From the archives. Originally published in 2015.
I was never really planning on warm weather for any part of the 11 day road trip I took in March, but I certainly hadn’t anticipated snow. I’m glad I was prepared for anything and packed what I consider the essentials for unpredictable temps. Layers are key and I’m not adverse to traveling with several jackets, as long as they pack well and serve a purpose.
I found a short puffer jacket, that can go from hiking trails to dinner, to be the most indispensable piece for travel. Bonus points if the jacket is clean lined without a bunch of bells and whistles. If it doesn’t lean too much towards athletic gear, it looks perfectly chic layered over a slim sweater or blouse with jeans for dinner. Mine is an older style from Lululemon, and I wish they would continue with this exact design, year-round, and in a variety of colors.
A longer, hooded coat served me well when it got really chilly. It snowed in Santa Fe, and being warm and comfortable allowed me to continue my walking tour all over the city without even considering to retreat back to the hotel. A thin down vest is also handy to have not only for warmer days but to layer under a coat if it got seriously cold. A lightweight denim jacket added variety to my looks and was perfect when the days warmed to the 70’s.
I packed several jeans, both dark and light denim to rotate for daytime, and then black and white to save for evenings. Keeping the denim designated for days felt right since I’d often be hiking and on dusty trails. Plus, black and white jeans are easy to dress up, although that wasn’t needed at all on this type of trip.
There was no question I needed hiking boots and a pair of Merrell’s I bought right before we left was one of my best buys. Comfortable right out of the box and stylish (for hiking boots) too. I got tons of compliments on them. The throw-back eighties vibe and bright red laces made them appealing. I wore them with striped wool socks.
I’ve mentioned before how I like to have a slipper style loafer when I travel. In small inns, where you meander down to breakfast, it’s nice to have a comfortable flat to slip on quickly. I bypass anything with hard soles or too much structure since I want to be able to flatten them in my suitcase.
Lastly are the essential layers that make it on every trip, varying weight by destination. Several tank tops, short and long sleeved t-shirts, and 1-2 thin turtlenecks provide comfort in a wide range of settings. A floppy hat to block the sun (that can fold into a bag), a cashmere beanie, a cashmere wrap (especially for evenings) and a small neck scarf will often each be packed in a couple of colors for variety.