Winter Packing List: How to Pack for a Snowy Getaway
Packing is something I always consider pretty difficult, even more so when it’s for something I’m not used to (snow). As someone raised by a Hawaiian and a longtime resident of feels-freezing-but-never-actually-freezing San Francisco, snow is something I don’t often find myself encountering. So when I headed to Switzerland in the dead of winter for three weeks of outdoor adventures, I did what anyone in my position would do — panic.
Just kidding :) I did a large amount of research, talked to friends who for some reason voluntarily often spend time in the snow, and even asked my mom for advice because, you know, moms always know best. The trip was a success and not once did I find myself too cold, so I can officially be considered a snowy getaway expert.
If you have a snow-filled winter trip in your future, here is everything you need to pack to stay warm (and also fashionable, of course) — the perfect winter packing list!
Winter Packing List:
The most important piece of you winter packing list, hands down, is packing a lot of layers. Clothing layers, accessory layers, layers on layers on layers.
When I originally packed I planned to bring one coat and a ton of sweaters, which I suddenly realized might not be ideal. I talked it over with my mom and we came to the conclusion that no one would be seeing what was under my coats for the most part, so it made more sense to bring more coats and less sweaters.
While freezing to death in Paris last November because I packed incorrectly, my friend Diana told me about HEATTECH from Uniqlo, a place I had never shopped at prior. HEATTECH is clothing that captures your body heat and uses it to generate warmth. There are three levels: regular, extra warm (1.5X warmer), and ultra warm (2.25X warmer). She promised it would solve all of my problems so I headed to the Marais store to check it out and guess what? It works. As a result a lot of the items I recommend below are from this collection.
Here is what I landed on including, which you can modify based on the activities and duration of your trip:
TANK TOPS — as mentioned, layering is key! Click here for the ones I specifically recommend.
LONG SLEEVE SHIRTS — depending on the temp and the activity, I almost always would put a long sleeve shirt over a tank and underneath my coat. Grab a few HEATTECH long sleeve shirts. Click here for regular, here for extra warm, and here for ultra warm. The warmer you go, the thicker the material becomes.
TURTLE NECK — not 100% necessary (stick to just long sleeve shirts if you want) but the extra coverage does help with warmth. They’re available in HEATTECH in both regular and extra warm. Click here for regular and here for extra warm.
OTHER TOPS— if you aren’t going somewhere so cold that you need HEATTECH innerwear, bring other tops instead! Everlane has many of my favorite options especially because of their affordability and transparent pricing (they tell you exactly what it cost to make each item and their prices are much cheaper than traditional prices).
SWEATERS — as mentioned above, I decided to pack mostly light layers and coats because sweaters tend to be much bulkier. I did bring two sweaters though that I very highly recommend; one from Canada Goose and one from Everlane. Click here for my favorite Canada Goose sweater and click here for my favorite Everlane sweater. The Canada Goose is a bit pricey but I swear it is SO amazing. After I put it on the first time I wore it almost everyday after.
FLANNELS/BUTTON DOWNS — I am ride or die for Rails button downs, buying new ones each year. They are very warm and an easy way to look a little more presentable than a plain old tee. I resort to these a lot on less adventurous days (strolling around town, shopping, etc.) as well as for dinners. Click here to see the latest prices.
DRESSES — I personally love dresses, even in winter! If you do too, click below for some of my favorite cold weather options:
SNOW PANTS — I had to have my friend send me a pair of these to borrow and they’re no longer available so I can’t link them here. I also don’t have any specific recommendations, but don’t forget snow pants!
JEANS — whichever you normally wear. Bring a pair or two. Click here for my ride of die jeans.
CASHMERE WRAP — I always bring a cashmere scarf or wrap on all trips because I consider it an absolute essential. I actually carry one in my purse at all times. It is especially important during winter because, well, winter is cold! You never know when you’ll need an extra layer on a cold plane, train, or something else. Click here to see the latest prices.
CARDIGAN — Barefoot Dreams’ circle cardigan is honestly one of the best travel purchases I have ever made. So warm and absolutely necessary. Also great for transit days and hotel lounging! Click here to see the latest prices.
FUZZY JACKET — again, not a necessity, but I LOVE them and they can be a little fancier looking than parkas for dinners or other things. Click here for one I love from Uniqlo or down below for a bunch of other current favorites:
PARKAS — VERY important! I brought not one but TWO Canada Goose parkas with me. I have worked with Canada Goose over the past two years and have been lucky enough to be gifted a handful of coats, but in all honesty they are 100% worth it. The attention to detail is remarkable (even random things like the sleeves are SO warm and soft), they have a lifetime guarantee, and they are remarkably warm. If you can splurge on one, I am confident you will not regret it. Some of my favorites:
OTHER JACKET (fleece, wool, etc.) — Parkas are much more important, but if you have the room a lightweight fleece jacket is nice. I wear these under parkas or downstairs for hotel breakfast, etc. Click here to see the latest prices — it’s only $29, has unanimous 5 star reviews, and comes in 12 different color options. Their ultra light down collection is nice too. Click here for that.
Other options I love:
PAJAMAS — everything from PJ Salvage is so warm and lovely, I really cannot recommend them enough! Click here to shop their current designs.
SOCKS — the warmer, the better! And bring a lot. I’ll never forget standing outside the Louvre at opening in early January and how truly freezing my feet felt. Click here to see the latest prices for my favorite socks from Amazon.
INTIMATES — obviously ;)
The shoe department was one that I was particularly worried about. My Switzerland trip was 3 weeks and filled with outdoor adventures all day everyday. I knew I needed something that would keep me warm and not hurt my feet (even when worn over and over) while still being attractive.
My normal go-to snow shoes are the Sorel Joan of Arctic wedge boots, which I absolutely LOVE, but I didn’t think a wedge boot would be appropriate for the activities we had planned. I tried a ton of other Sorel options but all of them were too big and heavy for my liking.
I eventually settled on two pairs of Sperry Saltwater boots. They aren’t my absolute favorite visually, but they performed well and I recommend them!
If you’re in the market for something a lot prettier, I LOVE these from my favorite shoe brand, M. Gemi:
Accessories for a snowy trip are, unlike other trips, not for vanity purposes but instead are extremely important for survival! Don’t forget to pack these:
SCARVES — an absolute necessity! My favorite is & Other Stories’ oversized wool scarf, available each year in a handful of the most beautiful colors. Click here to see all of the different color options.
HATS — if your head is warm, the rest of you is warm! They also happen to spice up an otherwise boring outfit and make for a good photo prop, so the more the merrier.
GLOVES — one day I somehow forgot my gloves at the hotel and have never been more miserable in my life, so I would recommend bringing at least two pairs and always double checking that you have them before heading out.
NECK WARMER — good for adventure activities instead of a scarf which can unravel and need adjusting. Click here for a good inexpensive option.
SUNGLASSES — snow is very reflective so do not forget the sunglasses! Click here for my favorite Quay aviators (I have numerous pairs), click here for my round Ray-Bans, and click here for my all time favorite black on black Ray-Bans that are often hard to track down because they sell out consistently.
HAND WARMERS — for your hands, your feet, and your phone in case it gets too cold! Click here to grab a value pack.
CAMERA BAG — this item actually has nothing to do with snowy weather specifically, but it is still important :) Click here for the most stylish camera bag for women.
LEATHER TOTE — I never, ever, ever travel without my Cuyana Leather Zipper Tote. It holds so much yet never feels as heavy as other bags! I even like it more than my Louis Vuitton Neverfull which cost 5X as much. Click here to check it out.
Wanna know my organizational tricks? Click here for how to organize your carry-on.
REUSABLE WATER BOTTLE — I always pack this because it is important for the environment. Hydro Flask is the best because it keeps your drink cold (or warm). So worth the investment. Click here to see the latest prices.
SILK SLEEP MASK — To block out light on the plane and in the hotel. I bring this always and am especially thankful for it when I find myself traveling with someone who wants to stay up later than I do. Silk is anti-aging and great for your skin which is why it must be silk! Click here for the one I use and love.
TOILETRIES AND MAKEUP
NON-NEGOTIABLE ITEMS —
SKINCARE — If you follow me on Instagram then you know I am a skincare fanatic. While I have an incredibly lengthly process while at home in SF, I try to keep it a little more low-key on the road. Click here to see more detailed skincare info or below for the items I believe are most essential for travel:
FACE MASK — I always bring Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask on all travels because the container is perfect for travel, it’s ultra-nourishing, and doesn’t look crazy when on. You can even apply it as a primer under your makeup if you are extremely dry! Click here to see the latest prices.
MAKEUP — Keep it minimal. Click below for the makeup items I pack when traveling:
TRAVEL STRAIGHTENER — A travel hair straightener is a good thing to have if you want to be able to do your hair but don’t want to commit to lugging around a full size (and much more pricey) straightener. T3 makes a good compact one that is perfect for travel. It even has auto-world voltage! And of course if you are really skilled a straightener can double as a curling iron so it’s kind of a 2-in-1. Click here to see the latest prices.
CURLING IRON — Click here for the one I travel with.
WET BRUSH — Not to be dramatic but this is one of the best purchases I've ever made (especially for less than $8). There is nothing better for brushing your hair out, especially after you have been in the ocean. Click here to see the latest prices.
For a full list of toiletry packing recommendations, click here for how to organize your travel toiletry bag to ensure you never forget something.
CAMERA — To document your adventures! Click here to see the latest prices for my Sony a7II. If you don't need a full frame camera (if you aren't sure what that means, you don't need one!), I recommend the Sony a6500 instead. Click here to see the latest prices.
SD CARD — Always bring back up! Make sure they are at least class 10 so that your camera can keep up. Click here for the ones I use.
CHARGERS — For cameras, phone, other electronics.
EXTERNAL CHARGER — To help keep your phone alive all day. Click here for the one I use - it is small yet charges your phone seven times!
EXTERNAL HARD DRIVE — I always bring an external hard drive (or two) on each trip I take and make sure to back up my photos at least every night. You never know what might happen. Click here for my external hard drives.
UNIVERSAL ADAPTERS — Click here for the one I always pack because it works anywhere in the world, including Italy. And since you will be going to the EU, I recommend also picking up a 6-pack of these!