How to pack for a trip that goes from 20°C to -20°C

I think by now we have well established that I am terrible at packing. It’s not that I forget anything important, more that I am entirely unprepared for whatever weather gets thrown my way*. I swear I check the weather forecast before I go, but the day I arrive inevitably a freak weather system rolls in and I am entirely screwed. Over Christmas I think I finally nailed it, I was the packing master (not in the Dr Who sense, I wish). I managed to pack for a 40°C fluctuation in temperature and not freeze or boil.

I was in New Zealand to see my family over Christmas where, due to being on the arse-end of the world, it was summer. On my way back to London I needed to head to Chicago for a week where the temperature (I hoped) would be around 0°C, but because its me it was actually -20°C. Yay me and my weather curse.

I took my big suitcase (can hold up to 20kg) but because it was Christmas I only had half of the space for potentially lifesaving clothes, the rest was allocated for Christmas presents; last time I went home for Christmas Santa (my parents) gave me an entire towel set (including bath mat and two face clothes) so I had to be prepared. Yes, you can get towels in London and yes my parents were aware of this but decided to go for it anyway.

What was a girl to do? Turns out it was to just pack the same things for both temperatures. Yes I know that makes as much sense as a chocolate tool set. NB: I got my Dad a chocolate tool set for Christmas and it was amazing, the bolt worked and everything. Anyway, hear me out with the packing theory.

I am not a stylish person, no matter how long I look at cool girls on Instagram I inevitably end up wearing jeans, a black H&M singlet and a sheer shirt thing over the top. If I am very lucky I might even wear an actual shirt, but since I only iron twice a year there isn’t a high likelihood. This lack of style makes packing rather easy, jeans year round and the same top no matter what the weather or circumstances. That top I have that looks like an avian themed 70’s wallpaper? I have worn it to interviews, parties, on dates and to work. Fashion confuses me. If anyone knows how to change this please DM me.

Anyway, I packed as if weather did not exist in my universe and then made four additions.

  1. A pair of shorts
  2. A puffer jacket
  3. A bobble hat
  4. A pair of gloves

I turned up to the airport in Chicago wearing jeans, jandals (I’m a kiwi, I always travel with them) and a puffer jacket looking like a girl who totally has her life together.  I got laughed at the moment I walked into the office in Chicago (happens wherever I go), but to be totally honest with a puffer jacket, a hat and gloves you can survive almost anything. And as for New Zealand, it was its normal terrible December weather and at 20°C I was completely fine in jeans and a t-shirt .

At this point in this blog post you might be rolling your eyes and are almost ready to click off. BUT hear me out. Before anyone goes on holiday there is the inevitable ‘holiday tax’. You go and spend money you don’t have on clothes that you NEED just for the holiday. I call bullshit. Living in the endless grey weather conditions that make up London you have almost all the clothes you will ever need (unless you are literally going to find polar bear), take the money you would have spent on that top with the pineapples on it and spend that on a bath of chardonnay when you arrive. Clothes will never make for the perfect trip, being there is what is important.

*Seriously, I am in Stockholm at the moment. I when I looked last week it was all meant to be sunshine, today there was a snow storm…the snow was going sideways…my shoes are ruined.

3 Comments

  1. February 23, 2017 / 11:57 am

    Hi Rebecca,

    I wish you’d written this six weeks ago. I’ve just come back from a trip that’s included Chicago and Boston (-6C) Phoenix and California (+15C) and Miami (+27C) and I totally over-packed, having really not thought things through.

    If it’s any consolation, by the way, my Chicago friends tell me it’s been a very mild winter and the -20C snap was arranged just for you…

    Thanks,
    Brian.

  2. February 23, 2017 / 5:54 pm

    Seems like you’re nailing this packing malarky to me!
    Bobble hats aren’t just practical. They’re adorable.

  3. February 24, 2017 / 8:29 am

    That tool set is amazing.

    A few years ago, before I had my own place, I went home for Christmas and my brother and sister-in-law gave me a pink, floral hammer. Now a) I hate pink b) I hate floral c) it was heavy! And c) I didn’t have any DIY to do yet (when I did, I went out and bought a proper hammer). I left it behind. Well done on getting the towels back!

    I’m about to head there, this time of year the paving should be ok but I have to take a rucksack for hiking and all my kit, something to wear to a wedding, and presents for everyone because even though it’s not Christmas presents are important!