Packing only a carry on is hard enough any time of year (here’s twelve other tips we have for only packing a carry on), but when it’s winter and clothing is heavy and bulkier for cold weather, how do you only pack one carry on? We’ve learned some tips on our #nuventures. We traveled the world for two years to both hot and cold places with only carry on’s. You can see our packing lists here: Lindsey’s & Adams.
We like to only pack a carry on to save time, money, and stress. With a carry on, you save time before your flight without having to wait in line to check your luggage and after your flight waiting to pick it up at the carousel. We also only like to pack a carry on so we always have everything we need with us. We’ve heard horror stories from many friends who’ve never gotten their luggage from the airlines or it’s been a fiasco and huge inconvenience getting it back during their trip.
So, here’s twelve tips we’ve learned on how to still only pack one carry on for a trip during winter with cold weather ahead.
Side Note: If you’re heading out for Christmas, here’s 20 Fun Questions and Conversation Starters for Christmas from our fun new game 501 Questions: A Travel Game. It’s an awesome way to connect with your travel partners, family, and friends without turning to scrolling our screens during the down moments of travel.
12 Tips to Pack a Carry On for Winter Travel
1. Pack One coat
First and foremost, only pack one heavy jacket to stay warm out in the elements. Make sure it’s a jacket you love and that’ll be warm enough (since you’ll be wearing it your whole trip) and can match all the clothes you plan to wear.
2. Pack only One scarf, hat, and gloves that match everything
Next, only pack one scarf, hat, and set of gloves that match your one coat. Make sure you love them too since they’re the only ones you’ll be wearing for your trip. I always pack my gloves that are fingerless but can also be covered by mittens. I love finger freedom to use my phone and take pictures if needed, but can then be covered up for maximum warmth. If you don’t have room in your bag for these items, you can plan to buy these items when you reach your destination. That’s what I did when we went to Denmark.
3. One pair of boots
Next, only pack one pair of warm boots if you can. I like packing my Sperry Duck Boots because they’re good for mud, snow, and are still considered fashionable with skinny jeans:)
4. Wear bulkiest clothing to the airport
Then, plan to wear your bulkiest items to the airport so they’re not taking up unneeded room in your luggage. So plan to wear your biggest boots, heaviest jacket, and sweater to the airport.
5. Layer Up
Now, as you choose your clothing, plan to layer your clothing for warmth. For me, I layer using a rain jacket/warm jacket, then under that a fleece, then under the fleece a long sleeve (I really love my ice breaker base), then under the long sleeve a t-shirt if needed or a tank top. This is how I spent two years as we traveled around the world in different climates from snow in Canada and New Zealand to the hot beaches of Southeast Asia. You can see how we layered our clothing for our two-year round the world trip only packing carry on’s here: Lindsey’s Packing List & Adam’s Packing List.
6. Try Everything On Together and Mix & Match
One of the best pieces of advice I’ve received is to try everything on that you plan to pack to make sure you can mix and match tops and bottoms and everything matches your boots, coat, scarf, hat and gloves. I tend to stick to neutrals like khaki, denim, black, white, olive, and navy, so all can mix and match together. If one item of clothing is super unique and you’ll only wear it once, I encourage you to take it out and not pack it. To accessorize and if I have extra room, I pack a couple different necklaces and cute and light weight scarves.
7. Roll or fold Clothes MariKondo style
As you pack your carry on, roll or fold your clothes MariKondo style. I used to roll my clothes like a taco until I learned MariKondo’s technique. When you roll your clothes like a taco, you stack it and can’t see everything when you open your bag. Mari’s technique helps keep your clothing organized so you’re not making a mess every time you try to find a new top or a pair of underwear. With MariKondo’s style, you fold your clothes into tight squares and pack everything vertically so you see everything you have in your bag when you open it. Packing game changer!
8. No bulky sweaters, unless you wear one on the plane
Bulky sweaters take up so much space. So don’t plan to pack any bulky sweaters for your trip— unless if you really love them (like me)— plan to wear your favorite one to the airport.
9. Plan to do Laundry
If you’re traveling for over a week, plan to do laundry. We recommend only packing clothing that you can throw in one load (so no red clothes!) so you’re not spending your travels in a new place waiting for several loads of laundry. If we’re not sure we’ll have access to a washer and dryer, we pack a couple tide pods for washing in the sink.
10. Hygiene items- pack only essentials or not at all
Hygiene items can take up a lot of space and be heavy. You can either pack just the essentials or plan to get them when you arrive at your destination.
One hygiene item that’s become a must for me (since a friend introduced me to it) is this Downy wrinkle spray. It does an awesome job taking out wrinkles since I fold and pack my clothes tight and small.
11. Stuff socks into shoes
Wool and heavy socks can take up a lot of space, too. If you pack more than one pair of shoes, plan to stuff your socks into your shoes.
12. Put shoes in bags so you don’t get clothes dirty
Pack your shoes in bags so you don’t get your clothes dirty from the snow or mud or salt that you’ll be walking through on your fun adventures.
To see other packing tips we have for a carry on (like if you’re carrying a nice outfit you don’t want to fold into a tiny square), check them out here.
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Get fun travel conversation starters for your trip!
We realized we were turning to scrolling our phones during the down times of travel, but the richest memories are when we turn to each other and have meaningful conversations! So, here’s over 500 fun conversation starters we wrote for you and your travel pals to create new memories together on your trip whether you’re waiting forever in airport security or chilling at the ski lodge! Get it on Kindle or paperback on Amazon here.
“This is gold! It transforms conversations into something with more meaning, more intention!”
-Joy Morehead, @More_Ahead