My Minimalist Winter Travel Packing List

Goodbye finals and hello winter break!

With the semester quickly coming to a close, I knew I was going to have a packing challenge on my hands for winter break.

Here’s the scenario: three college students, all of their luggage, a dog, a cat, and a box full of plants all packed into one mini van. Not too bad, but then imagine, for the trip back to school, all of the above factors but instead of a mini van, a small compact car, and add tons of groceries.

Another challenge: winter break lasts for three weeks! So somehow I needed enough outfits and toiletries to last three weeks, and since it is winter break, my sweaters and coats would be extra bulky and take up even more room.

I can’t count the number of “travel light packing lists” that I’ve come across on Pinterest and Tumblr and other blogs, so I decided to give it a try myself. I set out to try and pack all of the things I needed for winter break in just one medium-sized suitcase, a backpack, and a purse. So without further ado…

Ingrid’s Minimalist Winter Travel Packing List

Tank tops

tank tops

I went for a basic tank top in every neutral color to wear underneath other shirts (see batwing shirt or flannel shirt) or just by itself on a lazy day.

Short sleeved shirts

short sleeved

Again, I chose one shirt in every neutral color. The black top can be dressed up for going out or kept casual, but the crop top is pretty much exclusively for going out.

Long sleeved shirts

long sleeved

These were definitely my favorite shirts that I brought along, namely because both of the collared shirts can be worn underneath the sweater OR on their own OR be worn open with a short sleeved shirt underneath. That’s at least 6 different outfit combos right there!



Due to an unfortunate accident hopping a fence and a really rough roller blading night, I’m now down to just two pairs of jeans. Not the best for me, but pretty good news for my suitcase. If I had it my way, I would have packed two pairs of blue jeans and black jeans instead of grey but… when this is all you have, this is all you have.

And, contrary to what some believe, really thick wintery leggings really do count as pants.



By far the item that took up the most room in my suitcase was my winter coat. But to save space I wore my leather jacket on the way!

One thing I wish I would have brought with me is a causal hoodie or zip-up jacket for lounging around the house, but the cardigan works fine in a pinch.

Holiday specific

holiday specific

These items are only included because I needed things to wear to holiday parties and on Christmas day. If it weren’t Christmastime, I probably would have substituted the reindeer dress for a simple black sweater dress and the sweater skirt for a black mini skirt.



Flats to wear with the dress and skirt, sneakers for everyday wear, and boots for getting dressed up. If I were going somewhere other than home for winter break, I probably would have also included a pair of heels.



Of course, no outfit is complete without bling. The scarves are a key item here, because using accessories like scarves can trick people into thinking you’re wearing different clothes when really you only have three shirts.

Of course, I also packed underwear, socks, and pajamas.

So altogether I brought home 20 articles of clothing (not counting shoes or accessories) which, when you add up all the different ways each thing can be worn, gives me a possible 50+ different outfit combinations. Now of course, there are some outfit combos that just won’t work, such as grey tank top + grey coat + grey pants. And there are some outfits that are only marginally different, like, what’s the real difference between wearing a button-up flannel with grey jeans or blue jeans? But even after eliminating things like that, the remaining outfits are more than enough for 3 weeks.

I managed to fit all of this into a medium-sized suitcase (17 inches tall, 13 inches wide, 7 inches deep) along with my toiletries bag and make-up bag. Pretty impressive, if I do say so myself.

I also brought along my small backpack (13 inches tall, 7 inches wide) which contained:


  • Laptop & charger
  • Two external harddrives
  • Flash drive
  • USB man
  • Phone charger
  • Skyrim, which was an early Christmas present ❤
  • Nintendo 3DS
  • Thunderbolt and projector connect for my laptop
  • My journal & two books (Luna by Julie Ann Peters and Tintenhertz by Cornelia Funke, both of which are great books btw)
  • A granola bar
  • Pencil pouch
  • Lint roller
  • Meds
  • A textbook from my astronomy professor for a project I’m working on over break

Honestly I probably could have fit more in my backpack, but I didn’t want to push it.

And my purse:

It’s been almost one week in and so far, so good! My favorite outfit is definitely flannel shirt + white sweater + blue jeans + black boots.


As for my blog itself… I’ve got a lot of catching up to do. I’m still working on writing posts from my Middle East adventure from two summers ago (seriously, how did I drop the ball so hard on that?) and from my most recent summer spent in Milwaukee, WI. My plan is to get some posts cranked out while I’m home on break and not bogged down with school work, but if my previous track record indicates anything… we’ll see. 🙂


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