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October 09, 2018

Cold comforts

Make sure you don’t get caught out in the cold with these handy travelling tips in winter, says Bryant Chan.

Bryant Chan

1. KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR BATTERY LEVELS

Batteries drain faster when they are cold. This affects everything from your smartphone to your e-reader and, most crucially, your camera.

You can mitigate these issues in three ways: First, if it is an option, use lithium batteries in all your devices, instead of nickel batteries, which drain faster in the cold.

Secondly, keep them as close to your body as possible, so your body heat can keep the batteries warm — an inner pocket in your jacket will serve well for this purpose.

Finally, a powerbank will go a long way towards giving you some much-needed juice.

However, a powerbank is basically a giant battery, so it will also lose charge quicker in cold weather, even when not in use. You might want to carry an extra powerbank just in case.

2. TAKE NOTE OF CLOSING TIMES

Daylight hours also have an impact on the opening and closing hours of local attractions and businesses.

Businesses often close early in winter, so if you want to grab a sit-down dinner or visit a museum, it is likely that you will have to do it earlier than you might like.

3. DON’T FORGET TO MOISTURISE

Cold, dry air can be bad for your skin. Be particularly careful with your lips and face, which will be exposed to the elements the most.

Chapped and cracking lips can be a constant source of pain and frustration that can ruin an otherwise fantastic holiday. Make sure you always pack lip balm and lotion to help keep your skin healthy and supple.

4. KEEP TRACK OF YOUR DAYLIGHT HOURS

In temperate countries, days can be considerably shorter during the winter months. In England, for example, it gets dark in late November by about 4pm.

Around the winter solstice in Rovaniemi, the “home town” of Santa Claus in Finland’s northernmost province of Lapland sees only two hours and 14 minutes of sunlight.

This means you may have precious little time to see attractions in daylight. This is important to note if you live for travel photography: There’s no point travelling so far to see the Matterhorn, for instance, only to find its majestic spire shrouded in darkness.

Less daylight could also throw a wrench into your commuting plans. If you are on a road trip in a rural area, some of the roads may be poorly lit, making for a more hazardous drive. It might be better to cover shorter distances in daylight and rest during nightfall, rather than risk driving in pitch-darkness.

5. WEAR THE RIGHT STUFF

Bring appropriate shoes for winter conditions.

A good pair of sturdy, waterproof shoes will help you negotiate icy sidewalks.

Capacitive gloves will allow your taps to register on your smartphone, making them indispensable for tasks like navigating a foreign city with your GPS — while keeping your hands toasty at the same time. But such gloves are thinner than, say, climbing gloves, so they won’t offer as much protection from the elements.

6. ALWAYS BRING A JACKET

Winter weather is a fickle mistress; what may seem like a warm day could quickly change, especially in the evening, or if the wind picks up. Make sure you always have an extra layer like a sweater or windbreaker with you.

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