Packing for cold weather is tricky, especially for those of us who live in tropical climates and don’t know how “cold” 10C is exactly. When we were planning a weeklong trip to Japan (in late autumn), I wanted to make sure I’d have enough clothes. But since we were travelling by ourselves (not joining a tour), we’d have to carry our luggage up and down the stairs in train stations, so we needed to pack light in order to move fast and save energy. Here are some things I’ve learned from my trip:
It may be tempting to pack more clothes because we don’t want to look like we wore only one outfit for the entire trip. However, it’s not practical. Also, if you’ll be outdoors most of the time, your main outfit will be your coat or jacket. So:
o Invest in a good quality coat/jacket. Make sure it’s waterproof and warm enough for the coldest part of the trip (don’t forget to check the temperature a few days before you leave). It should also be just a bit oversized to allow for layers in between.
o Bring a couple of “mid-layer” jackets/sweaters. These are slightly thinner than the overcoat, but thicker than “base layers” (e.g. thermal underwear). These can be the main outfit if the weather turns warm.
o Choose “neutral” or darker shades. If you’d prefer to blend in and not look touristy, we noticed that most locals wear black coats/jackets (because it’s practical). If you think black is too dull, pick a nice shade of gray/brown, or a color that won’t let dirt show too easily.
o Accessorize with scarves. You can go for many and brighter colors.
o Don’t forget the basics:
Base layers. Thermal underwear, thin long sleeved shirts, leggings; bring 2-3 sets (if you feel iffy about wearing only 1 set for a week). They can also double as pajamas.
2-3 black/dark gray pants. Cotton, corduroy, or even leather. Jeans are not as recommendable because they’re heavier and don’t keep you warm.
A pair of comfortable shoes/boots, and warm, lightweight socks.
Electronics and Gears
If it’s a vacation, leave your laptop at home. In fact, if you own a smartphone with a good camera, don’t even bother with an actual camera. Sometimes it’s the gadgets that take up space and add to the weight.
Keep to only 2 bags – the luggage and 1 personal item (a sizable tote bag or a backpack). If you’re travelling from extremely warm to cold weather, it would help if the coat fits in one of your bags. To be prepared for purchases, bring one or two of those foldable waterproof eco shopping bags. Having limited space will also help your restraint when it comes to shopping.