As a serial over-organiser, over-packer and panicker about weather forecasts, I can find figuring out what I’ll need for a trip pretty stressful. I find this pressure is intensified when said trip requires some sort of special gear or weather appropriate clothing. This was precisely the kind of holiday our winter getaway to Poland embodied and I spent weeks packing, unpacking and repacking to try and deduce what the heck I’d need for the trip. Not to mention the reems of lists I made to try and organise my thoughts somewhat. In short, I hate being under prepared and have a perpetual fear of being cold! I am hyper aware I’m a tremendous over-packer and especially now airlines are tightening up on luggage allowances, I find having a guide written by someone who’s already been to my upcoming destination incredibly useful. So, I figured I’d help my fellow travellers out and rustle up a little packing guide for you all… Without further ado, here’s your definitive guide to packing for a wonderful winter getaway!
Please find attached a quick, downloadable packing list available for you to print off and refer back to here… Poland Packing List
All the Gear and No Idea…
Poland’s winter weather can be unpredictable. During our trip we had the full works! Sun, snow, wind, rain and sleet so be prepared… Like the old saying goes; “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.” Thermal base layers, a waterproof coat and good warm shoes are a must!
Base layers are a lifesaver! Never underestimate the necessity of layering up in cold weather… And subsequently being able to shed a few when the sun comes out or you go into an excessively central heated shop (The Poles seem to enjoy sauna-esque indoor temperatures which can be quite the shock win comparison to the freezing outdoors). Remember warm socks too, they are also a winter travel must-have!
Ditch the impractical footwear – lots of places in Poland, particularly those which attract tourists are cobbled. Save yourself the sprained ankle and leave the heels at home. On the subject of footwear however, make sure you have a pair of sturdy, warm, well-worn in, winter boots. I lived in my Sorel boots during our trip, they were an absolute game changer. If any part of my body is going to suffer in the cold it’s my extremities, but these fleece lined waterproof boots kept my feet warm and dry come snow or shine. The tread also saved me from ending up on my ass many times on the ice and I even hiked in them.
A decent coat – even if you don’t plan on hitting the slopes a coat designed for the cold like a ski or down jacket is the best option when going to Poland in winter. Even in Krakow where there was very little snow, the mercury rarely reached above zero.
Be styling savvy – I’d recommend trying to make a capsule wardrobe when packing by taking clothes you can interchange to make multiple outfits. Even if it takes you a little more time planning your outfits before you travel, it can save energy once you arrive, space in your suitcase and eliminate the likelihood of lugging lots of unnecessary items around (which trust me, I’m very good at doing!). However, remember that one nice outfit – No matter where I’m going or how unlikely it is that I’ll need it, I always pack one outfit that I feel good in if the opportunity arises to go to a nice restaurant, attend a show or go to an event. These usually don’t take up much space and there’s nothing worse than feeling frightfully underdressed on a night out.
Winter accessories – You know the score; a hat, scarf and gloves are the holy triad of winter accessories. Top tip – if you get super cold hands like I do, I found mittens kept my fingers way toastier than standard gloves, even thermal ones!
Umbrella – This came in very handy in Krakow where the beautiful fluttery snow was more likened to wet grey sleet. We Brits are always prepared for precipitation in our homeland but its maybe not something one considers to take on holiday… Well here I am telling you that you should! You’ll spend most of your time out and about; on walking tours, admiring architecture, or just getting from A to B so don’t let the rain stop you!
Consider Swimwear – If you’re purely heading to Poland for a city break it is unlikely you’ll need swimwear. However, in the skiing areas saunas and spas are plentiful and provide the perfect antidote to aching limbs so consider bringing a bathing suit along just in case.
A note on ski stuff – if you’re a seasoned skier and plan to spend most of your time on the slopes in Poland, it may be worth bringing all your gear. However, if you’re planning on skiing only briefly, or you’re trying skiing for the first time, the resorts are well equipped with everything you’ll need and renting prices are reasonable.
If you want more winter travel inspiration, or to know more about skiing in Poland click here for more posts!
Hand Luggage Hacks
If you’re traveling hand luggage only, then this post may give you some top tips.
Snacks are a must! You never know while travelling when the opportunity is going to arise to get food, so I think it’s best not to get caught out. With the cost of airport food and in-flight snacks sky rocketing, I always find it handy to have prepared some nibbles ahead of time that I know I like and will stop the hanger gremlin raising its ugly head (because Corey can attest that it isn’t pretty!).
A refillable water bottle is a handy thing to have. Tap water is safe to drink and being able to fill up your own bottle to hydrate you on your adventures is not only cheaper but more eco-friendly than buying bottled.
An emergency outfit – if you’re playing travel Tetris and flying hand luggage only this does not apply to you, but if you opt for a hold bag make sure you pack an emergency set of clothes in your hand luggage just in case your case goes missing. Speaking from someone who’s case has gone AWOL on multiple occasions, there’s nothing worse than being stuck with nothing but your stinky travel clothes for the first few days of your holiday.
Key documents – if you are wanting to hire a car or any ski gear, you’ll need a driving licence and passport to do so. Additionally, I always think its handy to have copies of where you’re staying, your flight information, any tickets for activities and travel insurance as you never know when technology will fail you.
Speaking of Technology…
If you’re anything like me, you’re going to want to document your trip. Therefore, make sure you have cameras, phones, tripods, chargers and SD cards ready and at your disposal. Ensure all spare batteries are charged and memory cards wiped prior to your trip to stop you missing vital moments on your adventures.
A European adaptor is also a must. I also love my mini extension too which has a surge protector and the ability to charge two plug-in devices and 2 USBs at once. Perfect if you have a lot of camera equipment.
Toiletries and Medicines
I always find this a difficult one… To pack or not to pack the household pharmacy and bathroom cupboard… I think there’s no wrong or right answer to this one. Taking everything with you will save you money and ensure you’re happy with the products you’re using. On the other hand, especially if you’re travelling hand luggage only, it can be impractical if not impossible. If this is the case never fear as there’s an abundance of supermarkets and pharmacies in Poland which has everything you could possibly need. Just be aware that most medications even the likes of paracetamol are behind the counter so you’ll likely have to ask the pharmacist for them.
These are just a few of my top packing tips. Obviously, this is not an exhaustive list because I’d be here all day and I’d hope most of you don’t need me to insult your intelligence by telling you to pack clean underwear. However, sometimes the most obvious things end up being forgotten (I’ve travelled without deodorant, my toothbrush and PJs when sharing a room with a colleague!! to name but a few so I’m aware it’s easily done!) so to get the full check list including the more obvious items click here to download it! Poland Packing List
Happy travels, folks!