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How To Pack For Four Seasons With Just A Carry-On

How To Pack For Four Seasons With Just A Carry-On

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.

travel packing list
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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.
travel packing list
Photo: Carli Jean/Unsplash

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:

Is there anything you would add or delete from this list? What are your packing essentials?

About Jessie Festa

Jessie Festa is an New York-based travel content creator who is passionate about empowering her audience to experience new places and live a life of adventure. She is the founder of the solo female travel blog, Jessie on a Journey, and is editor-in-chief of Epicure & Culture, an online conscious tourism magazine. Along with writing, Jessie is a professional photographer and is the owner of NYC Photo Journeys, which offers New York photo tours, photo shoots, and wedding photography. Her work has appeared in publications like USA Today, CNN, Business Insider, Thrillist, and WestJet Magazine.

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  1. Vivian on at 3:45 pm

    Moon cup / diva cup
    Encircled Chrysalis cardi (can wear it 8 ways!)
    I prefer icebreaker Merino wool over Uniqlo’s heattech. Icebreaker is more expensive but it’s warmer and absorbs sweat and smell better.

    • Jessie Festa on at 12:11 am

      @Vivian: I love the cardi!! I have one, too. I haven’t tried Icebreaker but I’ll check it out 🙂 Thanks for the suggestions!

  2. Lauren on at 2:13 pm

    Platypus water bottle – gives you a liter of water and folds up when you’re done! Hate wasting water and the environment on plastic water bottles and this one is super light.

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