As a proud child of the tropics, I’m pretty sure I thrive on sunshine. I live for long sunny days, warm afternoons on the beach, and deepening the natural tan I was already blessed with. But when I combine my love for sunlight and way-above-freezing temperatures with my love for travel, that’s where things get tricky. Because here’s the thing: I’m pretty sure I despise the winter.
You know what’s funny, though? It was during my first time outside of the country that I actually got to experience the winter. I was four years old and spent a year of my life in Japan (we’ll save the full story for another time) — and that first glorious moment in the snow will always be one of my favourite memories. It was probably then that my love for travel was born.
However, as I grew older, I seemed to find more things to dislike about the winter. First, there’s that uncomfortable feeling that I’ll probably never be wearing enough layers of clothing. Second, my suitcase inevitably becomes insanely heavy. (A single coat already seems to weigh a ton!) Third, I hate that it dries out everything: my face, my hands, my legs, my lips — to the point that it hurts! And finally, my heart already sinks at just the thought of short days and long nights, of long stretches of darkness, and an extreme shortage of sunlight.
Also read: The Ugly Truth of Winter Travel
But hey — my hate for the winter isn’t enough to limit my travel choices. Instead, I’m trying to be better about equipping myself for travelling to places with colder climates or during particularly chilly seasons. If you, like me, are not a big fan of winter travel, here are a few tips for making winter travel less dreadful:
1. Thermals are your best friends
If you plan on travelling the world, then thermals are an invaluable investment. I’m talking thermal everything: tops, leggings, socks, even underwear! Admittedly, I’m partial to Uniqlo’s Heattech collection. They’re lifesavers, especially when temperatures tend to fall below zero! They’re repeatable (no one needs to know — they’re underneath all your clothes!) and minimises the need for wearing too many layers.
2. Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise
When travelling in the winter, even people with oilier skin types can’t escape the need to moisturise! Trust me, unexpectedly ending up with cracked skin and chapped lips is no fun at all. So come prepared and don’t leave without your lotion, moisturiser, and lip balm — no matter how supple your skin and lips are at the start of your trip. Before you’re even heading back home, you’ll thank yourself for it!
3. Stay hydrated
Just because you’re leaving the tropics, doesn’t mean you no longer need to hydrate. Dehydration is just as possible in places with colder climates. Cooler temperatures may fool your body into thinking it doesn’t need any extra fluids, but we actually need to drink just as much water regardless of the weather. Travel with your handy tumbler and keep yourself hydrated!
4. Keep warm with hot beverages
Whenever I travel in the winter, there’s nothing quite as soothing as a hot beverage. When your teeth start chattering and you start shivering uncontrollably, do yourself a favour and order a cup of coffee, tea, hot cider, or hot chocolate. While drinking it will certainly provide you with instant relief, I also love that simply holding it in your hands is already very comforting!
5. Have fun with your winter #OOTDs
If we’re anything alike, then you will probably agree that walking around while feeling like a huge, lumpy mess is one of the things that make winter so dreadful. Photos with family or friends? No, thank you. I’d rather not remember how frumpy I look whenever I’m decked out in what feels like 10 layers of clothing!
But hey, when you put a little more effort into your winter looks, you might find that it isn’t always so terrible. You might even get more excited when you know you have some good winter #OOTDs planned out! Don’t be afraid to play with different outfit combinations — maybe you’ll even find that sporting your favourite coat, sweater, or boots is just as exciting as flaunting your new bikini!
6. Don’t forget to pack your meds!
Here’s something I learned from my mom and sisters: Never travel without emergency medicines! Even if you know yourself to have a pretty good immune system, a cold or an allergy can strike anytime — especially when travelling in the winter! If not, then at least you’ll be equipped to help out anyone who might be travelling with you.
7. Be prepared with entertaining indoor activities
I don’t know if it’s just me, but I prefer to head back to my hotel or Airbnb whenever it gets dark. (With the exception of heading out for dinner or drinks, of course!) Sightseeing at night just isn’t really my thing; like I said, I’m a sunshine kind of girl.
But the thing about winter travel is, it gets dark really quickly. The days are pretty short, so if you’re like me, you’ll be spending a lot of time indoors. So make these hours worth your while! Pack a good book, catch up on your shows, download that movie you’ve been meaning to see for the longest time. Bring a few card or board games! Or just pop open a bottle of wine, grab some snacks, and spend some interrupted quality time catching up with your travel buddies!
8. Pack smart
One of the things I hate about winter travel? Packing. It seems that packing light is just downright impossible when you’re headed somewhere wintry. But here’s a little secret: You actually don’t have to pack too much at all. Repeating outfits isn’t a crime. And because you’ll be bundled up most of the time, hardly anyone will be able to tell, anyway.
Pack your trusty tops, bottoms, down jackets, coats, and boots — especially ones you don’t mind wearing a few times over. When you find that your suitcase isn’t as heavy as you expected, you’ll be glad you did it!
9. Treat yourself to winter travel gadgets when you can
Another good investment? Trusty travel gadgets made especially for those travelling in the winter. One example would be rechargeable heated insoles — they’re perfect for those of us who (literally) get cold feet!
When you have the extra funds, allow yourself to make the splurge — useful gadgets like these will definitely make winter travel much more bearable.
10. Travel with people you love
Are you a fellow victim of the winter blues? The short bursts of sunlight and seemingly perpetual dreariness that come with winter are probably what I dislike most. Dramatic as it may sound, the winter season tends to make me feel a sense of loneliness — even when I’m not alone at all. Some people even have it worse: seasonal affective disorder is real, and certainly shouldn’t be overlooked.
If you can relate, then here’s a helpful tip: Don’t travel alone during the winter seasons. It can already be tough feeling glum when you have company — imagine having to go through the blues on your own!
Truth be told, the number one reason I agree to travel in the winter is specifically to be with my family. December is often the only free time we have together, and it’s something we take full advantage of. Thankfully, despite that the winter tends to be cold and dreary — both physically and oftentimes, emotionally — we always have one another to keep ourselves warm!
With these tips, I hope I assuaged your hate for travelling during the chillier seasons even a little. But if you can’t stand the winter at all, maybe you can stick to cold places around the Philippines instead!