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Shoulda Woulda Coulda: Packing for Many Climates

Caroline on the Great Ocean Road

I’ve had to learn the hard way about packing for trips that may entail more than one climate.

When I first went to Australia in 2011, I pictured days lounging at Bondi Beach. While I was correct in my assessment of Sydney weather in the peak of summer, the climate of the rest of the country varies greatly. When I arrived in Melbourne, known for “four seasons in a day,” I was completely unprepared, freezing my legs off in my sundress. I had to go buy a few pairs of leggings and a cardigan to keep myself warm for the rest of my time in Victoria.

I did my best to prepare better for my other trips around the country, which started with a tour of the Outback from Alice Springs to Uluru and Adelaide. As with anything similar to a desert climate, you experience major extremes from morning to evening. I packed nearly every item of clothing I had, just to be safe. I ended up throwing on a bunch of layers when I slept and woke up early for hikes, slowly peeling off everything by the time the sun rose.

I wish I had packed items that could have kept me warm but wouldn’t have been a pain to carry around for the rest of the day.

That’s where key pieces of technical clothing as your layers come into play.

Caroline freezing at Alcatraz
Caroline freezing at Alcatraz

You would think I would have learned my lesson after Australia, but I made the same mistakes on trips to San Francisco and Portugal. I didn’t bring enough warm weather clothing for San Francisco, as I imagined it would be warm in June (California in June! Come on!), but I was whipped around by the wind. And again in Portugal, I had enough warm weather clothing, but sent most of it home when I left immediately afterwards to go to Germany.

I think I finally got the hang of packing for many climates on my recent trip to Turkey, which covered the mild climates of Istanbul, the hot weather of the Mediterranean coast and the colder weather of Cappadocia. While I was glad to have packed the right layers to keep warm during most of the trip, I was lucky that the lovely folks at my hotel let me borrow a coat for my stay.

Caroline in Cappadocia
Keeping warm in Cappadocia

Now that I’m packing for a three month trip through Australia and Asia, I’m faced with the same dilemma. I know the temperatures vary greatly between northern Thailand and the islands of the south. What I’ve learned is that it’s important to embrace packing in layers. Items great for this are leggings, shirts and scarves, which you can put on top of each other without looking too bulky. I plan on wearing leggings under my jeans if it gets too cold at night camping and can wear them on their own on long bus rides.

Remember to dress how you’re comfortable, but do your research about the weather in your destination!

It’s something highly recommended in day 2 of our 30 Days to Packing a Better Bag series.

Written by Caroline

Caroline Eubanks is a native of Atlanta, Georgia, but has also called Charleston, South Carolina and Sydney, Australia home. After college graduation and a series of useless part-time jobs, she went to Australia for a working holiday. In that time, she worked as a bartender, bungee jumped, scuba dived, pet kangaroos, held koalas and drank hundreds of cups of tea. You can find Caroline at Caroline in the City.

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  1. Karlie Marrazzo says

    Great post! I know exactly what you’re talking about Caroline. I recently went through the same experience when preparing to pack for Lisbon in January, then two weeks in Morocco from the north all the way to the Sahara Desert, and then London all in the same trip! Talk about wet and dry, hot and cold, and lots of wind.

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