Packing is challenging enough for any trip. Now that airlines are charging for each peice of luggage it kind of sucks having to pay that extra $25 US each way. The only way to get away from those fees is to pack carry on only. That $50 US is enough to pay for an epic tour somewhere or even a hostel stay for a couple nights! Packing for warm weather trips is easy enough, the clothes are smaller and, lighter. The challenge really is packing for winter travel with just a carry on. One great thing to help with this is packing cubes, they help keep everything organised.

Since I love travelling in off season (you can see why here) the weather isn’t always perfect, it is usually autumn or spring and a little chilly for an island girl, so I figured I’d write down my winter travel packing list.

Carry On Only Winter Vacation Packing List

We try to work with what we have so a lot of items are things we had from before or have collected over the years. I also travel with a few gym shirts as my base layer. We invested in items that are non-negotiable such as a nice warm jacket and a fleece here and there, also we have gone on winter vacations for the last three years so our new items are getting a lot more use than they would have a while ago!

1. Hiking boots

Most of our trips end up being very active so my Columbia Newton Hiking Boots are usually always on my list. Just recently I also invested in a pair of snow boots by Sorel which I used on our Yukon road trip! Jason has a pair of winter boots he bought in Canada but he wore some Timberlands for Canada and was super happy with those!

2. Flip flops

Flip flops are great to have for hostels or even campsites, it’s nice to get your toes out of hiking boots every so often. If it is way to cold I will rock my wooly socks with my flip flops… (don’t tell anyone!)

3. Socks

I love having at least one or two wooly pairs of socks, they are great for evenings! If its freezing then they work well in hiking boots to keep your toes warm! I love these merino wool and possum socks I got in New Zealand! These bamboo hiking socks are a new pair that we can’t wait to test out!

4. Fleece lined leggings

I have fallen in love with fleece lined leggings! I wear them with tights underneath if it is really cold and unbearable! They keep me nice and toasty. Even though they are a bit thick to pack it is definitely worth it. These are always part of my winter travel packing list!

5. Tights

These are perfect under a pair of fleece leggings especially if it is super cold outside! These are basically my base layer.

6. Camisole

These are great for an extra layer under my long sleeve tee! You really need to keep your core warm, having a thin layer underneath like this helps trap a bit more heat!

7. Sweat wicking long sleeve top

I always carry a sweat wicking long sleeve top like these as part of our winter vacation packing list. They are great for hiking and are easy to dry out! Merino wool is also great for the cold so that is always another option!

8. T shirts

We usually carry enough shirts to last for a week, so roughly 5, usually on our winter trips we reuse a few shirts so a week’s worth could last us for 2 weeks.

9. Pajama pants and top

Grab some super comfy pants and shirts, its nice to change into something cozy in the evenings.

10. Sweaters

I got a crazy good deal on a couple of fleece jackets and vests from, you guessed it, Columbia! They are such a great brand for budget priced gear!

11. Packable Jacket

I loved my mighty lite jacket by Columbia for our Iceland trip but I recently upgraded to this Snow Eclipse jacket!

12. Waterproof Gear

I love my bright red rain jacket and these rain proof pants! They kept me really nice and dry on our Iceland trip.

13. Cold Weather Accessories

Don’t forget to pack your beanie, scarf and gloves!


1. Camera

Jason loves his Sony camera, and I still love my Nikon D3300 so those are our options for travel cameras!

2. Tripod

I recently replaced my small polaroid tripod with a Zomei tripod and I absolutely love it! It’s very sturdy and highly recommended.

3. Kindle

My first generation finally died so now I’m looking to upgrade to a new Kindle Paperwhite. Reading is the perfect way to kill a few hours on a plane!

4. Cell phone and charger

We both travel with Samsung S9 Notes which are awesome for snapping pictures quickly!

5. Documents

I normally pack stuff like my Mighty lite jacket, scarf, gloves and beanie into another very small carry on bag so they are easily accessible when I land so I do not need to dig through my big pack for warm gear. Also, I normally keep passport and pen within close reach.

Usually with this amount of stuff my pack weighs just under 20lbs, which means I can easily lift it and place it in the overheard bins without almost knocking anyone out. At that weight it is also to explore a city with it on my back without feeling too weighed down and exhausted which is great. You can find out how I fit everything into my backpack here or you can check out our minimalist couples packing list here.

Rainy day on the Golden Circle. Cold weather packing list.

Rainy day on the Golden Circle. Rocking our Columbia Rain Jackets and rain pants with beanies that I made

Learn how we pack Carry On Only!

Travelling on a budget means minimizing our gear, find out how we manage to pack all of our essentials into our backpacks here!

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