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How to Pack for Multiple Climates and Transitional Weather

Here's what to bring if your vacation will involve changing weather conditions.

<p>Svetlana-Cherruty / Getty Images</p>

Svetlana-Cherruty / Getty Images

Traveling to places with variable weather can make packing an even bigger challenge. Whether you're traveling in between seasons or visiting multiple climates in one vacation, packing for these trips requires a bit more planning. It's impossible to bring something for every season, but there are tricks to efficiently craft an adaptive wardrobe that will prepare you for a range of weather conditions. Start by checking the weather forecast and packing a travel-sized umbrella. Then, try these five expert tips for packing a versatile travel wardrobe that will help you enjoy your trip—no matter the weather.

Related: How to Pack Light and Still Be Fashionable, According to Style Expert Tan France

Bring layers

“Packing for transitional weather is all about versatility,” says Priyanka Swamy, the founder of Perfect Locks LLC. Packing layer-able clothing offers versatility for long day trips if the temperature changes. Swamy says these are pieces that can be added or removed easily. "Lightweight sweaters, cardigans, and scarves can be worn with warm and cool outfits," she adds. Plus, layer-able clothing also means maximizing the number of outfits you can wear during the trip without sacrificing comfort. This is especially true if you have limited weight or space in your luggage.

“Whether it’s a weekend getaway, a day out in nature or a trip…I keep layering in mind, along with comfort,” says Maye Srouji, CEO of Milles Collines, a clothing company based in Cape Town, South Africa. According to Cape Town Tourism, “Locals often joke that it’s possible to experience all four seasons in one day,” so it only makes sense that Srouji likes to have options not just for the weather changes but the change of plans that might come with it. (For example, your outdoor hiking day may turn into a day of indoor museum exploring.) She recommends packing a light summer dress and skirt, a few basic tops, a cozy button-down sweater, a few pairs of your favorite jeans or pants, and a loose linen or cotton shirt that layers well.

Include rain gear

Srouji adds that Cape Town living has taught her to never leave the house without a jacket. Many seaside cities experience similarly unpredictable weather. There’s always a chance of rain—even if the forecast predicts clear skies and sunshine. So, if you're traveling to a destination like this, be sure to bring a waterproof jacket or a foldable trench, just in case.

“Remember to pack a small umbrella or raincoat in case of an unexpected downpour,” says Swamy. Travel-sized umbrellas can be tucked into a carry-on, but some are no match for the combo of wind and water. Whether in Prague or Peru, the ultimate hack is to carry a disposable rain poncho that can easily fit in your purse or fanny pack.

Pack versatile footwear

Instead of bringing one pair of shoes for each possible weather condition, bring adaptable shoes that work for different ground conditions and across multiple outfits. “Pack versatile footwear such as ankle boots or sneakers that can handle rain and shine,” says Swamy. If done right, you only need to pack three types of shoes that can handle different weather and occasions. Srouji recommends packing a pair of sneakers that can be paired with dresses and pants, a pair of simple sandals, and evening shoes in case of a special, formal occasion.

Don’t forget about comfort when picking out shoes, especially if you’re planning on walking or hiking. Research how hilly or grassy your destination is, and whether the sidewalks are made of cobblestone or cement. Knowing these little details can help you choose between wedges and stilettos, platforms and pumps. It’s safe to say that rubber soles are always a good idea. Aim for walkable, comfortable, and stylish shoes, no matter the destination.

Related: Foolproof Hacks for Packing Your Suitcase Efficiently Every Time

Always have a scarf

If there’s one unique accessory Srouji recommends travelers pack, it’s a scarf. Scarves are too versatile to leave behind. They can protect your hair from sudden rain, your neck from a draft, and your arms and shoulders from an unexpected chill. If travelling with children, scarves can also become multi-functional tools to help with feeding, changing, and sleeping.

Use scarves to enhance different outfits, adding a chic touch on top of function. Because they are lightweight and easy to pack, you can bring a few different styles in different materials. A silky square can be tied to your purse, used to cover your hair, or wrapped around your neck in a pinch. A waterproof fleece or wool scarf, on the other hand, is a bit bulkier, but can still be easily folded into the front pocket of any carry-on or large purse.

Pay attention to fabric

Fabrics can make or break any outfit, but this is especially true when on an excursion with flip-floppy weather. “Choose breathable and insulating fabrics, like cotton and merino wool,” says Swamy. Linen and bamboo are also excellent materials for extreme heat. Mix and match combinations to maximize preparedness for unpredictable weather.

If there's even the slightest chance of rain, be careful with wearing leather, suede, velvet, and silk. Heavy denim can also be a drag in rain and peak heat. Synthetic fabrics tend to make you sweat more, so beware of polyester, a popular water-resistant fabric.

Remember to choose colors wisely, too. Dark colored fabrics attract and trap heat. Also be sure to avoid any fabrics or colors that will become see-through when wet—whether from rain showers, snow, or perspiration.

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