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Car in the snow

Tips for a winter holiday

If you're going on a winter holiday then we've got some excellent tips to help you make the most of your winter wonderland adventure.

What to pack


Photography tips

Safe driving

What to pack and what not to pack

This can be a bit tricky if you haven't ever been on a winter holiday before but it's nothing to stress over. The best thing you can do is splash out on hold luggage as winter clothes take up a lot more space than your summer wardrobe does, and in this case it's not the worst thing if you overpack. You never know when you'll need an extra layer.

To make a bit of extra space, put your clothes in vacuum bags and suck all that pesky air out. Some come with a manual pump so you don't need a vacuum cleaner to suck the air out.

As an absolute minimum make sure you take:

  • A thermal base layer
  • Woolly hat or beanie
  • Waterproof gloves
  • Scarf
  • Thermal socks
  • A winter coat
  • Fleeces and jumpers
  • Waterproof shoes or boots
  • Sun cream

Things that aren't absolutely essential but worth bringing if you have them:

  • A snood – more convenient than a scarf and keeps your neck, chin and nose nice and toasty
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Snow shoes
  • Swimwear – for saunas and hot tubs
  • Sunglasses – the snow can be brighter than you think

Don't panic if you don't have everything on the list and don't rush out and spend a fortune on everything you don't have. Winter essentials like snow trousers and boots can be very expensive and it might not be worth buying them for a one-off trip.

Think about hiring them instead – depending on where you go you can hire a full set of winter gear (coat, trousers, gloves and boots) for a week for about €30 which is a massive saving against buying them new. Plus if you have any excursions booked, check with your provider as many of them supply winter clothes for the trip included in the price.

If you're planning more winter holidays in future it may be worth investing in your own gear, but for your first trip or a one-off it's much cheaper to hire them. Plus you save loads of space in your luggage.

Frozen ski lift in Saariselka

Take care of your skin

You know that old cliche when you get somewhere hot and it feels like a 'different kind of heat'? Well the same applies when you go somewhere cold. As an island nation, the UK has a relatively humid climate and that still applies in winter. So when you go abroad somewhere cold the chances are it will be much drier – bad news for your skin.

Cold weather is tough on your skin anyway but add in the drier climate and you may find your skin drying out quicker than you're used to. This makes it more sensitive to UV rays so it's important to take care of it.

Bring a decent facial moisturiser with you and consider adding a hydrating serum to your routine if you don't have one already. Look for things that have glycerin or hyaluronic acid in them. And don't forget SPF! Just because it's cold it doesn't mean there aren't any harmful UV rays.

You'll need loads of lip balm too – the cold air will dry your lips out super fast.

Make the most of your phone's camera

Person outside wooden church covered in snow

Whether you're going for midnight sun or the Northern Lights, there's something peaceful and beautiful about snowy landscapes that you just don't get anywhere else – you're going to want to capture this.

You don't need to bring an expensive, bulky camera with you (although we won't blame you if you did!) when the chances are you have a pretty powerful camera in your pocket already. You just need to know how to get the most out of it, and that's why we asked our multimedia experts to share some tips with you.

Believe it or not, all the photos in this article were taken on a phone camera and this is how we managed it:

Take a little travel tripod for hands-free selfies and better night photos. Use night mode when it's dark and set the exposure time to as long as it will let you, then set it on a tripod to keep it as still as possible while it takes the photo. The results will surprise you.

Trouble with autofocusing? Sometimes the camera will focus on the wrong area if the auto exposure is too dark or too bright. If you're using an iPhone, tap and hold on the subject of your photo until you see 'AE/AF Lock' pop up. Then adjust the exposure by dragging your finger up and down the screen. You can do this on Android phones too, but it may look a bit different depending on your handset – just tap and hold on the subject until a padlock appears, then adjust the exposure using the sliders.

Try to avoid using special lenses and modes, like wide angle and telephoto (zoom), in low light. The main lens tends to have the biggest sensor and will almost always perform best. This applies in well-lit or outdoor spaces too – the special lenses will work fine here but the main camera will look the best overall.

Safe driving in the snow

If you're hiring a car, which we definitely recommend doing, you might be a bit concerned about driving in wintry conditions. The good news is that colder countries handle snowy weather much more efficiently than we do. The roads are regularly gritted and it's usually a legal requirement to have winter tyres fitted – that's half the work already done for you.

Back-seat view of car driving in snow

Opt for an automatic if you can, then you can focus solely on the road and any hazards. Automatics are sometimes equipped with a snow mode too, so keep an eye out for that. If you end up with a manual you should pull away in second gear if you can and slowly move up the gears, driving in the highest gear possible. This keeps your revs low and reduces the risk of your wheels spinning over the ice.

To slow down use engine braking and work down through the gears, lightly touching the brake pedal to signal to the cars behind you. Remember to take sunglasses with you as well, as the low winter sun will dazzle you.

For more tips on driving in the snow check out our guide to getting winter ready.

Get winter ready

Make sure you're ready for winter with our top tips for tackling the weather.

Find out more