Carry On

What to Pack for a Road Trip In the Alps | Women’s Travel Tips

February 1, 2017
what to pack for austria in winter

Last month, I went on a 10-day road trip from Vienna to Milan, mixing city life with snowy hikes, and lots of time in the car. It can be hard to pack for a range of activities, but with these basics you’ll look great whether you’re wandering a museum, sliding down a mountainside, or sipping vino in Milan. Whatever you do, pack it all in a carry on. My friend Nathan checked his bag, and ended up having to improvise when it was lost for three days. He survived, but save yourself the hassle.


  • Bottom Layer
    • Leggings–I’m a big fan of leggings for travel, because they pack into tight spaces and are comfortable whether walking for hours or lounging in the car. I brought a pair of athletic leggings to hike in, and two pairs of black leggings for any situation. These are fleece-lined, which was great for a trip in January.
    • Dark jeans–Leggings aren’t always warm enough, or water resistant, which is wher a pair of dark jeans come in. (Mine are black, but you don’t have to follow suit and wear all black every day like I often do).
    • Warmer pants–We didn’t do any extreme hiking, but if you’re planning on it, wear these.
    • Tights are always good to have on hand. You never know when you’ll need to dress up, and they take up only the tiniest amount of space.


  • Top Layer
    • Tank tops–I always bring a black tank top to go under sweaters, and a cotton workout top.
    • Long sleeve t-shirts–This brand has a ridiculous name, but their climatesmart long underwear shirts are the perfect under layer. I brought black and grey, as they go with everything, and can be worn alone or under sweaters.
    • Button-up–preferably something comfortable, that still looks cute with leggings and boots.
    • A cozy cardigan is easy to add or subtract depending on how brightly the sun is shining into the car, and looks nice enough for going to dinner.
    • Two nicer sweaters. These can be worn on your city days. I like the Everlane Cashmere Crew for one, and an oversized turtleneck for the other.
    • Patagonia pullover. This works well from outdoor adventures to stopping for wine and pizza in Cortina d’Ampezzo. I can’t tell you guys how many trips I take this on! Probably almost every single one, and I always end up wearing it multiple times.
    • Sweater Dress–It’s always good to have one dressier option.
    • Coats–This is always tricky for me. I can never choose a coat that works well for multiple situations, and always end up wishing it was summer and I didn’t have to wear one. This trip, I brought a dressier wool coat, and a puffy coat for outdoor activity. Bonus: It folds up very small in your bag.

austria to italy road trip hiking

  • Footwear:
    • Hiking boots–I didn’t bring hiking boots and hoped to find some on the road. Luckily, in Salzburg I found this pair that saved me from slipping around on the very icy street the next day, and kept me warm even when they failed to keep me from slipping in the snow.
    • Black boots–These are your daily, transition from day to night in the city boots. I wore this pair every day.
    • Wool socks–Regular readers know I’m a huge fan of SmartWool. That still stands, but when my feet could not warm up one day Nathan lent me his Patagonia hiking socks, and they were a game changer. These socks are amazing! My feet have never felt so toasty, even after hours in below freezing weather.
what to pack italy winter

No hiking boots could save me from myself


Travel slippers–You’ll be so happy you have them once you get to your hotel.

Hat/Mittens–The warmer the better!

Pajamas–I really like these Nau pants lately. They’re really cozy, but still look decent enough to run down for coffee in the morning.


Crisp mountain air has many benefits, but it also dries out your skin. My lips were so chapped the first few days, and it took some time for my skin to adjust to the cold. I love face oils, and this one saved me, followed by this heavier face cream. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen during the day too. My lips were rescued by my absolute favorite lip balm. Bring a water bottle too and fill up often for hydration from the inside out.

You’re ready for a winter road trip! For men’s packing tips, see Nathan’s post.

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