Winter Packing List: 15 Must-Have Travel Essentials

15 Travel Essentials You Must Pack for Any Winter Holiday

The frosty winds and biting cold don’t have to be your foe, you can enjoy any winter holiday with these 15 essential items on hand!

A winter vacation sounds like the perfect getaway until you realise that you’ll be faced with not just cold temperatures and gusty winds but in some cases, difficult weather conditions like rain and heavy snowfall too! Winters vary in different parts of the world. While some winters offer pleasant, chilly weather, some are harsher and are far from being a winter wonderland.

That’s why it’s important to be well prepared when you’re off to your dream winter vacation. But don’t fret on the details, we can help you out with that. Dispel all fears and doubts with these 15 winter travel essentials and you’ll be all set to brave the cold and enjoy your getaway!

1. Medicine

All sorts of ailments may ambush you during your winter holidays so make sure you’re ready for them!

A common concern is consistent coughing fits brought on by the harsh, dry air. An OTC cough syrup will likely be all you need to remedy the situation. Cough syrups like Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa now come in travel sachets and no-sugar versions too! The travel sachets are easy to pack and tote around in your daypack, just be sure to put them in a ziplock bag to make it easier and safer to carry around. Whip them out whenever you need some relief for irritated throats and coughing!

Some other common medications you should consider for winter might include stuff like flu or fever medicine as it’s easier to get catch a cold in winter. You should also look into nasal decongestants and expectorants to help unclog stuffy noses. And if you’re prone to body aches, it’ll be good to keep some pain relief medication as well since the cold weather can sometimes worsen such conditions. As the saying goes, ‘it’s better to be safe than sorry’!

2. Down jacket

Your first line of defence against the biting cold and howling winds should be a good down jacket. Down jackets are great insulators and can protect you against the harsh winter winds. If you’re heading to an area which snows a lot, opt for a down jacket that is waterproof so you won’t end up getting soaked.

You should also go for a jacket with a detachable hood. It’ll be even better if the hood is lined with an insulating material like faux fur or synthetic wool that helps to protect your head from the cold. A detachable hood makes it easier to pack the jacket into your luggage!

3. Thermals

Image credit: Uniqlo

In harsh winter conditions where temperatures drop way below 0℃, you’ll want to have a set of thermal underwear (commonly called long johns) with you. Long johns trap and use your own body heat as insulation against the winter cold. These will keep you warm and snug, and act as a good additional layer of heat retention if your down jacket alone isn’t getting the job done. Opt for woollen ones if you’re heading to sub-zero temperatures as these work best.

However, bear in mind that thermals are extremely efficient retainers of heat so if you layer up too much (including your outer jackets), you could run the risk of overheating. And trust me, from experience, that is not a good feeling.

4. Scarves

Scarves are often overlooked but they are absolutely essential in winter weather! The body loses heat and grows colder when there are areas of exposed skin. A scarf will come in handy to help retain the body’s natural heat by protecting the neck. Cashmere is the best material for scarves if you’re looking to keep warm.

What’s more, a good scarf can also double up as protection for your mouth, nose, and ears should the need ever arise. And for bonus points, scarves are also a great way to accessorise and accentuate your fashion sense, making your winter outfit ‘pop’ in the crowd.

5. Beanie

While a jacket hood offers some form of protection to the head from harsh winter conditions, it doesn’t always work, especially in extreme temperatures. For added protection, another winter travel essential is a good heat-retaining beanie. Do I really need that, you ask? Well, try to recall the last time you fell ill from the weather. Didn’t you “feel it in your head” first before the illness spread to the rest of your body?

Trust us, keeping the head warm is important in ensuring that other parts of the body remain warm. Therefore, to ensure that your winter holidays aren’t cut short, make sure to pack a trusty beanie, preferably made of wool or fleece that fits snugly to insulate heat. Beanies can also be used to protect your ears from the cold as well, so it’s an extremely useful item!

6. Boots

Some people might tell you to skip the winter boots and wear extra layers of socks to keep warm. Those people are wrong. While extra socks CAN keep your feet warm, it doesn’t perform the main function that boots do: keeping your feet DRY. It is often not the cold air which affects your feet but rather, the moisture from the snow.

Boots are great insulators and even better at keeping moisture out, ensuring that your feet stay nice and dry. This is especially helpful if you’re visiting snow-prone areas like alpine locations. Here’s a pro tip: you don’t need to specifically seek out expensive winter boots for your trip. Simply look for boots which are waterproof and have a stable grip in the soles. If you can get padded boots for extra warmth, great, if not, you’ll still be alright.

7. Gloves

As with the boots, the most important thing about your winter gloves is to make sure that they’re waterproof. I found this out the hard way after a snowball fight up in the Swiss Alps. Also, since most electronic devices these days are touchscreen, look out for gloves with touchscreen capabilities to make your life easier!

But still, the most important thing is to make sure that your gloves won’t leave your fingers soaking after picking up a snowball. And make sure the gloves aren’t too thin either to ensure your fingers stay toasty!

8. Lip balm

Despite the snow and chilly weather, winters are known to be notoriously dry due to the low humidity. And not to forget, harsh winds and long exposure to the harsh winter elements will most likely cause painful chapped lips. Therefore, one winter travel essential you mustn’t forget is lip balm!

Men, don’t try to act all macho and say “I don’t need lip balm”. Trust me, you definitely need the lip balm to restore some much-needed moisture. Pro tip: Buy a few lest you lose them! (This happens all the time especially when you have so many things on you during winter.)

9. Moisturisers

Similar logic with the lip balm, pack moisturisers of different sorts to help retain moisture in your skin. These could include facial moisturisers, body lotion and even hand creams! Moisturisers are essential especially if you’re going to spend long hours of the day out in the open and exposed to the elements.

Opt for ingredients such as shea butter that is extremely effective in trapping moisture in your skin! Also, consider getting products that are hypoallergenic as your skin may become sensitive during winter! The last thing you want on your winter vacation is to look like you belong in an episode of The Walking Dead. Trust me.

10. Sunscreen

Image credit: CarolSandra

You might be surprised, but some studies suggest that UV radiation is actually stronger during the winter months. Yes, despite the cold weather, the sun continues to shine and as that happens, UV rays continue to batter the Earth (and your skin) during winter. In fact, the UV rays that hit us in winter are actually more penetrative than the ones in summer.

So, applying sunscreen during winter is quite essential! What’s more, it may surprise you to find out that sunburn is a common occurrence even in this time of the year. The cold weather actually prevents us from realising that we’re getting sunburnt, which makes sunscreen even more important!

11. Heat packs

Image credit: Lauren Finkel

Not every human body is wired the same way. Some are more resistant to the cold than others. And then there are also factors like diet and body type. If you’re the type of person who easily gets cold and can’t stand freezing temperatures, you should definitely bring a few heat packs with you.

Heat packs or hand warmers will help you stay warm when you’re out and about in the severe cold. They come in different sizes and there are many varieties too. For example, there are heat packs with an adhesive backing which you can paste on your clothes or compact ones that you can simply slip into your pockets for extra warmth. Heat packs may look small and inconsequential but they are super handy in dealing with the winter cold!

12. Thermos flask

A hot beverage is a blessing during the cold winter months. Unfortunately, they can be a bit hard to come by if you’re travelling from one place to another on the road. This is when a trusty thermos flask comes into play.

They come in all shapes and sizes and if you can find one which easily fits in your bag, you’ve got yourself a nifty winter travel essential. Use it to store hot beverages to keep yourself well-hydrated during your journey. Alternatively, you could use it to store hot water for other uses such as for keeping warm during emergencies.

13. Portable charger

Image credit: Aaron Yoo

Another problem you might face when you’re out in winter is that phone batteries tend to drain faster, even without much use. I once had my phone go from full power to flat within minutes after stepping out into -17℃ weather. This is because the cold slows down the chemical reactions in the battery, thereby causing the battery to go flat.

To prevent your phone from dying mid-Instagram Story, make sure to bring a portable charger with you for some much-needed juice. Here’s another pro tip: To prolong battery life, store your phone in a warm place, like the inner pockets of your coat or down jacket.

14. Portable humidifiers

As mentioned, the air can be extremely dry during winter and this can lead to irritated eyes as well as itchy and flaky skin. More importantly, dry air can cause respiratory ailments such as flu and other infections! Yikes! Therefore, what you will need is a handy portable humidifier.

This is probably the least expected item on the list but don’t belittle it! A portable humidifier is vital especially for people who are not used to the cold. It helps regulate moisture in the air, helping your skin stay vitalised as you sleep during the night.

15. Torchlight

Days are short and nights are long during winter so it becomes dark very quickly. Typically, you will only get to experience 9 hours of sunlight during winter on a good day. While most cities come equipped with street lamps, they may sometimes still be inadequate to navigate around. This is especially true if you’re out in the open or travelling in locations that are more rural in nature.

A torchlight is hence necessary, especially when you’re up in the mountains or roaming around the forests! You might think that you can simply use your phone as a light source, but remember what we told you? Your phone drains extra quickly in the winter (sadly we can’t blame Apple for this but oh well) so you’ll definitely find a torchlight to be more practical under these circumstances.

Don’t let the cold bother you

Now that you’ve met these essential winter travel heroes, you’re ready to fully enjoy your winter vacation without a worry in mind. As Elsa used to say, ‘The cold never bothered me anyway!’

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About Author

Annabel Pang
Annabel Pang

Annabel is a final year English student at NTU wit a h00d playlist. She's no Mary but she's defintely poppin'. Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, Annabel is a part-time jedi and a force not to be reckoned with. Also a huge foodie with spectacular vernacular. Tread gently.