As this posts, Mr Kiwi and I will have snuck away on a winter trip to Bucharest – and Jack Frost will be nipping at our toes. We’ve intentionally planned it so that we won’t be there for the full-on ski season (Prince Charles owns a house in the Transylvanian mountains) but chilled enough to have a load of delicious plans that will keep our cheeks rosy and slake that wanderlust.
Disclaimer: We were guests of the Post Office for a #SkiSafe event on the same day that London was besieged by #StormEmma. Coincidence?
I’ve never skiied, sledged or willingly walked out onto icy pavements, thanks to falling over and injuring myself too many times, but I do so adore a cheeky winter break – even though in my case it will be more apres than ski every time. We still love to get away over the chillier months though, so here are a few things that I’ve learned over the years, that are absolute essentials for a fun winter break.
None of them are groundbreaking, I can’t pretend to have discovered a miraculous cure for hangovers or a magical incantation to sort out my lack of balance, but these are tried and tested essentials for staying warm and happy as a ski bunny or winter travel wanderluster. When we have been Northern Light spotting in the Arctic Circle, exploring Edinburgh or even now, these have been hard earned lessons.
1. Warm layers
This is a professional level tip – if you wear thick bulky layers your body heat can escape, but if you wear many thin thermal layers, the air trapped between each warms up and stays around you body more. And they take up less room in your suitcase. And you can go out into the Arctic night looking like the Michelin Man, but snug as a bug in a rug whilst your companions get told off by the experienced tour guides…
2. Apres moments
After that day of ice-wall climbing and city walking tours, make sure you have a treat to reward yourself with. Perhaps a soak in a hot tub, an invigorating sauna or maybe even a thorough massage.
Insurance is essential, and selecting travel insurance that covers everything – including the effects of a surprise Polar Vortex that could scupper your travel plans – is absolutely vital. If it could go wrong, it has in the past – and having a thorough policy, with exhaustive clauses that cover you for as many possibilities as possible is essential.
4. Board games
These. Are. Essential. Whether they are for cozy nights by the fire, or drizzly days that you just want to luxuriate in your hotel, having a little friendly entertainment is key. A pack of cards and the rules for poker, downloading the ridiculously addictive Words With Friends (Mr Kiwi and I ended up playing it for a good 4 months – even when sat in the same room or actual boardgames like Ski Run which was hilarious – once we worked out what the rules were!
Mr Kiwi and I often end up gravitating towards the chess boards in the hotel library – not that either of us can play very well – but we pretend to have a match (I may or may not cheekily claim ‘New Zealand alternative rules on occasion’ accompanied by a glass or two of something special.
5. Many socks + scarves
Seriously, you can never have enough. Keeping those extremities warm is essential not only for navigating treacherous paths, but keeping your relationships strong – no-one wants to see you with tears in the middle of a frozen tizz. Sing ‘Let It Go’ though, I dare ya.
6. Incredible food
Duh. You need to fuel your body for dealing with the extra cold, activity and the odd glass of Merlot.
7. Hand warmers
These were life- (and finger-) savers on our trip to Tromso in the Arctic Circle. They are chemical pads that you move or click to activate, and they can work for hours upon hours.
8. Good waterproof shoes
This is my own rule that I never remember to stick to. One day, one day.
9. Aloe Vera for windburn and sunburn
Learning this one the hard way as a child, the best healing magic for wind and sunburn is fresh aloe vera, straight off the plant (we luckily had one in our garden) but there are a few on the market that are almost as good. It’ll keep your skin moisturised and dewy fresh too for your evening events.
For a few more practical tips, check out this post about being #SkiSafe by the Post Office.
What are the best tips you’ve been taught or perhaps learnt the hard way?