The Fashionista’s Guide on Packing for Trips with Cold and Hot Weather

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Any fashionista worth her salt always looks forward to her travels as an opportunity to showcase her wide array of looks and ensembles. However, it’s a tough challenge if the vacation destination has varying types of weather—one that may be hot and humid during the day, and then cold and freezing at night. Some places may have varying climate zones as well, where one end of the country may be experiencing winter while another end may be experiencing summer. A multi-country itinerary might also pose the same problem.

If you are faced with such a challenge, don’t fret as there are some tried and tested tips on how to manage such situations efficiently. Here are some helpful ways how to pack for trips that will bring you to places with cold and warm weather:

Woman walking with luggage
Woman walking with luggage

Go with Layering

The easiest and most practical way to survive any trip with alternating or different types of climates is to bring various pieces of clothing that you can layer. Instead of stuffing thick winter clothes into your limited luggage space, you can achieve the same level of warmth and comfort by simply layering your apparel. In doing so, you can pile on or peel off these layers as the weather dictates in the various destinations that you’re headed to.

That said, this strategy calls for a good foundation of intimate apparel such as thermal underwear. This will form the base of your layering. Next on your agenda is to shop tights that are easy to pack into your luggage and slip-on underneath your jeans or skirt if the weather becomes colder. Your next line of defense against the cold is knitted sweaters, cardigans, and perhaps a lightweight down coat along with other accessories such as gloves, mittens, caps, and earmuffs. Just a pair of each would do.

As you can see, you can easily add or take away these items of clothing as the climate necessitates. Once you venture into a warmer zone, you can take off these accessories layer by layer. You can also switch to regular, non-thermal underwear as the base for your succeeding looks in warmer weather.

The great thing about investing in intimate apparel and undergarments as the foundation of your look is that you can just wash them in your hotel sink and use them throughout the trip. With just a little bit of elbow grease, you can save a pretty penny when it comes to avoiding hefty overweight fees at the check-in luggage counter.

Come Up with a Look Book

Nothing beats preparation, so if you’re on a cross-country itinerary with a crazy schedule and an equally crazy weather forecast, it’s best to anticipate your clothing needs well in advance. Grab a notebook or planner and carefully plot out your desired look for every day of the trip. Better yet, you can try out your clothes before the trip and take selfies so you can appreciate your overall appearance. Here are a few more tips that may help refine your travel wardrobe:

Go for Clothes in Neutral Colors

Even on a trip that will take several weeks, you can survive with just a couple of pairs of shoes, pants, tops, and accessories as long as they’re in neutral colors. This will allow you to combine them in different ways to produce a fresh ensemble every time, all without having to lug around heavy luggage packed with unnecessary clothing.

Prepare Your Warm Weather Looks

For warm-weather looks, consider clothing made out of fabrics that are lightweight yet durable at the same time. Among the classic combinations, you can go for are a loose linen top and Bermuda shorts as well as a plain round-neck cotton tee with some cute denim cutoffs. A flowy day dress in a lively print or color is always a great idea, too. In terms of footwear choices, you can never go wrong with espadrilles, lightweight canvas shoes, and rubber flip-flops. Don’t forget to accessorize with sunglasses, a light
woven scarf, or a bucket hat to keep you protected from the sun.

Prepare Your Cold Weather Looks

As you shift to a colder zone, you can still utilize key pieces from your summer ensembles paired with other types of clothing. For example, you can wear your plain t-shirt with a nice leather jacket and leggings. You can also throw a cardigan or button-down cardigan over a nice day dress. In terms of footwear, you can go for a pair of ankle boots. You can still wear your canvas shoes on casual occasions but you’ll probably need a pair of thick cotton socks to help keep your feet warm and comfy.

Pack Ingeniously

When packing for a multi-weather trip, your creativity and ingenuity will definitely be put to the test. If you’re having trouble maximizing your luggage space, try these tips:

Organize Your Clothes to Make Them Easy to Find

This is the best time to employ space-saving tools such as packing cubes and luggage organizers. These are great items for segregating articles of clothing for warm and cold weather. You can even go as far as color-coding the cubes so that you can instantly recognize them even in a hurry.

More importantly, portion out your luggage space according to your itinerary. If you’re spending the majority of your trip in a warm climate, you should assign more space for your warm-weather clothes accordingly, or vice versa. This is no time to bring along a lot of extras or “just in case” clothing. Stick to what you need to avoid paying for overweight luggage fees.

Buy What You Need at Your Destination

Some seasoned fashionistas forego bringing everything they need. Instead, they travel light and just buy what they need at their travel destination. For instance, they may only buy winter gear as soon as they arrive at a cold-weather destination.

In some cases, this can be way cheaper than buying the same clothes from your point of origin. After using these items, you can simply ship them back home so you don’t have to bring them around with you for the rest of your trip. It’s a bit risky and unnerving to pull off, but it may be worth a try if you just can’t seem to fit everything you need in your luggage.

Bring the Right Personal Care Products for the Weather

In terms of personal care products such as shampoos, creams, and lotions, invest in small plastic containers that you can use to portion out these items. That way, you can bring only as much product as you’ll realistically use up during your trip.

Make sure to pack the right skincare essentials for warm and cold weather respectively, too. For warm climates, you’ll need to bring some sunscreen and make-up that’s made to last even if you sweat a lot during the day. In particular, a summer-worthy palette should ideally be light and dewy.

For cold weather, petroleum jelly will come in handy to relieve chapped lips. Moisturizer is also a must to keep your skin from drying due to windburn. As for your make-up, the perfect look for a colder setting would incorporate shadowy eyes and dark lips.

No matter whether it's cold or hot we suggest using plant-based and eco-friendly products, such as Laneige products.

Bring Your Everyday Gadget Needs

Don’t forget to pack multi-power and multi-socket adapters for your gadgets, such as your phone and camera. Different countries and locations may call for different types of plugs, so it’s better be prepared instead of having to contend with a drained battery.

It’s a complete bummer not being able to take photos or take to social media to document your trip and show off your different fashion ensembles, after all.

Undoubtedly, one of the best ways for a fashionista to showcase her wide array of looks and ensembles is to visit new countries and places with different climates. However, it’s not only about looking great and on point all the time, but also making sure that you’re comfortable and traveling with ease.

Hopefully, with these simple yet sensible tips, you can say goodbye to the idea of bringing your entire closet with you when going on trips with hot and cold climates. All you need is a bit of creativity, resourcefulness, and the patience to plan everything in advance, and you’ll be good to go.

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Meghan Waters Mbaye

Meghan is a contributor for Backpacker Travel. She is an avid traveler who is always up for a new adventure. Meghan loves exploring new parts of the world, especially in Africa and Latin America.

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