Banner for Snapshot


Travel Packing Clothing Tips

Rainwear, Ponchos, Coats, Jackets to pack for a trip

Here are some ideas for packing rainwear, ponchos, coats, jackets, and fleeces, usually the bulkiest items in a travel wardrobe. Give some thought to exactly what you will need to keep you warm and dry, while choosing the bare minimum. Even in tropical or warm climates, like  Puerto Plata in August or January, there will be downpours. Torrential, sometimes!

When you are snug in a mall, or in your hotel room, or on a cozy tour bus, rain storms are not a problem. But if you plan to tour, or have a long wait for transportation, you'll be happy you have packed something to keep you warm and dry.

Plan to Stay Dry! If you have to go outside to get from the hotel rooms to the dining room or lobby, and from the bus into a museum, you're going to get really wet unless you've packed some sort of rain gear.

Even if you don't mind getting wet, your luggage, camera bag and backpack will mind, and will take forever to dry. So here are some tips on finding rainwear or ponchos, and how many coats, jackets, fleeces or hoodies to pack for your trip.

NOTE: For winter coats or cold climate travel see Pack for Winter page.

Raincoats and Ponchos

Vancouver Island Rain forest in a rain storm; blue rain jacket. Waterproof rainwear one of the hardest travel wardrobe items to find. My trusty, long-serving waterproof rain jacket has succumbed to the ravages of age, and isn't waterproof any more.

This rain coat been all over the world, including places I've never been, like Japan! It got loaned out a lot.

Here's a picture of Ol' Blue raincoat keeping me dry in Port Hardy on Vancouver Island. I've never been so wet on a hike in my life!

Rainwear for travel is not the same as a regular raincoats

  • Regular rainwear is bulky and takes too much suitcase room. For travel, rainwear should fold into a tidy pouch.
  • Regular raincoats are not waterproof; they are 'water resistant'. (My shirt is 'water resistant';  I need something that will keep me bone dry!)
  • Regular raincoats don't have heat sealed seams (otherwise water can get in where there is stitching).

A raincoat or rain jacket that you really like, that's long enough to keep you dry to your knees, that folds up neatly, is a great investment. This type of raingear is not easy to find, but worth the effort. Here are some waterproof raincoats on Amazon USA -- rain wear for women -- to show you what I mean.


Plastic Rain Ponchos

Pack a few disposable plastic ponchos that come in a small pouch. You can usually find them at Dollar stores (or Euro stores or whatever is the equivalent where you are). These plastic ponchos or rain coats take up very little room in your backpack or luggage, and cover a lot. These ponchos are roomy, but tend to fly up in gusty winds, so look for ones that come with a belt. I still have a blue one from a Maid of the Mist tour in Niagara Falls!

Here's a page of waterproof ponchos on Amazon. Some of these are longer lasting, too. (Many Amazon products are for sale only in the U.S. but some ship internationally.) Have a look to see what type of clothing I mean, and you may be able to find it locally.

Carry-on Your Ponchos :

  • Keep one poncho (for you to wear) in your carry-on bag so you can get at it easily: It rains at airports, too!
  • Take one poncho to cover your luggage, in case you have to hike several blocks on a rainy day.
  • Keep a poncho in your camera bag, too. I have one covering my camera in the photo above.

Even the best raincoat won't cover both you and your pack. And in a really bad rainstorm, you may be able to sell them to other travelers :-) so take a few spares! At the Great Wall of China, local vendors were selling these ponchos, and we were happy to buy them!

Umbrellas: Brollies An Iffy Travel Choice for Raingear

Umbrellas, no matter how tiny, require a hand to hold them, and you may have yours full with your bags!  And they can be useless if it's windy. Even compact umbrellas take up too much luggage space, IMHO, to warrant taking them along 'Just in Case".

In Mulu Sarawak, the resort had large golf umbrellas in the restaurant and lobby for guests to use to get to from rooms. Much apperciated, but not as common at hotels as you would think.

Jackets and Fleeces : How Many to Pack

One jacket or fleece and a lightweight sweater should be enough. I sometimes take my trusty cashmere cardigan that I bought in Hong Kong. You may not need to pack a jacket at all, but take a cardigan along if you will be spending any time in a cool climate on your trip, or at a holiday destination where the nights or early mornings are cool.

If your jacket or fleece is bulky, wear it on the plane to save luggage space and weight. Airplanes can be chilly, so you will have your own 'blanket' on you!

I had a great lightweight tech jacket for Ethiopia, Patagonia and Tierra Del Fuego Argentina (where it poured!). Here are some examples on Amazon of  jackets for men women boys girls.

A good waterproof rain jacket will be windproof, too, so you may not need to pack a jacket or fleece. A waterproof / windproof rain coat worn over a warm top or sweater will be as cozy as a separate jacket. This combination worked well for me, even in London, England, in January.

I hope these travel packing tips help keep you warm and dry wherever your travels take you!