Travel Tips

A Coat Alternative

I Forgot My Coat

I left my coat on the plane on my way to Austria in the middle of winter.

As you may know: 1) Austria is known for its amazing skiing, 2) skiing takes place on snow, and 3) snow is cold (duh!).  And I had no coat. Brrrr.

It was right after Christmas and my girlfriend Judith and I were going to cruise the Danube.

We were excited because one of the special stops was an outdoor Christmas Market in front of Schonbrunn Palace in Vienna.

I knew it would be cold, so I packed layers – long underwear (silk, so soft), a couple of sweaters (cashmere, light and warm), and a cashmere vest— but, alas, I now had no coat.

Was I sad I’d lost the coat? Not really, I hated that coat.

But I was concerned about staying warm. Truth be told, I was even a little excited because now I had a “reason” to shop.

However, my shopping plans were foiled. We arrived late on a Saturday and the next day in the small town we were to visit, everything was closed.

Fortunately, the store on the cruise ship had a fleece jacket and a windbreaker vest, complete with the ship’s logo. Add to that a big warm scarf from the store and an extra cap and gloves I had in my bag, I figured I’d survive until I found other shopping options.

During that trip I never found a new coat, but that makeshift solution, along with my layers, worked well enough that I did not freeze.

And, I had a great travel story.

But, that outdoor Christmas Market was cold – in the 20s F cold!

Start with Trip Planning and Research

For me, one of the most enjoyable (and sometimes stressful), parts of the trip is the planning and pre-trip discovery of a new place.

Many times, I go to places where I have never been before and know nothing about.

So I do the travel research to find out what there is to see and do.

Researching the location can be fun. It is the opportunity to start a trip, long before you go.

It is during the creative discovery journey that you decide what you want to see (itinerary) and what time of year you want to be there (weather).

Two important trip planning and research items are: 1) your itinerary and, 2) the weather.

Know the Weather

By understanding your itinerary, you know what activity specific clothes and shoes you need and by knowing the weather, you can then pack the appropriate layers and outerwear.

Dressing in layers was one of those amazing discoveries that I made early in my traveling career.

I live in Southern California and have lived here almost my entire life.

It wasn’t until one of my first business trips, when I went to Montreal in early January, that I experienced winter cold.

Before I arrived, they’d had a significant snow fall in Montreal, and there was a 100 degree swing in temperature – from 94F in Cali to -6F in Montreal.

That swing in temperature was hard to wrap my head around and with my inexperience in winter cold, I was not ready for that weather.

Fortunately, I had a friend, who lived in Montreal and she lent me a heavy winter coat and scarf.

Dressing for Cold Weather Travel

It wasn’t until I later started traveling on ski trips, that I learned how to dress for cold—layers, and cold weather gear rated for the cold you will experience on your trip.

Who knew there was such a thing?

A word about long underwear. While, my favorite is silk – light and soft, depending upon how cold it is and your activities—silk may not always be the most suitable.

But the must-haves for cold weather: long underwear under blouses and pants topped with warm sweaters and finally, a heavy coat and warm, waterproof footwear.

For those of you who live in cold weather (and recently experienced an ice storm), this is a no brainer and you might be able to add additional tips in the comments below.

But for those us born, raised, and still living in warm climates, this is NOT intuitive.

I did eventually travel to enough wintery places, that I learned the value of having an ice scraper as part of my standard travel gear, but that is a story for another time.

Activities Influence Your Choice of Clothing

Looking at your itinerary, if you are going to participate in outdoor events or sports, the amount and types of layers will be slightly different than if you are going between hotels, cars, and offices.

Packing for a destination wedding in Hawaii, or a Safari in Africa, is different than packing for a cruise down the Danube in the middle of winter.

And sometimes you may take a trip where you will do multiple and diverse activities in different climates; layers will come to your rescue.

The main point here is to PLAN AHEAD, it can be a lifesaver, keep you comfortable and contribute to the fun.

How MUCH Does that Bag Weigh?

So, you’ve gathered information about your trip, you’ve used your itinerary and the weather forecast to figure out what clothes you need to bring, you’ve added in your “maintenance” gear and your travel electronics.

Now you need to cram it all in the suitcase(s) and make certain you are within the size and weight requirements!

In addition, to the size of your bag, there are constraints on the weight.  You’ll want to check with your airline.

If you are part of a group trip, the group may have defined baggage or weight constraints too.

If you are anything like me, you will initially identify at least twice as much as you are allowed to bring with you.

I did that so often, I finally invested in a luggage scale so I could weigh my filled bag before I left.

I didn’t want to be embarrassed at the airport and then pay additional fees for overweight bags! Not a really fun way to start the trip.

The luggage scale may also prove to be helpful on the return trip, after buying all your souvenirs. That’s also when that “extra” fold-up duffel bag you packed will bail you out.

Enjoy the process, from to start to finish – it is all part of the adventure and fun of travelling along with meeting new people.

Keep track of your belongings while you travel and don’t leave anything behind on the plane— like a coat in winter.

Let us know your favorite cold weather accessory in the comments below.  I’d love to hear more ways to stay warm!  If you have questions, send me an email ([email protected]) or book a call.

Enjoy the journey!



Florence Duomo at Dusk

Surviving on the Road and Having Fun to Boot!

I recently returned from a three-week trip to Europe. And I had the best time!  I started in Florence, Italy and, after a few days, went to Rome to catch a ship for an amazing fifteen-night Mediterranean and Transatlantic cruise.

While this was not my first trip to Florence nor my first cruise, it was probably the longest time I’ve been out of the country. My desire was to pack something different for each day and for every dinner aboard ship. But, that’s not realistic.

As I reflect on past travels, both as a Corporate Road Warrior and during vacations, taking that much with me is hard to handle—especially if I have to manage all of it by myself!

I think the trip that taught me the most was a trip to Africa where I could only bring a TOTAL of 45 pounds of baggage; 15 pounds of which was carry-on.  And I had to use a duffel bag. My favorite carry-on bag, empty, is 8 pounds. Argh. I had to do some real rethinking of my whole packing strategy.

Packing Tips and Tricks

During those past adventures, I stumbled upon a few tips and tricks for sanity and survival.

Maybe you’ll find a few of them useful as well. Most of these are common sense, but they are worth repeating!

Pack common things together: make-up, hair care, clothes care, underwear, etc. This makes it easier to locate them in your suitcase. Packing cubes are invaluable for this effort.

Plastic zip-lock baggies are a lifesaver. They save other items from spills during travel and have lots of other uses during the trip. Remember to bring a pile of spares, too!

Don’t travel with nail polish. If you need it, buy it and leave it. It is NOT fun if it leaks in your suitcase.

Pour all liquids you do take into screw-top bottles and then put them in a zip-lock baggie. Look for dry alternatives for your supplies as much as possible.

Put a small toiletries kit in your carry-on with toothpaste, toothbrush, comb, facecloth, moisturizer, hand sanitizer, hand lotion, and basic make-up for use inflight or at the other end. Remember the 3-1-1 rules!

Less is better. If you forget something (which always happens to me) you can always go shopping—even in Africa.

Bring a collapsible bag for purchases. I can’t tell you how many times I bought new bags until I figured this out!

Protect Your Valuables

Put your valuables (camera, smartphone, tablet, binoculars, jewelry, computer, etc. and their chargers) in your carry-on and keep an eye on it.

Put your credit cards and identification in a safe place that is not out of your control and is accessible to you alone.

If you are going overseas, wear a money BELT which is preferable to a neck pouch, as that is more visible and easier to get to. In it place any local currency you’ve brought (beyond your day’s needs), a copy of your credit cards, and a copy of your passport— just in case.

Notify your credit card company of your travel itinerary, otherwise they may refuse those out of town purchases or cash withdrawals!

Reduce bulk. Fill smaller containers with your personal products (shampoo, conditioner, cleanser, etc.) if you don’t need the full-size of any personal product and pack in your checked bag. While it takes a little extra preparation, you have a lighter load and more room for the important things (like souvenirs).

Bring a TSA lock. This allows you to lock your suitcase at your destination as a makeshift safe, even if you don’t lock it while you fly.

Be Prepared

Bring only what you can manage. Wheeled bags are a blessing — if there isn’t a porter or a cart immediately available, you won’t be stuck.

Bring only comfortable shoes. If they are new make certain they are broken in.  If you are doing a great deal of walking, make certain you can wear them for extended period of time and they are still comfortable.

Wear your bulkiest shoes. On the plane you can always walk around in your socks, or a pair of fold-up ballet slippers, and you’ll have more room in your suitcase.

Carry on your coat and wear your extra sweater if you are going to need it at your destination. This gives you more room in your suitcase and keeps you warm on the plane.

Pack your meds in your carry-on. In the unlikely event you and your checked bags are separated for a bit, your temper may flare but your health won’t suffer.

And remember: Be prepared (yes I was a Girl Scout) — but you can ALWAYS go shopping!

Have Fun!

Have Fun! Bring your toys—your entertainment, including the sound-reducing headset.

No matter the reason we travel, whether for work or play, after hours on the road in cramped conditions can be stressful. My hope is that in thinking about some of these things in advance, your trip will be more carefree.

Let me know your favorite tricks in the comments below. I’d love to hear about them!  If you have questions, send me an email ([email protected]) or book a call.

Before you go, leave us a comment below and sign-up for my free e-book “101 Ways to Save Money”.

With wishes of future adventures and safe travels,


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