7 tips for traveling to cold weather destinations

Whether you’re jetting off for a ski vacation, venturing abroad or visiting NYC in January, winter is a great time to get away. It’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to fit thick winter clothes, coats and boots in your suitcase. Lucky for you, we’ve pulled together 7 tips for cold weather travel.

Getting there

Be early, but not too early

Pick your flight(s) carefully. If there’s a chance of bad weather, you don’t want to leave or return on either the day’s first – or last – flight. Book a flight that leaves early in the morning (and one that also has a good on-time record) if it’s available.

Be strategic about flight times

If you can, try to time your flight to arrive at (or depart from) a cold-weather airport in the warmest parts of the day, say from mid-morning to the mid-afternoon (before sunset). Things get worse when the sun goes down and temps drop. Filter by flight times on KAYAK when you search, so you only see the flights that take-off or land at the ideal time.

Go direct

Book a non-stop flight. Connecting flights increase your odds of encountering delays, so avoid them where possible. Filter flights by number of stops when you search to find your best options.

Packing

Carry on

Pack a carry-on bag for the worst-case scenario: If you’re lucky, that means over-nighting it in the airport — and not hours in a plane on the tarmac. Wear comfortable shoes and clothing (Layers are best because you can add on or take off pieces as needed.) You may want to pack a small, inflatable neck rest/pillow if you don’t relish the idea of scrunching up your clothes to do double-duty.

Layer up 

Winter travel means you’ll need plenty of warm clothing, but sweaters, coats and thermals can take up a lot of valuable luggage space. Rather than stuff these bulky items into your suitcase, wear them onto the plane. Boots, sweaters, jackets and winter coats should be worn rather than checked in a bag. Layer up with an undershirt, t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, sweater and coat for air travel – you can always shed the heavier layers on the plane.

Quick tip: Fluffy coats can double as a pillow during long flights, or can be stuck under the seat if you get warm. Stick a reusable shopping bag (like these from Baggu) in your carry-on for easy transport once you’re in your destination (should you not need your coat there).

Mix and match

Have you ever returned from a trip only to unpack and realize you didn’t wear half of what you brought? The key to successful packing is to keep yourself from stuffing your entire wardrobe into your suitcase, and to mix/match outfits that can go together. Consider staples in a neutral color scheme that can be easily dressed up or down.
Vacuum bag it

Vacuum bags can help condense bulky winter clothes so you’ll have more luggage space. Consider investing in a few of these bags when packing for winter travel.

Quick tip: Label bags so you know what’s in each. This will save time and effort later, when you’re looking for one particular item.

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