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Six Must-Have Travel Items to Keep You Snug

Earband Woman with camera around her neck

I travel a great deal, even during the winter months, and nothing is worse than feeling cold because you didn’t bring the right clothing. In temperate climates and during seasons that aren’t supposed to be chilly, you can run into weather changes that can leave you feeling miserably cold.

Here are my top five anti-chilly travel bring-alongs.

Gloves. Even in milder seasons like spring or fall, I stuff a pair of lightweight gloves into my travel jacket. During winter months, of course, I take along thicker, warmer gloves. But even during the milder months, I have a lightweight pair of liner gloves (the kind with the little nubbies on the palms that make it easy to grasp things) in my pocket.

Warn Travel Gloves in Blue and Black

Lightweight gloves like these can slip into your pocket and make a real difference in your comfort level when the temperature drops.

Ear band. Okay, you won’t win any fashion contests with an ear band, but I can tell you that you’ll feel a whole lot warmer if you’ve got an ear band you can slip over your chilly ears. Again, this item is so small and lightweight, it goes into the pocket of my travel jacket so I’ve always got it. In the image above, you can see that RFT Editor Anne Weaver kept her ears snug and warm in the cool weather in England.

Hat. I’m a big hat person when I travel. If you don’t believe it, check out our many reviews of Tilley Hats. I think having the right hat for the trip can make all the difference. But, in a pinch, any hat will do to keep your head from getting bold and the rain off your face. While the myth that you lose 75% of your body heat through your head has been pretty well debunked, any part of your body that’s exposed to the elements, including your head, will cause you to lose heat in cold weather. I always toss at least a baseball cap into my bag. If the weather turns cold, I pop on my ear band and my cap and I’m pretty toasty, no matter what the weather does.

Rain proof jacket. If you get wet, you’re going to be cold. A good travel jacket is at least rain-resistant, preferably rain-proof. If I just need a shell-type jacket to keep me dry, I take along the super-light Patagonia Rain Shadow Jacket. If I need a bit more warmth, I take my TravelSmith Anorak Rain Jacket that has a removable liner.

Person with Patagonia Uni-sex Rain Shadow Jacket

The Rain Shadow’s uni-sex styling means it looks good on men or women.

cool weather packing

Including easy-pack items like gloves, hat, earband, pashmina, and silk underwear can mean the difference between misery or comfort in cool weather.

Silk underwear. These are ultra-thin long Johns made from silk. You can buy bottoms and even tops (in short- or long-sleeves) and they feel absolutely yummy under a pair of jeans or slacks. Even though they have almost no weight and take little room in a suitcase, silk underwear is amazingly warm. And because it’s a natural fabric, it breathes and keeps you not-too-hot, not-too-cold, but just-right.

I generally buy my silk underwear at a local outfitter store (REI) and they run about $40 for each piece. Like nylons, silk underwear will run, so take care in pulling them up or you’re likely to put a hole in them.

Pashmina. These extra-wide scarves have become fashionable in the last few years, but, for me, their real value comes in having a versatile garment that can serve as a wrap, a lap blanket, or head or neck scarf. I have a couple of black pashminas that always travel with me. I can’t tell you the number of times the airplane is cold and no blankets are available and my pashmina has become my blanket. Or it’s my pillow. Often restaurants can be cool and my versatile pashmina can step in as an elegant wrap over any clothing and give me just enough warmth to keep me comfortable.

A pashmina can also stand duty if you’re caught in a country that requires women to cover their heads. And it’s a great neck scarf when it’s cold.

pashmina in red and black

A pashmina, essentially an extra-wide, extra-long scarf, is one of the most versatile travel items you can take.

Proof in the Pudding

I had along all six of my keep-snug take alongs–a pair of gloves, an ear band, a hat, a rain resistant jacket, silk underwear, and my pashmina–on two trips to Canada and they saved me from being uncomfortably cold. In the St. Lawrence region of Quebec, some days were sunny and warm, but others were unseasonably wet and cold. On a recent trip to Saskatchewan, the weather was predicted to be balmy, in the 60s, and I packed accordingly. However, as soon as I arrived, the cold moved in and the temperature plunged into the 30s. Fortunately, I had my six essentials and was a whole lot more comfortable than my less-prepared traveling companions. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

Tilley hats are some of the best travel hats around. Check out our reviews of these Tilley Endurable hats:

Tilley Tec-Wool Hat

Tilley’s Summer Hemp

Summer Sun: Tilley Hats to the Rescue

Tale of My Long Lost Tilley

Traveling to really cold climate? Check out this story:

Baby It’s Cold Outside: Packing for Cold Weather


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Bobbie Hasselbring

RFT founder and the website's former editor-in-chief, Bobbie Hasselbring has been a travel junkie her entire life. She's been an award-winning writer and editor for more than 25 years and author of the regional food-travel bestsellers, The Chocolate Lover’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest and The Chocolate Lover’s Guide Cookbook.

One thought on “Six Must-Have Travel Items to Keep You Snug

  1. Marilyn

    These are all my must-haves too. Great suggestions, and since I need a new rain jacket I’m going to take a look at these. Thanks.

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