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How To Travel: 10 Items You Need To Pack in a Suitcase for going in between Two Temperatures

Inspired by my last trip to Hong Kong in 2012, and Vanessa’s most recent SNAFU in packing for Europe, I thought it would be a good idea to show you how I pack to travel in between two temperatures.


As little as possible so I adhere pretty strictly to the rules of the airline:

  • 1 carryon
  • 1 purse or camera bag (I bring the camera bag because it’s what I use)

I love packing lightly because:

  1. I don’t have to check anything in
  2. I don’t have to carry a lot
  3. I can wheel all of it
  4. I have to really consider the space in my suitcase before buying anything mindlessly

When I am traveling, I turn into the kind of girl who can live for a month without changing her outfit constantly, and I turn into one of those extreme minimalists.

When I am at home, I feel the urge to change twice a day if I am going out twice (afternoon & night).

Don’t ask me why, but wearing different clothes gives me a serious high especially if I have to come home and go back out again.


I take the subway, bus and metro.

No taxicabs AT ALL.

It would be even easier if I took cabs because I’d just cab to the airport and back, no need to stand outside in the cold to wait for any bus, although I’d probably wear the same amount of clothing/layers.

However if you want to go cheap and cheerful like I do (saving money, and I just don’t like cabs), this is how I do it when going in between temperatures.


The problem with traveling in between temperatures is that either you pack for the temperature you are departing from, the temperature you are going to, and/or the temperature you are supposed to return to.

All of this can be one big fat headache if you are going from winter to summer, and back again.


Photo I took in Montreal, Canada


My situation:

Before I left for Hong Kong, it was starting to get cold in Canada. We’re talking a light jacket and some boots would be acceptable, but upon my return, it would be snowing lightly and at least 0 degrees Celsius.

However in Hong Kong, I knew it would be hotter, and I wouldn’t need a winter jacket or boots, in fact, skirts, sandals, and a t-shirt would be the kind of weather I’d be facing.

What did I do?

I packed stuff that I would use in the hotel room anyway that could do double-duty.

I’ve used everything below, and although I was a bit cold, I am always cold even when bundled up, and I could take it for the short period of time (waiting outside for the bus at the airport terminal), and walking home.


Disclaimer: The following will be warm enough to make it through the cold from the airport to the bus stop, walking through the streets for a short period of time (half an hour to an hour), but not to stay out for a long time, and especially not in very cold, freezing temperatures like let’s say the Arctic.

Please dress warmly if you are going to the Arctic. Don’t skimp, and bring a bigger suitcase.

Also, don’t try and do anything silly by wearing only this in the winter to save money, or to dress lightly.

  1. T-Shirts – First layer of the substitute winter jacket
  2. Cashmere sweater – Second layer of the substitute winter jacket
  3. Massive cashmere pashmina wrap – Third layer wrap of the substitute winter jacket
  4. Lightweight windbreaker – Last layer of substitute winter jacket
  5. Tights – First layer of substitute winter bottoms
  6. Jersey Leggings – Second layer of substitute winter bottoms
  7. Long lightweight pants – Third layer of the substitute winter bottoms
  8. Wool socks 
  9. Umbrella
  10.  Mittens/Gloves






They’re practical and multi-functional. Great for layering underneath for colder weathers, or wearing alone in hotter ones.


I use these as the base of my winter layer by wearing all of them underneath.


I am continually surprised at how comfortable, soft, and lightweight these sweaters are. Compared to a cotton or a wool sweater, cashmere in colder weather beats out everyone and everything.

It would be great if you could find this in a cashmere hoodie that is super thick and warm. Alas, I am still looking, because all the options I’ve found so far, are too thin and meant for fashion.

Good quality cashmere is hard to find. I wish I could tell you that you can spend hundreds of dollars and be guaranteed a great sweater, but this is not the case.

My best cashmere finds have been in thrift stores, because I am able to try them on and feel them on my bare skin.

I have eczema, so the slightest bit of itch makes my skin inflamed and crazy, which is why I cannot buy anything cashmere online without knowing what it feels like on my skin beforehand.


White and Warren is a great brand for pashminas and scarves, but when I bought a sweater of theirs, it was just the tiniest bit too itchy, which made me extremely disappointed.

J. Crew sweaters were also a bit too itchy, no matter what they say about “quality Italian cashmere” as their material — it simply isn’t itch-free enough for me.

Surprisingly, my favourite consignment cashmere sweaters have been brands from these retailers:

  • Neiman Marcus
  • Lord & Taylor (2-ply cashmere)
  • Ralph Lauren

But I’ve also tried on those house brands in other consignment sweaters and felt they were itchy. It is truly a HIT and MISS.

Otherwise, I tend to stay away from any other kind of retailer that sells cashmere:

  • Ann Taylor (not for sweaters)
  • J. Crew (I think for their scarves they are fine, but not for sweaters)
  •  White & Warren (great for pashminas and scarves, not for sweaters)
  • Uniqlo (cheap, but not warm enough or thick enough)
  • Kirkland (Costco brand)


This is worn over my shirts, and with a cashmere pashmina shawl wrapped around me, it is just as warm as a wool winter coat.

As I mentioned, it’s great if you could find this in a super thick and warm cashmere hoodie, but I am still looking for this. All the cashmere hoodies I’ve found are very light and thin.


I bought this wrap from White & Warren for a lot of money, even though I scored it on sale.


Because I can’t find this in secondhand stores (who in their right mind would give this thing up for sale?), and it is the best quality cashmere in a pashmina that I’ve felt for the price.

It’s surprisingly lightweight, cosy and very comfortable.

Not itchy at all; I own a White & Warren scarf as well which is of the same quality, but oddly enough their sweaters are a teeny bit itchy.

I use it every time I travel as:

  1. A blanket on the plane
  2. A blanket in the hotel room
  3. Scarf when the temperature dips unexpectedly
  4. A jacket for in between temperatures

I can’t tell you how many times this wrap has saved me from a freezing cold, drafty hotel room (this pashmina used as a blanket underneath my wool jacket is an incredibly warm combination).


I wrap this over whatever I am wearing, wrapped pretty tightly (I look like a human burrito who escaped from an insane asylum).

Over a cashmere sweater, this does a serious double-whammy of lightweight, but super soft and warm protectiveness to double as a winter jacket.

You can also bring up the back section a bit to wrap around your ears if you are clever enough. No need for earmuffs.


Something light and waterproof works. It’s great to use when it rains, or just to keep the wind off you.


I wear this over my cashmere sweater, and my pashmina wrapped around me.

It completes my “winter jacket” of 4 layers, and keeps the wind from getting in between the cashmere.





They are small, easy to squish into a corner of a suitcase, and will block out a LOT of cold.

I sometimes wear these under actual pants, and they act like legging windbreakers.


This is the first of 3 layers of “pants”.

I start the winter layering at the last airport before I fly back into North America.

I don’t like getting changed in the airplane bathroom (too tight, smelly), so I do it in the airport before I board the plane.


I wear these to sleep when I travel. I don’t wear them as pants.


This is the second of 3 layers of “pants”.


Seeing as the weather was hot in Hong Kong, I needed light pants (I hate shorts, and skirts don’t go with the kind of walking boots I have).

I always go to my Lululemon Dance Pants that have a good thick waistband with a drawstring, and loose legs to let air circulate in hot weather.

Alone, they are too thin in winter.


This is the final layer of my “pants”, and they’re worn over my jersey leggings and my tights, like a windbreaker for my legs.





You just need them. I actually still wear them even in summer because I need the extra cushiony factor in my hiking boots when I walk.

I bring about 4 pairs when I travel, I wear 2 pairs a day (changing once, mid-day), and washing them at night to dry for the next day.


Not just for rain, it’s also for SNOW!

I don’t bring earmuffs or a hat, and this acts like my hat. My earmuffs are the cashmere pashmina that I bring up slightly around my ears.


The thing about winter, is you are going to get wet if you let the snow fall on you, and melt into water on contact with your warm skin.

This causes you to feel cold (just as sweating during winter would cause you to feel cold), and your face and body starts to freeze otherwise.

This is why having an umbrella is great, it will keep the snow off you, and act like a waterproof hat 🙂


Can’t get around this because you need your hands to hold the umbrella. You need to bring something, even a super lightweight pair.

Cashmere is great, but I’ve found even a thin layer in cotton is still better than nothing to protect your bare skin in the winter.


Only meant for when it’s cold or when you return and it’s in the midst of winter.











Hope that helped! If you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments below.

I’m always looking for ways to improve my packing list.

All images above were used in Polyvore. Click here for item links.


  • Dar @ anexactinglife

    I found this post through Live to List today; thanks! I just got back from a week in Toronto where I spent hours outdoors, walking about 10 km a day. It was a lot colder in Toronto than here in Halifax and although I checked the weather in advance, it wasn’t accurate. I didn’t bring either a wool coat or a down coat because they are so heavy and bulky, and would not fare well when wet! So I brought one rain-resistant (but not waterproof) lightweight trench coat and one pleather jacket. They actually did me quite well because I layered up underneath, and I did bring tights for underneath jeans, as you said. The two things I wished I had were a big pashmina and a long-sleeved, breathable thermal top of the kind you would wear skiing. I like your approach!

    • save. spend. splurge.

      Next time, try a cashmere sweater. I find it does wonders… or my cashmere pashmina.

      It really makes a big difference when you travel and are unsure between two temperatures (trust me, I’ve frozen to bits in Portugal during summer AND in China during the summer!)

  • Wizzy

    Great post! I do exactly the same as this when travelling between two climates, but my husband put me on to wearing camping type thermal base-layers underneath my clothes instead. They’re not totally sexy but noone’s gonna see anyway, they fold up really small, generate heat when you move, are antibacterial (keep you fresh on long haul), dry quickly when washing on the move, but most importantly are SUPER WARM!!! I also use them as PJ’s if it gets cold or just tuck them in a corner of my carry-on until the flight home. Seriously, grab a top and a pair of leggings, ones made of bamboo are pretty great, you’ll never travel without them again!

  • CanadianBudgetBinder

    I was always a light traveller and everywhere I went was pretty hot so I didn’t have to worry much with the UK being my starting point in terms of layers and weather. Travelling light is the smart way to go because I was able to bring items back that I bought and didn’t have to worry. I would definitely do layers though if need be and think of items that I could use as double duty. Never know what you find in the second-hand shops though lol. What’s your best so far? Awesome post mate!!

  • Cassie

    I’m mildly confused. Are you suggesting to wear all 3 t-shirts at once under your sweater, or are you suggesting to bring 3 and wear one of them? I can see how 3 t-shirts with the other layers would make this decent for transitioning to cold weather. I love the suggestion to layer pants. When we came back from Hawaii it was about -15 when we landed. I was wearing a long sleeved running shirt, zip up yoga jacket, wind breaker, thin pashmina, running socks and yoga pants. I think adding a cashmere sweater/polar fleece, pair of wool socks and a pair of leggings under my pants would have been perfect for the weather we came back to.

  • alwayshungry4

    I had this problem when we went to Seattle and Tokyo (rainy) to Thailand and Hawaii (humid and hot). I used my Osprey multi-day pack and a carry-on which I thought was pretty good for a three week trip, though had I done it all over again I probably could’ve just layered as you suggested and just used my pack since we used the laundry services for underthings and socks, anyway.

  • Nurhidayati Abd Aziz

    Ooh this will be useful for me soon. I’m travelling across countries overland over a range of different weather for over a month or so next year, this will give me some ideas on what to pack (and yes, I do too intent on just bringing a backpack!).

  • Well Heeled Blog

    What do you do for shoes? I usually bring one pair of riding boots and a pair of nude wedge sandals. I wear the boots on the plane so I don’t need to make room for them in the carry-on.

    • Mochi & Macarons

      Well when I travel, I’m a bit of a hobo so I am not fashionable or stylish in the slightest.

      I look like one, and I don’t care what other people think of me in my comfortable, trek-all-day clothes.

      Therefore, I only have ONE pair of shoes — hiking boots. 🙂 I wear them with everything, and they work well during winter too (good rubber sole).

      However I will say that for traveling for work, I wear ballet flats for the plane (easier to get through security and sprint for the gate), and put my heels in my bag.

      Your option of wearing the biggest, bulkiest item (winter coat or boots) is perfect. Put the lighter shoes in the bag.

  • Vanessa

    Dude, I needed this last month, hahaha. I’ve been using my winter coat sporadically so it’s not all awash. My mittens and hat though….. Buried someplace

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