5 hacks to stay warm on your winter holidays

You decide to head to the mountains and give the festivities a miss this October. You anyway prefer mild winters and are not a sucker for snow. On reaching McLeodGunj or Ladakh, you suddenly realize that you’ve underestimated the cold and haven’t packed enough to stay warm.

You stepped out for stroll on the mall road in Simla or the Gilbert Nature Trail in Kasauli on warm sunny winter afternoon, but as evening set in, you start feeling chilled to the bone.

You would have loved to stay at a hotel which provides heated beds and centralized heating but it requires stretching on your budget or compromising on other plans.

We’ve all been there. If you relate to any of the above situations, we’ve got you covered here.

Staying in the mountains for 4 years as a college student (and a shoestring budget, by virtue of being a hosteler) teaches you ways to stay warm that might not be obvious as a traveler.

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Sharing below some ideas from our experiences as a student, as a traveler and as a lover of mountains.

1. A warm bed is bliss – and affordable

Being welcomed by a warm bed to squeeze into at the end of the day is an amazing feeling. Tired after a long solo trek? On a special vacation with your partner? You get the point. While a few have the luxury (and the budget) of booking hotels with heated beds, most of us don’t. But that doesn’t mean you should miss out on the experience.

  • Hot water bottles – No matter where you’re staying, hot water should be easy to manage. The shower, tea kettle, ordering from room service, or even asking the reception are a few possibilities. Just remember to bring the hot water/massage bottle from your home and tuck it in your blanket for that amazing warmth. Forgot to pack the bottle? Not a problem! Arrange a PET bottle (packaged water etc.) and use it as an alternative. Be careful not to pour water that’s too hot and it should serve the purpose for a few days.
  • Electric massage belts – There are loads of these available on Amazon/Flipkart and most come with variable temperature settings. While easy to pack and carry, you need to be very careful as it can get really hot if placed under a blanket, even at the lowest setting.
    No item (electronics etc.) that generate heat should be covered or placed under covers/blankets.
  • Laptops – Not sure if this should even be in here, but keeping a running laptop on the bed is an all time favorite hack for college students. The hot air from the fan can warm your hands and the bed.
    If you are carrying one, it can be worth a try. Not recommending, but just saying. Do not start a fire! Do not block the ventilation grill on your device at any time.

2. Keeping your feet warm

Yes, we all pack lots of clothes, jackets, warmers, gloves etc. etc. to stay warm. But than as you step out of your room, all packed and cosy, you realize that the your feet are still freezing. The shoes that you packed don’t really work in keeping you warm on the cold paved roads.

Our suggestion – do invest in a pair of shoes that keep you warm and stable. And no, standard running and walking shoes don’t work. Look at the hiking/trekking sections of stores like Decathalon. Look for waterproof options if you expect snow or mud tracks. There are some amazing affordable options available that will elevate your vacation experience.

As far as the socks are concerned, look for woolen options or other fabrics that retain heat.

3. Your morning tea and bedtime wine

We all have our preferences to keep warm and get going. Tea, coffee, red wine – to each his own. The point here is to not depend on the room service or the hotel for these basics.

You know those awesome sunrises at the Dochula Pass in Bhutan, where the sun rises behind the snow covered peaks? You’ll probably need to start much earlier than sunrise to catch one. The breakfast service typically starts much later. And it’s the coldest hour of the day. Do yourself a favor and have that warm beverage before leaving.

Depending on what you like, there are multiple options:

  • Tea bags (we hate these, btw!)
  • Chai pre-mixes. Yes, the same ones that are overpriced on flights. A pack of 10 from Girnar can be easily found at any supermarket for cheap. These taste amazing, offer a variety of flavors and are even available in low/no sugar alternatives.
  • Instant coffee We all know the Nescafes and the Brus of the world. If you prefer something more amazing, check out the freeze dried instant coffees from Kallucoppa, available online, sourced from the plantations of south India around Coorg.
  • Wine etc – Being teetotalers, we leave it up to your best judgement. But as a general suggestion, do try out the local offerings like the Ara of Bhutan or the fruit wines of Himachal.

4. Cold wind and car heaters can cause severe headaches

Yes, that is right. Direct exposure to cold air, and worse, cold winds like at Kali Mandir in Chail can trigger severe headaches. It cools you down, constricting blood vessels and reducing blood flow. Catching one of these can make one end up spending precious vacation time oiling their heads in the hotel room.

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The solution, as simple as it sounds, is to avoid direct exposure to the wind, specially in and around the face.

Coming to the specifics, carry enough scarves, caps, and high neck jackets. If you forgot to pack any, buy one from the local markets. Just ask around and find the places where the locals shop from. They are exposed to these temperatures daily, and you can get a good bargain. Touristy markets are better avoided.

The second culprit, as already mentioned is the heater/blower in cars/cabs. These can cause severe suffocation and stuffiness in the cabin. Once you step out, the outside will be much colder and the sudden temperature variation can cause all sorts of issues from headaches, sneezing and vomiting.

It’s highly recommended to allow fresh air into the cabin regularly on longer drives. Keeping the window pane slightly open, or switching to fresh air mode every now and then helps.

5. Embrace the chill

Do take all precautions, but eventually embrace the nature and the chill. You planned this vacation for the experience. Take a deep cold breath in the morning, feel the dew (and snow) under your feet and acknowledge that the locals face the extreme weather every day, every year.

Be safe, be warm but not paranoid. You might not visit the place again anytime soon. Embrace and live the experience. πŸ™‚

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Do Contact us for more travel experiences, tips and recommendations.

Please share this post with your relatives, friends, WhatsApp groups and social media if you found it interesting.

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