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14 replies
Winter Packing
adambart91
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Hey, if anyone has any recommendations as to what specifically to pack for a trip during Winter 2010… That would be great. I have read a list of what should be packed in for winter travels, however, my trip includes from start to finish( a bit concerned about the lower Bavaria and Alps):

France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Czech, Swiss, Back to Paris to fly out…

Thanks!

I am leaving from Buffalo, New York with $10000 for 34 days
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elly_mac
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i was searching for a list for winter too. but no luck searching.
id be heading over to england in feb working there for a few months, then travelling from summer through to winter.

I am leaving from Australia with $5000 for 26 days
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oldlady
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1. The key to winter travel is layering. I like silk turtle neck, t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, jacket liner and a light jacket if it’s really cold.
2. Hat, gloves, scarf, warm socks and water repellent shoes go a long way toward keeping you comfortable even if your coat isn’t really warm enough.
3. The standard advice of “take 1/2 the stuff and twice the money” is even more important in winter. If you’re absolutely miserable you can always buy a heavier jacket. If you’re traveling from summer to winter plan on buying some (all??) winter gear instead of toting it for months.

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backpackeurope.com has a good winter list for females, but easily modified for males as well. Here is the link: http://www.backpacke…
That website is a great resource, it and eurotrip are my go-to sites for European travel!! Check it out fully and you’ll be glad you did, lots of good advice (and a forum there as well).

I am leaving from Atlanta, GA with $1200 for 14 days
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I am leaving from Rouen with $1500 for 15 days
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I am leaving from busan, SK with $1000 for 13 days
Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Bangkok

2008—Language study abroad in Paris, France
2009—Archaeological field school/dig in Lau, Fiji
2010— Birthday UK trip!
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adambart91
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Thank you for you advice. I notice that not many people travel during the time I am going (Jan-mid Feb). Besides some of the sites I want to see being closed, am is my biggest fear going to be the weather? I goal is to go to Europe and not be a tourist. I don’t want to be around the busy season. I want to be around the locals and make myself more acceptable to interaction with the culture. Good or bad idea for going during this time?
Thanks

I am leaving from Buffalo, New York with $10000 for 34 days
Paris, Bruges, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Kraków, Prague, Munich, Venice, Rome, Lucerne, Interlaken, Paris
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Itinerary, Nightlife, Sights
I am leaving from JFK with $3000 for 11 days
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adambart91
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Thanks Kayling05. You have been of great help. I just want to make sure the winter doesn’t get the best of me during this adventure!

I am leaving from Buffalo, New York with $10000 for 34 days
Paris, Bruges, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Kraków, Prague, Munich, Venice, Rome, Lucerne, Interlaken, Paris
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Itinerary, Nightlife, Sights
I am leaving from JFK with $3000 for 11 days
Munich, Český Krumlov, Vienna, Kraków
Requesting help with Transport, Budget, Itinerary
Kayling05
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most of the tourist sites stay open year round. I wouldn’t worry too much about that. it’s more likely to be things like hostels and smaller things that people have barely heard of that close in winter. but in the big cities, many hostels are still open year round because all the major cities have tourist populations year round (Paris, London, Rome, etc). People go there for Christmas, New Years, etc. It’s not as crowded as summer (that is when most people have school off, so that is when they go. plus it’s more pleasant weather. much of europe has the same climate as Canada in the winter… BRR!!), but don’t expect any ghost towns either unless you go to small cities and towns, as major cities still have million+ populations without tourists being there at all. Looks like you are from near NYC so you should know what I’m talking about. Aren’t there zillions of people all around Manhattan no matter what time of year it is?

Also, since it’s going to be cold where you are when you leave anyway, I think it would be pretty easy to pack for that kind of weather in Europe as well. Wear the heaviest stuff on the plane (coat, boots, etc) and pack lightweight but warm clothing in your bag. Wool socks will do you some good, as well as things made of silk. You’ll need something waterproof as well, like a rain jacket. Also pack a hat, gloves and scarf (or you could wear one or more on the plane as well). Keep in mind, things you wear on your body don’t count against your weight limit on the plane! And remember to keep a laundry budget in mind as well, since it will be really hard to wash thick warm things in a sink (though socks and undies should still be okay).

I am leaving from Atlanta, GA with $1200 for 14 days
London, Salisbury, Cardiff, Manchester, Edinburgh, Inverness, Edinburgh, London
Requesting help with Nightlife, Food, Sights
I am leaving from Rouen with $1500 for 15 days
Venice, Cinque Terre, Pisa, Florence, Rome, Sorrento, Rome
Requesting help with Transport, Hostels, Budget, Itinerary, Sights
I am leaving from busan, SK with $1000 for 13 days
Bangkok, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Bangkok

2008—Language study abroad in Paris, France
2009—Archaeological field school/dig in Lau, Fiji
2010— Birthday UK trip!
2011— Teaching English in South Korea
2012— ????

scott.mcafee@gm...
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Hi Adam, I’ve been over to Europe on 4 seperate trips, all of them were from December into January. I have intentionally gone in winter because:
A) I hate the heat and love the cold
B) I love good bargains and smaller crowds.
I’ve met many Europeans during the winter, but also Canadians and Australians (Canadians tend to be doing round the world journeys, while Australians take their vacations during that time). The thing I, as an American, particularly like is the lack of American crowds (although there are also Americans traveling, they are definitely smaller in number). I fondly remember being the ONLY non Australian in a hostel in Dresden in January. They made me an HONORARY Aussie and we all had a blast Smile It was great being exposed and immersed in European and other cultures different from my own. I also learned a whole new vocabulary!!

That being said, here are a few packing tips I’ve used specific to winter:

1. Bring some small plastic grocery bags. Use these to hold your wet socks and clothes for quick packing and storage!

2. Pack 3 full sized trash bags. They are great for covering up your backpack in wet conditions and act as a make shift poncho if needed. If you know you will be walking in wet weather for a bit, line the inside of your backpack with one of the trash bags. This should help keep everything dry.

3. Get a balaclava and/or face warmer!!! Buy your scarf in Europe, it will be both a great souvenir and also a practical necessity. Also, learn how to tie it “European style”, which almost resembles the way we tie our neck ties Smile

4. BRING WARM SOCKS!!! The coldest I’ve ever been was in Munich, Germany. I had lost my plane ticket and had to wait outside a STA office in order to replace it. My feet felt like they were going to fall off!

5. Bring a beanie and sleep in it if you are cold Smile As any good Boy Scout can tell you, most of your body heat escapes from your head. If the paper thin sheets they give you in the hostel and/or hotel aren’t keeping you warm, slap on a beanie and that should help a little.

6. Along the same lines, buy a FLEECE sleep sack…you’ll be thankful when the temperature really drops.

7. Research the winter specific cuisine and edible goodies local to the regions you are visiting. That is, some places only serve certain dishes and snacks during Christmas or during the winter months. Sample those!

8. If you are packing a map, try to laminate it or get a map that is plastic (or already laminated). All of my paper maps eventually got wet and destroyed during cold and wet weather.

9. Bring a few zip lock baggies. I always pack my passport, digital camera, and other delicate electronics and/or paperwork in these guys so they don’t get wet. Even in a money belt, condensation will affect your passport, so I highly recommend keeping it in a ziplock bag (within your money belt). You can certainly buy these while in Europe, but you can also buy them at any local dollar store and have it ready to go.

10. Bring some therma flu/ cold medicine. It never fails,I ALWAYS get a cold of some type when I travel during the winter months. I always carry a pack of therma flu or some other type of drinkable medicine. It’s just easier, when you are sick, to quickly pull it out of your bag and get the healing started as opposed to trying to find the best product in the local pharmacy.

That’s all I can think of off the top of my head. HAVE A GREAT TRIP!

EDIT: I thought of another packing tip! Bring a blue or red sharpie marker to quickly mark special locations on your map! I always mark the spot of my hostel before I even leave, and its much easier to quickly locate where I have to go when I mark it. You can also mark the locations of favorite spots you discover along the way for future use. I’ve kicked myself so many times for finding these great little spots in Paris (usually by intentionally getting lost) and failing to mark it on my map.

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Madmads
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I spent last January and February in Eastern Europe and Russia and the best cold weather items I packed were:

  • Waterproof shoes. Kept my feet dry in the snow, slush and rain.
  • Thick Smartwool socks. (take a couple pair of thinner socks for sleeping in)
  • An insulated Goretex jacket (with hood with a -15 degree rating) that I purchased from llbean.com. I layered depending on how cold it was. Goretex is also wind and waterproof so it served as a raincoat as well. When not in use, the jacket was stuffed into a pocket and did not take up much room in my pack. For layering I took some long sleeve t-shirts/turtlenecks, a pair of thin thermal underwear (also kept my legs warm) and a thick sweatshirt plus gloves, scarf and hat. This prevented me from lugging around a heavy coat in the warmer areas.
  • A wool scarf, thermal fleece and waterproof gloves.
  • A fleece sleeping bag liner I picked up at Walmart. I have stayed at places that turn the heat is turned off between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and it can get quite cold. It is sort of bulky but was well worth the space it took in my pack during a 2 day blizzard in Moscow. When I came home, I left it since needed the space more than it.

Hope this helps.

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Most of my trips have been in the winter season. I’ve been to all of your intended destinations in the winter. There are a number of benefits to travel in the winter season (just don’t share that tip with too many folks!). For starters, fewer stupid Amerikans travel at that time of year. You’ll see more European tourists than Amerikan tourists. Then, as someone mentioned, there are many great comfort foods in the winter season. Finally, hotels, hostels, restaurants, pubs, etc., are more likely to be filled with fewer tourists and more locals. Your chances of striking up conversation with the beertendress is far better on a dead January evening than it is on a busy warm and balmy July evening. Often times, the best seat in the house is near or very near the ceramic heater. Nice for warming coats, scarves and gloves. Damn…sure wish I were making a trip this winter.

You will find winter cold in Europe far different from New York cold. In western Europe it’s a bone-chilling damp cold; in the East, it’s just frickin’ cold. Of course, winter travel gives you plenty of opportunity to stop in a cafe for a warm drink! Gluhwein (mulled wine) is often sold in outdoor stalls and is intended to warm the soul.

I agree with gloves, scarf and hat. Bring them wherever you go. Even if you have a warmer sunny day, a brisk wind while on top of a church tower will make you wish you threw your warm gear in your bag. Make sure your hat covers your ears. Nothing worse than freezing cold ears. In Prague, there’s a great place that sells pashminas in the Jewish quarter (across the street from the old synagogue). Buy your new wife two beautiful pashminas, one in a color on the masculine side of neutral. Use one to keep yourself warm.

Pack an umbrella, as it is more likely to rain than to snow in a lot of areas. Some sort of waterproof outer layer isn’t a bad idea. I’ve worn a rain coat over my wool pea coat on a trip. Even if it snows it’s often times more of a wet snow than a flaky snow in many areas. It rained in Krakow almost my entire time there on a January trip.

You might also consider a windproof layer, depending on how much you plan to be outdoors during your travels. Goretex coats can be tricky since they don’t breathe all that well. Do some research. You can certainly find some expensive label to purchase before your trip, but you might start to hate that you’ve branded yourself with an Amerikan logo. If you’re not on skis, you don’t need to wear ski gear. Your multicolored Columbia might look a bit funny in the middle of the Paris metro. If you’re headed to Auschwitz/Birkenau, dress warm. There is no warm place in either muzeum, and the potential for mighty winter winds. Call your loved ones before you board the bus for the trip from Krakow. The bus driver is mad, and at times you will think it is your last journey.

Long underwear tops and bottoms are a must. Bring at least two sets so that you can wash/dry one set while you wear the other. I wear a silk set most days, and bust out the warmer and thicker set for those colder days or days with hours planned in the out of doors (like a day touring Auschwitz/Birkenau). They make good pajamas too.

I always bring some hand and foot warmers for inside pockets/gloves and footwear. They last for hours. It’s nice to come home and throw them under the bed covers to warm the bed with the residual heat. You don’t need many, but several pair will be a blessing for those really cold days (like when you’re heading up in the alps, or even just strolling at night to and from dinner on some blustery evening). They’re also nice to keep your camera and other batteries warmer and working properly in the cold weather. Just be sure that you pack them in your stored luggage. You cannot carry them on the plane. Some Chicago TSA dick confiscated mine for a trip to the Czech Republic, but he didn’t find my husband’s, so we luckily had some for use on our trip (as it turned out, the weather had been in the high-40s most of the trip and we didn’t use them all).

A vest is nice to keep your core warm. A fleece or something similar is also nice. Be sure that it’s not too thick that it takes too much space in your pack.

In addition to layers, consider something with a zipper to help regulate your temperature when you’re hiking, climbing tower steps, hauling luggage up flights of steps, running to the train station, running to the tram or metro stop, etc. Although I agree that it’s easy to wear your heavy clothing on the plane to save space in your bag, it can get pretty warm when you need to hustle while you’re wearing a heavy coat and a fleece. The last thing you want to do is to get that fleece all janky and sweaty smelling before you even start your trip. If you’ve ever sat next to those sweaty, dirty bed smelling backpacker guys on a Czech train, you’ll know what I mean. You don’t want to be that guy.

If you’re planning to do any real hiking in the Alps, you might consider packing a pair of gators to cover the bottoms of your pants. Once you’re wet, it’s so difficult to keep warm.

The snow is of a strange and more slippery texture in Europe. Be sure your footwear has some traction to handle snowy and icy conditions. Roads and walkways are not cleaned of snow as they are here in the U.S. Good socks are essential. Wear your heavy footwear on the plane, and pack another pair in your bag. A change of shoes feels like a new pair of feet after a long day of hoofin’ it.

Don’t forget some sort of face sunscreen if you’ll be in snowy alpine conditions. Don’t be the fool with sunglasses marks in winter!

I wouldn’t dork around with garbage bags around your pack. Invest in a real pack cover. Once you buy it, you’ll never have to use it, so it will be worth the expense. Likewise, don’t spend the money here in the U.S. to buy European maps. Purchase your maps there. Then find an overhang to stand under while scouring over your map in the rain so it doesn’t get wet, or better yet, pour over your map while enjoying a koffie and a moment to warm in a cafe.

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thanks to scott and kystal! those tips really helped me in planning what to bring next week? im a party animal, does rome and paris have cool party clubs?

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I concur with “pauline_kw..” Any suggestions on hostels on paris with more of a party environment? In response to all the suggestions, I cannot thank everyone enough for the advice and insight. Challenges and transitions have arose in my life in 2009. I am thankful to move on and explore a part of the world that always intrigued me. I am glad to be ambitious enough to explore a world that can open ones’ eyes and seek a better understanding. My father pasted away from a four year battle with cancer. I gave up a lot to come home and battle with him ( my choice ). He passed away recently, however, you learn a great deal when life is flashed before your eyes. Your grow up. You prioritize your values, ambitions, principles, ect… Many that read this might be thinking: What relevance does this have to this post and forum… Very simple.. Enjoy life… Seek to attain a goal one sets’.. Put a smile on ones’ face (your’s and others)… Just live life with compassion and hope…
~Adam

I am leaving from Buffalo, New York with $10000 for 34 days
Paris, Bruges, Brussels, Amsterdam, Berlin, Kraków, Prague, Munich, Venice, Rome, Lucerne, Interlaken, Paris
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I am leaving from JFK with $3000 for 11 days
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I’m on my 6th winter trip. I didn’t read all of those excessive posts, but what I didnt notice is the mention of polypropylene thermals, these will keep you very warm. If weather is above freezing, you will probably be hot in them, so only bring if you are visiting central or eastern europe in Jan-Feb. Check an army surplus store if you cant find anywhere else.

If you are going more for the layering thing, bring only 1 change of outer layers, they are under your jacket and over your base layer, so they dont get dirty at all (and they are heavy). Bring multiple base layers because they will get funky and sometimes sweaty.

Of course bring shoes for snow. The thick wool socks others mentioned are great, but I noticed recently they are $15-25 per pair!!! $60 is a lot for 3 pairs of socks, but I dont know of any good alternative. Maybe search the net and every store you know of. Good thing is they will probably last 5-10 years.

I’ve never needed an umbrella in winter, unless you just want to keep the snow off.

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you can get some decent woolen socks for about $10 from my work….but thats in australia

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For the socks: Try Sierra Trading Post

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