Holidaying in the mountains in winter : A beginner’s guide
Winter has made an early entry this year as the mountains have received the first snowfall of the season already. It is that time of the year when the snow sprinkles its magic in the mountains and one can only fall in love with the enchanted whitewashed landscapes.
It is also that time of the year when we coastal citizens get a break from the sticky burning hell and enjoy the short-lived crisp morning winter that hardly ever goes below 16 degrees C. It may not sound all that cold but that is all we get and we are grateful for it! (We have still not given up on the dream of seeing the snowfall in Mumbai. With all the drastic global warming changes our hopes have grown stronger).
Now, many of us prefer to visit the mountains in the summer because we think we cannot tolerate the extreme cold. I can totally relate as I still sometimes need sweater in Mumbai during peak winter times which is laughed upon by many of my north Indian friends. But the trick to enjoy winters in the mountains in to be completely insulated as per your threshold to the cold. My husband and I chose to spend our honeymoon in Himachal around the end of January and we survived cheerfully. It was the first time I witnessed a snowfall and the happiness was ten times of what I feel with first monsoon showers. We loved the experience so much that we visited again during last Christmas. It didn’t snow then however the cold was good enough to chill our bones. But this is what makes it so special… This is what we miss here as we never get to enjoy the winter in all its glory.
So if you are still wondering where to plan your holidays this winter – head towards the mountains! I bet you will love the experience!
As I said earlier, to enjoy the winters in the mountains one needs to be well insulated. Don’t go by the Bollywood movies that show actresses dancing in the snow in skimpy clothes. I don’t know how they manage to shoot like that but it is highly inadvisable (more so if you are from the tropical regions).
So here are 10 tips for beginners to make the most of winter holidays in the mountains.
You have to know your threshold for the cold. The easiest way of knowing this is to think of the times you feel like wearing winter wear in your own climate. Anyone with a low threshold should never step out without wearing thermals. It might look all bright and sunny when you step out but it might get overcast by the evening and you may end up shivering for the rest of the day. Wearing thermals doesn’t hurt.
2. If you are expecting snow, carry waterproof jacket and shoes. Ladies, no peep toes or fancy boots from your local markets. They wont do you any good. If your shoes are not waterproof, carry plastic bags to wear over socks in case you experience snow.
3. Most of the markets, cafes and streets come to life in the evening but the temperature may drop drastically. If you are not a winter person then feel free to overdress but do not cave inside your room out of the fear of cold.
4. Pack your bag in such a way that you will be able to layer up. Layering is a great way to make sure you are comfortable all the time even during the most unpredictable weather conditions. It doesn’t mean you should skip on heavy jackets. In fact, in winters you must not skip on heavy jacket. You can travel light by layering during the day time and make use of the heavy jackets in the evening (or sooner if it snows). It may sound like carrying too many things but apart from the heavy jacket nothing really consumes much space.
5. While traveling with children, make sure you gain the altitude gradually since they are easily prone to altitude sickness. You can cut down your journey at a relatively low altitude place if possible. You can keep some camphor pills handy since inhaling them helps relieve altitude sickness symptoms.
6. You may not sweat much in the mountains unless you do some heavy physical activity. However make sure you consume lots of fluids. You may not feel thirsty but your body needs more water in the dry cold places.
7. One of the things that I enjoy the most about spending winters in the mountains is that I can eat whatever the heck I want and digest it like a pro! No acidity or heartburn! Oh, and no guilt as well.
8. Sunburns in the snow are much more damaging due to high UV radiation reflection. Even on cloudy days, keep yourself well moisturized, protect exposed skin with a sunscreen and wear proper eye protection in the snow.
9. Things may seem to be moving really slow in the mountains. Literally. You may feel like you have been on the road forever. Be assured that it is completely normal and bound to happen. Hence plan your trip by adding considerable buffers especially if it involves long road journeys. Above all, practice patience.
10. Last but not the least! Don’t pollute!! Be mindful of what actions of yours might harm the environment. Trust me, there is nothing more rewarding than enjoying a clean, serene surrounding! So be a responsible tourist and throw your garbage only when you see a dustbin.
Winter and mountains may sound like an extreme combination to us tropical citizens. But with some planning, packing and perspective, you can make the most of it.So stop procrastinating and plan your winter holidays in the mountains now! Thank me later.
If you are still unsure of how to go about it feel free to contact me. I will be more than happy to help.