Packing for Cold Weather Destinations

The most common theme for winter travel involves “flying south” to sunshine, warmer temperatures and (most importantly) no snow to shovel. But if your travel plans involve going north, then this winter air travel checklist can help you pack for a cold destination while also packing light.

The “packing light” part is the most difficult. Even if you limit what you take for cold weather, it still takes up more room than, say, beach wear. Much like planning ahead for the chance your flight gets canceled, you want to consider as many options as possible when packing for cold weather destinations.

Packing For Winter Air Travel

There’s no way around it: this is going to take a bit of planning. When getting ready to spend time in cold weather, it’s important to pack heavier clothes, as well as clothes you can layer and extra accessories. But you’ll want to ensure all this can fit into your check-in and carry-on bags.

What you take can depend on just how cold it is where you are going. However, almost every cold weather destination involves taking some version of the following. As with travel at any time of the year, you also want to consider buying travel insurance before taking off to a cold weather destination, especially if you’re a senior.

Heavy Winter Coat

This is where every winter air travel checklist should start. Not having the right kind of coat can make any cold weather destination miserable. If you live primarily in a warm weather spot, then a heavy winter coat might not even be in your closet. A heavy winter coat means a down jacket or parka – especially the latter if you plan on spending a great deal of time outdoors.

Sweaters and Sweatshirts

You’ll want long-sleeved shirts to wear both outside and inside. Nice sweaters are perfect for going out, while sweatshirts are practical for when you don’t need to dress up. Long-sleeved t-shirts can work inside once the heating warms you up.


Every person who lives in the north has at least one great hoodie. You’ll need one for your trip. They’re perfect for cold weather and give you something to cover your head if the wind picks up or snow begins to fall. Covering your head also keeps the warmth in your body, so if you don’t pack a hoodie, make sure you pack good hats (see below).

Winter Boots

Next to not packing a warm enough coat, footwear is the No. 1 area where people traveling to a cold weather destination make a mistake. You’ll want real boots built to withstand walking through snow or over potentially slippery terrain. Most importantly, they keep your feet warm and dry.

Denim Jeans

The modern denim jeans were invented by two guys who grew up in cold weather locations – Levi Strauss (Germany) and Jacob Davis (Latvia). They knew what they were doing. Originally made for factory workers and ranchers, the practicality of denim jeans makes them the perfect choice when packing for cold weather destinations. For those who don’t want to wear jeans, fleece-lined leggings can keep you warm.

Gloves or Mittens

Like your head, keeping your hands and feet warm retains body heat, leaving you much more comfortable. Gloves are the most practical choice, but mittens can keep your hands even warmer (which helps explain this photo featuring a cold weather veteran).

Beanies or Trapper Hats

If you’ve spent time in the north, then you’ve likely heard a mom yelling to a child, “Put your hat on!” A warm head equals a warm body. Beanies are everywhere in the north and are excellent for retaining body heat. Trapper hats are even better if you plan to spend a great deal of time outside.

Scarves and Thick Socks

Now’s the time to make sure you have plenty of thick socks. Scarves are a great (and fashionable) accessory that keeps your neck, and therefore the rest of your body, warm.

Another key to your winter air travel checklist is the idea of layering. Rather than trying to pack every article of warm clothing available, think what clothes you can use in layers. You can stay warm with a T-shirt covered by a long-sleeved shirt and a thick hoodie in many types of weather. If possible, wear some of the heavier items on the plane trip so you don’t have to pack them.

The items on this winter air travel checklist list can help you pack for a cold weather destination – and keep you warm once you get there.

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