Packing for a Cold / Winter Trip

by Hull & Stern

Going to Europe for a month? Coming from a country with all-year tropical weather (Philippines), packing for a cold winter trip doesn’t come as second nature. We thought we’d write an article to help other people in the same predicament.

In this article, we’ll outline:

  • Envisioning your trip: how to see the bigger picture of the trip you’re making so you can see the bigger picture of your wardrobe
  • Some general principles and suggestions on what type of fabrics / clothes to bring and shop for
  • A sample list of what to bring

The Vision

Reason for Traveling

Why are you traveling? What are you traveling for? It sounds like a simple question but this can actually help you determine what you need to bring.

What are your priorities in your planned trip? Is it taking awesome photos of all the landmarks? Soaking in the arts and culture scene? Eating and immersing yourself in local cuisine?

Will you be visiting some family and friends for an occasion like a wedding, or formal dinner?

Are you planning to experience special local happenings like attending an opera event or partying in a club? If you need to go to a certain event, that will automatically tell you of certain non-negotiable items you need to bring (e.g., formal clothes, dressy shoes, etc.)

Budget and Mode of Travel

Next question is planning how you’re traveling. Will you take a plane or mostly train rides? Will you be allowed check-in luggage or are you determined to go backpacking and have all things as a carry-on?

Once you figure this out, you can determine how big your baggage should be.

It’s good to start with your constraints first. You know the saying that if you give yourself one day to finish a term paper, it’ll take you one day. If you give yourself one hour, it’ll take you one hour. We have a tendency to fill in the “time” we’re given to do a task. The same goes for our luggage. If know we can only bring a carry-on, we’ll make it work.

And if it doesn’t, then you can always either buy more baggage or buy necessary items at your destination.

Pace and Duration of Travel

When you’ve answered the why and the how of your trip, it will help you to envision the pace of travel you would likely have. This will help you decide how much to bring.

Will you be staying in one area for a while? Or will you be doing a tour and hitting multiple locations in a short span of time? How many days do you have from one place to another?

For example, if your trip is mostly broken into 3-4 days per place, you can bring 3-4 days worth of clothes and do laundry in between.

Envisioning your trip is a good start to help you make better decisions about what luxury you’re willing to trade in exchange for time, money, and efficiency. Now let’s move on to some general principles.

General Principles


Whether your trip will be winter, spring, or fall, the art of layering is your best friend. Spring and fall seasons can bring unpredictable weather changes. One moment it might be snowing, the next moment might be rainy, then the next, it might be sunny. Even if it’s winter time, you would still find yourself going from outdoor freezing to indoor warm so it’s really best to prepare for these temperature changes.

You might want to think about wearing the following layers:

  1. Underwear and inner thermal wear
  2. Insulating but breathable middle wear
  3. Windproof and waterproof shell or outerwear


Generally, it’s best to look for breathable and moisture-wicking materials for innerwear and waterproof materials for outerwear.

Even in wintertime, our skin regulates our inner temperatures so you might find yourselves lightly sweating even with the cold weather. What you want to prevent here is the feeling of coldness and dampness sticking to your inner clothes and touching your skin. The water particles in the clothes may become trapped (especially if you keep your jackets on). This could be breeding ground for bacteria and body odor.

Certain fabrics like cotton end up absorbing moisture so it’s best to look for breathable fabrics like polyester, elastane, viscose, and spandex for inner wear. For cotton lovers, try to look for fabrics that have some mix of polyester or elastane. You still get the awesome fluffy feeling from the cotton but also the moisture-wicking properties of polyester.

Another alternative is looking for fabrics with merino wool. It’s a natural wool fiber from merino sheep that is known for their soft and fine quality. Because of its breathable nature, it prevents you from getting body odors plus it’s great for keeping you warm when it’s cool and cool when it’s warm. It’s definitely a light fabric that packs a punch.

Sample List of What to Bring





Trip For One Month (Doing Laundry Every 6-7 days)

Underwear (tops and bottoms) - 9 pieces each

Thermal shirts - 7 pieces

Leggings and Tights - 7 pieces

Sweaters - 7 pieces


Bubble down jackets - 1 piece

Waterproof jacket - 1 piece

Wool coat - 1 piece


Jeans - 1 pair

Waterproof Pants - 2 pairs

Hats and headwear - 2 pieces

Scarves - 2 pieces

Socks or stockings - 7 pieces

Towels - 2 pieces

Dry Bag - 1 piece

There you have it. Hope our comprehensive article was able to help you pack and plan for your upcoming cold trip.