Tomorrow, my darling fiance and I are flying to Switzerland where we, along with his lovely family, will enjoy snow, skiing, and lots and lots of cheese.
I have a couple more hours of work, and then I have to go home and pack. In case anyone is curious, here are my trips for traveling in cold weather.
1) If you are OCD about mixing certain colors (no brown & black or navy& black for me!) then choose your color scheme wisely. When I travel, I choose either brown or black as a basic color and stick with it. That way I don't wind up packing both brown and black shoes and purses.
2) Pack (or, even better, wear on the plane) a heavy coat. Pair this with a warm hat, scarf and gloves. Make sure that your purse strap fits comfortably around the arms of your coat and rests on your shoulder. A purse with a short strap gets annoying very quickly when you have to wear a coat.
3) Bring one heavy sweater. This sweater should be comfortable, have a button or zip front, and be in a dark color that doesn't show stains. If you get it dirty, keep in mind that you'll be rinsing it out in your hotel sink. Also, mind the sleeves. These are lessons I learned the hard way after bringing a cream colored pullover sweater with bell sleeves to Switzerland the first time I went. I wore it once (so inconvenient!), then wore my black button-down the rest of the time. If you don't mind going casual, you can also bring a dark colored fleece or use it in place of the sweater. I will say that all fleeces are not created equal. The ones I have from Old Navy, for example, are not very warm compared to the ones I have from ski apparel brands (think Spyder or Northface or Columbia.) I would avoid sweaters or fleeces with hoods or big collars because they can bunch up annoyingly under your coat.
4) Bring as few pairs of shoes as possible. Shoes are heavy and take up space. So if you pack any extra shoes, try to wear the bulkier ones on the plane. Also, make sure your shoes are comfortable. Shoes you don't wear b/c they kill your feet are a waste of space. If you are going to be walking around a lot, I would advise against Ugg-type winter boots. I have a pair and have used them as snow boots for the past couple of years. They are waterproof and very soft, but they aren't very supportive and my feet always hurt as a result. Also, since you'll be dealing with airports, make sure that you can get your shoes on and off fairly quickly. It makes security much less of a hassle.
5) Shirts- bring one shirt per day. I tend to wear knit shirts or light sweaters because I would rather not iron my clothes, and not every place comes with an iron.
6) Pants- you don't need as many as you think. I will probably pack 3 pairs of pants (2 jeans and 1 corduroy) for my 12 day trip, and honestly, I could probably get by with 2 pairs- I know it sounds gross, but you really don't sweat very much in the winter, so they stay pretty clean, especially if you wear an under layer (see below). Again, go with dark colors so if you spill something on them, you can rinse them out.
7) Pajamas- Pack one pair for every 3 or 4 days of vacation. I like long sleeved knit or flannel PJ's better than fleece because if the room is cool you can always add more blankets- I think it's easy to overheat in fleece PJ's.
8) Undergarments- I always pack plenty of socks and underwear because they don't take up very much space and are pretty crucial. Another important cold weather undergarment is a pair of cuddle duds.
So my basic cold weather outfit is jeans tucked into winter boots, topped with a colorful long sleeved knit shirt and a black button down sweater. I throw on a good coat, scarf, hat, and gloves to go outside, and if I'm going to outside for a while (and it's really cold), I'll be wearing cuddle duds underneath my clothes.
The bottom line is that you will always end up packing more stuff than you need, but if you pare it down as much as possible, it will be easier to carry your luggage, you won't have to worry about extra fees at the airport, and there will be extra room in your bags for souvenirs when it's time to go home!
I'm sure there are more tips to be had because I'm not an expert packer, but this is what I've learned through trial and error.
I won't be back home until 2010, so until then, have a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!!!