Last week I boarded a direct flight from 80-degree days into a winter storm warning. I didn’t have the funding to purchase a new winter wardrobe so I had to improvise. I pulled clothing layers and boots from my backpacking gear and bought a warm coat at a discount shop before leaving Florida. I’m staying reasonably warm in below freezing temps with what I packed combined with a few more pieces I found in Salt Lake City. Granted, I’m not rocking this year’s fashion trends, it’s more of a mismatched backpacker look. Admittedly, that’s normal for me.
If you’re unprepared for frosty temperatures, here are some tips on dressing for cold weather travel on a budget:
Start early by looking through your existing clothes and shoes for pieces than can be combined into warmer outfits. Look for a mix of snug fitting items and looser pieces that can by layered over one another. High-top hiking boots with are a good short-term option in place of snow boots. Just make sure they have a water resistant lining. Next, identify what you need to borrow or buy well ahead so you have time to call friends and shop for deals.
I knew there were opportunities in Salt Lake City for thrift shopping after I arrived, but a heavy coat couldn’t wait, so I purchased that for $50.
Layer What You Have
Lightweight layers are all I own so I decided to stack them up. Indoors I wear silk long johns, heavy pants, a thin sweater, long-sleeve button down or another light base, plus a fleece jacket and wool socks. Outdoors I add a heavy coat, gloves, scarf, beanie, and hiking boots.
While less than ideal, the above solution saved me money in the short term. However, after walking a mile to a local dog-park and back, I know that my next purchase will be proper winter boots. After just ten minutes of ball tossing, I had to return home because my toes were numb, disappointing my canine friend.
Shop Used or Clearance
Tomorrow will test my thin Florida blood again as I head to Brighton Resort for ski lessons. Considering that I’ll spend ample time on my butt in the snow, decent ski pants and a coat are mandatory. I was going to borrow, but found new ski pants and jacket, albeit last season’s, for roughly 40% of retail price at 2nd Tracks a discount and consignment sporting-goods store. Score! This solution worked well because I expect to stay involved with winter sports in the future.
Another discount shop offered $.79 gloves and $5.00 caps so I stocked up on a few more of those as well. In general, I have found Salt Lake to be a thrifty place to shop with lots of second-hand and discount stores. Next, I’ll look for winter boots so I won’t disappoint Indy (my canine buddy) with any more short visits to the park.
I plan to slowly collect the winter items I need, because colder climates appear to be in my future. At some point, I might even own stylish outfits, but for now, it’s all about staying warm for as little money as possible. Do you have any tricks for saving money on destination-specific clothes when you travel?