If you’re from one of those wonderful places that are always hot (hey Texas), then you probably have no idea what it’s like to live in a snow-filled place (or even what snow is???). Lucky for you, I’ve gone through many painstaking months of scraping ice from my windshield, dressing with at least three layers of clothes, and figuring out which shoes are actually snow boots—all in order to bring you this blog post. I’ll give you some tips that will make living or vacationing in a winter-wonderland-town not only tolerable but enjoyable! Here are my essential tips for winter vacations.
Before I moved to Idaho and began experiencing what it’s like to live in a tundra, I thought I would need a completely different wardrobe than I was used to. While there are pieces of clothing I wear here in Idaho that I would never need at home, the bulk of my wardrobe isn’t so different. Long sleeves, cardigans, sweaters, jeans, and even some t-shirts, make up the majority of what I wear. With all of those, I found the key to success in staying toasty is… (drum roll please) layering! Because I’m a bit of a wimp in the cold, I have 2–3 layers on as soon as it drops below 35 degrees. A typical outfit for me consists of leggings, a pair of jeans over the leggings, a long-sleeve or short-sleeve shirt, a cardigan, coat, warm scarf, and a pair of boots to top it off.
I would never wear that many layers at home, but I would definitely still wear a long sleeve tee and a pair of jeans with boots. Now, you may be reacting much like I did when I first figured this out (gasping for dramatic effect and asking, “So I don’t need to buy a whole new wardrobe to survive the cold?”) The answer is NO! Bring what you normally wear when it drops below 50 outside and then layer it. It’s really that simple.
There are a couple of things that would be a good idea to buy, but don’t worry—there are only a few and if you choose them well, they will last for a while.
- The first is a good coat. The importance of a good coat can never be underestimated. The amount of layering you do will determine how thick your coat needs to be. I have two coats: one that I wear only when the temperature drops below 0 and my whole body goes numb. The other coat I wear daily with a layer or two under, depending on the temperature. My FAVORITE coat that I would wear in all seasons if I could is from Exofficio.
- The second item you should invest in is a decent pair of gloves. I didn’t spend too long hunting down a good pair of gloves because my hands stay warm when they’re in my coat pockets, but it’s still a good idea to keep a pair of these around (for all the snowballs you’ll be throwing).
- The third must-have is a reliable pair of boots. For the most part, my boots are ones that I’ve worn in the 70 degree “winter weather” at home. However, it’s important to have at least one pair that are made for colder temperatures. When I first began my search for a good pair of boots, I thought I needed some snowboarding level shoes that would keep me covered on all fronts. That wasn’t true. Much to my surprise, I found a good pair of boots, right inside of my college budget, at Payless. Who knew, right? Some important features that I looked for were good traction on the bottom to help with ice and slushy snow, a height that reached just below my knee and good material on the outside that was waterproof.
Okay. Now I know what you’re thinking. Driving? Why would she dedicate a whole section to driving? Believe it or not, you have to drive a bit differently in the snow. It is similar to driving in rain in many ways, but very different in other ways. Let me give you some tips on how to stay safe on the roads.
When there is snow on the road (whether it is still falling or not) stay alert to your surroundings. The road can be very slippery and you never know when there is black ice hiding under that powdery snow.
When you stop for a red light or anything, began hitting the brakes sooner than you normally would. Sometimes, if the snow is deep enough, it can affect your brakes making it difficult to stop. Your car might start making a grinding noise and your brake pedal will feel like it’s pushing back against your foot. This is when you need to start “pumping the brakes”. Because the snow prevents the brakes from working when you merely press down, you have to press down and let up multiple times, or “pump” the brakes, in order for your car to come to a safe stop. It might seem a little strange or even scary at first, but it’s the best way to keep everyone safe and to not eat the bumper of the car in front of you.
Now there are so many tips and little tricks I’ve learned from living up here that I soooo wish I would have known before I came.
- Gloves keep your hands warm if they’re already warm. It seems obvious, but let me explain. Gloves are a necessary article of clothing for keeping your hands warm, but they are not very helpful when your hands are already cold. I know this sounds crazy, but if you don’t believe me, just try it! Walk outside into the 20-degree weather, let your hands get cold, then put your gloves on. You’ll see I’m not so crazy after all. Moral of the story, put your gloves on before you leave your house or apartment. Don’t wait until your hands are about to get frostbite.
- Get a shield, of sorts, for the windshield of your car. This is really more for convenience than anything else. What it is, is a piece of cloth or other material that goes across your windshield and gets tucked inside your front doors or goes around your rear-view mirrors to keep it in place. You put it on your windshield before it snows so that way the snow lands on that instead of your windshield. Then all you have to do when you’re ready to drive is pull the shield off and all the snow goes with it. Now you’ll probably still have to brush some snow off your other windows, but it saves time.
- MOISTURIZE EVERY DAY! It’s much drier in the north than in the south and your skin will take a major hit if you’re not applying lotion regularly. While it’s good to lotion your skin no matter where you are in the world, you’ll definitely see a difference in places with less humidity.
That’s all I have for now! I hope this helps anyone who’s planning on living or visiting a beautiful, snow-covered place. Check out my post on New York City! Until next time!