Outfit Tips: Flying From Cold to Warm Climates

As an experienced traveler with over a million miles under my belt, I’ve learned a thing or two about dressing for different climates when flying.

One of the most challenging scenarios is when you’re flying from a cold to a warm or even hot destination. How do you pack for both without lugging around a bulky suitcase?

When flying from a cold to a warm or hot destination, you should check the weather forecast ahead of time, leave bulky clothing at home, and wear layers. Additionally, pack versatile pieces, bring a good pair of sunglasses, pack a lightweight rain jacket, and wear comfortable footwear.

Here are my personal top tips for flying from a warm area to a cold destination in detail:

Weather Forecast

Before you start packing, be sure to check the weather forecast for your destination. This will give you an idea of the expected temperature range and help you plan your outfits accordingly.

On a winter trip from New York to Miami, I checked the weather ahead of time and knew to expect sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s. This helped me pack suitable clothing and avoid over-packing bulky winter items.

No Bulky Clothing

Leave bulky clothing items at home: Bulky items like heavy coats and boots take up a lot of space in your suitcase and can make your travel experience a lot more difficult. Instead, opt for lightweight jackets and comfortable shoes.

Always focus on the destination you are flying to. Even if it’s cold in your hometown, layer clothing you plan on packing instead of wearing a bulky coat.

On a trip to Thailand, I made the mistake of packing a thick down jacket because it was quite cold in my hometown and I thought I could use it in Thailand. However, I never ended up using it, and it took up valuable space in my luggage. I learned it’s better to leave bulky items at home and opt for lightweight layers.

Layer Up

Layering is the key to dressing for a cold-to-warm climate transition. Start with a base layer of moisture-wicking fabric, add a lightweight jacket or sweater, and top it off with a scarf or hat that can easily be removed when you arrive at your destination.

On a trip from San Francisco to Hawaii, I wore a light cardigan over a tank top and shorts for the flight. This allowed me to easily adjust my temperature throughout the day as I went from cooler airports to warmer beaches.

Pack Versatile Pieces

When you’re traveling from a cold to a warm climate, it’s important to pack versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched to create multiple outfits. A simple black dress can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion, and a lightweight scarf can be worn as a shawl or a headscarf.

On a trip to Europe, I packed a few versatile items that could be dressed up or down. This allowed me to save space in my luggage and avoid over-packing unnecessary items. Focus on staple items such as a black dress, a neutral-colored blouse, a white top, leggings, or simple slacks.

Pro Tip: Additionally, try your best to color coordinate your staple items with each other; that way, you are able to mix and match items to create dozens of outfit options only using a few pieces.

Wear Your Heaviest Items

If you still need to travel with a somewhat bulky coat or boots, wear them on the plane instead of packing them. This will free up valuable space in your suitcase and keep you warm and comfortable during the flight.

Pro tip: If you are afraid that bulkier items will add weight to your luggage, layer up! The more items of clothing you are able to wear on your body, the lower the weight of your baggage will be.

On a trip to Iceland in the winter, I wore all of my biggest items on the plane, plus some. Although It was pretty hot on the plane, it was freezing in Iceland in February. I was able to strip off a few layers to cool down and save a lot of money on overweight baggage. I also opted to buy hiking shoes once I arrived, saving even more space in my luggage on the way there.

Opt for Lightweight Fabrics

When it comes to choosing fabrics for your travel wardrobe, opt for lightweight, breathable materials like cotton and linen. These fabrics will keep you cool and comfortable in warm weather, and can easily be layered with other items in cooler temperatures.

Pack lightweight, versatile bottoms: Instead of packing bulky pants or jeans, opt for lightweight, versatile bottoms that can be easily dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Good options include cotton or linen pants, culottes, or even a lightweight mini-skirt.

Invest in a Good Pair of Sunglasses

The sun can be just as intense in other climate areas. Invest in a good pair of sunglasses to protect your eyes and keep you comfortable during your trip. If you have the extra funds, splurge on the Oakleys.

Oakley Women's Oo4129 Split Time Pilot Sunglasses
  • Oakley's Plutonite Lenses offer top UV Protection filtering 100% of all UVA, UVB, UVC and harmful blue light up to...

As I work online a lot during my travels, having a good pair of sunglasses has saved me from hundreds of headaches and aggravation if working outdoors.

Keep in mind that even if you are flying to a cold destination, the sun is still just as bright as it is in warmer destinations. Don’t forget the sunnies!

Bring a Lightweight Rain Jacket

Even if you’re traveling to a warm destination and the weather forecast isn’t predicting heavy rain, there’s always a chance of moderate precipitation. Be prepared by packing a lightweight rain jacket that can easily be folded up and stowed in your carry-on.

I made the mistake of not packing my rainjacket during a day trip in Indonesia while visiting in the dry season and was caught in a terrible thunderstorm while on a moped about 2 hours away from my hotel room. By the time I arrived back, not a single part of my body was dry, and it was freezing cold.

Bring a Light Sweater or Cardigan

Even in warmer climates, the temperature can drop in the evening or in air-conditioned buildings. Pack a light sweater or cardigan that can be easily thrown on for added warmth. If you are someone who is prone to get cold easily, this is essential for staying comfortable in certain conditions.

As I am a person who gets cold easily, I always make sure to pack a sweatshirt and have easy access to it when I am on planes, trains, and dining out at indoor restaurants. These places typically keep the air conditioners on full blast if the weather is hot and humid outside.

Bring a Versatile Jacket

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Instead of packing multiple bulky jackets, bring one versatile jacket that can work for both cooler and warmer weather. A lightweight denim jacket, bomber jacket, or leather jacket are all great options that can be easily layered or worn on their own.

Pro tip: Whatever type of jacket you bring, ensure it has a hood. This way, even if you are caught in the rain, you have a little protection. Jackets with removable hoods are also great options; that way, they can be dressed up or down.

Choose Comfortable Footwear

Comfortable footwear is a must when traveling, especially when transitioning from a cold to a warm climate. Opt for lightweight, comfortable shoes that can be easily slipped on and off, like sneakers, sandals, or loafers.

Don’t Forget the Basics

Finally, don’t forget to pack the basics like underwear, socks, and comfortable shoes. These items may seem unimportant, but they can make a big difference in your overall comfort and enjoyment of your trip.

Bring Extra Socks

Don’t forget to pack extra socks! I made this mistake once when traveling to Costa Rica. As I decided to ditch my sneakers before leaving, as they were worn and torn by the end of the journey and had run their course, all I had left was flip-flops for the journey home.

While traveling during the wintertime, Cleveland was covered in snow when I arrived home. Thankfully, I was given socks on the flight, or my toes would have been frozen when I walked outside.

Conclusion

Remember, the key to dressing for a cold-to-warm climate transition is to pack versatile, lightweight clothing items that can be easily layered or worn on their own. With a little planning and preparation, you can create a travel wardrobe that is both functional and stylish, no matter where your travels take you.