New England is a four-season destination, which means that the clothing and other things you'll want to pack will vary depending upon the timing of your trip. Here are some basic suggestions to help you plan what to pack and how to dress for your trip to New England.
The Essentials You'll Need for New England
- Pack lightweight summer clothing—shorts, T-shirts, polo shirts, sundresses—for visits between late June and early September, but be sure to bring along a pair of long pants or jeans and a jacket or sweater, especially if you're visiting areas along the coast.
- Bathing suits, towels, and sunscreen are important for beachside or lakefront destinations or if your hotel has a swimming pool. Some New England hotels even have outdoor pools that stay open through the winter.
- In the spring (April through late June) and fall (mid-September through early November), temperatures can be quite cold at night even when daytime temperatures are moderate and comfortable. You'll want to dress in layers and perhaps bring along a warmer jacket or raincoat.
- A compact umbrella is always a good idea no matter what the season. Sunglasses are also a must year-round.
- You'll want to be prepared with a warm winter coat, scarf, waterproof boots, and gloves or mittens if you plan to visit between November and March. Ear muffs or a head wrap are also a smart item to pack if you'll be spending time outdoors in the winter. Because winter storms can be unpredictable, you'll want to be sure you have a snow scraper, windshield washer fluid, blankets and emergency supplies in your car if you are driving.
- Comfortable walking shoes are a must.
- Be sure to pack any prescription medications you may need, brochures with information on the sights you plan to visit, copies of hotel and other reservations confirmations, airline and other tickets, passports, credit/debit cards and/or ATM cards.
- If you are planning a skiing vacation, you can bring your own gear along or rent equipment at the slopes.
- Don't forget your camera, and bring along plenty of digital storage media. Photography supplies may cost you extra if you wait to buy them at your New England destination.
- Double check that you've packed chargers for all of your electronic devices: cell phone, tablet, laptop, e-reader, camera.
Smarter Packing Tips for New England Vacationers
- Many hotels provide hair dryers and toiletry items such as shampoo, soap and body lotion, but it is always wise to inquire ahead. B&Bs are less likely to offer these amenities.
- You may need to supply your own linens at vacation rental accommodations; inquire ahead.
- If you're in danger of being in New Hampshire or Maine during "black fly season" in late spring, be sure to bring along insect repellent specially formulated to repel black flies.
- As a rule, dress tends to be fairly preppy and conservative in New England.
- You may be surprised by how spotty cell phone service can be in New England, particularly in rural and mountainous areas and also in the tunnels around Boston. If you'll be driving to your destination, it's always wise to print directions or bring along a map.
New England Style Advice
- Pair a denim button-down shirt tied at the waist with either a cotton skirt or jeans for an outing to a New England farmer's market or flea market.
- Sightseeing or shopping in Boston or one of New England's other urban destinations? Leave your highest heels behind and choose comfortable flat shoes instead.
- Layering a scarf with your top or tossing a wrap in your bag is always a good plan, since New England's weather is notoriously unpredictable.
- If you're visiting campuses or attending college in New England, think comfortable but conservative when you're choosing your attire.
- Skinny jeans are in, but if you're headed to the beach—particularly up north in Maine where Atlantic waters are cold—pack pants that are easy to roll up, so you can get your feet wet without having to take a bigger plunge.
- Follow New England fashion icons Kiel James Patrick and his wife, Sarah, on Instagram for a glimpse of the preppy look aspired to by many New Englanders.