Hi Frugalistas! While my generic packing list is easily adapted for Europe (or anywhere else cold for that matter) if you are struggling with that winter packing list for Europe and keeping it to one carry on bag, help is at hand! Here is my detailed winter packing list for Europe:
1. The best quality coat you can afford
A down coat is going to work best, as it provides great warmth, is comfortable and gives some water resistence in the rain and snow. Buy the best quality you can afford. I bought mine from an outdoor shop at an end of season sale – by paying half price I was able to afford a better quality coat. What to look for: plenty of length – bypass the waist or hip length in favour of thigh or knee length, cuffed sleeves and a hood.
Sticking to two pairs of course – one pair on and one in the bag. For me that means a pair of ankle boots and a pair of flats. I wear the ankle boots for everyday use and the keep the flats for going out.
Long sleeved vests and long johns. I take two sets so always have one pair on and one in the wash. I prefer a high tech fabric from an outdoor shop rather than a swanky silk mix set. I think they are warmer and they definitely dry more quickly. Again I bought mine for half price at an end of season sale, so could buy better quality.
4. Long sleeved tops
Personally I like cashmere jumpers (sweaters) because I wear them anyway during the winter. I appreciate not everyone can afford that luxury though. Having said that, pick them up cheaply in Europe at chain stores for around USD100-120 if you want to spend the money. Otherwise, again I haunt the sale racks at the outdoors stores for long sleeved tops in high tech fabrics – light, dry quickly and if you choose carefully are stylish enough to wear anywhere. I take three tops, so I can layer with a second if need be. What I avoid are fleeces – to me they are far more limited in where you can wear them, and while they are light they take up an enormous amount of my precious packing space. With my jumpers and a high tech top I’m ready for anywhere from a wander round a Christmas market, to a walk in the countryside to dinner in Paris or Milan.
5. Blouses or T shirts
Ring the changes in your wardrobe with 3 blouses and/or Tshirts. They also help keep your outer tops fresher for longer.
I do take a skirt and a pair of thick tights. It’s nice to be able to get dressed up for a special dinner. Then two pairs of black pants in a woolmix so I can pop my long johns underneath.
If you aren’t familiar with how cold snow and ice will be, don’t underestimate how cold your feet will get if you don’t have the right socks. Wool cashmere mix are luxurious and will keep your feet warm. Alternatively (and more cheaply), this is another good opportunity to raid the outdoor shop’s end of season sale and pick up thermal socks. Buy them nice and long, so they go come up well above the bottom of your long johns. I carry four pairs – in case it gets really cold, when wearing two pairs becomes a must.
8. Hats, gloves and scarves
You need all three. Woollen, high tech or cashmere doesn’t matter. Just one of each should be fine assuming your coat will button/zip up to your neck, and your coat has a hood to keep rain and snow off them.
9. A jacket
If you are planning eating out a lot both men and women may find a jacket handy to wear with a shirt in restaurants etc. European shops, houses and restaurants can be very hot, so if you are visiting those types of places alot a shirt and jacket is handy.
Ladies should bring some jewelery and scarves to accessorise.
Your choice of underwear and night attire.
A small folding umbrella. Again mine came from an outdoor shop – incredibly light, and so far, has survived snow, wind and rain admirably.
This will all fit in a carry on bag (assuming you wear the coat), with room for toiletries, reading material, technology etc guaranteed!