Family Life

Cold Weather Travel Tips

Not all family trips consist of sand, sun and surf. When you’re heading to cooler climates, here’s what you need to know to pack light and stay warm.

Rent What You Can

If you’re heading for a ski/snowboard trip, rent your equipment at your destination. While you think you’ll be saving money bringing your own boots, skis, snowboard and poles, keep in mind that you’ll have to pay standard baggage fees to check these items (costs for air carriers may differ). If someone is particular about their gear, pack their helmet, goggles and gloves — smaller items that can easily fit into luggage.

Wear Heavy Items on the Plane

To make room in the suitcase for those sweaters and socks, have everyone wear their heaviest items on the plane. While they may feel like the abominable snowman in winter boots, their thickest sweater and winter jacket, assure them that they can stuff these extras in the overhead compartment, and that their jackets will make excellent pillows to rest their heads.

Think Layers

Pack in layers, not bulk. Thin, multiple layers are more likely to keep your little one warmer than one bulky sweater, plus you can get more bang for that coveted suitcase space. Make sure everyone has an insulating base layer — this is the most essential as it’ll be the closest to the skin. Base layers should be thin and preferably made of wool (soft and great at managing moisture) or polyester (lighter-weight). Worn under a short or long-sleeve shirt, they should be comfortable without restricting mobility. The mid-layer should be a fleece or a warm sweater (but not too thick). The outer layer should be something that is waterproof or windproof, either a ski jacket or a winter coat. Keeping cozy also requires good socks. And forget the short, athletic kind. Tall, thick socks will increase the comfort of ski boots, as well as adding extra insulation. Most importantly, double up on warm hats and gloves. A few extra won’t take up a lot of luggage room, and you’ll want them if a scarf happens to go M.I.A. TIP: Color coordinating all your layers means that you don’t have to worry about bringing extra items to go with your clothes.

Use All Available Space

Plastic compression packing bags or packing cubes may seem over the top, but they’re a must-have when packing for colder climates. Use compression bags for larger items—clothes that you’ll wear for most of the trip such as your fleece, winter vest, or second winter coat. Packing cubes are more easily accessible, and convenient for everyday items like gloves and all your layers. If anyone’s packed a ski helmet, use the head-space for rolled socks, hats and underwear.

Don't Forget!

  • Sunscreen: Snow is a big sun reflector and sunburns are common, especially up in the mountains.
  • Lip balm:
  • Hand warmer packets: Get a few more minutes outdoors with the kids by keeping their little digits warm with these stuffed in their gloves or pockets. Travel guidelines: they can be stored in your carry on or packed luggage.
  • Cold-weather cream: Young skin is especially sensitive to the elements. Slather this on over their sunscreen to protect against any harsh weather.
Was this helpful?