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What to Pack When Traveling to Massachusetts

Packing Advice for Massachusetts Weather

When traveling to Massachusetts, you'll want to know what to pack and be prepared for different weather related scenarios.

Weather in Massachusetts can be tricky and sometimes unpredictable but if you're wearing the right clothing and have the right gear, you'll be prepared for any type of situation.

What you'll want to bring will largely depend upon the time of year you visit Massachusetts but there are a few things to have regardless of the season. So let's get started on a checklist of what to pack for your next Massachusetts trip.

When Are You Coming?

What to pack largely depends upon when you'll be coming to Massachusetts. We do get all four seasons which is a great thing but at the same time we also get all four seasons' climate and temperature changes.

Summers are hot and humid, spring and fall are generally cool but can bring some unexpected precipitation and winters tend to be cold and snowy. So yes, we get a little bit of everything. Starting from the top:

Summer: If you're going to be walking around to see some of the outdoor Massachusetts tourism attractions, you'll want to start with packing sunblock and sunglasses. Even if you don't think you'll be outside much, it's a good idea to pack them anyways. There's been a few times I didn't think I'd need sunblock as I was going from one museum to the next but just mingling outside for 10 to 15 minutes at a time left me with a nasty sunburn.

As summers in Massachusetts tend to reach highs in the 80's Fahrenheit during the day and approach lows of 60's Fahrenheit at night, what to pack may also include t-shirts, shorts, sandals, a hat to block some of the sun's rays and comfortable walking shoes or sneakers.

At night, you may want to include a windbreaker or type of light jacket especially if the wind picks up or a thunderstorm rolls in and some bug spray for areas like parks, lakes, ponds and other areas further away from civilization.

Spring and Fall: Both spring and fall are among my favorite seasons as the temperatures are generally comfortable; not too hot, not too cold. In spring, everything is in full bloom with the anticipation of summer and fall brings the vibrant colors of the tree foliage.

What to pack in both of these seasons are somewhat similar. Again, walking through parks, city streets and other outdoor activities, you'll want to bring comfortable footwear. As spring and fall are generally mild during the day and cool at night, they can bring some abnormal weather patterns, regardless of what the daily weather forecast may otherwise state.

In both spring and fall, I am usually comfortable wearing sneakers, jeans, a t-shirt and a warm fleece that's both breathable and windproof. If rain is in the forecast and your plans include walking through the streets of Boston, make sure to pack a sturdy/windproof umbrella or some type of rain gear like a poncho or rain coat.

Winter: What to pack in winter differs greatly from the other three seasons by one main reason: frozen precipitation. If you're driving to or around Massachusetts, you'll want to check out this section on preparing your car for winter and some winter driving tips.

In the winter season, I'd generally stay away from wearing sneakers, especially if you're spending a quite a bit of time outdoors. Temperatures can linger around 30 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and dip down to the 'teens at night. Dressing in layers with waterproof and windproof clothing is the way to go.

If I'm planning on spending most of the day outdoors, I'll first start with thermal socks and comfortable & waterproof boots. I may wear thermal pants underneath my jeans to cut the wind factor and keep the heat in.

Layers on the torso include a long sleeve shirt, a fleece and a warm down coat. If I get hot I know I can either unzip the coats/fleece or take the down coat off. Also, if you're going to be active for most of the day outside, you may heat up quicker and not need to bundle up as much.

I'll also pack some warm/waterproof gloves and a winter hat. As most of the body heat leaves through your head, it's important to keep your winter hat on.

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Where Are You Going?

Are you planning a trip to Boston with the intent of walking the city? Going hiking or camping in the Berkshires? Heading out to the beach in Cape Cod? What to pack will also depend upon your type of trip to Massachusetts and where you are going.

Camping and Hiking: If I'm going on a camping trip, I'll always take a look at my checklist for camping first. The main thing behind both camping and hiking is to keep warm and dry. Always take a change of clothes with you in case of a passing storm. Sneakers may be fine for flat roads or lounging around the camp site but once you start trail hiking or spending any time away from the camping site, it's a good idea to pack boots with ankle support; twisting an ankle on a rock or branch is very easy to do.

Depending on the time of year, you'll want to dress for the weather as explained in the section above. Regardless of the weather forecast, always bring something to shield yourself from precipitation whether it be a rain coat, poncho, umbrella, etc. A poncho is versatile in that you can cover a backpack when hiking or use it to sit on a wet log or rock; they usually are relatively inexpensive to buy.

Sun block for the day and bug spray for the night should be included in your packing essentials. A First Aid kit is always a necessity when either hiking or camping.

Beach: Treat the beach like you would any other summer day but even more so as you'll be mostly exposed to elements for extended periods of time. What to pack on the beach should always include items that will block the sun's rays from you. The more fair your skin, the more vigilant you'll need to be with protecting yourself.

Some items may include sun block, sun glasses, a hat that protects both your face and neck, a t-shirt (short or long sleeve) and a sun umbrella. Even if you don't think you will need all of these items, at least you'll have the option to move in or out of the sun's rays.

You'll most likely also be packing sandals, a bathing suit, beach towel(s), and a cooler full of snacks and drinks.

City Streets: Like the beach, camping or hiking, walking the city streets also means you're exposed to the elements and you'll want to be dressed appropriately. If it's a city like Boston, plan on some older streets which include cobblestone and uneven ground. Stick to sneakers and comfortable shoes as opposed to high heels and shoes without much support.

In Massachusetts, we are all more or less conservative. Dress for the weather but also be comfortable.

If you're planning on attending some of the nightlife attractions in cities like Boston, Worcester or Springfield, some clubs may have a dress code. Call ahead to make sure what's ok to wear and what isn't (sneakers, jeans, t-shirts may not be permitted). Most bars are fine with any dress attire.

Sporting Events: Heading to a Red Sox, Patriots or Revolution game? It's probably a good idea not to wear non-local teams' attire to sporting events in Massachusetts. We take our sports very seriously. When in doubt, you can't go wrong with a Red Sox cap!

At Fenway Park and Gillette Stadium, in addition to wearing Red Sox, Patriots, or Revolution team gear, dress for the weather as these are outdoor stadiums.

Sometimes my friends or I will bring a pad to sit on to cut the chill from the seats or to just make them more comfortable. That's entirely optional and up to your personal preference.

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