Due to my work, I live in a place where winter is merely a suggestion. Yet I grew up in a place where winter comes in with bitterness and cold. I enjoy going home for the holidays, but it can be a challenge to travel with only one carry on bag. I want my ski clothes, my dress clothes for church, as well as clothes for shoveling snow and long winter walks. Here is how I modified my travel wardrobe for winter.
Knee high dress snow boots – I own a pair of Merrell dress snow boots. They have low heels so I don’t slip on the ice. They are nice enough to wear with a dress or dressy pants. They are waterproof so they are great for working / playing outside. I wear them on the airplane so I don’t have to pack them.
Boot cut ski pants – In black. These are soft and cozy, so I can lounge in them too. I also use them for my pajama bottoms. When I ski with them I pair them with:
Light waterproof nylon rain pants – I only pack these in the winter. They are great for shoveling snow or for the outside layer when skiing.
Medium weight T-zip base layer top – In black. Mine is from REI (the old model), and has set-in sleeves so it looks like a regular shirt. The zip up neck allows me to control temperature when I’m skiing. I also use this for lounging and as my pajama top.
Fleece jacket – I always pack this, summer or winter. I have a Patagonia R1 full zip jacket that is light, warm, and incredibly rugged. After 10 years of hard use it is only beginning to show wear.
Light nylon shell jacket – combined with the long underwear and fleece, it is plenty warm and provides a waterproof outer layer.
Leggings – I can wear this with a dress or as an additional layer under my pants or ski pants.
Tights – These are much warmer than stockings. They go well with the dress boots. In a pinch, I can add these under my leggings and ski pants for extra warmth.
Silk underwear – I purchased mine from Wintersilks. I take these with me on every trip – just in case. The 3/4 sleeve low-cut top works well under my normal clothes.
Thin silk balaclava – to add under my hat if it gets windy.
Thin silk gloves – as an additional layer to my regular gloves.
Warm scarf – I take a scarf anyway to dress up my outfits, but in the winter it is critical that it is warm.
Hat and Gloves – Usually kept in the outside pocket of my carry on bag. I want them easily available once I get to my destination.
(Optional) – Down Jacket – Many times this item isn’t needed. It really depends on how much time you will be outside. There are several very light, very compressible jackets available. Consider the ones labeled as “down sweaters”. These are lighter and more compact than full down jackets, but will give extra warmth.
Coat – worn on the plane. I try to wear a dressy one so it looks good for church or the theatre. In the past I have used a light raincoat with the fleece underneath instead of a winter coat. Sometimes it gets unseasonably warm, so I’m glad I have a raincoat with me instead of a heavy winter coat.
The extra clothing adds a few pounds of weight to my carry on bag. I try to get it back by making sure that everything is dual use (lounge wear and sleep wear). The whole key to managing the temperature is to wear lots of thin layers. Nylon, silk, and fleece all trap air and add warmth, yet can be worn alone if the temperature should get warmer.