If I could give you one piece of travel advice, this would be it: you do not need to bring as much stuff as you probably think!
When I go travelling, I rarely ever take more than a carry-on sized piece of luggage. There are a few reasons for this. Of course, I enjoy the fact that I can save money on budget airlines, don’t need to wait at luggage carousels and save myself the backache of lugging around a humongous backpack. However, the main reason is that I don’t actually need much more than what fits in a small bag.
I used to pack ridiculous amounts for a trip, thinking that I needed a new outfit for everyday and emergency dresses for “just in case” situations. I soon realised that there was no need.
Packing with a carry-on is easy in hot countries. You only really need light clothes like playsuits, t-shirts and cotton trousers. It’s easy to have a bag full of different outfit choices when you’re hopping from beach to beach. However, when you find yourself travelling in colder countries, it can be a bit more tricky! And, let’s be honest, wearing similar clothes every single day can get boring.
This year, Veeran and I spent our Winter holidays in Taiwan and Japan. Weather wise, Taiwan was still pretty warm (from the perspective of a Scottish girl) but was by no means bikini and flip-flop weather. We expected Osaka and Kyoto to have similar weather to Busan but it was much, much colder.
Staying true to form, I was determined to travel to fit all my luggage in my carry-on bag. I’ve done long weekend trips in Europe during winter but this 2-week long trip would be my longest cold weather journey. And, guess what, I survived!
I’ve put together this post to give you my top tips for packing light in cold countries. If you read all the way to the bottom, you can see exactly what I put in my bag, too. Keep reading for all my best advice!
If there’s one thing that you need in your carry-on for a winter trip, it’s layers. Fill your bag full of warm but thin clothes that you can build up on top of each other to create outfits.
Baselayers are your Best Friend
Baselayers are an absolute godsend when you’re trying to pack for a winter trip in a carry-on. I’m a huuuge fan of Uniqlo and love their heat tech line. It’s warm, light, good quality and their styles always come in lovely colours and designs. For this trip, I packed 4 baselayers that I switched up every day.
The other good thing about baselayers? They wash really nicely and dry quickly, too. So you don’t need to worry about having to bring too many.
Create a Colour Scheme
If you’re like me and wear pretty much only black clothes, this should be easy! Stick to a colour scheme throughout your trip and pack neutral colours that coordinate well. This way you can mix and match between tops and bottoms easily.
Choose Cardigans over Jumpers
(That’s a sweater, for my transatlantic friends!)
I much prefer to wear a chunky cardigan over a baselayer than a jumper. Why? Because if I wear a jumper 5 days in a row, it’ll look like I’ve worn the same thing every day in my holiday pictures, and I can’t be having that! Cardigans keep you warm and can create the illusion that you’ve styled more outfits than you actually have.
Accessorise with Hats and Scarves
Let’s be honest. If you’re off on a city break, you’re going to be wearing your jacket most of the time anyway. To keep things looking a bit different, I recommend taking a few different hats and scarves rather than packing multiple jackets. To be honest, I’m fine with just one hat and scarf but I know that a lot of people like having a bit more variety.
Pick your Footwear Wisely
For this trip, I packed one pair of trainers (mainly for running but also for hiking in Taroko National Park) and wore my black ankle boots on the plane. To be honest, if I wasn’t training for a run this March and wasn’t going hiking, I would only have brought the boots. Black ankle boots are perfect for me because I can wear them with tights and a dress or with skinny jeans. Mines just have a small heel so I can comfortably wear them walking around a city all day, too. I don’t really like wearing trainers a lot but that’s just personal preference.
One Coat Will do!
I chose my coat wisely for this trip. Guess what colour it is? Yup, it’s black. And, it’s from Uniqlo. (When did I become so predictable.)
I brought my lightweight down jacket because it packs down into a tiny ball that can fit easily in-to my carry-on. It eded up being the perfect choice for the unpredictable weather in Taipei. If it was warm during the day, I could pop it in my bag in case it got chilly at night. Plus, I could build up my layers to make it even more cold-proof in Japan!
Here’s a rundown of everything that I packed for my 2-week trip. As usual, I washed my clothes as I went along. I use my Osprey Farpoint 4o bag paired with Eagle Creek Pack-It Spectre Cubes to organise my things.
- 1 x black down jacket
- 1 x black chunky cardigan
- 4 x baselayers (1 grey, 1 black, 1 maroon, 1 sporty ski one for running)
- 1 x cream long sleeved top
- 3 x crop tops for sunny days in Taiwan (2 breton striped, 1 black)
- 3 x bottoms (1 denim skirt, 1 pair leather shorts, 1 pair jeans)
- 1 x black pinafore dress (for wearing over baselayers)
- I also got a totoro hoodie at the Taipei night markets that kept me very warm when it was blistery in Japan!
- 1 knitted headband
- 1 bright printed scarf
- 4 pair of tights
- 3 pairs of socks
- 5 pairs of underwear
- 2 bras (1 nude, 1 black)
- 1 sports bra
- Lush solid shampoo and conditioner bars
- Sun cream
- Small shower gel
- Make up (BB cream, bronzer, concealer, mascara, eyeshadow palette, 2 nude lipsticks)
- Laptop (If I wasn’t blogging, I would defos leave this!)
- External hard drive (for backing up photos as I go)
- Extra SD Card
- Portable Charger
- Spare Battery
- Universal Adaptor
- Micro USB Charger for phone and laptop
- World Nomads Travel Insurance
The amount of clothes that I brought was totally fine-. Actually, I ended up not wearing the summery tops as Taiwan was not as warm as we’d hoped! I did wish that I had chosen a warmer scarf, too, as Japan was pretty chilly but my new hoodie came in really handy! My bag weighed in at 9kg which I was very pleased with and it managed to fit into the overhead lockers perfectly.
Just remember, less is more! I love looking presentable on the road and in my travel pics so I never compromise my personal style. The trick is to be prepared and plan your outfits to save yourself backache and money on your next trip.
If you want more packing tips, don’t miss my 14 best ones!
Let me know, what are your tips for travelling with just a carry-on? Have you ever packed light for a winter trip?