The night before my 3-week winter trip to Thailand (very hot) and Bhutan (very cold) I posted on social media my challenge for the evening: packing for multiple seasons with just one carry-on. As I haven’t checked a bag in over five years I wasn’t about to start now.
The key to any multi-season travel packing list is layers. Instead of jamming in bulky sweaters, jeans and sweatpants for a cold destination focus on leggings, tights, thin moisture-wicking/body temperature-regulating shirts like SmartWool and HeatTech (UNIQLO is a great store for this), BUFF thin multi-versatile head/face/back warmers and long-sleeve shirts you can layer on top of off another — especially if you’re also going to a warm destination as you can add and subtract layers as needed. Moreover even warm destinations can get chilly at night, not to mention restaurants usually blast the air conditioning to Arctic temperatures, so you won’t be sorry you had a light sweater.
If I’m also going to a warm destination I also bring a sundress or two, a few fitted tees/tanks I can dress up if needed, shorts, and a pair of dressy but short gauchos (remember when they were in style?). I always make sure to pack an outfit that covers the shoulders and knees in case I go into a place or worship or somewhere I’ll need to be more conservative. My scarf shawl has been a great investment for this, and it can also be used as a makeshift airplane blanket.
I personally can’t wear flip flops, especially in hot weather, so I opt for canvas slip on shoes that absorb my foot sweat and keep me from slipping (gross but true). These shoes cheap and are soft enough that you can be rough with them in your luggage.The key to any multi-season #travel packing list is layers. #tips Click To Tweet
It’s also important to remember a few essential things:
- I always try to keep in mind that it’s highly highly unlikely I’ll be meeting Queen Mother Elizabeth on my trip (unless of course Prince Harry reads my blog, which would be awesome). Keep those sparkly outfits and high heels to a minimum or don’t pack them at all.
- No matter where you to travel to you will find some way to wash your clothes. A Scrubba Bag is helpful if you want to wash garments in your hotel room. I have mine and often just use shampoo as soap (hey, it’s less to pack; and isn’t that the name of the game?).
- Unless you’re going on your honeymoon or a trip in the beginning of your relationship it’s okay if you don’t always look like you just stepped out of a GAP commercial. I re-wear clothing all the time, as do most travelers going on long-term trips who are moving around a lot.
- Makeup and hair irons are NOT travel essentials. Let your time on the road be about letting your body breathe. I haven’t put heat on my hair in over two years and have seen dramatic differences in its shine and body. I will say that I do bring one piece of makeup when I travel just in case I go somewhere a bit nicer: Lancôme Miracle Cushion Liquid Compact Foundation. It gives me great coverage and can act as a foundation and concealer. It looks better when you put powder on top — I use BareMinerals — and neither count toward your carry-on liquid allowance.
Here is a sample travel packing list that might work for the female traveler (though men can tweak to fit their needs) going on a multi-season adventure trip:
- Carry-on suitcase. I’m currently using a Ricardo Beverly Hills 20-Inch 4 Wheel Expandable Wheelaboard, though if I had more money ($399, to be exact) I would go for the Bluesmart Connected Carry-On, which charges your gadgets, weighs and tracks itself and logs trip data via a paired app.
- Passport & necessary visas/medical documents
- Personal medications
- Beside-U Backpack for hikes and day trips (so comfortable with so many pockets!)
- TravelMore International Travel Adapter with USB ports
- Aromaflage perfume & DEET-free insect repellent in one
- Clever Travel Companion pickpocket-proof garments. I personally use the underwear and tank.
- 3 pairs of Smartwool socks
- 7 pairs of underwear. I personally like ExOfficio, as they’re comfortable, quick drying, moisture-wicking and so light they feel like a second skin.
- Two sports bras; 1 regular bra
- Two sundresses
- 1 pair of Soffee shorts
- 1 pair of leggings. Modcloth has a good mix of neutral and fun prints.
- 1 pair of Stonewear Breathe Pants, which can be born as dressy or lounge pants
- 2-3 moisture-wicking tops, including at least one turtleneck
- Tights for added warmth
- Frogg Toggs Rain Suit jacket and pants set (though if you bring a heavy water-proof coat you can just bring the rain pants)
- A warm water-proof coat, like the XT driFILL Women’s Goose Down Waterproof Hooded Jacket, which is what I wear. I’ve also heard good things about the Columbia Women’s Snow Eclipse Mid Jacket, which is more budget-friendly at $114.99.
- 1 pair of gauchos or capris
- 3-4 nice fitting tees/tanks you can dress up or down or use as an undershirt. I’m a fan of Life is Good inspirational tees.
- 2 winter shirts/sweaters that look nice with leggings
- 1 thin hoodie
- 1 button-up sweater that can be worn on its own or as a light jacket
- 1 shawl scarf
- 1 Classic BUFF for warming your head, neck and face
- 1 BUFF hat and neck warmer set (if where you’re going is really cold and you need the extra protection)
- Gloves, like the ExOfficio Vona Gloves
- GoPro Action Camera & head mount
- Joby GorillaPod travel tripod
- An intervalometer for taking non-douchey selfies, or at least less douchey than with a selfie stick
- SteriPEN (if going somewhere where the tap water isn’t drinkable)
- AquaFlexi collapsible water bottle
- Vigilant Personal Alarm
- SmugMug or equivalent for storing photos
- Laptop/device of your choice for uploading/editing photos. I love PicMonkey for editing as it’s essentially “Photoshop for Dummies” and has tons of fun features.
- Smartphone for Instagram, Kindle app and keeping in touch
- Lancôme Miracle Cushion Liquid Compact Foundation. It’s feels like a BB cream, acts as a foundation, I can get way with it as a concealer and it doesn’t count toward my carry-on liquids.
- Mad Hippie Vegan Face Cream
- Mad Hippie Vegan Vitamin C Serum. This may sound frivolous, but this serum is better than makeup, gives you a gorgeous glow and can help give you a skin health and moisture boost when you’re not being 100% kind to your skin, such as when flying.
- Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Lip Balm
- Glasses/Contact lenses/Solution
- Comb/Ponytail holders/Bobby pins
- Jiva Cubes for delicious pre-sweetened single-origin Colombian coffee on the go
- Cavas slip-on shoes. I wear these for wandering around and with sundresses or dress pants.
- Ahnu Montara II Waterproof Hiking Shoes. Great for sightseeing and adventure activities.
- Necessary electronics chargers
- Snacks. Some of my favorites include trail mix, protein bars, roasted almonds, cereal, pretzels and oatmeal.
Is there anything you would add or delete from this list? What are your packing essentials? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
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