When you live “Up North” and travel south for during the winter, it can be a little challenging to know what to pack. At this time of year, Florida’s overnight temperatures can dip down into the high 30s, and afternoons can have a high of the upper 60s. (Don’t judge! That’s cold to us!)

If you’re typically used to wearing sweaters and dressing in layers, you might think you need to pack your usual winter wear if it gets cold. And while it does get cold here, it’s not “winter in Michigan” cold. At the same time, you might think you can get by with just shorts and t-shirts because it’s always warm. You’ll end up buying an overpriced sweatshirt just to keep your body temperature at survival levels.

Many first-time snowbirds don’t know what to pack and either bring too much or not enough stuff for their first trip south.

Here are five packing tips to help you northerners spend a week or two in a southern climate.

Woman stretching her arms on the beach. She knows several packing tips for the heat when you live where it's cold.

  1. Don’t pack heavy coats. You won’t need your heavy weather gear unless we get a freak cold wave heading through here. Check the extended forecast right before you leave, just to make sure. Even so, just don’t pack your coats. This is one of those packing tips that will save you some money: If you need to take them, save the space and wear them on the plane to save luggage space and overweight luggage fees. You can even wear a couple of sweatshirts instead and leave the coats behind. (Pack them in your car trunk so you can put them on when you get back to the airport.)
  2. Take along a light sweater when you’re inside. Even in July and August in Florida, people will still wear light sweaters. Not because anything below 85 is chilly, but it’s because the AC is cranked up pretty high down here. If you spend a couple of hours in a movie theater, restaurant, or mall, you’ll get a little chilly. Pack a light sweater or long sleeve shirt if you’re going to spend any length of time indoors.
  3. Take a sweatshirt in case the temperature dips. It can get pretty cold — Florida cold — in the middle of winter down here. Some nights will hit in the 40s, and it won’t reach the 60s until mid-afternoon.
  4. Take a taxi or rideshare to the airport. If you want to travel light, and you’re trying not to take your heavy coat from long-term parking to the gate, get a ride directly to the airport. Call a cab, bribe a friend, or take a ride-sharing car. They’ll drop you off right in front and you can rush inside without freezing.
  5. Don’t forget the rain gear. Our regular rainy season is during the summer, but we still get rain at unusual times. Take a rain jacket and an umbrella, just in case. Also, if you’re visiting a theme park and it starts raining, don’t leave. (Many people will, and that works to your benefit.) They’ll keep operating. Most of the rides are inside, so they’ll keep running. Check the forecast and make lunch or dinner reservations when the rain is supposed to start. You’ll be rewarded with shorter lines and shorter waits.

How do you stay comfortable on vacation, especially if you’re heading from the Midwest or Northeast to Florida, Texas, or Arizona? Share your packing tips and ideas on our Facebook page, or on our Twitter stream. You can also find us on our Instagram page at @TravelproIntl.