The Ice Bean, Chicago


When packing for a Midwest getaway, layering is the name of the game. In the middle of America, temperatures not only vary between seasons, but also between days. Use our guide below for the must-pack items for any season in the Midwest.

Winter (November – March)

The Midwest is cold. Like cold, cold – long-underwear type cold. The temperatures often drop below freezing in the winter, and wind chill (the low temperature combined with the cold wind temperature) can make it dangerous to walk for extended periods of time. Here are the main areas to focus on in the Midwestern winter:

Your Feet

Socks, socks, socks – we can't say it enough. Invest in one good pair of wool socks (Smartwool socks are the brand preferred by most Midwesterners) and waterproof boots. Do know if you plan to walk in a city such as Chicago that in winter the city salts the street to melt ice. This salt can eat away at your boots, so don't bring your favourite pair for everyday use.

Your Hands and Head

If you don't have gloves at home, cheap ones are available at every pharmacy in the Midwest. While you are glove shopping, pick up a hat as well. When winds kick up, your ears are the first body part to get cold. It is said that 80 percent of your heat is also lost through your head, so a solid hood or hat can be a lifesaver.

The Rest of You

Layered sweaters are best for a Midwestern location. Though outside can be blisteringly cold, inside temperatures often vary wildly from one place to another. It is also important to invest in a good coat – down or synthetic insulation – especially if you will be visiting during a time when it is snowing.

Every winter is different, so make sure to check the radar before you leave for your vacation. Some seasons are milder and some contain more snow than others.

Spring (April – May)

This is usually the wet time of year in the Midwest. Snow melts and rains come. In the Midwest there is a saying: 'April showers bring May flowers.' Here is what to consider packing for on your spring Midwest getaway:

Your Feet

Think of investing in rain boots if you have to walk far. It will be wet and muddy wherever you go, so don't ruin your favourite shoes.

Your Head

Cheap umbrellas are available at most stores in the Midwest. These can be purchased in a pinch and discarded at the end of your trip.

The Rest of You

Again, light layers are important. Also, think about purchasing a rain coat if you plan to visit in April. May can range from cold and cloudy to very warm, depending on the year and the day, so remember to pack light sweaters.

Summer (June – August)

Midwestern cities are quite humid in the summer months. Prepare for the heat like you would an Australian trip.

Your Feet

Sandals are fine, though may be a bit uncomfortable if you plan to walk extended distances. Invest in a good walking shoe if you are visiting a city.

Your Head

Can you say water bottle? When it is hot in the city you can lose a lot of water. Stay hydrated in a new location by making a water bottle a staple of your wardrobe. Throughout the Midwest tap water is usually safe to drink, but public water fountains are few and far between.

The Rest of You

Much like during other seasons, remember to layer. While it is often hot during the day and night, some days temperatures can drop drastically.

Autumn (September – October)

Fall is sweater weather in the Midwest. Cosy up with a festive fall knit and a hot cider.

Your Feet

Casual boots or shoes of all kinds are appropriate for fall weather. The climate is usually chilly to cold and dry.

Your Hands

If you are outside for any extended period of time, light gloves are a must. Make it a truly toasty experience when you purchase with warmers to place inside your mittens.

The Rest of You

Layers and scarves, again, are the way to go. Keep your torso slightly warm in a sweater and your neck toasty with your favourite sweater for maximum comfort.

The Midwest is all about unpredictable weather (and fried foods). When travelling to this area, prepare for rampant flight weather cancellations and delays year-round. Purchase cancellation cover from Cover-More Travel Insurance to ensure a safe and comfortable trip to the heart of the United States.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Deirdre Hayes