Warming Up to Frosty Climates

Not every wintertime vacation has to be to somewhere tropical. Really! Just because it’s cold doesn’t mean you can’t have a good time and get the most out of it. Daisann McLane of National Geographic Traveler blogs about her snow-laden trip to Berlin and shares tips on enjoying yourself as you travel in even the coldest of climates.

Freeze frame: Frigid weather fires up Berliners by the Brandenburg Gate. Photograph by Andreas Rentz, Getty Images.

I charge along the Kurfürstendamm, dodging and weaving to avoid the winter shoppers strolling this tony avenue in Germany’s capital of Berlin. Some stare disapprovingly at the impatient out-of-towner, but I cannot slow down—I need to get my blood moving. The circulation in my fingertips and toes has just screeched to a halt, and every time I breathe it feels like I’m inhaling a box of razor blades. I had heard that winters in Berlin can become downright chilly, but I had not expected this sort of Arctic cold.

I hate the cold, mainly because I’ve never been able to take it well. On those unexpected sunny days in spring when everyone strips to sandals and T-shirts to enjoy the (relative) warmth, I’m the party pooper cocooned in Polarfleece. Winter’s diversions have never been adequate compensation for the discomforts of the season. I don’t like snowball fights, ice-skating, or even hot chocolate. The very idea of skiing sends a shiver to my bones. In fact there is only one thing worse than being cold: being cold and wet.

I grew up in the northeastern part of the United States, so I’ve trudged through my share of frozen sludge. I was never happy about it, but I figured winter is like nature’s annual trip to the dentist—something you toughen up for and get through because you will feel so relieved when it’s over. As I began to travel, I discovered a new and better way to deal with winter: I could leave it.

The first places I escaped to—staying for months at a time—were Florida and the Caribbean nations of Trinidad, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. Notice a trend? I didn’t consciously program my travels by looking at a weather map, but I certainly didn’t mind being a repeat visitor to places for which I knew I’d never have to pack a coat.

Warming Up to Frosty Climates