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How to Pack for Paris in the Winter with Just a Carry-On Bag

I’m in Paris this week and I only like to travel with a carry-on. I did a post last summer on how to pack for Paris in the summer but the winter is a whole other beast so I thought I would do a post on it. The first thing I think about when packing for the winter is being warm. When you are a tourist you have to dress warmer than the average Parisian who is usually just going from home to work. A tourist spends most of the time outside going from location to location so you have to dress for the elements. Paris rarely gets snow but gets a decent amount of rain. I’ve found a good pair of leather boots repel the water just fine. It’s not worth bringing a whole other set of rain shoes. If you are going somewhere in Europe with a lot of snow it might be a different story. I usually buy an umbrella for 5 Euros from a street vendor if I need it, same with cheap black gloves. I don’t pack that kind of thing with me because they usually get lost quickly and I don’t want to worry about lugging my good stuff across the pond with me. Below I’ve listed what I brought with me with an explanation of how I use it. The main thing to think about when you are traveling in the winter is that every single outfit is basically going to look the same because of your winter coat. So pick your warm coat first and then plan all the outfits around that. I bring enough underwear so I only need to do laundry once (if I’m staying for 10 days I bring 5 pairs!) I do a load midweek (it’s usually underwear and tshirt layers) to save space.

How to Pack for Paris in Just a Carry-On

A. Black Wrap Coat (Similar HERE) | I planned all my outfits around my black winter coat. It is warm but feels slightly dressy so it’s perfect for Paris.
B. Black Puffer Jacket | I’m obsessed with my Uniqlo Ultra light parka. It’s perfect as an extra layer for the evenings or if it’s a particularly cold day. I also wear it on the plane. It can be compressed into a tiny bag so it is very useful and practical to carry around.
C. Black Dress | I love this baggy black dress. It is very comfortable and I can even wear it to dinner that is a little bit fancier. I just throw on a necklace and red lipstick. I pair it with thick tights to stay super warm.
D. Striped Shirt | I use this and all the t-shirts as a layer I can pair with the jeans or skirt. It doesn’t get seen much since I always have a sweater layered over the top.
E. Long Sleeve Black T Shirt | Same as above. Just another layer. I like to pair this with my furry black vest
F-G. 2 White T shirts | These are layering shirts. I wear these a lot and usually have to wash them once during my trip.
H. Black Sweater | This I use as a layer on top of the tshirt. Sweaters are more important because I often take my coat off when I go in a museum or restaurant, they get a lot of action.
I. Grey Sweatshirt | In addition to my regular pajamas I bring a set of loungy casual clothes. This is good for the airplane or hanging out around the hotel or as an extra set of pajamas. (I pair this with leggings.)
J. Grey Sweater | I got this sweater for my birthday and I love it. It has a little structure so it makes all my outfits look like I made an effort but it is really soft and comfortable. I layer with this a lot.
K. High Waist Ripped Black Jeans | These comfy jeans I’ve owned for a year or two. Ripped jeans make me look cool, right?
L. High Waisted Black Jeans | Same as above but rip free and super comfortable.
M. Pleated Black Skirt | This skirt is fun for when I’m meeting a friend or have something special to go to. I pair it with my warm tights and a black sweater and red lipstick.
N. My Favorite Black Stretchpants I use these for lounging or airplane travel.
O. Black Ankle Boots | I wear these almost everyday. It’s important to have a pair that are already broken in and that you can wear all day.
P. White Converse Sneakers | These are for when I don’t mind if I’m a little more casual and to mix up my outfits.
Q. Scarf | You gotta have one. All the cool French girls had giant scarfs they piled high but I brought my normal one for space efficiency.
R. Wool Felt Hat | I like bringing hats with me when I travel because it makes me feel like I don’t have to do my hair as much and I think it is nice to have an extra accessory since my coat stayed the same everyday.
S. Cashmere Beanie | I’m obsessed with my beanie. It’s so soft and I always bring it with me in case I get cold. I also wear it on the plane.
T. 2 Pairs of Thick Tights | These are great for skirts and dresses. I also use them as an extra layer under pants if it is a particularly cold day.
U. 2 Bras | I bring my most comfortable ones.
V. 5 Pairs Underwear | I wash halfway through so I get a clean pair everyday. (THis trip I found some cute ones at a store so I bought some new pretty French underwear!) No laundry needed.
W. 4 Pairs of Socks | I love bright socks. I’ve been wearing my new Woven Pear socks like crazy. Since I wear so much black I like to have happy color underneath it all.
X. Pajamas | This trip I had a lot of roommates. A good set of pajamas is indispensable.
Y. Large Cosmetics Bag | I fit everything I could fit in this one bag and leave everything else.
Z. Curling Iron | I keep a few European plug appliances like curling irons and phone chargers in my closet for trips like this. (I let me friends borrow them too!)
AA. One Carry On Suitcase | I’m actually in the market for a new one (mine is 10 years old and the zipper has been acting funny. I might get this one.
BB. Leather Tote | I use this for my laptop and I can also keep the purse in it.
CC. Laptop | I need it for working
DD. iPad Mini | I use this for watching movies on planes and trains.
EE. Medium Sized Lightweight Purse | I’m obsessed with this purse since I bought it last summer. It is really light weight but pretty large so I can throw a camera and extra items in there. I carry it around with me everyday and keep a baggu in it if I go shopping.
FF.Lightweight Camera | I bought this Sony camera last summer and have really liked it. It has some features of an SLR but is lightweight.
GG. Phone | This is the single most important thing I have with me. I can GPS maps or call Uber’s or use my translation app or look up train schedules. I have an unlocked phone and my first stop after I arrive is to a phone store to buy a SIM card. It’s about $50 for a week of data, texts, and phone calls.
HH. Wallet | I take out anything I don’t want to lose when I travel (gift cards, store credits etc) I just keep a few credit cards, ID and cash on me.
II. Baggu Bag | I love keeping this in my purse I carry around in case I do some shopping.

All this easily fit in my carry on. If I do a little shopping I just add the new stuff in. If I’m buying bigger items I either check a box or buy a cheap suitcase I can check on the flight home.

  1. Jub from France

    January 28, 2015

    Why so black ? Can’t you add some colorful scarf, or shoes ? We have grey clouds, that’s for sure, but like some colors in the rain !

  2. alexandra

    January 28, 2015

    Hi Jordan!
    First of all, I love your blog!!!!
    I see that you like fancy and funny socks… and you are in Paris. I visited the trade show Maison et Objet last week end and discovered the brand “Bonne Maison”, it’s made for you :)
    Enjoy Paris!

  3. andrenna

    January 28, 2015

    ah! thank you so much for this post! it was super helpful. i’m heading to paris in april, so it won’t be quite as cold, but this gives me a great base to start my packing list. also, great style. i’m into monochrome, especially in the winter!

  4. andrenna

    January 28, 2015

    second comment, did your clare v bag (EE) come with a strap? i don’t see it on the website.

  5. salome

    January 28, 2015

    Hey Jordan,

    I’m a agent in Paris. Been trying to meet you for a while. Can we grab coffee while you’re in Paris?

  6. Michelle

    January 28, 2015

    Great look although I would need to add colour somewhere. Scarves are good for that.

    What I don’t understand is the hand luggage only. I find it so difficult getting on and off a plane around the USA as no one checks their bags anymore. And the sneaky ones who pop their bags in the compartments all up and down the plane then have to collect every few rows as they exit. The last time I arrived in the USA, our bags were the only ones on the carousel. It would have made for a quick exit if it hadn’t taken 45 minutes to get off the plane!

  7. Jessica Doll

    January 28, 2015

    I always love to travel light. It’s nice to see it spreading. If you need more ideas, it is my most popular feature on my blog:

    Have fun in Paris!

  8. Nuli

    January 28, 2015

    My idea of a carry-on is soooooooooo different.

    I’m 100% over people with barely legal plus purse plus computer backpack plus coat. Ugh. Check it, already. You’re killing us

  9. j.w.w.

    January 28, 2015

    What saves me space in my carry-on bag is wearing the bulkiest things on the flight there and back: wool coat, boots, bulky sweater, jeans, thick socks, hat, scarf, gloves. The superthin silk/thermal undershirts are also a godsend! But my favorite strategy — whether I’m staying for 5 days or 10 (or 2 weeks) — is if I get cold despite brisk walks through the city, I nip into the nearest cafe or take the metro!

    I leave room in the carry-on because I know I’ll find something cute (or yummy) that I’d want to bring back home from Paris.

  10. Huub Ricardo

    January 28, 2015

    It’s amazing that you can get so much in a carry-on bag. Bravo!! Enjoy Paris :)

  11. Deidra

    January 28, 2015

    I went to Paris is January five years ago after hearing “I hardly ever snows… it gets cold, but not that cold” from everything I read. Yeah, inches of snow and SO COLD! (And that was going from a cold climate.) I wished I had packed a black dress coat, but I would have froze without my dark berry down coat. Brrrr! I think your suggestion for so much black is spot on from everyone I saw. We had fun mixing it up with hats and scarves, but all the pictures are of our coats.

  12. Anna

    January 28, 2015

    ah winter+carry on is a difficult task! But you have laid it out very nicely! When I travel in winter woolen tights are my essential “accessory”…they saved me in Budapest and Berlin in the past! And the continue to “save” me here in Boston!

    Will use your “guidelines” for my next trip…one week in California (LA+SF) in March! (and off to read your SF posts)

  13. Hannah

    January 28, 2015

    Nice idea (I’ve had my luggage lost soooo many times…), but I have no idea how that would actually fit in a regulation carry on. Not to mention, why a curling iron if you need to save space…and if it rains all the time? Your hair will just get ruined. Also, I’ve never felt like my good leather boots should be worn in the rain, especially in Paris. It just weathers them and seeps in after a few hours. Cute idea, but not accurate for the average tourist…

  14. Sarah W

    January 28, 2015

    I too am amazed you can fit so much into a carry on! I’d love to see a picture of it all in the suitcase. I just can’t imagine how it all can fit. Love this feature though! I am dying to visit Paris someday so I’ll keep all of this in mind.

  15. Nicole

    January 28, 2015

    I go back and forth between the US and Paris several times a year so I feel like I have this down. I think for ten days, I would just check the bag since the wait in Paris is at immigration, not baggage claim. Then I would still only bring the fancy coat, but an extra scarf, oversized and warm that would be more Paris and more adaptable than a short puffy coat that sort of screams tourist. I would ditch the lounge clothes and curling iron as not worth the space- lounge in your pjs and let your hair be messy, Paris style. Also wondering why a laptop+a mini+an iphone+a camera (plus all their cords….)?? This would be the place to streamline, I think. As for leather boots, that is really all you see people wearing in winter even on a snow day, which this year hasnt happened yet. Its a very mild winter so no worries about dying from the cold.

    • jordan
      • jordan
      • January 29, 2015

      Usually I would agree with you on the puffy coat but I only use as a layer. It packs into a tiny 8″ bag and I find it irreplaceable as a pillow or layer of warmth on the plane. Also usually the cold is moderate in Paris but once in a while it can get quite bitter. I prefer to bring the thin puffy coat so the cold doesn’t stop me from leaving the apartment. Lounge clothes are another pair of pajamas but I like wearing them on the 12 hour flight. The electronics are a luxury but I use my phone all day and I don’t like to waste the battery watching movies. The laptop I have to use for work (photoshop etc) This particular trip I knew the plane had movies and I stayed in Paris the whole time so I didn’t need the ipad and left it at home but other trips I’ve been so happy to have it.

  16. Soph

    January 28, 2015

    Jordan i love your blog! These outfits are great, very much in paris vibe – stripe top and curler are a must! …Although all this could only fit to a small suitcase of european carry-on standards if you leave one of the coats behind :) or just check it in and enjoy! :)

  17. Viv

    January 29, 2015

    I have been wearing my black boots to death here, too! :) Being back in France is always so wonderful, though it’s pretty grey at the moment. Bisous xx

  18. Anna

    January 29, 2015

    Can you explain more about the SIM card? I also have an unlocked iPhone but wasn’t aware you could do this. Hoping to go to Iceland in the fall!

  19. Kathy

    January 29, 2015

    This is great advice. I don’t usually pack for a carry on so these are some great tips. I went to NY last fall and I packed only navy, white and black, that way everything coordinated very easily so I like the colors that you chose here.

  20. Pamela Beck

    January 29, 2015

    A tip on the cell- I used to pick up SIM cards if I was going to travel anywhere for more than a week but much to my delight, I just learned that my carrier (T-Mobile) offers free data and messages in 120+ countries while roaming (including France, Italy and Iceland where I’m traveling in March) and only $0.20 a minute. I didn’t trust it the first time I heard this but vetted it online and in person. It would be worth calling your carrier and checking what is covered now, I think this fantastic benefit might spread. I have their Simple Plan. I don’t love T-Mobile by any stretch, but likely will stay with them as I travel abroad a few times a year.

  21. Bethany

    January 29, 2015

    What about toiletries? You’ve got to carry more primping tools than makeup and a curling iron, right? I’m feeling like a diva trying to figure out how shampoo, face wash and all of those tools factor into the packing place:)

  22. Staci @ My Friend Staci

    January 29, 2015

    I’m with Nuli in regards to the people who try to push the limits of carry-on etiquette. However I think you can fit this all in the small suitcase plus the leather bag. The suitcase goes over head and the leather bag goes under the seat. Perhaps she didn’t realize the polka dotted mini purse can be packed and then arranged once you settle at the hotel/apartment?

  23. Beauty Follower

    January 29, 2015

    Really helpful post!

  24. Noelle

    January 29, 2015

    i think I have been on our site all night reading your pack for Paris post! I’m traveling to QVC out there in March! I’ve bought a few things from this post, thanks, noelle

  25. Jennifer

    January 30, 2015

    Not sure about the Converse in Paris in the winter. They’re great for inside, but have absolutely no insulation and if you were to try to walk around for a day in them, your feet would be absolutely frozen and most likely soaking wet.
    Also, I would recommend some gloves.

  26. angel

    January 31, 2015

    I went to Madewell at the mall for the first time today because I loved the clothes in this post. I never stopped in before because I thought it was a more expensive store, but they were having a clearance sale. Dresses for $20-25. I bought a wool felt hat for $16!

    It would be great if you took pictures of how you managed to pack everything in your suitcase.

  27. C's Confetti

    February 1, 2015

  28. AnaVinilos

    February 2, 2015

    Todos sabemos París hace mucho frio nel mes de Abril, y por esso me encanta tus elecciones.

  29. Caroline

    February 2, 2015

    Hang on – three pairs of very similar black jeans but not enough undies for a week? That ain’t computing. I’d hate to do laundry on a trip if I could avoid it.

  30. Hayley

    February 2, 2015

    I second the question about your spotted purse (EE) … the website you linked to does not appear to come with a strap. Can you clarify? Thanks!

  31. Zoflo

    February 5, 2015

    I have just got back from a long weekend in Paris – if only I had read this before we left! We had to pay extra for Hold Luggage!! Boohoo! Great post :)

  32. Olivia

    February 7, 2015

    You’re spot on with the colors, I’m in Paris right now and it seems everyone is wearing black. However how do you fit all that in a carry-on? (In vacuum bags maybe?)

  33. Olivia

    February 7, 2015

    You’re spot on with the colors, I’m in Paris right now and it seems everyone is wearing black. However how do you fit all that in a carry-on? (In vacuum bags maybe?)

  34. Carol

    February 7, 2015

    Haven’t renewed my passport yet, and this is just the incentive I need! Thanks!!

  35. nula

    February 8, 2015

    This is immensely helpful, Jordan! Thank you! Would you happen to have any good outwear suggestions or ideas for early March? I’m thinking heavy wool will be, well, too heavy. Thanks again!

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