No matter how often I travel, I just can’t seem to solve the mystery of packing. If I don’t over-pack, I run out of clean t-shirts after three days or realise I forgot to pack any socks at all. And if I don’t forget these essentials be sure that I simply packed for the wrong season. That just happened to me last week, when I decided to ignore the forecasts and bring woollen jumpers only for my Christmas visit home – hello, plus 15°C in December…

Packing in winter can be quite intimidating, particularly when travelling to unfamiliar colder climates (everybody can throw in some bikinis and sun dresses for the Caribbean…), but before you start adding extra luggage on top of your booked flight ticket, take a look at these 8 essentials I bring on every winter trip to feel well-prepared for the season.

5 Necessary Winter Travel Accessoires - beanie hat

1) Keep Your Head Warm

We lose most of our body warmth through our head – if that’s not a good reason to keep them warm with one of these Plexida beanie hats with a pom poms! The shop also does beautiful head bands for drier days. I like to put my hair up in a bun, that’s why I never travel without a head band or earmuffs.

5 Necessary Winter Travel Accessoires - convertible mittens

2) And your Hands

Hands just as important to keep warm – duh… They are exposed all the time searching for train tickets, adjusting that messy bun or snapping photos. I prefer lined knitted mittens because they keep my hands warmer than gloves; and because smartphone gloves are usually boring and black, I vote for convertible mittens to avoid having to take them off for every instagram or google maps emergency…

5 Necessary Winter Travel Accessoires - base layers bottoms

3) Layering up

This might be the least glamorous item on my list, but base layers are necessary if you still want to wear a summer dress with tights in the deepest of winters… The only way I survived circumnavigating Iceland in winter in cute dresses was wearing the right items underneath. Good base layers are not made of cotton, but depending on the kind of activities you’re planning even a second pair of ordinary tights might do.

5 Necessary Winter Travel Accessoires - backpack

4) On your Shoulders

Winter, more than ever, is the time to travel with a backpack. Why? Because nobody wants to set down their bags when the ground is wet and muddy from rain or snow. Drawing a suitcase through 4 inches of snow might be a great workout, but it’s rather frustrating, so I prefer backpacks or duffle bags I can actually carry on my shoulders.

5 Necessary Winter Travel Accessoires - lip balm

5) Moisturizer

I truly hope for your sake that your skin and lips don’t get as terrible as mine in the cold, dry air, but for me every metal zipper is a potential threat to my beloved hands. That’s why moisturising my skin and face in winter is particularly important. While I don’t use it most year round, I always carry lip balm and hand lotion with me and use it all the time to stay comfortable.

5 Necessary Winter Travel Accessoires - tumbler

6) Stay Calm and Drink Tea

There’s nothing like a cup of tea. Just annoying that every time you want to warm your hands on a steamy cuppa you have to pay for it and sit inside a random cafe instead of exploring the city. Although cafes aren’t all that bad, bringing a thermos tumbler with you, might come in handy. You can even bring your own tea and have your cup filled with free/cheap hot water all day long.

5 Necessary Winter Travel Accessoires - notebook cover

7) Be a Writer

If it is so cold, that an extensive visit in a cafe (ideally with a fire place) can’t be avoided anymore, and you get bored of people watching before your feet get warm, it’s a great idea to bring a travel journal. You’ll feel like a sophisticated author, sitting in a cafe, writing travel stories – and the waitress won’t notice that you’re sipping on the same cup of tea for hours because she wonders what it is you might scribble in your book. I prefer reusable things, so I’d get a notebook cover to fill with an new book every time I filled another one.

5 Necessary Winter Travel Accessoires - warm winter boots

8) Fight the Worst

There’s nothing like cold feet. Once my feet are cold, I’m a lost case. That’s why on winter trips I leave my sneakers at home and chose (fake) fur-lined boots instead. Personally I’m not a big fan of suede material in winter, as it’s not properly waterproof and shows ugly white lines from the road salt, but for short walks on a dry and lazy day, there’s nothing like the warmth of Ugg boots.


Note, that this is a list for city trips with moderate outdoor activities, not action outdoor weekends or skiing trips. With that said, I can’t wait for my next winter trip and am still deciding on a destination. What about you – do you have essentials you don’t travel without in winter?


This post contains affiliate links.

This is a post by Kathi Kamleitner.

Kathi Kamleitner was a regular contributor at Travelettes from 2013 to 2019. Originally from Vienna, Austria, she packed her backpack to travel the world and lived in Denmark, Iceland and Berlin, before settling in Glasgow, Scotland. Kathi is always preparing her next trip – documenting her every step with her camera, pen and phone.

In 2016, Kathi founded Scotland travel blog to share her love for her new home, hiking in the Scottish Highlands, island hopping and vegan food. Follow her adventures on Instagram @watchmesee!