You grew up in an almost-constant sunshine. The beach is so close, so available, you don’t even notice it anymore. You set out to experience the adventure of a lifetime, to be in a landscape that’s the reality of the photos and videos you’ve drooled on for quite some time.
You think the rules are the same – but they’re not.
You will be entering a brand new world, and you better be prepared for your trip to be a success.
Travel with a rain- and cold-proof camera
When you find yourself in a winter wonderland, the only way to not take photo is to highly dislike this practice. If you expect to take any photos at all, you need a rain-proof camera. Try keeping your regular camera inside as you pass by snow-filled mountains just because it’s raining, or when snow falls on you for the first time.
A rain-proof camera will solve this challenge for you. You won’t need to worry about your expensive camera breaking anymore and you’ll be free to enjoy every moment of your trip. Plus, chances are the rain-proof camera is also cold-proof (to a certain degree), so the cold won’t affect it much either.
The other plus is that a rain-proof camera is usually good for the underwater world as well. You might be able to take photos as you snorkel or dive – just make sure in advance how low can you go.
Give your water-proof camera time to defrost
Even if your camera is a rain and cold fan, it could be affected by both these elements. Your photos could end up blurry or with a big circle somewhere in the middle, representing a once-upon-a-time rain or snow drop.
After your camera soaks up rain and cold air, take the batteries out and let both the camera and batteries defrost. Place them in a warm room for as many hours as possible, and they’ll be as brand as new next time you go exploring.
Prepare extra batteries
Whichever kind of batteries you use, know that they’ll get cold. Even if they stay completely dry, there’s only so much cold air they’ll be able to take. Store them as close to your body or as covered up in your bag as you can.
And always – always – bring more extra batteries than you expect to use.
What’s warm in sunshine land is laughable in a winter wonderland
Sure, it gets cold where you come from. You go to the store, try on a light jacked – and it gets too warm for you. You feel that you must immediately take it down. If it’s too warm here, surely it’ll be adequate in winter wonderland, you might think.
Always assume that if you’ve spent your entire life in sunshine land, you will likely have no clue at all what cold really means.
Prepare in advance. Ask for the warmest clothes they have. Go to stores geared for military or travel audience and ask for the warmest clothes they have. The warmest clothes they have.
Buy clothes when winter clothes are available
Be sure to go during whatever winter you have, or when it’s winter in popular ski destinations for your surrounding. If everyone in your town is buying packages to go skiing in Argentina, you’ll want to buy during the southern hemisphere’s winter. Yet if everyone in your town is going on ski vacations to Canada or Europe, you’ll want to buy during the northern hemisphere’s winter.
That’s just when stores will have the biggest selection – and, most importantly, the warmest clothes.
A hat and a scarf can make a real difference
As you walk around with five layers or so, and feel so cold you must run back inside, you might doubt how another little layer could possibly make a difference.
Surprisingly, though, covering your ears (with a goofy hat), your neck and your mouth (with a scarf) could support you in facing those high winds that otherwise prevent you from seeing spectacles of natural wonders.
Don’t knock it ’till you try it.
Go onion style
Outside, it may get colder and colder. Inside, it might get hot. In fact, inner spaces in winter wonderlands are heated up so much, you’ll often see employees wearing very light clothes. Some of them even wear short sleeves.
It might look weird to you as you come in freezing with five pairs of pants and two sets of gloves on you, but after you give yourself time to defrost, you could find yourself grateful for your onion style. Peeling off the warmer layers will be the thing to do – until it’s time to go back outside.
Don’t forget the crampons
Walking on snow and ice can be a lot of fun. However, if you’re not used to it, you could find yourself acting in endangering ways. Crampons could help. You wear them over your shoes and it takes a few minutes to get used to them, but their bottoms are built to support you to move safely and easily through winter lands.
Be sure to rent some crampons and consider joining a tour – at least for longer hikes, at least for your first time or two.
Know where to lean
As you walk through snow forests, you’ll see lots of bear trees. Some of them will be standing tall, while others had fallen down.
Either way, do not lend on trees in snow-covered lands, especially those that who fell down. They might look as if they’re solid in their place, yet they might not be, and you might fall down right where you weren’t supposed to step.
You could get sick
If you’re not used to winter wonderland weather you could get sick. Especially if you move in and out between hot and cold temperatures – or if you spend 3.5 hours rejoicing as you walk in the rain.
Bring medications you trust. These medication might seem obvious where you come from, yet there’s no guarantee pharmacists will know it in your destination. Even if they’ll know it, they might not have it in stock.
Find places and attractions to explore indoors. If you find yourself getting sick, you could still enjoy your trip – while taking things slow and taking care of your body.
Also, consider extending your trip in advance by a few days, just in case. Best case scenario – it’ll be a great excuse to have an extra few days of real winter.
You don’t need to be a winter athlete to enjoy a winter wonderland
If your closest winter spot is far away, you might not know how to ski or snowboard. You might fantasize about taking lessons during your trip, yet it might be too expensive.
The good news is you don’t really need it to enjoy yourself. Yes, it could add to the fun and you might want to experiment, yet skipping these instant associations of winter doesn’t have to temper the fun.
Take hikes. Photograph. Build a snow person – even if s/he’s not perfect. Even if no one will believe you that it’s a snow person.
And ultimately, take a moment – or a few hours – and just stare. Stay present. This landscape is what dreams are made of.
Do you have any other tips for first time winter travelers?