Packing for winter travel to Eastern Europe can be difficult. All the gear it seems you'll need to keep yourself protected from bitter winters can weigh you down, but if you leave anything behind you can sorely regret it, especially if your finances or location don't allow you to purchase suitable replacements. Winter is a great time to travel around Europe. Follow these tips for packing for winter travel in Eastern Europe and keep yourself from freezing.
Pack a Warm Coat
Eastern Europeans who are used to brutal winters wear coats made of fur, wool, or other insulating materials. Unfortunately, these coats can be bulky, heavy, and expensive. You may be better off purchasing a good quality down coat that can be flattened to fit into your luggage. Any coat you do buy should be longer than waist length and windproof.
To pack a down jacket (or other coat), find a large sealable bag. After placing the coat in the bag, press all of the air out and seal the bag. This will save you space in your suitcase.
Don't Forget a Hat
The traditional Russian-style fur hat complete with ear flaps doesn't only represent a funny stereotype. These hats are designed to protect the wearer's head and ears from the bitter cold weather. Some sort of head covering will be essential for winter travel to Eastern Europe. Choose a hat for its practical qualities. You may find that the traditional style hat, or a version of it, offers both protection and style...once you get used to how you look in the mirror.
Wear Waterproof Boots
A pair of warm, comfortable boots may be the most important accessory you take with you when you travel to Eastern Europe during the winter months. The coldest months in Eastern Europe can see heavy snowfall. Whether wet or dry, the snow can be deep and may not melt off until spring. Make sure the boots you take cover your ankles so that you don't get wet feet while trudging around in the snow.
Boots are best purchased well before traveling to Eastern Europe during the winter so that they can be broken in. They should be comfortable enough to walk long distances in and able to accommodate your feet and heavy, warm socks both.
Valenki are traditional Russian felt boots. They provide both insulation and protection from moisture if worn with their rubber covering. If you're going to be in Russia or another country whose winters are just as harsh, valenki boots might be a good option for you.
Choose Practical Gloves
Those one-size-fits-all gloves that cost a few dollars won't keep your fingers from freezing as you walk to the subway or catch the bus in Eastern Europe during the winter. Purchase well-insulated gloves made of quality materials that fit well and cover the wrists.
Pack a Warm Scarf
A woolen scarf tucked into your coat can protect your neck and throat and block chilly winds. It is better to have a coat with a high collar than to depend upon a scarf to protect your neck from the cold, but if you don't have a coat with a high collar, bring along a scarf that is long and warm enough to be useful against the weather.
Think in Layers
Many cities in Eastern Europe use a centralized heating system to heat residential buildings, so despite bitter winters, the temperature can be quite hot indoors. While you'll need to wear warm clothing when going outside, you'll want to be comfortable inside. The best way to ensure that you don't freeze while outside and don't boil inside is to wear sweaters that can be removed if opening the windows doesn't cool off the room enough for comfort's sake.