A winter getaway can be magical, whether it’s a trip on its own or part of a long term travel adventure. Snow obviously can be great fun, I always get far too excited over snow (I am often told. As my home doesn’t get much, I love it. However, travelling in cold countries does have it’s problems. Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you want to stay in the hostel, you want to get out and see things still. But being cold is not only uncomfortable, it can quickly become dangerous. There are some small things you can do to help yourself cope with the cold, from packing the right stuff to behavioural changes. Here are a few tips to help you cope with the cold!
It’s all about layers with cold. Don’t go for one big bulky jumper, use several thin layers. Heat is trapped between layers, so it’s much more efficient at keeping you warm. But make sure you wear your bulky items when you’re travelling so they don’t take up much valued packing space!
What you wear will go a long way in keeping you warm. From materials to the layers you choose. Think about:
- Base layers – These are generally thin, but brilliant insulating layers. You can get base layers for both top and bottom. I’d recommend at least one merino wool pair as I love merino wool, it is so warm! And it dries quick. But it is expensive, you can get polyester base layers which are cheaper, but not as good. I have a pair of each.
- Socks – Once again, I’d recommend at least a pair or two in merino wool. Hiking socks are also a good option and I’m a fan of over the knee socks. Don’t be afraid to double up on socks, I often have a pair of hiking socks over the top of a over the knee pair!
- Footwear – Boots. Definitely boots. Walking boots are best, as they’ll also help you not to slip on icy ground. Opt for waterproof too, as, I don’t know about you but, as soon as my feet get slightly wet my feet are freezing for the rest of the day. Make sure your boots fit correctly too, if they’re too tight they’ll restrict the blood flow, so you’ll get cold feet! Make sure you can wiggle your toes even with the thickest socks on!
- Coat – If you layer up properly you don’t need a big bulky top. Ensure you get waterproof though!
- Hoodie – For in the hostel. The corridors can often be a little chilly, so a hoodie is a good idea.
Pack accessories in your carry-on, so you can wrap up as soon as you get to your cold destination. And don’t forget, just because it’s cold, doesn’t mean you don’t need to protect yourself from the sun!
- Gloves – I prefer wool, as i like to get fingerless gloves. However, a weatherproof material or leather is better in wet weather as they keep your hands dry and are breathable.
- Hat – Make sure it covers your ears. Once again, I prefer wool!
- Buff – Best accessory ever. It can cover your neck, head and face, depending on how cold you are!
- Scarf – Don’t be afraid of wearing a scarf and a buff, keeping your neck warm is important. Guess what’s my preferred material? That’s right, wool!
- Sunglasses – You can still damage your eyes in bright winter sunlight or snow glare, so sunglasses are still a must!
- Thermos flask – Hot drinks or soups will help keep you warm, so make sure you have one filled for when you’re out and about!
- Pocket gel hand warmers – Instant relief for your hands if you’re out in the elements. Have a few pairs and take with you as a ‘just in case’.
Things You Can Do
Small changes in your behaviour can really help with keeping yourself warm when out and about in the cold.
- Think about food – eat regular meal, your body needs more fuel in the cold as it’s trying to keep itself warm. Eating meals is like turning the heating on in your body. Healthy fats will also help you to keep warm. Warm foods also help you beat the chill, so opt for soups, hot drinks and spicy flavours.
- Keep hydrated – Still drink plenty of water, you can keep warm water in a thermo flask if you don’t want to drink cold water. But when you’re out in cold weather your skin dries out, so you need to keep your hydration levels topped up!
- Stay active – Being active warms you up as your body burns fuel to make energy, so don’t stand around in the cold, keep moving!
- Watch the locals – If the locals aren’t out and about, you shouldn’t be either. They’re used to the cold so will have more tolerance than you.
- Listen to your body – Your body knows what it needs, so listen to it. Starting to shiver? Nose, hands or feet starting to go numb? Act. Go inside. Don’t be worried about browsing in a shop for 5 minutes as you warm up!
Just a few changes really can make a difference when travelling in cold countries. The most important thing is to layer up and have as little of your skin as possible exposed. But always listen to your body and act on what it is telling you. You want to enjoy your travels and see all there is to see, follow the above and you’ll be well armed against the cold!