Going to the Bahamas? Bring your bathing suit. Checking out the Northern Lights in Iceland? Pack that warm winter gear. But what if you’re going on a trip that will take you from snowfall to hot days in the sun?
This isn’t uncommon, especially if you are flying internationally and decide to do an overnight layover on the way to your destination. A trip to balmy India, for instance, could include a stop in the freezing temperatures of Finland.
So how best to pack for a variety of climates?
Layers, layers & more layers
The key to being prepared for weather that is hot, cold, and everything in between is layers. You want to bring lots of t-shirts and tank tops, since they are always useful – whether you are wearing only the t-shirt when it’s warm, or using it as a base layer on a chilly day.
Next, you should have at least a few long sleeve shirts, which are nice for moderate temps, and can also be one of your base layers when it’s colder.
Your next warmest layer is a sweater or heavy sweatshirt. Now sweaters can be rather bulky, so if you’re trying to save space in your luggage, you may be able to get by with just one really cozy sweater. Even if there are several freezing weather days on your trip, you can keep wearing that same sweater as long as you have a new t-shirt or long-sleeved shirt to wear underneath it each day.
Go easy on the pants. They, too, can be worn multiple times. One pair each of shorts, lightweight slacks, jeans, and flannel-lined snow pants (all in neutral colors, so they go with your various tops) should be enough to cover a wide range of climates. Instead of snow pants, you could also buy some long johns to wear underneath your jeans when it’s really cold.
A thin, packable coat
The winter coat presents one of the biggest problems when it comes to packing for multiple climates. It’s an absolute necessity if you’re flying out of snowy Minneapolis in December, but if your destination is a tropical climate, you now have to spend the rest of your trip lugging around a big coat (and you’re not likely to have extra room in your suitcase to stuff it in there).
Thankfully, there are an increasing number of thin (yet still very warm) winter coats on the market. Retailer Eddie Bauer, for example, has a selection of insulated lightweight jackets (such as the IgniteLite) that retain plenty of warmth while still being easy enough to fold down that they don’t take up any more space than a typical windbreaker.
Shoes, swimsuits, and other extras
Obviously you don’t want to have to pack your entire wardrobe, so the more you can make one item work for different weather situations, the better. For example, a light cardigan that you might wear over a long-sleeved shirt on a moderately chilly day in one location may also serve as a “wrap” to wear over your swimsuit at the beach in another location.
The swimsuit itself won’t take up much space, but you may want to just settle for the one you like most rather than bringing a full selection. Shoes, on the other hand, can take up a ton of space in your luggage, so try to be practical. You may find that a pair of waterproof boots (good for rain or snow), sneakers, and some flip-flops are all you need for an all-weather leisure trip.
You may also want to include a scarf, slender winter gloves, and a knitted hat to fill out your travel wardrobe. Packing an umbrella is also a wise move. And be sure to include an array of thin and thick socks to keep your feet well cared for whether it’s warm, wet, or freezing cold.
Check extended weather forecasts online to see the predicted temperatures and precipitation for each location on your trip. As you’re packing, take the time to imagine each day of the trip and how the clothes you’ve selected will provide an outfit for that day. Forecasts are never absolutely certain, so this exercise is not an exact science, but it can be very helpful in ensuring that you don’t under-pack.
Again, remember that some of your outer layers can be worn several times. To suit up for your coldest, snowiest day, you can wear tank top, a t-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, a warm sweater, and your lightweight warm jacket. For a day where the temp is in the 50s, a shirt and either your jacket or sweater may do fine. And then get ready to bust out that bathing suit when it’s time to sun yourself by the pool!
Take a little time to prepare yourself for everything that Mother Nature can throw your way, and you’ll be fine. Have a great trip!