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Updated on January 24th 2022.
Believe it or not, the snowy holiday season is rapidly approaching! Meaning it’s time for suggestions on winter travel! We all want to “get away” as soon as the cold weather comes, but some of us actually like northern destinations this time of year.
As for you, are you in need of a New York winter packing list for your trip to the Big Apple? Then you’ve arrived at the right place!
Here, I’ll help you prepare for a wonderful vacation, one where you’ll experience a winter wonderland in one of the best cities in the world.
And yeah, it’s obvious that I adore New York, isn’t it? Haha.
So why all the love? Well I think that New York is a great destination for solo travelers. It’s not only packed with a million sites, but has a great public transportation in place that benefit visitors. It’s also quite safe for a city of its massive size.
In fact, New York is one of my favorite cities in the entire world. I feel so blessed to live close enough to New York City that I don’t have to drive there to enjoy a pleasant day trip. I truly never, ever, ever feel bored taking a train ride into the Big Apple.
However, although the cold weather months (with the glaring and obvious exception of Christmas & New Years) are cheaper than other times, visiting New York City in winter still comes with challenges, and you need to know about them ahead of time. I don’t want you to come in with rose colored glasses.
As my biggest example, you need to pack wisely for your upcoming wintry New York vacation. Winter is brutal here. There’s snow, wind, low temperatures, and sudden storms.
Whether you’re a travel veteran or taking your first trip to New York, knowledge is power and therefore this packing guide will boost your overall preparation for your vacation.
Before I talk about the items, let’s talk about New York City’s weather in more detail. You’ll need it.
New York Winter Weather
Argh, I love the winter months here in the city, but they’re not always the funnest in terms of weather either.
First and foremost, New York’s winter weather is notoriously unpredictable. You likely won’t have a reliable weather forecast until two or three dates before your departure date. Things change faster than the rules of modern dating.
Sure, temperatures will likely be cold, but just how cold is entirely up to chance. I’ve visited New York in January and enjoyed sun and relatively warm temperatures. Other times, temperature plummet far below freezing. You can’t even be outside for long periods without it treading into dangerous territory. And don’t even get me started on the wind chill. Official warnings are common.
Are you already hitting the back button? Don’t do that!
Despite possible rough weather, I don’t want to scare you away from New York in winter, though. I’ve had so many magical trips. The Christmas decorations (I love New York in December so much), the snow, the city lights in the early winter darkness. New York is gorgeous in colder weather. And since it’s located in the northeast, New York City is equipped to handle snow without too many problems.
Again, all you need to do is prepare ahead of time, and you’ll be fine. Let’s get on with your planning now.
What to Pack for New York in Winter: Basics
Don’t forget these small basic items when you’re packing for New York in winter. Having them can make a world of difference on your trip.
Insulated Phone Case
You’ll want to protect your phone from New York City’s frigid cold temperatures. As most of you already know, freezing weather drains and kills your phone’s battery. You want to protect it. So make sure to buy an insulated phone case for your winter trip to New York City.
You might encounter snow in New York, but winter can also bring some very bright sunny days. There’s nothing more refreshing than a crisp cold day without a single cloud in the sky.
But you’ll want to protect your eyes! UV rays aren’t great for your vision. So make sure to pack a pair of sunglasses for your urban adventure.
I know New York is fashionable, but what’s cool is that you don’t need to buy Chanel or Gucci to fit in. There are plenty of affordable lightweight glasses with polarized lens for you to wear in New York City.
Travel Scarf w/ Secret Pockets
You’ll want to have a scarf regardless of any pockets. As I’ve said, New York City has a crazy wind chill, because of its location on the water.
I would invest in an Infinity Scarf with hidden pockets for your winter trip to New York. These scarves are especially helpful if you want to travel lightly throughout the day, which is a great idea considering you’ll walk a ton in New York. I usually clock an average of 8-10 miles every time I visit the city.
A Waterproof Backpack or Crossbody Bag
Do you want to bring a purse for visiting New York in winter? If so, then I’d suggest a crossbody bag that’s waterproof in the event of cold rain or snow.
If you’re not “a purse person,” then a waterproof backpack is also a suitable replacement. As always, keep an eye on your personal belongings. Although I’ve never felt unsafe in New York, it’s still a huge city and petty theft isn’t out of the range of possibility.
A Portable Cell Phone Charger
You don’t want your cell phone dying in the middle of New York. Like I stated earlier, New York’s cold weather will drain your battery, and even with a great cover, you’ll want to take additional precautions.
I’d recommend having a portable cell phone charger with you at all times. Having a spare charger is especially important if you’re using your phone camera as the primary way of taking pictures. Opening and closing the camera uses a fair amount of battery life.
I’ve always found preparing for winter trips more challenging than summer ones. Why? Well winter gear is notoriously bulky, and a pain in the butt for you to pack. No lie, I’ve sat on my suitcase in an attempt to close it for a winter trip. Thanks, Iceland, for embarrassing me in the middle of Newark Airport.
But I digress. You want to just keep it light going from Newark Airport to Manhattan.
So I suggest that travelers use reliable packing cubes to maximize every single inch available in their luggage. Seriously, I love packing cubes. I use them whenever I possibly can!
By buying packing cubes, you’ll compress bulkier items and keep everything organized inside your suitcase. I know they help me with my lack of, ahem, organizational skills.
What to Wear in New York in Winter
Clothes are definitely the most important consideration for visiting New York in winter. You want clothes that are warm, but won’t take up an inordinate amount of space in your luggage either.
Below, are a few of my suggestions.
Thermal Tops and Bottoms
If you’re planning to spend most of your time outdoors or take day trips to the nearby scenic Hudson Valley, then you’ll want to pack some layers. Having a thermal set of clothes goes a long way with staying warm in New York’s wintry months.
I love leggings. Grab a pair of fleece leggings so you can stay warm. What’s nice is that fleece leggings take up less space in your luggage than other bulky winter options. You still want to have space to bring souvenirs home, am I right?
Adorable Sweaters of All Colors
A lightweight tunic sweater will keep you cosy and warm, and not destroy all the remaining space in your suitcase. These sweaters come in a variety of colors which make them easy and fun to match with a neutral pair of fleece leggings. Cute, easy, and snug!
Super Comfortable Boots
You need, need, need boots for New York City in winter especially if it happens to snow on your trip. While the city does its best, New York’s sidewalks still turn into a wet and slushy mess after a snow storm. You need proper footwear, or else you’ll massively regret it.
Use a high quality brand, such as Merrell which sells these waterpoof boots, for trekking on New York’s icy and slippery sidewalks. Heels are not worth it.
Snow boots are totally the way to go, despite their bulkiness!
A Cute Beanie Hat or Ear Muffs
Argh, you guys, my ears always freeze in New York City in winter. No doubt.
So, for your upcoming trip, you’ll want to bring something to protect your ears. Personally, I adore beanie hats and think they look fantastic on me. But I understand they might not be everyone’s cup of tea.
You can also bring an adorable pair of faux fur earmuffs to keep those ears cosy warm in spite of the winds.
Waterproof and Packable Gloves
You’ll want high quality gloves that are waterproof and windproof to protect your fingers. If you’re like me and use your devices a lot, then you want to make sure your gloves allow you to interact with your touch screens. You don’t want to repeatedly take your gloves on and off.
A Packable Winter Coat
Last but not least, you’ll obvious need a winter coat for visiting New York in winter. However, you want to avoid insanely puffy and heavy coats. They’re just not practical for packing purposes.
Instead aim for a lightweight hooded jacket to shield your body from the cold weather. Having a hood is essential in the event of unexpected snow or rain.
Essentials: What to Pack for New York in Winter
For the last part of this New York winter packing list, I have a couple more essentials that will make your trip safer and more memorable. You should have them for going to New York any time of the year. Let’s wrap it up.
A High Quality Camera
One of my favorite DSLR cameras is the Canon Rebel. I’ve had mine for years. It’s durable (trust me, my camera’s been through a lot of jostling) and takes high quality photos. Not to mention, it’s a great DSLR camera for beginners and isn’t too hard to figure out.
If you’re a more professional photographer, then you might want to upgrade to a mirrorless camera such as the Fujifilm T-30. Fuji makes impeccable products with this camera using superior technology to create 26.1 MP images. Pros will love having a Fujifilm T-30. The silver body is classy and pretty too.
All in all, bring a camera that fits your style and budget.
The Original MakeUp Eraser
New York is stylish so you’ll want to wear your favorite cosmetics. An easy and environmentally friendly way to clean your face is by using the Original MakeUp Eraser. Without a doubt, this gentle wipe is one of my favorite travel products of all time. I use it on all my trips.
Read my complete review on the MakeUp Eraser for more details.
Travel insurance is always essential for an upcoming trip. Having a policy is especially important if you’re an overseas visitor coming to New York City.
I always use World Nomads for my big trips. I find their prices affordable. I also like that they have “adventure” options for their insurance policies in case you’re planning on some cool adventure sports. World Nomads will make you breathe easier when visiting New York City. Invest in a policy.
A New York City Guidebook
Plenty of travel blogs cover New York City (including this one). However, I’m always a sucker for a good guidebook. Lonely Planet makes my favorite guidebooks, and they have a guide that specifically focuses on New York City – which is perfect for you!
With this guidebook, you’re more easily able to tailor your trip to fit your interests. It’s worth buying a physical copy or downloading a .pdf onto your cell phone.
I hope you enjoyed reading this New York winter packing list. Are you excited for seeing New York in winter? What do you want to bring with you? Share all your thoughts in the comments.