Cold Weather Carry-On Packing Tips

Packing carry on really does make travel easier, but the idea of cramming a ton of clothing in a tiny bag can be daunting.  Living in sunny and (usually) warm California, packing up for a trip to freezing Beijing certainly flexed my carry on packing muscles.  I wasn’t staying long enough to really need that much stuff, and as a standby traveler, checking a bag can be a real problem if you end up not getting on a flight.

So that’s that, packing a carry on  for a winter trip was the challenge.  My secret?  Layers.  Ok, it’s really not a secret anymore if EVERYONE tells you to wear layers, is it?  Probably not.  Here are a few other tips for packing and staying warm.

  • Long-sleeved shirts that can be used as base layers:  I like Athleta’s Chi shirts as a layer, because it’s not cotton, and it wicks and warms.
  • A chambray/denim shirt is nice, thick, and easy to layer:  It goes with almost everything.
  • A thin cashmere sweater is a great layering item:  At a few points, I was almost too warm in it!
  • Thick denim:  I wore a pair of black Paige skinnies–they were perfect for keeping the wind out.
  • Leggings/thermals: Uniqlo has HeatTech garments that generate heat–and they work!
  • Wool socks:  mine were medium thickness so I could wear them comfortably with sneakers, but you could go thick if you’re wearing boots and going somewhere REALLY cold.
  • A warm hat:  I enjoyed one with a puffball on top, because that’s how I roll.  I also bought a hat there that I couldn’t resist (panda!)
  • A wool Buff:  less bulky than a scarf, you can pull it up to cover your neck and face if needed.
  • Gloves:  lightweight and depending on how cold, you can get away with fleece, but go waterproof if you’re going somewhere super cold.
  • Lightweight, packable down puffy:  get a LONG puffer that covers to your knees if you get cold, as well as one with a hood (Uniqlo has a great one).  It packs down easily, and I wore it over another lighter jacket on a cold evening.
  • A swimsuit:  our hotel had a sauna, spa, and hot tub, which are SO NICE when you’ve been freezing all day.
  • Packing cubes:  help compress down clothes and keep it all tidy.

It’s really about being creative and getting some warm layers on.  And stopping for hot drinks regularly as you go!

My newly made friend in Beijing at the Forbidden City also appreciates a good layering system.  You can be stylish AND warm!



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