Packing Travel Tips

How to Pack for Winter Travel

As you may have noticed from my excessive amount of Instagram photos, I was able to celebrate New Years in the beautiful, winter wonderland of Lake Louise in Banff National Park. This was my first trip to Lake Louise and my first time having to pack for such a cold destination. Being more of an island girl myself, I was a little apprehensive about spending a week in minus twenty-five degree weather, but with views like this I knew I needed to bundle up and make the journey to see it with my own eyes!

Packing for a winter trip is much more difficult than packing for a summer trip. From bulky jackets and heavy boots, to excessive amounts of socks, it’s quite easy to get overwhelmed! In today’s article I’m going to simplify it for you; breaking down what you really do and don’t need for a winter trip.

Wear it to the Airport

A Good Winter Jacket
Even if you’re departing from a destination that isn’t freezing, I 100% recommend wearing your winter coat to the airport; otherwise you’re going to take up half your suitcase trying to pack it. And of course a sturdy winter jacket is always a good investment. Look for something waterproof and insulated to bundle up in for your trip. I have an Eddie Bauer parka and I love it. Some other great brands to check out are North Face and Patagonia. (For those who will ask, I do not recommend nor support Canada Goose.)

Keeping warm in our parkas outside the Fairmont Banff Springs

Keeping warm in our parkas outside the Fairmont Banff Springs

Winter Boots
Another item you’ll want to wear on the plane is your boots. Again, these are just impractical to try to pack in your luggage. You’re going to want to go for waterproof and insulated with these too. Being me, I wanted to look “cute” in the winter, but I also wanted to keep my toes warm, so I love my Timberland Boots. They are 100% waterproof and super warm. The only thing with Timb’s is that the material will stain very easily, especially if exposed to salt. Another great option to look at are Sorel’s. Timberlands are also a lower cut boot, so if you’re planning on trekking through deep snow I would go with a higher cut boot.

Definitely Pack It!

Thermal Wear
Everything always requires a good foundation right? The first step to keep your tushie warm in the cold winter months is some good thermal wear. I purchased a baselayer top and bottom from Columbia before my trip and trust me; it was well worth the investment! The tights and top are both thin enough to go undetected under your regular clothes, and will provide you with the extra warmth you’ll need.

One Warm Hat
To keep those cute ears warm of course, but don’t go crazy like I did and pack a different hat for each day, seriously all you need is one. And the thin $5 beanie from Nordstrom is cute, but it isn’t going to keep you warm. Make sure to find a toque that’s actually going to keep you warm. Make it fun by sporting your favourite team on your head!

Sporting my Ottawa Senators on my toque and my mittens during some pond hockey  on Lake Louise

Sporting my Ottawa Senators on my toque and my mittens during some pond hockey on Lake Louise

Extra Socks
You’re going to want to double up depending how cold it is, and you might need backups in case your boots turn out not to be waterproof!

Gloves & Mittens
Depending on the amount of outdoor activity you’re going to be doing, the cute pair of wool mittens may be sufficient. However if you’re planning on doing anything like skiing or activities where you might actually you know, touch snow, I’d recommend waterproof gloves. On my trip I layered these Under Armour Running Gloves and a pair of wool mittens for equal parts functionality and style.

A Scarf
Depending on what type of activities you’re doing, you may be able to get away without a scarf; as long as you’re sure to listen to your mom’s advice and zip your jacket up! I personally only used my scarf when I went snowboarding because the wind was absolutely freezing my face coming down the hills! Now if you want to pack a scarf as a fashion accessory, that’s totally fine just make sure you pack the essentials first.

This scarf was a major key while shredding powder at the Lake Louise Ski Resort

This scarf was a major key while shredding powder at the Lake Louise Ski Resort

This is the absolute key to successfully packing for a winter trip. Packing functional and neutral pieces that can easily be mixed and matched and layered together will save you a lot of space, while still keeping you warm. Rather than packing a week’s worth of thick wool sweaters, pack a few t-shirts, a couple long sleeves, and a couple cardigans and sweaters. When the temperature drops, simply layer up!

Leave it at home

Ski/Snowboard Gear
Unless you’re a pro skier/snowboarder going on a trip for the specific purpose of skiing or snowboarding, I’d recommend leaving the big gear at home. You can rent your gear for the same price you’d pay to check your own gear at the airport and save yourself the hassle of having to lug everything around yourself.
**Note: Most places don’t rent ski goggles for sanitary reasons. To be safe, call ahead and ask! That way you’ll know whether or not to pack your own, or get stuck buying a pair for $65 like I did.

Tons of Shoes
Okay, guilty. I always pack too many shoes when travelling, but for a winter trip the only shoes you’re going to need are your winter boots and a pair of semi-casual shoes that can be worn when inside the hotel or out to dinner. Most of the time you’ll be walking around in your boots anyway, so don’t fret too much about another pair of shoes!

That’s all for today! I hope this post helps you pack for your next trip in the snow! As long as you remember the key points to pack clothing that can be layered and wear your bulkiest stuff on the plane, you should be good to go!

If you’re headed somewhere this winter let me know down below!

Stay tuned for more upcoming posts about my trip to Lake Louise and Banff!

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  • Reply Amanda | Chasing My Sunshine January 4, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    You are a MASTER at cold weather packing, oh my goodness! This is something I seriously struggle with, so I’m glad I stumbled upon this post. I’ll be making my way out to Denver in the winter time, so I’ll have to get this situation under control. Ha! Oh yeah..and how the heck was your New Year’s?? What a freaking beautiful place to spend it!! I would love to go there.

    • Reply January 4, 2016 at 4:00 pm

      I’m glad you liked it, I hope it helps! Lake Louise was absoloutely beautiful, everyone needs to visit!

  • Reply Sabrina January 4, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    I agree with everything you wrote. If a pair of shoes more are really needed I suggest you to roll all socks and pants inside them so you’ll spare a bit of space. 🙂

    • Reply January 4, 2016 at 10:31 pm

      Ah, what a smart idea! I’ll defintely have to keep that one in mind, thanks! 🙂

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