Anyone else find packing for a trip super stressful? You want to be prepared for any situation, but airline baggage restrictions mean you can’t bring your entire wardrobe along. It’s even trickier when you need to add all your bulky winter gear. Whether you are chasing the aurora borealis in Lapland or Christmas market hopping in Germany, here is my tried and true list of what to pack for winter in Europe.
(Note: I am not affiliated with these companies and don’t earn anything for recommending these products.)
A good coat is the most important article of clothing you can pack. Puffy down coats will be warm enough, but the issue I’ve found is that they don’t stay dry. It snows and rains a lot in Europe and, even with an umbrella, you can quickly find yourself soaked to the bone. To avoid this, look for coats with water resistant material and a hood. I’ve been very happy with the Arctic Down Parka from the North Face.
I don’t know about you, but cold feet make me miserable. Wet feet are even worse. That’s where waterproof insulated boots come in handy. Standard Uggs are warm but can become sodden. Wellies provide excellent rain protection but tend to feel like frozen blocks of cement – even with fleece wellie socks. I’ve found that these LL Bean Boots provide the perfect amount of protection. I wear the classic option paired with thick wool socks, but if you’re really worried about the cold or are heading to the Arctic, upgrade to the shearling-lined version. Whatever you do, leave the heels and dress boots at home. Those cobblestones can be treacherous!
But Heather, I hear you say, we have plans to attend the opera/ballet/theater in Europe. Won’t we want to wear fancy shoes to the performance? Yes, you will. Carry them with you and change in the coat check. Everyone will think you’re a local!
The tricky part about dressing for winter is not overdoing it on the layers. You need to strike a balance between being warm outside and not sweating profusely indoors. My go-to options are Uniqlo Heattech long sleeve t-shirts and fleece-lined tights, worn beneath jeans and a merino wool sweater. Avoid cotton undershirts as they won’t wick away perspiration.
You will want a scarf and hat, even if your coat has a hood. I really like the accessories from Latvian brand Mice, especially the slouchy fleece-lined beanie. (Check out their Etsy store.) The item I have the most trouble with is gloves. I take a lot of photos and need my fingers, which quickly freeze when left unprotected. Thankfully, the e-tip technology has improved tremendously. I bought a pair of “runner’s gloves” from US bulk store Costco. When it’s really cold out, I add a pair of fingerless Latvian mittens on top.
If you have any other suggestions for what to pack for winter in Europe, I’d love to hear them in the comments!