When Mark told me we would be spending Christmas over in Europe my brain went into over drive. Visions from movies we have seen were the first thoughts in my mind…we were going to freeze was the second. Most of our friends will tell us that it is not like an Australian winter. Firstly there is snow in some parts and the second is that you actually need good winter clothing so you don’t freeze, no, trackies and a hoodie would not cut it. So would we be able to get it here before we went or would we be better off waiting till we got over there to purchase our winter gear?
As we were heading to some places that would have the climate like an Aussie winter we had to pack for a few different seasons. And because we like to plan as much as we could before we left we decided to purchase as much as we could here before we left. We were able to use plenty of different methods to get great winter clothing that kept us very warm while we were on our holiday without going crazy over our budget. Here are some of our tips if you are heading overseas for a White Christmas.
Top tips for getting great, well-priced clothes
1. Our seasons are reversed-make the most of our winter sales.
We were really lucky that we happened to be in a bigger town near us when a shop was having a massive sale on all of their winter clothing. We were able to pick up some great winter gear from them at half the price, as it had been at the start of the winter season.
2. Do not buy cheap jackets online
We thought that we would be able to buy some great jackets on line a little cheaper than what we were going to pay at the shops so we ordered one. Not only was it tiny the zip broke within minutes of us unwrapping it and trying it on Willow. now that I look back on it, it was a huge mistake and we were really lucky it broke because I think it would have been useless when we were on holiday.
3. Buy thermals online
We bought some online winter wear. We got lined thermals for the girl in a few different colours and they loved them. In the warmer climates we were in the girls actually wore them as leggings under a skirt or a dress and if we were going out they looked like any other nice leggings. This also gave me time to get the heavy clothes that were wet dry and ready to go again.
4. Make the most of lay-by
We did lay-by some items for Mark and I especially our waterproof shoes. These were really hard to find in our area and we had to go to another bigger town to find some. They were probably our second most expensive item and we both got 1/2 a size bigger to make sure we could fit into them with good socks on.
5. Buy it a little bigger.
We found that with our jackets getting them a little bigger was the best way to go. We could fit all of our layers underneath and still have room to move. We did this for the girls as well but found that because they were still growing they came pretty close to a perfect fit by the time we left and unfortunately we will not get another trip out of their jackets.
6. Spread the cost out as much as you can.
I found picking up socks or thermals in my shopping budget each week spread the cost out and we didn’t spend a bulk amount.
Top tips for staying warm
To be honest we were actually rarely cold during our winter getaway, even in Iceland. We found that not only did we have plenty of clothing we sometimes had too much. Like anything over here you go from the warm house/apartment/hotel room to the warm car to the warm restaurant/supermarket/indoor area, so it is really if you are going to be spending a lot of time outside doing activities or wandering a city where you will need to really rug up.
1. Layers are your friend.
I found so many times that I was boiling when we were inside a restaurant or anywhere else and I found myself sneaking off to the toilets to take some off if we were inside for a long time. If you know you will rarely be outside you may not have to rug up as much as you think so layers will be the best way to go.
2. Ladies try on some men’s thermals….trust me.
I ended up wearing Mark’s thermals a lot of the time. They came higher up my back and they also had a lot more room in them once I put another pair of pants on over the top. I also found them much warmer than the ladies ones for some reason (That may just be me) I also bought a cheap pair from our local BCF as a spare and I love them. They were also warmer than my very expensive pair.
3. Spend some extra on good socks
Good warm socks are a must. My feet got wet one day after I wore the wrong shoes out and I think it was the really thick ‘Explorer’ socks that I was wearing that saved my feet. I honestly never had cold feet other than that one time.
4. Waterproof shoes are a must
As I said above one day I wore the wrong shoes out and they were not waterproof. this is not a great idea and I recommend buying actual waterproof shoes rather than using a waterproof spray on shoes that you buy.
5. Trackies will not always be your friend
At home when I am cold in winter I will pop on a pair of trackies to keep warm. I did take a couple of pairs with me and I was nice and toasty in them as my thermals fit nicely under them. The problem was if they got wet they were hard to dry quickly.I also took some jeans with me and found them to be good but my thermals didn’t go so well with them but they dried very quickly.
Our essentials for a winter getaway
I honestly think that we took a good amount of winter gear with us when we left. The only thing we bought over there was a pair of waterproof shoes for Marley as hers ripped on the inside a few days before we left.
2 Pairs of good quality thermal pants
4 Pairs of thick socks
A beanie that covers your ears
A snood (A scarf that is sewn at its ends) This will help you keep it up over your face if you are really cold
A pair of thick, excellent quality gloves (Try and get a pair that has a little clip on them so when you take them off they can be joined together)
Waterproof snow jacket
2 Good quality hoodies or zip up jumpers
2 Pairs good quality thermal pants
4 Pairs of thick socks
A beanie that covers their ears
2 scarves (I found that sometimes when they were active that one scarf would not be enough or I could wrap it higher on them to keep them warmer. Also a snood is good for a blanket too if they are cold)
2 sets of gloves (I tried to get waterproof ones but they were not in Marley’s size)
Some added tips for a winter getaway
1. Always have some water with you
I found that a lot of the time we were really thirsty so I was always stopping to buy water. After awhile I realised and I got a bigger bottle to have with us.
2. Have a lip balm at the ready
Our lips were always dry and cracked. After a little while, they began to hurt so having a lip balm with us all the time made them much better
3. Your skins gets really dry…even your scalp
I got seriously dry skin including my scalp when we were over there. I found getting some moisturiser into my skin helped it and conditioner into the roots of my hair helped slightly.
4. Put your shoes near something warm at night
In the snow, I found that even though my shoes were waterproof little bits of snow could sneak their way in and make my shoes wet. I would put them right near the heater at night and I would wake up to toasty warm shoes the next morning!
5. Have a second set of gloves for kids
Marley loved the snow and was forever playing in it with her gloves on. Having wet gloves on little fingers was not fun and it always led to a fit of ‘my hands are freezing’ I found having a second set for her was a great idea.
Things we learnt the hard way while we were on our winter holiday
1. The coldest spot you will probably be is in the car.
We would get in the car in the morning at it would be freezing. We actually ended up wrapped in blankets for most of our time travelling with our friends Adriana and Thoams in Poland. It took forever for the bus to warm up and we still had blankets on.
2. It is not the cold that bothers you it is getting dressed and undressed every 20 minutes.
That is the one thing I did not think of at all until I was doing it all the time. If you are going from one place to another during the day you will find that you are taking clothes on and off to accommodate the areas you are in. As I said above you go from the warm hotel or apartment to the warm restaurant/museum/indoor area and back again but you are dressed for the tiny minutes in between where you might be cold! My favourite was the take off the beanie, then the scarf, then the snow jacket, then the jumper and then you were ready to sit down!
You might like our article on Tips for travelling in Iceland
3. Kids are not as cold as us at times.
Some days there was just no way I was getting Marley into a full set of thermals and all the rest on top of it. As i said above the lined leggings really allowed her to be comfortable and not have to wear as much clothing. She was always on the go as well so she was kept warm by that. The only problem we had were cold hands from wet gloves.
⇒ You might like our article on Copenhagen Winter and things to do
Travelling in Europe in Winter is not that hard with a little preparation. You can get a winter packing list together and collect the essentials. As the Europeans say there is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothing when it comes to being cold. For Australians travelling in these types of conditions can be daunting as it’s not something we are used too. Don’t worry we did it for 10 weeks and it was no problem at all.
First off I found the cold weather not as cold as many would believe.
Anywhere around -10 is cold don’t get me wrong but it does not have to be a show stopper. You don’t need to stay inside.
Our first week in the cold weather we were travelling in Germany we had come from the mild climates of Spain and Portugal. I honestly felt like Yogi Bear. Every time we came inside from the cold weather I just wanted to sleep.
Hibernating was on my mind. We would get in a car in the warmth I would sleep. Anywhere it was warm I would start yawning. You often hear people say the cold weather gets in your bones. I would say yes that’s true. Everything at times seems to be in slow motion when it’s cold. You walk slowly, it takes you longer to get dressed, you drive slower. Not sure whether it’s my mid 40’s age but it seemed a real effort at times to bend and tie my shoelaces.
In the end, I found the biggest hassle to be the constant amount of layers you had to put on and take off all the time. Every time you went inside somewhere it was really hot so you would be peeling off your jacket, your polar fleece, your gloves and your beanie only to be putting them back on again. This act was repeated regularly each day.
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