Cold Weather Travel With Only A Carryon

The last time I wrote a post about packing tips, I stressed my love of carry-on luggage and my reluctance to ever check a bag. That was during the summer, however, and my last winter trip had been to balmy Southeast Asia. Packing light is decidedly easier when your suitcase is mostly full of tank tops and light skirts.

On Friday night (Saturday morning, technically), I’m flying to Central Europe for the holidays. This trip will take me through Prague, Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Berlin, and Stockholm; none of which boast particularly temperate weather in December and January. With so much travel comes multiple plane and train trips, most of which require one to pay for checked luggage. As someone who absolutely certainly does not want to pay for checked luggage, I am determined to make the carry-on lifestyle work.

Behold, the vessels that will contain all possible possessions for the next sixteen days. But Tallie, you say, how will you bring enough clothes to keep you warm for so long? The answer is in my favorite clothing technology.

25564877_10155248506561045_246210348_n Heat tech. Heat tech is Uniqlo’s solution to packing heat into fewer layers. The shirts and leggings pack perfectly into these little bags, and heat tech socks are the only socks I’ve found that properly insulate my feet. (My extremities get very cold very quickly. I’m that friend with the perpetually cold hands.)

This little jacket number is Patagonia’s down shirt, and it is one of the warmest pieces of clothing I’ve ever owned. It is unfathomably light, which makes it perfect for layering under a bigger sweater and extra perfect for sliding into a carry-on. Seriously, the heat this shirt packs is mind-boggling. Something this light and flexible SHOULD NOT BE SO WARM, but it is. A+, science.


Now, how about all of those cute cozy chunky knit sweaters you’re dying to wear all winter? Tough luck. Pick one. One is the magic number when it comes to the heavier outerwear: one big sweater, one hat, one coat, one scarf and one pair of gloves, most of which will be worn on the plane or at least used as an extra in-flight pillow. Roll up plenty of light shirts to wear under the one heavy option (plus your aforementioned down shirt). Also probably count on taking advantage of your Air Bnb’s laundry amenities.

I’m wearing one pair of weatherproof boots (np) the whole trip, with one pair of black flats packed for the times I absolutely need a nice shoe. Winter travel is no place for heels. Your feet and limited suitcase space will undoubtedly thank you for that one.




When traveling for the holidays, gifts will sneak their way into your precious packing space. I’ve done my best to make this year’s small-ish and portable while being a tad more personal than gift cards. Thankfully, there’s plenty of room in my backpack for all of this holiday cheer.

The rest of my travel essentials also fit in my bomb backpack. (Reminder: make sure to pack a travel size of conditioner if you’re headed abroad since many foreign hotels or Airbnbs offer shampoo only. This will always baffle me, since so many European women have impeccably soft, silky hair without supposedly using conditioner.)


Finally, I’ve also packed one skirt that’s versatile enough for a night at the symphony in Prague or NYE in Berlin. It rolls to a deliciously small size, to boot. If I’m lucky, I might just have enough room for the souvenirs I don’t need but will undoubtedly buy.

Happy holidays, and happy packing. Let me know where you’re headed this winter, and if you have any other tips and tricks!

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