As I am about to embark on my first longer trip of the year, I am confronted with a new challenge. I will be touring Europe for at least 1 ½ months, moving around by coach, train and ferry (to the UK, as in a million years I won’t go on that scary Euro Tunnel train) and, of course, it’s still winter and pretty cold the further north I move.
I usually follow the sun and go where it is warm, because not only do I hate the cold, it also causes me physical pain because of some old injuries. But, BAYER gave us aspirin to ease the pain and the experience of a winter trip by far outweighs any discomfort. The challenge however is this: what to pack for cold and be chic and, how best to do it, given that most of the time I have to drag my luggage around by myself, shift it into trains and buses, maneuver stairs and bridges etc. The times of porters are long past and any knight in shining armor who might offer to give you a hand could very well run off with it before you can say ‘dog poo’. So, I better prepare to rely on my own strength and skills.
A glamour granny is not into backpacks. I have never owned one and never will, my luggage of choice is the suitcase on wheels which I can pull happily along. But, from time to time it needs to be lifted, so rule number 1 is this:
Don’t carry anything which you can’t lift at least waist high.
In summer this is no problem at all. Summer clothes weigh little and sandals next to nothing and anyway, I tend to buy what I need along the way, making use of local markets and leaving the surplus behind for the maids.
Winter is a very different proposition. Boots alone can be heavy and bulky, but they are a must. Sweaters, pants, even warmer underwear all add to the weight. After giving the matter some serious thoughts, I have come up with this, which, I hope, will not only serve glamour grannies but other female solo travelers who want to look chic without breaking down under an overload of luggage:
One sturdy pair of boots goes on my feet. A second, lighter pair which you need if the first get wet, goes in the bag together with one pair of heels.
The secret for clothing lies in color coordination. Winter skin isn’t as tanned as summer skin and you don’t want to look washed out. So, I opted for black and red. The combination serves you from morning to night and you can mix and match endlessly with only a few items which are
2 pairs of black pants
3 sweaters and T-shirts in black and black/red
1 red and black jacket for dressing up
Silk scarves to give a touch of glam and color
For outer wear my trusted, dark brown and very ample sheep skin coat with the fur on the inside. The coat serves as a blanket too. I will never forget last year’s short trip to the east of Turkey in winter. I went by coach and was sitting next to a young girl. It was a very long journey and she loved the feel of the fur. When night came, she unceremoniously put her head in my lap, snuggled up in the fur and slept for hours like an angel. I hardly dared to move for fear of disturbing her until the next coffee and rest room break. It was very touching.
I also have a thin transparent rain skin with a hood, which I can pull over everything should it be pouring down and which is much more convenient than an umbrella.
I promise, I will confess at the end of the trip if I got it all wrong. In the meantime, I would love for additional tried and trusted tips from you.