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What to Pack for a Winter Vacation to a Warmer Destination

January 9, 2024

Are you packing for a winter vacation to a warmer destination? Lucky thing! It can be a little tricky to pack for those warmer locations because, let’s face it, even Florida, south Texas and Arizona can have some cold weather in January and February. But I’ve done my share of winter travel to those places, and I’ve got some tips to share.

What to Pack for a Winter Vacation to a Warmer Destination

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Now notice I said warmer, not warm. I’ve received quite a few reader requests recently to share what to pack for winter getaways to locations like southern California, Arizona, the Gulf Coast and Florida. So we’re not talking tropical vacation here. And indeed, these slightly warmer destinations can be the trickier to pack for. As someone who has lived on the Gulf Coast in Texas, and on the border of Mexico in Arizona, I can tell you that even those southern parts of the United States can have snow and cold temperatures well into February and even March.

So here are my tips for packing for a winter vacation to a warmer destination:

Tip #1 – Take (or wear, if you’re flying) a lightweight coat.

I’d suggest you take something like this quilted coat or a trench with a lining. If the weather does take a turn, you will feel so much better with a coat that covers your bum and provides a little protection from cold winds. You will not regret taking a lightweight coat, trust me.

Tip #2 – Take a jacket or two.

Depending on the length of your vacation, I’d take along at least one jacket, maybe more. A denim jacket and a hooded windbreaker would be my personal selections. But something casual and smart like this soft collar blazer would be a good choice, too.

Tip #3 – Pack lightweight layers.

I’ve visited St. Augustine Beach, Florida, several times during February, and I can tell you that packing lightweight layers is the way to go. I try to include short-sleeve and even sleeveless tops that I can wear alone or with another layer over them. Here are some photos of layers I wore in St. Augustine Beach in February a couple of years ago. Obviously these (except the tank in other colors) are no longer available. But you get the idea.

Linen Pants and Linen Top
See the original post for details.
Linen Pants
See the original post for details.
Beach Capsule Wardrobe with J.Jill
See the original post for details.

Of course I also had jeans, shorts and cotton trousers with me. But you see that I had tanks (and tees), button-up shirts, cotton or cotton blend sweaters and even scarves or wraps that would all mix and match. The bottom line is I think it’s nice to have things in pretty colors that feel bright and cheerful (and warm!), but also in a selection that layers nicely for warmth.

I purchased all of the items in my “vacation capsule” for Florida in 2022 from J.Jill. And today I’m sharing an outfit that I was recently gifted by J.Jill to share on Instagram. It’s a perfect example of some of the pieces I would include in my suitcase if I were to travel south in the next month or two.

J.Jill Clothes
brushed twill wide-leg trousers // button-front relaxed tunic // striped button-cuff top // more love bracelet // goldtone drop earrings // Tretorn sneakers

I love that J.Jill offers a wide range of sizes, including petite and tall offerings in many styles. I do find that their clothes run a little large than some brands, specifically their tops and dresses. I generally size down to a small in tops and dresses. But I wear my usual size medium or 8 or 10 in pants (usually).

twill pants from J.Jill
brushed twill wide-leg trousers // button-front relaxed tunic // striped button-cuff top // more love bracelet // goldtone drop earrings // Tretorn sneakers

Here I’m wearing the brushed twill wide-leg trousers in a generous size 10. I had to order these during the Christmas holidays, so I didn’t want to end up with pants that were too small. But these 10s are a very generous fit on me. But hey, I’m not complaining; they feel so soft and relaxed. I love the wide leg (so modern!) and they have a single soft pleat, too. The brushed twill wide-leg trousers have a side zip and button closure for a flat front panel.

Button-Front Tunic
brushed twill wide-leg trousers // button-front relaxed tunic // striped button-cuff top // more love bracelet

Tip #4 – Pack pieces in lightweight fabrics and cheerful colors.

J.Jill calls this pretty pink shirt a button-front relaxed tunic, but indeed it buttons all the way from top to bottom. It’s super soft and plenty long if you’d like to wear it out over leggings or slim fit jeans. I’m wearing a size small, as I usually do in J.Jill tops.

more love bracelet // goldtone drop earrings // button-front relaxed tunic // striped button-cuff top

For a layered effect on a cool day, I topped the button-front relaxed tunic with a navy and white striped button-cuff top. Generously sized, this long-sleeve top features extended cuffs that you can roll up or leave down. Mine are doubled up in the photo above. I think this duo is so cheerful!

more love bracelet // goldtone drop earrings // button-front relaxed tunic

Tip #5 – Pack minimal jewelry.

I always love shopping J.Jill’s accessories. They have such pretty jewelry and scarves. My more love bracelet and goldtone drop earrings would be just about all the jewelry I would travel with for a winter vacation to a warmer destination. I always travel with a small capsule of mixed metal jewelry that will work sufficiently with everything I’ll be wearing. I think this necklace would be a nice one to wear with my more love bracelet and goldtone drop earrings.

Closed toe Shoes
Tretorn Sneakers

Tip #6 – Pack a couple of pairs of closed toe shoes.

As excited as you may be about the prospect of wearing sandals, you’ll undoubtedly need at least a couple of pairs of closed toe shoes at your warmer destination. I can highly recommend my Tretorn Sneakers. They fit true to size and are quite comfortable. And since these types of sneakers are trending, they’ll go with most everything you take on your vacation. But I’d also carry along something like these Born driving moccasins, maybe in the pretty orange or yellow???

What to Wear on a Winter Vacation to a Warmer Destination
brushed twill wide-leg trousers // button-front relaxed tunic // striped button-cuff top // more love bracelet // goldtone drop earrings // Tretorn sneakers

Tip #7 – Think ahead and create multiple outfits from the pieces you pack.

As always I think it’s smart to think through your outfits before you pack. I love that I can wear this outfit several ways. I’ve shown two of them here, but I could also wear the button-front relaxed tunic unbuttoned and open over my J.Jill white reversible tank. It’s one of my favorite tanks, and I’ve worn mine for several years now.

Outfit from J.Jill
brushed twill wide-leg trousers // button-front relaxed tunic // striped button-cuff top // more love bracelet // goldtone drop earrings // Tretorn sneakers

By the way, it was a drizzly day when we took these photos, but also slightly warm, about 58 degrees Fahrenheit. So I thought that was just right for trying out this warmer destination outfit. It felt just right!

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Blessed for My Day

Let’s try this again! I wrote a devotional on these verses yesterday, but for some reason it didn’t post…and I never had the opportunity to go back and fix it. When you see a blog post without a devotional, please know that I absolutely wrote one. That’s always a top priority. Sometimes the Internet just gobbles them up. Ha!

Do you ever have anxious moments? I think it’s normal and human to get anxious over bad news, a riff in a relationship or a sudden change in events. But the biblical command is that we are not to stay in that feeling of anxiety. The Bible tells us over and over “do not be anxious,” so we can trust that God also provides a remedy.

David set the example for dealing with anxious thoughts in Psalm 4. He felt the anxiety and confessed it, but then he chose not to sin…not to stay anxious. Instead he committed to sit still and meditate on the Lord’s character, His goodness and faithfulness. Maybe he recounted the ways God had acted on his behalf in the past. Then he “offered the sacrifices of righteousness,” which would be acts of obedience based on his trust in the Lord. If you’re anxious today, why not follow David’s example and see how that works for you?

Tremble, and do not sin;
Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And trust in the Lord. ~ Psalm 4:4-5

xoxo, Kay
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6 thoughts on “What to Pack for a Winter Vacation to a Warmer Destination

  1. Enjoyed your blog and your packing tips having just packed for a trip to Alaska! Layers are important elements in cold weather too. Thank you for doing the define and refine your style series. It seems that we must define and refine as we age and change. Do you agree?

  2. I live in Central Texas and a north wind blew in last night and it’s cold. It’s 53 right now but the wind chill is in the 40s. You’re right about taking a coat. When I went to Israel in 2020 I froze when we were sight seeing outside. I had a light weight coat and did layer. I should have took a regular coat because in January the weather is like it is in Texas. It can get cold.

  3. Thank you for a very timely post – I have just finished booking a vacation in February that will take me from NYC to Seattle, WA, onto Phoenix, AZ and then back to NYC. Not only potentially three different climates, but also a mix of activities from attending a ballet in Seattle to hiking in Arizona. I shall definitely be using some of your tips – especially about shoes, coats and layers.

  4. Hi Kay so pleased the Devotional came through today , and reading it I needed that one yesterday ! But I must admit yesterday I did just that Pray to still my Anxiety on something that happened ……and it worked.
    Love these winter vacation outfits , specially the pink tunic blouse with the striped top and wide leg pants , thank you for this Kay I have a periwinkle blue tunic blouse and a same stripe top and pants but I have never thought to wear the stripe top over the blouse ❤️❤️

  5. Kay, you are a week too late! Just got back from Hawaii to help get thru Illinois winter, but looks like you had already trained me well because I followed several of these principles. Used almost everything I took and the denim jacket and rain jacket were invaluable. Thank you, Kay!