How I Stayed Warm during Winter Travel

One of my concerns when I chose to go on a December Christmas Market cruise was being able to stay warm.  Being comfortable with the weather is paramount for me and it does determine to some degree, how much I enjoy the trip.

Last February I went on a southern South America cruise and knew that it could be cold.  I try to take a minimum amount of luggage with me and that is a challenge when you are bringing bulky heavy, warm clothing.  I’ll talk about some of the items I brought with me and if you are interested, you can click on the underlined links.  I do not receive anything for recommending what I use.

I purchased from LL Bean an ultra weight down jacket that could be packed in its own pocket.  Since it did pack in its own pocket, I also used it on the airplane as a pillow for the overnight flight!  It kept me nice and warm, had sufficient pockets for me to shove stuff into.

.screen shot 2019-01-10 at 10.52.14 am

From LLBean again, I purchased a wool sweater  which was warm.screen shot 2019-01-10 at 11.11.01 am

Concerned that it would be too itchy for me, I also bought a couple of turtlenecks from my local WalMart.  I’m generally not a WalMart supporter but I live in a small rural city and to be honest, it is the only place in my city I could purchase that item.  The other reason was I knew that it would be inexpensive and if my suitcase became too full on the way home, I would not feel too bad leaving the turtleneck behind.  Continuing on, underneath that I wore a camisole.  I did bring two other sweaters with me but the wool one was the one I wore the most.  In hindsight, I just needed two sweaters.

For the lower half of my body I purchased a pair of fleece lined leggings, again at WalMart to wear underneath my pants.  I brought one pair of leggings with me on the trip.  I think the price was 2 pair for about $15 and again, if I needed space coming home i could discard a pair.  They were really the secret to staying warm for me and I would highly recommend them if you are going to be in cold weather.

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I brought three pairs of pants with me – one pair of jeans and two pairs of pants.  If you are wearing fleece under your pants, try them on at home to make sure you can get your pants up with the leggings on underneath.  I did have to stretch out my jeans and since they had some spandex in them it was easier than not.  With the regular pants, I could wear thinner tops at dinner since I wasn’t as concerned about staying warm on the ship.

I did not purchase boots or shoes for the trip and used what I had at home.  I had a pair of thick soled shoes that were perfect.  They were similar to these.

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To keep my feet warm in these shoes I relied on SmartWool socks.  My feet are never itchy in these socks and they keep my feet warm and dryscreen shot 2019-01-10 at 11.23.04 am

A wool hat kept me toasty.  I would suggest getting one that has a fleece band instead around the part that goes around your forehead.  I don’t like wool on my forehead.

I had somewhat of a fail for keeping my hands warm.  I did bring handwarmers with me but they were too large for the leather gloves I brought.  I also brought wool mittens but that didn’t work either.  I had to keep taking them off to take photos.  My travel mate wore ski gloves and she was warm so that is a possibility for next time.

Additionally, I brought a knitted scarf to wear around my neck and over my jacket.  It was particularly useful when it was a little breezey.  This scarf was purchased at TJMaxx and was a wool blend.  Didn’t use it often but I had it if I needed it.

For possibility of rain, I purchased a rain poncho from the Sporting Goods department in WalMart.  I didn’t want one of the very thin ones in the event it rained more than one day.  I found one that seemed a little heavier that seemed to fit the bill.  I wanted a poncho so I could protect my backpack that I wore as well as me!  I did use it one day, was able to refold it and keep it with me till I left and then, like some excess clothes I had, I left it behind.  I deliberately decided not to bring an umbrella hating the feeling of rain running down my arms.

Instead of a purse, I used a hydration backpack.  Mine has a separate compartment in the back (the part of the backpack that is next to your back) where the bladder for the water goes.  Instead of the bladder, that is where I kept my important documents and money think that I would feel if someone was unzipping something that was against my bag – it seemed a little awkward for them to do it.  Not being totally foolish, I did separate my money and put some, as well as an additional credit card and ATM card, elsewhere.

What are your tips for staying warm?

8 thoughts on “How I Stayed Warm during Winter Travel

  1. I work various positions at an outdoor winter sports venue for a charity group’s fundraisers for about the past nine years. I echo the concept that thick soled shoes with wool socks are a must in cold weather – make sure the shoes are large enough to be comfortable with the thicker socks. Tight shoes are cold feet.

    I also recommend the fingerless gloves that have the mitten covers that are attached and that you can flip back. Check the hunting stores and/or the places that cater to construction and farm workers. They have an amazing variety of mitts, hats, scarves that are very practical.

  2. I tried posting this the other day but it did not seem to go through. How I stay warm:

    On the recommendation of a well known travel writer, I got a North Face Thermoball (synthetic down) jacket, and later got one for myself. They also can be compressed into their own pocket, but I usually pack them using a compression bag (like a ziploc with compression factor) which I find easier to pack. You can often find these for around $100-130 which is what we paid.

    I have several wool sweaters, but the one I have earmarked for travel is a plain black cable one.

    As for turtlenecks, I have a number of them from Kohls purchased for less than $10 using coupons and sale prices, and I think the quality is somewhat better than I have seen in WalMart.

    I have thin thermal underwear from my X-C skiing days. I have both synthetic and Merino wool. Both are thin. I’d also recommend silk underwear (don’t personal own any) because it is warm, thin, and can be hand washed and supposedly dries quickly. Beans sells silk underwear – pricier than leggings, but may be smaller to pack than fleece lined leggings. Or check local sporting goods for thermal underwear.

    I have a brimmed chenille hat that rolls up and will go in my pocket similar to this:
    Mine has a bit of a bigger brim and is slightly too big for my head size.

    I also have traveled for years with an anorak with a zip out lining. Unfortunately, we were touring Strawberry Mansion in Philadelphia last November and it was a warm day so we left our jackets on the rear seat of our car, as did the person parked next to us. When we returned from our house tour, our rear windows were shattered and our jackets stolen.
    I found a similar one (my stolen one had a fleece lining, whereas this is a bit different) at Burlington Coat Factory online. Similar to this one:,57292,67804
    Coldwater Creek also sells one – I bought the older one which didn’t have the drawstring hood, but the new model does.
    This also comes in a coat length.

    Like these because they are great for shoulder season. (confession, haven’t taken a trip where I needed either since I bought both of these). Probably taking one on my Brit Isles cruise in June.

    The hat and anorak are somewhat “dressier” but not really. And Europe has gone so casual now.

    If it’s really cold, I have Thinsulate lined gloves that I got for cheap somewhere along the line.
    You can also buy gloves with something on the fingertips that let’s them be used with a touchscreen. Look on Amazon.

    Now’s the time to look for stuff like this, because winter merchandise is on sale as merchants start to get ready for spring.

    1. @Marilyn, I agree about this being a good time to make winter purchases with all the sales. I also shop in August when they have their pre season sales going on and they tend to have all the sizes in.

  3. So funny. I have an almost identical LL Bean jacket, and I do have that identical sweater…and at least 20 pairs of smart wool socks. I did a hiking trip in the Alps with Road Scholar in September and bought a waterproof cover for my backpack, and was very glad I did. I use those toe warmers in my gloves. Also have wool long underwear and shirt, also Bean purchases. I’m lucky enough to live less than a mile from a Bean outlet.

  4. I am allergic to wool and down so I always layer-thin layers will trap the warm air. I also use hand warmers with gloves they can fit in and have used them in my shoes. Taking pictures is awkward with gloves so the fingerless gloves are good for that.

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