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what to pack for boston

What to Pack for Boston

Deciding what to pack for Boston is tricky when the city experiences such varied weather. Your best bet is to check the weather prior to packing and bring clothes you can wear in layers—lots of layers. Save a little extra room in your bag just in case you end up purchasing not only souvenirs but clothing to better fit the season.

What to Pack for Boston

Here are 10 items to include on your Boston packing list, no matter what time of year you’re visiting.

Comfy Shoes

comfortable walking shoes

Dubbed America’s Walking City, Boston is best explored on foot. Pack a pair that is as fashionable as it is functional. If you’re going with a heel, make sure it’s chunky so you don’t get stuck in the cobblestoned streets. Boat shoes are a safe bet or go for the classic Converse from the Boston-based brand.

Water Bottle 

KieferPix / Shutterstock

With all that walking, it’s important to stay hydrated—especially in the winter when it’s easy to miss the signs you need a drink. Opt for an insulated bottle if you like your water cold.


lightweight jacket

Even if you’re traveling in summer, it’s smart to carry a light jacket for cooler nights or potential rain. In the winter, you want something that will keep you warm but isn’t too bulky if you want to carry it around museums or shops.


layers for city trip

With the weather changing from one day to the next, the city may make you feel like you’re experiencing all four seasons in one visit. Your Boston packing list should center around layers that you can easily put on or take off as the weather requires it. You’re sure to get a lot of mileage out of a lightweight cardigan (or lightweight blazer for men).



You need something to carry all your “extras,” whether that’s hats and gloves or your rain jacket, umbrella, and a light sweater. It’s also helpful to stash any souvenirs you pick up along the way.


umbrella city

At the top of your “what to pack for Boston” list should be an umbrella. Your hotel may offer them, but generally, they’re the tall cumbersome style. Plenty of kiosks sell umbrellas, but too often you find these quickly broken and in the trash. Our advice? Pack your own (preferably a lightweight one to cut down on baggage weight).

Wool Socks

wool socks packing

Wool socks aren’t just for winter. Breathable, odor resistant, and moisture-wicking socks are important if you plan to do a lot of walking. Smartwool makes socks of varying thicknesses and styles so you can tailor to when you’re traveling and what you’re wearing.



You’ll want your sunglasses year-round, particularly when the sun starts reflecting off a fresh pile of snow. Look for polarized lenses and a timeless frame.

Smartphone Gloves

smartphone gloves

Traveling in the winter? Invest in a pair of gloves that simultaneously allow you to keep frostbite off your fingers and check your GPS for directions to the MFA.



No matter the season, Boston weather can dry out your skin. Add a lotion that can do double duty as your sunscreen to your Boston packing list. Only packing a carry-on? Look for a moisturizer under 3.4 ounces.

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– Original reporting by Kate Sitarz

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