Coping with Cold Weather Travel, When You're from the Tropics
The news about the polar vortex that hit northern US has been making rounds in the news lately, and it reminded me of the couple of times that I traveled during the winter. For people like me who grew up in the tropics and used to 30 deg C temperatures all year round, going to a place with sub-zero temps can be daunting. Here are some tips to help you cope with traveling in winter:
→ Snow can look pretty in pictures or while indoors but staying out too long so you can make snow angels and pelt people with snowballs can give your a bad case of chills. or worse, hypothermia and frostbite. Stay indoors unless it's necessary to go outside.
→ Drink plenty of water and avoid getting dehydrated.
→ Buy your winter clothes before you arrive. It may seem strange to shop for winter clothing in a tropical country, but your body will thank you for having that warm coat when you land.
→ Wear the part: beanie, scarf, coat, thick socks, thermal underwear. Protect your head too, since most of your body heat is radiated through your noggin. And layer!
→ Slather moisturizer whenever you can. Your tropical skin can crack and chafe because of the low humidity, and the cold wind blowing on your face can cause windburn, making it red and sore.
→ Eat chocolates and sweets (this is the easiest to do on the list). You need the extra calories to keep you warm.
→ Use the radiator in your room, but put a pan of water beside it to humidify the air. Your system is used to the high humidity of the tropics, and the dry cold air can cause dry sinuses, which makes breathing difficult, and trigger nose bleeds too.
→ Maybe out of habit or because of Filipino's penchant for personal cleanliness, I still take showers at least once a day during winter. I still use the hot shower when I do, but I will have to moisturize right away after showering to prevent dehydration on my skin. Also it helps to have a thick blanket nearby to snuggle into right after you pat dry.
→ Expect delays as the winter weather can wreck havoc on in your travel arrangements. When I was flying from Detroit to Chicago my flight got delayed because they needed to de-ice the plane before takeoff, making me miss the St. Patrick's Parade. Adjust your plans to take into account these delays.
→ Follow the weather channel or use a weather app. I questioned the need for these when I'm in a tropical country (because really they only get action during the typhoon season), but they are a friend in the cold climes. Check up on the forecasts and be guided accordingly. That means if they are saying it's gonna drop to twenty below, don't go outside wearing shorts.