only once or twice. Each versatile layer(in this picture, the ones with collars are my "versatile layers") can be worn as an under or an outer. I wore each collared shirt as an outer layer first, and saved it for an under layer toward the end of the week.

I limited to THREE BULKY ITEMS ONLY. 2 versatile sweaters, and one fleece. I knew that at minimum, I would want the fleece when it was time to get comfy in the hotel or at the continental breakfast before going out for the day, but I wanted to incorporate it into an outfit as well.

After choosing the layers, I realized that they would not all suffice to cover the leggings by themselves. See flow chart “Are youwearing pants?” ;)

I chose one cream mini-skirt, and 1 pair of black skorts to wear over the leggings. These + leggings take up the same space as a regular pair of jeans/pants if you opt to go that route instead.

Step 5: When choosing Winter accessories, skip necklaces and bracelets, and instead opt for scarves and earrings. Statement necklace snag sweaters, take up weight and bulk, and are covered by your outerwear half the time anyway. Scarves are a two-for-one as they add style to your outfit, but keep you warm. I chose one heavy knit scarf, a casual blue, and a two-way white/gray scarf with a sheen. All 3 scarves coordinated with all three pair of shoes.
I limited jewelry to fun earrings, and only my favorite, small, meaningful bracelets. Clunky bracelets are lost under coats, and are in the way when shifting layers on and off, which happens frequently. I heard fashion advice a few years ago: have only one piece of statement jewelry. Since I was forgoing bracelets and necklaces, earrings are big and fun and stand on their own!

I included a hat to add variety to an outfit or hairstyle while also providing warmth, and I made sure to pack a hairband and rubber bands for potential bad hair days. 

Don’t forget that lipstick is a great accessory which draws focus away from messy hair!

Step 6: Cross-body bags, 1 big, 1 small. This is not just for style--cross-body bags free up your hands and also prevent theft. Because of my weather information in Step 1, I brought a small water-resistant cross-body, and a mid-size bag for carrying my computer and notebooks (my trip was for business/study), but when I travel for tourism/shopping, I opt for a larger tote-size. My small cross-body has removable straps so it can double as a clutch for a fancier night out.

Step 7: Ignore temptation to add more things! Stick to the minimum! At this point, I thought there was still plenty of space in my carry-on to add a few extras--"Aww, maybe one more sweater and scarf..." but no, there was still Pajamas, toiletries, my computer, my Bible, and other unmentionables, etc. Note that I do not re-wear socks or underwear.


I brought enough for new daily wear, and tucked them in my shoes for packing, which allowed space for all the other necessities plus my special favorite pillow and a roll of TP! (I don't like hotel sandpaper TP so I always bring my own!) :)

That's it! 7 Universal tips wardrobe tips for a week in Winter!

I easily fit all of this in a carry-on, and if you'd like tips for packing efficiently, just search youtube carry-on packing for some helpful tutorials.



Popular posts from this blog

Top 10 Reasons Why People Don't Read the Bible

I've spent 15+ years in ministry, and I've noticed a problem:
people who say they believe the Bible haven't actually read it, and people who don't believe the Bible don't want to read it. My response to both groups is this: YOU ARE MISSING OUT! Why? Because the Bible is the best proven source for life-changing joy and peace. And since it's misquoted and misrepresented all the time, you need to actually read it yourself in order to know if you do/don't agree with it or do/don't want to read it.

When I mention this, it usually surfaces at least one of these 10 barriers that prevent folks from completing it. Do you relate to any of these?



10 Reasons Most People Don't Read the Bible, Refuted 1. I'm not religious. The Bible is the best-selling book of all time. Jesus has been hailed by secular sources as the most influential person to ever walk on the earth. Most people, even those who don't worship God, agree that Jesus was a good person with a …

Essential Christian Book List

There are impressive blog posts with images and links and amazon store commissions. This ain't one of those posts. My list doesn't contain the most recent pop culture Christian trends. Instead it's simple, dependable, filled with classics--some new, some old, and some perhaps forgotten.

*Note: I'm not calling anything a "must-read" except for the Bible. It's on a list all its own. It's the absolute most essential collection of written words ever, and if you need convincing, please read my previous post about it. 
These books help in your journey to better understanding the Bible, the Gospel, and your identity as a child of God:Study Bible (ESV/NLT/NIV/CSB)Reason for God, Tim KellerFaith is Not a Feeling, Ney BaileyThe Normal Christian Life, Watchman NeeMaster Plan of Evangelism, Robert ColemanMore Than a Carpenter, Josh McDowellThe 3D Gospel, Jayson GeorgesVictory Over the Darkness, Neil T. AndersonWith, Skye JethaniThe Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis Yo…

Life After Summer Mission

(originally published 2013, updated 2018)
If what started out as the hardest summer of your life
-working the longest hours you've ever worked,
-being stretched physically, emotionally, and spiritually,
-relying on God to make it to the end of the week (much less 5 or 10 weeks),
-wondering how you were gonna live happily for that long with all these new people...

If you thought all of that was challenging, you had no idea that the biggest challenge came at the end-

-after God had pushed you through to the other side:
where the work seemed tiring but in a rewarding way,
where the schedule stretched you thin, but you now know yourself and God better because of carving out time for Him,
where you stepped into scary situations and saw God show up in ways only He can,
where you now know once strangers soul to soul, backwards, forwards and sideways, and you love them anyways,
where you experienced that they love YOU in spite of every flaw you possess,
and that saying goodbye to mission …