While Europe is often a popular destination in the spring, summer, and fall, it is not often a crowd pleaser when the weather turns cold. However, with the budget-friendly airfares and low season hotel room rates in the late fall and winter, more and more travelers are taking their chances in the cold across Europe. But if you’re planning on taking advantage of the seasonal rates for an affordable European getaway, you need to pack right. Otherwise, you’re going to spend all the money you saved with deals on flights and hotel rooms buying a bunch of new clothes so you don’t feel like a human popsicle.
Here are 11 items you need to for a winter trip to Europe.
A Down-Filled Jacket
When you’re freezing in Slovenia or any other central European destination, you’ll notice all of the locals bundled up in down jackets. You may think a simple peacoat will do, but not when Europe turns freezing. Buying this jacket before any winter trip to Europe and you’ll not only survive the cold but also blend in with the locals. While you might feel like a marshmallow or as though you are lugging around your sleeping bag across your body, a down-filled long jacket will keep you warm while sightseeing outside. If you are looking to save space in your bag, you can wear it on the plane and use it as a comforter throughout the flight.
Travelers should be sure to pack some form of long underwear and/or tights to keep those legs warm. There’s no better way to keep warm while you’re walking around and exploring Prague or Berlin in December than having another layer on underneath your jeans or slacks. Most everyday pants these days are made from somewhat breathable fabric like denim or khaki. It makes them really versatile and comfortable for most indoor settings, but also means any winter breeze will leave you freezing from the waist down. Avoid such a chilly error and pack accordingly for your limbs before you take off.
A simple evening stroll to get some dinner in winter can be a teeth-chattering experience in most European destinations While slipping your hands into your pockets might provide some respite from the cold, the addition of hand warmers makes that stroll more bearable. Plus, most hand warmers are easy to throw into a suitcase without taking up any sort of space.
Warm Lightweight Socks
There are few things more uncomfortable than cold or wet feet. Protect your feet from the elements of winter by packing along plenty of warm and lightweight socks. Wool socks will allow your feet to breathe while still keeping the heat trapped. Cashmere fabric is another good choice. The goal is to keep your feet insulated from rain or snow but also give them the ability to breathe. You can also consider layering socks if you are not sure what type of thickness will work best. Be sure to pack a few different pairs so that you can air them out as needed.
Several Scarves, Gloves, & Hats
Many first-time travelers snagging cheap flights in December often think they can just bring one pair of gloves, one hat, and one scarf on a winter trip to Europe. But they don’t realize those three selections become part of their everyday wardrobe for the entire trip. And one can only wear a bright red hat so many days in a row without feeling a bit redundant. If you want to avoid looking like you are wearing the same thing every day in your pics on social media, pack several options for gloves, hats, and scarves. They will be your saving grace when the wind seems to hit you in a gust of spine-chilling pain. Keeping your neck, hands, and head warm while on a winter tip is key toward avoiding that dreaded travel crankiness over the bad weather.
Insulated Waterproof Boots
If you think just simple tennis shoes will do in the colds of Europe, you’re wrong. Your feet will quickly freeze in just socks and simple shoes. Places like Italy and France can be downright rainy in the fall and winter months. So keep your feet protected with some sort of insulated waterproof boots.
Do not leave your hotel room for a day of touring without a quality day bag. Be sure to try your bag out prior to leaving to ensure that it is comfortable for you. You want to choose a bag that has plenty of pockets and compartments for easy access to your essentials. A padded bag is a good idea if you are going to be hauling an expensive camera or a tablet on your day trip adventures. Use your day bag to hold an extra layer of clothing, moisturize, an umbrella, and more.
Along with the cold weather comes dry air. These two go together like peas and carrots, making it important that you take the right steps to protect your skin from these harsh conditions. By using a daily moisturizer as a preventative treatment, you will ensure that your skin remains hydrated despite the dry air. If you will be spending a lot of time outdoors, you can choose a moisturizer with a built-in sunscreen for extra convenience. This is especially important if you will be at a high altitude and more susceptible to the sun’s harmful rays. While you are at it, be sure to pack a lip balm to keep your lips thoroughly moisturized and free of cracks.
You never know what degree of warmth you will experience on a winter trip to Europe. Walking around outside can be bitterly cold, but inside a museum or restaurant can be piping hot. Dressing in layers is the best way to ensure that you are ready for any type of temperate when you’re traveling. A lightweight cotton shirt under a thick button-down shirt and/or cardigan sweater with a winter coat, scarf, and hat is a good way to stay flexible so that you can easily adjust depending on how cold or warm you are at all times.
Neutral Color Outfits
You will find it much easier to coordinate your daily outfits if you stick with neutral colors. Mixing and matching different wardrobe pieces throughout your trip will provide much more versatility. This versatility is even more important when you know that you will need to dress in layers. Going with a neutral color palette will also make it easier to match your shoes. It is also wise to stay away from patterns and opt for solid colors instead
A Travel Umbrella
Keeping an umbrella in your day bag is always a good idea when traveling, but it is particularly important during the wet winter months. The best travel umbrellas are made with sturdy materials such as aluminum and fiberglass. Choosing an umbrella with a coating of Teflon will provide even more protection from wet precipitation. While you want to put a priority on durability, you also want to make sure that your umbrella is small and light enough to tuck into your day bag.
Think we missed some essential must-pack items? Tell us what else to bring on a winter trip to Europe?