Packing a Carry-On for a 5-Day Cold Weather Trip

CALPAK Wandr Carry On Luggage


I’m no stranger to overpacking. In fact, I’ve had multiple carry-ons tear at the seams on me. For this reason, I made it a goal this year to do my absolute best to pack minimally….starting with my first travel endeavors to the Pacific Northwest for an extended weekend trip this past February. Keep scrolling for some of my favorite cold-weather packing secrets and where I’m headed off to next week!

First off, Washington is no joke in the early months of the year. It was snowing for a few days prior to my arrival – so much so that lots of flights were either cancelled or delayed. Yeah…this Texas girl is never prepared for snow. I’m no good with cold weather at all. Ha! So, I needed to make sure I created a packing list that would keep me warm and ready just in case it continued to snow.

Next, I needed a new luggage. I had no idea where to start looking, so I’m so glad you sweet friends recommended CALPAK to me! I had a hard time choosing between the Davis Carry-On and the Wandr Carry-On, because both seemed to be good sizes and I loved the features both models offered. (The Davis has a large compartment while the Wandr has a laptop compartment.) Ultimately, I needed something that was most practical for me and opted for the Wandr Carry-on Luggage for its handy, easy-access laptop compartment. I also loved that it came in my favorite color: mint. Y’all, I’m a creature of habit. I just had to get it.

CALPAK Wandr Carry On


When the luggage arrived a day before my trip, I was taken back by how small it was. This is the first true carry-on luggage purchase I’ve made myself, and it seemed much smaller in comparison to my others from the past. Packing with a hard shell isn’t exactly easy. Plus, packing for a cold weather trip was going to be inherently more difficult, because the pieces I planned on bringing were thicker fabrics. I had a goal to do this whole minimal packing thing, so I was gonna make it work. And I did. I was so pleased with this luggage and with my packing job on this trip. So, here are some things that worked for me on this trip:

1. Compartmentalize all your things.
I’m not thoroughly convinced by packing cubes yet to compress items and save space, but I do believe the organization factor of it makes traveling so much easier. Your loose items need a home, so they’re not flying around everywhere in your luggage. For example, I love packing neutral camis, except I don’t love how they always get lost inside my luggage. This trip, I made sure to roll them up like little taquitos and stuff them inside their own zipper compartment. Same with my underwear. I kept those in a laundry bag for easy access. CALPAK offers packing cubes specifically for their luggage, but I also found this set for half the price with an additional laundry bag.

2. If possible, wash clothes on the trip.
If packing minimally is a goal that you have too, it’s inevitable you’re going to wear some items more than once. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to wash your clothes on your trip. Some items understandably need more care than others, but if you’re up for it, pack some travel detergent packs and do some light washing in the sink. You can always hang them to dry in the bathroom area and it’ll be as good as new the next time you wear it.

3. Mix and match basics. Dress up with accessories. 
When it comes to clothing, you friends know I love wearing bright colors. When it comes to packing for a trip with a limited amount of space, I say the best way to pack is to go with basics that are easy to mix and match. You can always add fun and colorful accessories, because they won’t take up as much space. My favorite way to make an outfit more fun is with earrings or colorful scarves, especially on cold weather trips. Below are some basic outfit ideas I loved on my trip. Each outfit includes light layering pieces that are easy to roll up in your suitcase. You’ll notice I didn’t include a fifth outfit. To be completely honest, I would wear the same thing on the plane ride back to conserve space. Remember: washing is an option!

what to pack on a carry-on for a 5-day cold weather trip
I love all of these pieces, but I was particularly excited about the new rain boots I purchased recently. Since I’m way petite, fitting into a pair of tall rain boots can be struggle. They usually cause chafing at the back of my knees – no fun at all! I opted to purchase a shorter pair of rain boots. The Jack Rogers Sallie Chelsea Rain Booties are under $55 with the cutest scallops, and I adore them!

Some other favorites I purchased and brought along for this trip were this $44 oversize black thermal top and this $24 neutral sweater. They were insanely warm, comfortable, and worked well with jeans and tennies as they did with leggings and heeled booties. I felt like a mini-heater trapping in all my body heat! Surprisingly, it actually warmed up over the few days I was there, so I packed more than enough to keep me warm.

Below is a candid of me wearing my “Shopping Day” outfit browsing around one of the cutest stores on Bainbridge Island, WA: Salt House Mercantile. They had so many thoughtful hostess gifts, including fun stationary, colorful candles, cute farmers market bags, and incredible homeware. I didn’t want to leave the store!


Salt House Mercantile, Bainbridge Island, WA

4. Stay warm with Uniqlo Ultra Light Down.
You’ll notice in the collage I didn’t include many sweaters. This is because I believe the Uniqlo Ultra Light Down products are the absolute key to packing minimally and staying warm. As much as I love my cute sweaters, they take up a lot of room in a carry-on. I own an Ultra Light Down Vest as well as an Ultra Light Down Hooded Coat. I wear and love both equally, but if I were to choose one over another, I’d go with the hooded coat. I wore it every day of the trip and it’s lovingly known as the “sleeping bag coat” in my family, because it packs up so tightly and neatly! I’ve loved it for years now. I’m lucky the weather wasn’t too chilly this time around, but if I were to do this trip again in super cold weather, I’d bring warmer leggings such as the Uniqlo Heattech Leggings. They’re under $10 and I know they’re well-loved by people who have to be in cold weather!

5. Mail your items over…if possible.
Lastly, I wouldn’t recommend this for every trip, but if you’re visiting a close friend and need something on your trip that you know won’t fit in your luggage, purchase it online and have it shipped over to their location. Yes, of course you should make sure it’s okay with the host(ess), but it’s definitely an option if you have your eye on something new, and you know you’ll for sure be wearing it. I did exactly this with my new rain boots, and it worked out perfectly. Since I arrived with some gifts I knew I wouldn’t bring back, I had space in my luggage to pack the boots for my flight home.

It’s been a hot minute since I last spoke with you all here. Since my last post, I ordered my UT Class Ring, traveled to the Pacific Northwest, and found a new obsession for thrifting/vintage shopping. But other than that, not too many things have happened around here. No news is good news, right? As many of you know, I’m studying Petroleum Engineering at The University of Texas. My junior year of college has been incredibly demanding, which means I don’t always have the opportunity to do “fun stuff” first. For that reason, I am extremely grateful for you readers who continue to come back and support this blog. It is my outlet and I’m so glad you have made it such a fulfilling one. Thank you again!
Funnily enough, I’ll be traveling somewhere entirely different than the Pacific Northwest soon. For spring break next week, our family is headed to South Walton, Florida! It’s been a while since my last family vacation, because I typically travel alone these days. I am particularly excited for this trip, because we’ll be road-tripping our way there and renting out the most charming beach cottage. Eight hours of singalongs, pit stops, car ride naps, then beach time…I can’t wait! Plus, my sweet little sister is turning 18! It’ll also be our first time in Florida. If any of you friends have recommendations on what to do in the Seaside/Rosemary Beach/Alys Beach area, please let me know! I’d love to hear. Thank you again, and I can’t wait to share more about this trip very soon!

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Leave a Comment


  1. 3.8.17
    Vaishali said:

    What a great post. Totally helping gal. I have tried it so many times but failed mostly. Haha. Will surely follow your tips.

  2. 3.9.17
    Molly said:

    That suitcase is adorable- I've never heard of that brand before!! And obsessedddd with those rain boots. Looks like it was a great trip- can't wait to see pics from Florida, too!

  3. 3.9.17
    Unknown said:

    So many great picks! Loving the rain boots!
    Xo, Elizabeth

  4. 3.9.17

    Nikes are my go to shoe for traveling!

  5. 3.9.17
    Sarah said:

    I'm so glad you enjoyed it! Thanks for stopping by, Vaishali!

    XO from Austin,

    Sarah | The Bella Insider | @sarah_thebella

  6. 3.9.17
    Sarah said:

    Aw Molly! I'm so glad I was able to introduce the brand to you! Thanks so much, Molly! I can't wait to share about it.

    XO from Austin,

    Sarah | The Bella Insider | @sarah_thebella

  7. 3.9.17
    Sarah said:

    Thank you so much, ELizabeth! So glad you enjoyed them.

    XO from Austin,

    Sarah | The Bella Insider | @sarah_thebella

  8. 3.9.17
    Sarah said:

    Hi, Kate! Right?! Mine as well. Thanks for stopping by!

    XO from Austin,

    Sarah | The Bella Insider | @sarah_thebella

  9. 3.9.17

    Girl, I give you credit for packing only a carry on for a cold weather trip! I'm really working on my packing skills, so this post is definitely helpful. Thanks for sharing!

    Clothes & Quotes

  10. 3.10.17
    m. said:

    love this! so informative =)

  11. 3.12.17
    Unknown said:

    Love this post! Currently packing a carry on for a week of traveling in two different climates… I will need some of these tips!

    You have such a cute site! I followed you on your social media platforms! Looking forward to following along! 🙂

    xoxo, Kylie