I’ve been in Stockholm for nearly 2 months, and in these 2 months I’ve had highs of 80º and lows of 30º (Fahrenheit, of course — I still can’t grasp Celsius). Packing for a week’s vacation is hard, let alone a 4 month super-vacation spanning 3 partial seasons and including mini weekend trips to the varying climates of Norway to Nice, Great Britain to Greece.
It’s mid-October, and at this point I’ve a good grasp on what I really should have brought to Sweden and what I should have left at home. So, here’s my bit of advice, with the following disclaimer:
I consider myself a shopaholic, and I consider myself an overpacker. So, when I leave Sweden in December, I will likely be shipping home a big box of things that I can’t fit in my suitcases. Keep in mind that you will be buying things here!
Odds are you’re gonna have to buy some clothing to get you through the winter, some gifts for your family, some mementos of Stockholm, the list goes on. Leave some room in your suitcase when you leave the States — whatever you don’t pack, you can find in Stockholm. I’ll have some links for the things I bought here as they come up.
OK! Let’s begin.
1. Concerning the Legs
This may be my most important tip: don’t mess around with shorts. Maybe bring one versatile pair for when you first arrive in Stockholm and it’s a bit warm, but really hone in on the pants.
Midi-length skirts are popular here this time of year, if that’s your thing. But I wouldn’t go for anything that sacrifices your warmth and comfort.
Aim for versatility! Bring your 3 favorite pairs of jeans that can go with any top; bring that black pair of cotton work pants that can be worn casually or dressed up a bit.
Also, there’s no Labor Day in Sweden, so white pants are in fashion well into the year. Don’t be afraid to bring them! (Again, of course, if that is your thing.) You will get your use out of them.
2. Concering the Torso
All I gotta say is: layers, layers, layers.
Here’s a little clip of my daily commute to give you an idea of how ~fall~ it really is out here in October:
It’s beautiful, and actually decently reminiscent of the New England autumns I’m used to seeing.
That being said, I dress about the same here as I usually do in the American fall:
Layerable pieces like thin sweaters and versatile jackets (denim or otherwise) are your friends, and can get you through a solid month and a half alone before you need to bring out the big guns: the winter coat. Which I’ll get to in a bit.
A very important note: you likely will not be able to wash your clothing regularly. Friends in student housing often talk of their restricted laundry times and frequency, and I, living in a homestay, can only get a load in the washer when my host family has no need for it, which is rare, as they have young kids who need clean clothes, too.
I tell you this because I recommend, then, bringing a few extra foldable t-shirts and/or blouses that you can layer under sweaters or on their own. Since you can’t do laundry as often nor as freely as you may be used to, keep in mind that you may need a couple extra clean tops at any given moment.
3. Outerwear: The Best of All Wears
OK — a fun one!
When you arrive in Stockholm in August and it’s a solid 70º outside, your last thought will likely be a winter coat.
But I would recommend to bring your favorite and the warmest, and wear it on the plane to avoid luggage bulk. Take it off, use it as a pillow, store it under the seat in front of you… do what you will. But I would recommend bringing it, unless you plan on buying one here. And there are plenty here, and you have plenty of time to buy one before the mid-September chill rolls in.
If you bring a nice, thick coat, you really only need one. I have three because I’m ridiculous, and I wear the same one every day. I don’t know how I’m gonna get the other two home. I regret my decision to have three coats. You only need one!
But ooooh baby, here’s the important thing: the raincoat.
Stockholm fall, I’ve seen this past week in particular, is a melancholy, rainy thing. You can find a nice raincoat anywhere, really, and most of the more popular shopping streets have outdoor-stores with trusty and affordable raincoats. But I would opt, always, for waterproof over water-resitant.
The rain here is no joke.
I bought my raincoat here; it’s a Stutterheim, and it was an investment, but so worth it. And they’re handmade in Stockholm, so it serves as a little memento, too.
Your classic thin raincoat may serve you well, but if you need to walk for part of your commute (like I do), I would recommend picking up a large, bulky one here to save luggage space. If you have a great one at home, though, by all means bring it — you’ll need it!
4. Underwear: The Second Best of All Wears
I won’t say much on this subject: it’s up to you, and, frankly, none of my business.
BUT I really just put this section here to remind you of my note from earlier:
You very likely will not be able to do laundry as often as you may like.
I guess what I’m saying is: be prepared!
And bring nice cozy socks!
5. Loungewear: The Crown Jewel of All Wears
The only sweatshirt I brought with me in August was for daily wear, not necessarily for lounging. I held off until mid-September to buy sweatpants and a sweatshirt for lounging, which I would recommend — it didn’t really get cold enough to justify sweatpants until then.
So you have time to buy some if you don’t wanna jam them in your suitcase!
I bought this set from Muji, which has it all from storage containers to notebooks to dress shirts to travel mugs.
It’s located at the top floor of Åhlens City at T-Centralen, the main Subway station in Stockholm. I recommend it for school supplies and affordable basics!
6. Shoes & Feet
Don’t bring the cute shoes you can’t wear all day!
You’re gonna be walking a lot nearly every day — be kind to your feet.
The first day I was here, I made the mistake of wearing a pair of loafers I hadn’t broken in. I walked 10 miles. It’s been 2 months… my feet are still bruised from the horrible blisters I got that day.
Don’t be me. Anticipate more walking than you usually do — bring the sneakers.
I brought EIGHT (8) pairs of shoes, and I only wear 4 regularly.
I wear either rain/snow boots, athletic sneakers, Converse-like sneakers, or a pair of versatile casual-to-fancier boots every day.
You don’t need much more! Shoes are heavy and bulky!
7. Some Extra Speedy Tips
Don’t bring an overload of summer clothes — by the time you get here, summer will practically be over.
You can buy hats and scarves and gloves and all that here for a good price at stores like H&M, which is Swedish, so they’re all over the place and quite nicer than ones you tend to see in the States.
Don’t bother bringing an umbrella! You can find them here.
Same with Multivitamins, Vitamin D, etc. You can find all that stuff at Apotek or most grocery stores.
Oh! Also! It’s not a myth: don’t bring your hair appliances. I brought a full-sized straightener and two blow-driers for some reason (???) and the first time I used my straightener I short-circuited the house.
Just… don’t bring them. You may short circuit your house.
And you can find those things at department stores for cheap, or you can borrow from your friends or host family.
I recommend bringing travel-sized toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, etc. to get you through your first week or so here, before you wanna do any actual shopping for full-sized things. Don’t let a full bottle of conditioner weigh down your suitcase!
Lastly, DIS supplies your textbooks, so don’t fret about buying and packing them. All will be well!
Anything I missed? Feel free to comment or reach out to me! I know at this point what’s necessary and where to find the things that you may want to hold out on buying until you arrive.
Good luck & happy packing!