I come from a country where it’s summer all year round – Singapore. Hence, going away for a vacation to a cold country always feels like a special trip to us, though we know that in other countries, people actually go away to escape from the winter.
More than once, I’ve fallen sick before my trip to a cold country ends.
It’s very frustrating to fall sick overseas, and miss out on the places you could have visited if you were healthy. I’ve fallen sick in Barcelona and Tokyo at least. And then come home and have to see my doctor to treat the ‘unwelcome friends‘ I brought back from overseas.
For my previous trip to Scandinavia (in spring, but still low temperatures), I actually didn’t fall sick! Last week, I came back from a cold, dry autumn trip to Japan and returned with a flu and bad cough in tow. So, I’ve put together some health tips for you (and myself) and your loved ones!
Tips for staying healthy for your trip to a cold country
Ps: This post’s tips are from my personal experiences at low temperatures above zero degrees.
1. Keep your torso warm. I actually experimented with this in Nice (end-November), in few degrees cold, as seen from the photo on the left. The upper part of my body had many layers on to keep warm, while I wore shorts, thin stockings and low boots for the bottom.
It turned out, my legs didn’t feel as cold as they should! Simply because all my most vital health organs had been kept well-protected above. By keeping your torso warm, you reduce the chances of catching a cold.
2. Wear multiple layers, or a few layers with a good down jacket. These are the 2 methods I employ for dressing for winter:
a) Sleeveless tank • thin wool cardigan • knitted wool sweater • maybe a faux fur vest • maybe a longer wool coat or another jacket jacket • thin Uniqlo down jacket; or
b) Uniqlo Heat-tech inner layer • wool sweater • a good-quality down jacket. If it’s gonna be even more cold outdoors at night, I’ll add an additional wool coat before my down jacket.
I actually prefer (b) now because it always gets really warm indoors, so all I need is to remove my down jacket and I’ll be fine, instead of sweating from the many layers. The downside is, the good-quality down jacket is actually pretty heavy.
3. Keep your neck wrapped warmly. I can’t emphasize this enough. This is extremely important, because the neck’s skin is very thin and cold temperature will affect your throat directly. Always wrap a scarf around your neck if you’re outdoors.
4. Put on thick socks for warm feet. The temperature of your feet plays a big part in influencing your body’s temperature! I use Uniqlo’s winter socks – fashionable and comfortable.
5. Hydrate well. In winter, you can become dehydrated quickly without knowing. Without sufficient fluids, your body cannot function properly.
6. Move more, and sleep enough. I get tired easily in winter, especially when I’m wearing layers and feeling the bulk of their weight on my petite frame. My muscles then feel tighter from not moving much, until I loosen them up with a few simple yoga stretches back at the hotel.
| Also read: Review of two travel yoga mat I tried: YoGo vs YofoMat! |
Also, without sufficient rest, the immune system is not so strong (don’t quote me), which is why it’s important to try to sleep enough at night. Take your trip slower.
7. Switch on the humidifier in your hotel room, or AirBNB apartment if you have, when you get back indoors. I tend to find this available at the better hotel accommodations in Japan. Thumbs up for their thoughtfulness!
8. Drink ginger tea. Ginger has plenty of health benefits. I like to think that ginger warms your body up from within =) I like those little cubes of ginger supplements in packets, which you just pop one into a thermal flask or mug and add hot water.
9. Honey with water will do wonders for a sore throat. If you feel your throat’s getting dry and warning you of a sore throat arriving, take some honey water. But who actually brings honey with them on their travels, right? Here’s another tip: keep a lookout for little tubs of honey at your hotel breakfast (if you’re in Europe) that they provide for going with toast. You can use them and make a quick cup of hot honey water 😉
10. Avoid cold drinks. I suspect it was the chilled Coke I drank after hiking Mt Takao that accelerated the cold that eventually hit me full-blast. Amazingly, I love eating ice-cream in cold weather, yet when it comes to drinking chilled drinks, the coldness totally can be felt going into my system and chilling me from within. It’s a different sensation compared to eating ice-cream. Do you feel that too?
There you have it, my personal ten tips for better health in cold countries. Hope they’ll be of use to you and your loved ones the next time you plan and pack for your trip to a cold country!
Share your health remedies for cold weather with me too!