How to pack for a winter holiday

An open suitcase full of clothing suitable for a winter holiday, including knitted jumpers, ear muffs and a pair of gloves.

Planning a winter holiday? Whether you’re planning to soak up some winter sun (and escape the cold British weather) or enjoy the pistes of a snowy ski resort, you’ll need to know what to pack.

Winter holidays can be a little tricky to pack for. It all depends on the destination and typical weather there for the time of year, but you still need to be prepared for any eventuality.

Below, we’ll run through a handy packing list for your upcoming winter break, so you’ll be ready for absolutely anything. With our help, you’ll be both comfortable and stylish, so you can focus on getting the most from your trip.

What to pack for a winter holiday

Going skiing in the Swiss alps, touring the fjords of Norway or seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland? These kinds of winter holidays are typically the colder, wetter and snowier variety. This makes it crucial to keep warm, weather-proof and well-insulated.

With this in mind, here’s your packing checklist for a typical winter holiday in a colder climate:

  • A thick, well-insulated and waterproof winter coat. It’s up to you which style you choose, but a longer coat will keep more of your body warm.
  • A lighter, waterproof jacket. This can be worn over warm layers to protect you from showers on days where it isn’t so cold.
  • Lots of layers – when the weather’s cold, layers are your best friend. Start with lighter vests and T-shirts, working your way up to sweatshirts and jumpers. You might also want to take thermals, which are specially designed to keep in the heat. Layers keep in your body heat, and can always be shed if you find yourself getting too warm. Just make sure that whatever layers you pack are breathable (cotton is a good material for this).
  • Knitwear and woollies. A great way to stay warm on winter walks and in colder climes is knitwear. It also looks stylish too, so feel free to pack as many knitted jumpers, cardigans, hats, gloves and scarves as you like. Merino wool is particularly good for warmth and comfort.
  • Sturdy footwear. If you'll be encountering snow and ice, good quality shoes with plenty of grip and ankle support will be a must. You can also tailor your footwear to what you'll be doing. For example, you might want to pack hiking boots to hit the walking trails, or a good pair of trainers or running shoes for everyday activities.
  • Thick winter socks. A few good pairs of thick socks will serve you well on a winter holiday, keeping your feet toasty whatever the weather.
  • Winter sports gear. If you're planning on skiing, snowboarding, hiking or doing any other winter sports, make sure you have the right gear (or you might want to consider hiring it to save on suitcase space).
  • Everything else. Consider packing an umbrella, heated hand warmers for your pockets and a decent backpack or bag for days out. Don't forget SPF sunscreen and sunglasses if you're going somewhere snowy, to protect your eyes and skin against the glare from the snow.

What to pack for a winter sun holiday

If you’re jetting off somewhere lovely for some winter sun, you’ll need a whole different holiday packing list. In the Southern hemisphere or the tropics, you can expect warm temperatures, lots of sun and blue skies. It can be just what you need after a cold, wet few months in the UK.

Here’s what you’ll need to pack for a winter sun holiday:

  • Lighter layers. Think lighter trousers and shorts, floaty dresses, casual shirts and T-shirts. Although you might also want to pack some warmer/thicker cover-ups, just in case the weather turns colder (especially in the evenings). For example, cardigans, light jackets or shirts. 
  • Swimming costumes. 
  • Beach towel (unless your hotel provides you with them). 
  • Sandals or flip-flops for the daytime, although you might also want to pack some comfortable sneakers or other footwear if you’ll be going on day trips. 
  • Sun protection, such as sun cream, aftersun and sunglasses. 
  • A wide-brimmed hat, to give you sun protection around the pool. 
  • A waterproof jacket, just in case of unexpected showers. 
  • A large bag, for carrying around all of your essentials. 
  • Clothes to travel in. This is an important one, as you’ll be travelling to and from the UK where temperatures in winter are likely to be on the low side. Make sure you have something warm and weather-appropriate to wear on the way to and from the airport. Remember that after a week or two in the sun, you’re likely to feel the cold a little more – so you might appreciate having something warm and snuggly to throw on.

Whatever trip you have planned, you should now have a packing list of essentials to help you fill your suitcase. Then all you need to do is look forward to your fabulous winter holiday – have a wonderful time!

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