Packing For A Cold Climate

Lots of people worry about packing when travelling somewhere cold.

Unless you are going hiking, or skiing I don’t find it that different.

How cold are you going to get?

When I am in colder places I spend a fair amount of time indoors in museums and cafes.

When going between indoor venues I am generally in heated public transport, in a car, or walking briskly.

A warm coat and a thicker pair of pants will generally be enough to keep me warm.

What to Take

Here are the differences between what I typically take and when I am going to a city winter holiday:

  • A warm coat rather than a light weight jacket. I wear this to board the plane, so it doesn’t count as luggage.
  • Long sleeved shirts rather than short sleeves.
  • Thicker pants rather than lightweight ones.
  • A lightweight jumper.
  • A scarf you can wear.
  • Gloves, in the pocket of your coat.

For a cold mountain holiday; like the above photo on the Athabasca Glacier, I might add:

  • A couple of vests, or plain T-shirts
  • Pair of Long Johns,
  • Down body warmer.

Stopping In Backpacker Hostels

Over the years I have stayed at plenty of backpacker hostels and we still use them from time to time.

Low Cost

In Australia it can be $20 – $30 for a bunk in a dormitory, and much lower in a developing country.

These days it’s not all dormitory beds and in most hostels you will find double rooms, some even with an en-suite, but expect to pay around 2-3 times as much.

Other Advantages

With most hostels having kitchens you can make considerable savings on a holiday by cooking some meals, and preparing a packed lunch.

I have found it much easier to start conversations in hostels than hotels,which can make solo travel less lonely.

You can also pick up a lot of great knowledge about your location, particularly places that you can eat cheaply.

Some Hacks for Backpackers Hostels

Protect your Feet

I would really recommend having footwear that you can wear in the shower if there are communal bathrooms.

The plantar wart, or verruca, can be contracted by walking barefoot in warm, moist environments, such as shared showers.

Protect your Possessions

In a hotel I generally think your possessions are relatively safe as the staff will be protective of their jobs.

In many hostels its common to give other guests free nights in exchange for housekeeping duties . . . so the person cleaning your room may be less worried about the consequences of being caught stealing.

Make sure you put anything of value:

  • In a locker, with your padlock on the door.
  • Locked in the boot of your vehicle.
  • In your pocket.
  • In the Hostel safe.

Best Travel Coat

What is the best travel Coat?

Well after trying various types of coats over the years I have settled on the 3 in 1 coats such as I am wearing in the photograph.

Generally they come with a fairly lightweight waterproof outer coat.

I’ve found Gortex is about the best material .

This coat kept me dry standing on the ‘Hurricane Deck’ very close to the Bridal Veil Falls at Niagara.

I usually prefer to use an umbrella unless it is really windy so I like a zip away hood.

The inner jackets, which can be zipped into the outer coat is the insulation layer.

As you can see this inner jacket also looks quite good as a casual jacket for cool evenings.

Together the two have kept me comfortable standing on a glacier and on a mountain top in the Canadian Rockies.

Travel Hack

With 6 large external pockets a combined coat like this can help you get a couple of extra Kg on board the plane, as your coat doesn’t count in your carry on allowance.


The thought of being seasick can put a lot of people of a cruise experience.

Although I am lucky that I am not susceptible to the problem I know a lot of people that are, including my wife, but only in really bad weather.

The Cause

Seasickness is really motion sickness, that occurs on a boat.

It happens because your brain gets confused because your sense of balance and your eyes tell it different things, and with constant motion it doesn’t have time to adjust..

Here are a few thoughts on the problem

Things Are Improving

Modern ships with computer controlled stabilisers roll much less than cruise ships of the past.

Better weather forecasting means ships are more likely to avoid really bad weather

When You Book

There are a few things you can do when you start to plan a cruise holiday

  • Outside cabin are best so you get a good view of a stable horizon, which reduces the brains confusion.
  • The closer to the middle of the ship your cabin is the better, as it will move less.
  • Larger ships will be less affected by the waves.
  • Consider cruises with more port days, rather than days at sea.

On the Ship

There are a number of tips also designed to help you acclimatise yourself to sea life:

  • Spending plenty of time on deck, and look at the horizon not at the waves .
  • When inside try to be close to a window, and again watch the horizon.
  • Stay in bed for a day as lying down can help.

Drug-free Cures

I’m not a fan of taking drugs so here are a some drug-free remedies that many regular cruisers say work including:

  • Sea-Bands These are acupuncture-inspired wristbands, which have a plastic bead that presses against a pressure point on the inside of your wrist.
  • Chewing gum
  • Ginger Either in tablet form or just chewing a stem of fresh ginger.

Finally avoid others who may be suffering: as the sounds and smell of them being sick could set you off.

Medical Cures

Most ships will have range of over the counter drugs that help reduce seasickness including:

  • Scopolamine
  • Meclizine
  • Diphenhydramine

If you’re taking any of these drugs it’s important to check any side effects particularly as you may be drinking alcohol.

Avoid Big Bank Notes

In Australia I have got used to paying with credit and debit cards, and not having much cash, but it can be different in many countries.

It not just the developing world, or when you are buying street food, where you need to have cash.

Japan is just one of many first world country that still prefers cash.

Think Before You order

When you order currency, or buy at a currency exchange, make sure you get plenty of small value notes.

There are not many small shops that will want to take this 200 Euro bank note for a 2 Euro bottle of water. (There are still 500 Euro notes around, but they are currently being withdrawn)

Value Not The Number

Not all notes with a high number on them are that valuable.

This 500,000 rial note would probably buy you a burger and chips with a drink in Iran.

Even a Vietnamese 500,000 dong note is only worth around AU$35 (US$25)

A good size of note is one around the value that would buy a Big Mac in that country.

You can check the amount@ the Big Mac Index

More Bad Travel Hacks

Here are a couple more ‘Travel Hacks’ I have seen but I won’t be using:

Pack A Towel

Followers of the ‘Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy’ are told they ‘should always know where their towel is at’, but I haven’t packed a proper towel for 20 years.

I did try those travel towels about 15 years ago but didn’t find them very effective. (I suppose they are OK if you are camping)

As far as I am concerned the hotel provides towels for your room; and for the hotel pool.

If you go to the beach just buy a cheap towel locally and leave it behind when you move on.

Dress Smartly You Might Get An Upgrade

I have previously mentioned how unlikely is your chances of an upgrade.

On the occasions when I have got an upgrade I have been wearing runners, chinos, or jeans and a casual shirt.

Much more comfortable for long haul travel than a suit. . . . especially if you don’t get that upgrade!

Any other travel hacks you won’t be using?