Bundle up, Buttercup. Whether leaving the snow to feel your feet in the sand, or bidding adeiu to the beach to have a white Christmas with family for the holidays, make sure you’re ready for what lies ahead in your destination’s climate. Flying from my home in California to where I grew up in Ohio in October, I was reminded of a lot of climate factors that I no longer anticipate. It’s easy to stay comfortable but keep your luggage light though, with a little common sense and some simple planning.
Dressing in layers is a common practice for me here in SoCal, since it could literally be 60 degrees at dawn when I’m walking my dog, 90 in The Valley at the height of the afternoon sun (but with the air conditioner blasting arctic air inside of restaurants!), in the 70’s at the beach, and back to teeth-chatteringly cold at night. All. In. One. Day. The autumn and winter weather back East can be even more unpredictable and much less mild. I packed a pair of leggings to accommodate every day I was home and a ton of cardigans, a hoodie, and a denim jacket. The dresses I took went from one halter-style to a sweater dress, to a turtle neck, and I piled on or pulled off accessories like boots and knee-high socks as needed.
“Being prepared for winter weather goes beyond checking the temperatures for the day,” On Call Internaional reminds us, noting that understanding and interpreting the wind chill is important too. What’s that you ask, West Coasters? “The Wind Chill Index, which is the temperature your body feels when the air temperature is combined with the wind speed, is not something that should be taken lightly. Check out the Weather Channel’s wind chill chart which shows the difference between actual air temperature, perceived temperature and the amount of time it takes until frostbite occurs (according to the National Safety Council, frostbite is the most common injury caused by exposure to extreme cold).”
No matter where you are, don’t skimp on the sun protection, for both your eyes and your skin. “When it comes to UV rays, the winter season is more dangerous than you may think,” the site warns. “UV radiation is not only emitted from the sky, but is also reflected from light surfaces on the ground, such as snow. In fact, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, snow reflects up to 80 percent of the UV light from the sun, meaning that you are often hit by the same rays twice.”
It can be tough to maintain a healthy diet while traveling, but make sure to stay hydrated, especially if undertaking outdoor activities that can be a drain. Hydration goes hand-in-hand with dressing warm and putting on your SPF, “Since the main function of water in the body is to regulate temperature, it’s no surprise that dehydration can contribute to hypothermia.”
And don’t forget to pack for the plane. I grabbed a pair of cheap gloves at Walgreens and a stowed a spare pair of socks in my carry-on to wear while we flew, since I’d boarded in ballet flats back where it was warm. I was grateful to have toasty digits despite the cool high altitude. It was also nice to have socks for padding around in my bare feet while my shoes passed through security scans.