Dressing for cold weather travel on a budget

Snowy Day at Liberty Park, Salt Lake City

Beautiful, but cold. I managed to stay warm this trip and stay on budget.

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:

Plan Ahead

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.

Indy in the snow at Liberty Park, Salt Lake City

My canine pal Indy loves walks to the park, even in the snow. Meanwhile, my toes went numb in regular hiking boots after awhile.

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?

Comments 4

  1. Wow….great information. I particularly like hearing about places like Second Track. A practical way to get started in a new sport, Thanks.

  2. Pingback: Learning to ski: Dress for success on the slopes - The Active Explorer

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