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, even though in other countries, people actually go away to escape from their winter.
Sadly, more than once, I’ve fallen sick before my trip to a cold country ended.
It’s very frustrating to fall sick overseas, and miss out on the places you could have visited happily 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 (spring season but still low temperatures), I actually didn’t fall sick! Last week, I returned from a cold, autumn trip to Japan and once again, 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. No matter what you intend to wear for fashion, always make sure your torso is kept 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 and the entire of me didn’t feel as cold as I 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 the almighty Winter Cold.
2. How to dress for winter: Wear many layers and top with a thin jacket, or lesser layers but with a really good down jacket.
These are the 2 methods I use for dressing for winter:
a) Sleeveless tank • thin wool cardigan • knitted thicker wool sweater • maybe a faux fur vest • maybe a longer wool coat or another jacket. Downside if there’re many layers to strip.
b) Uniqlo Heat-tech inner layer • wool sweater • a thicker, 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. Downside is, the jacket is more bulky and thus heavy to hold.
I actually prefer (b) now because it always gets really warm indoors. All I need to do is to remove the down jacket and I’ll be fine, instead of sweating from the many layers and not having enough hands to remove and hold them. The downside is, my thicker down jacket is actually pretty heavy.
3. Keep your neck wrapped warmly.
I can’t emphasize this enough. This is really 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. Wear thicker socks to keep feet warm.
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, especially when you sleep with the heater on at night. Without sufficient fluids, your body cannot function properly.
6. 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!
7. 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. Either that, or do some stretches in the morning!
| Also read: Review of two travel yoga mats I tried: YoGo vs YofoMat! |
Without sufficient rest, the immune system becomes weaker, which is why it’s important to try to sleep enough at night. Take your trip slower.
8. Secret: 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 open and 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 iced 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!