Winter presents its own special challenges for travelers trying to pack a suitcase. Sweaters and coats are bulky. Snow boots take up way too much room. And when it’s all said and done, you end up with just 3 outfits and a suitcase you still have to sit on to shut. Before you jet off to cold weather climes, avoid disaster with these winter packing tips.

What to Pack for Winter Travel

Choose Smart Fabrics and Prepare to Layer

If you have a tendency to overpack, be mindful of heavy winter garments that could cost you extra in overweight baggage fees. Instead of packing your thickest wools, mix it up with lightweight blends like Thinsulate, fleece, Smartwool, or HeatTech fabrics from Uniqlo. Not only are these items great for layering, but they’re moisture-wicking and resistant to odors.

If you prefer natural fibers over synthetics, go with layering pieces in merino wool, cotton, bamboo, silk, or cashmere.

Pack Versatile Multi-Use Garments

If you do pack bulky items, choose classic pieces that can be worn more than once throughout your trip. A pair of really good leggings can be worn on their own during the flight, and again under jeans or a dress to stay warm. These leggings from Heathyoga even have pockets for stashing cash and travel documents.

Related: How to Track Your Luggage from the Plane 

Always Pack a Warm Hat

Science may have debunked the idea that we lose significant body heat from our uncovered heads, but that doesn’t mean you should go without one. From bad hair days to frostbitten ears, having a good winter beanie can save you from all sorts of winter travel predicaments. Forget a sleep mask on your flight? Just pull your beanie down over your eyes.

If you are staunchly anti-hat, you can make due with a warm hoodie, preferably one with drawstrings that can be tugged tightly around your ears.

Don’t Forget it’s Cold and Flu Season

Airports and airplane surfaces are teeming with bacteria year-round, but the situation worsens during cold and flu season. You may feel fine now, but prepare for the worst by packing along medication for congestion, coughs, and fevers. This is especially true if you’re traveling internationally. Local over-the-counter remedies may not be as effective as what you’re used to at home, so stock up on your Dayquil, Sudafed, and Mucinex before you go.

Of course, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Take a tip from master frequent flyer Ms. Naomi Campbell and give your airplane seat a good cleaning with antibacterial wipes. And everyone knows better than to fly without hand sanitizer. If you’re feeling particularly determined to stay healthy, spring for an antimicrobial face-mask.

Don’t Skimp on Gloves

Considering how often gloves can go missing, you may be inclined to go with whatever is the cheapest. At least go with a pair that is compatible for smartphone screens. These stretchy knit gloves from Achiou are slip-resistant and work with any touchscreen.

Related: 7 Ways to Avoid Lost Luggage on Your Next Trip

Don’t Forget Shades and Sun Protection

It may be winter but that doesn’t mean the sun stops shining. In fact, winter sun can feel even more blindingly bright, and the reflection from snowy outdoors only makes it worse. These jet black sunglasses from Warby Parker will keep you looking glam at apres ski outings and into the summer months.

The sun may not be as strong as in summer, but spend enough time outdoors and you’ll still get sun damage. Slip a good sunblock in your carry on, like Supergoop’s Everyday SPF 50.

Don’t Pack the Wrong Shoes

Nothing will wreck your day faster than a cold wet sock. For winter trips, you want a shoe that is weatherproof. Sneakers may not do much to keep you dry and steady on slick city sidewalks. Instead, opt for an insulated winter boot with serious tread. These super-sturdy Ice Maiden boots from Colombia will keep you safe from icy puddles.

Get a Coat that Will Suit Your Destination

Consider the time of year and current weather, but remember that the weather can change on a dime. A fall coat may not keep you warm enough in February, whereas a Polar expedition parka may feel a little severe in mid-March. A lightweight puffer is always a safe bet when worn with layers. Look for a waterproof down parka, like this one from the North Face, that can protect you from the elements without puffing you up like the Michelin Man.


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