What to pack for a trip to Russia- hat, scarf, thermals, fluffy socks, snow boots… vest tops, sunglasses, shorts…
Sound right to you? No? Me neither, but I can assure you all of the above are necessary when visiting this vast arctic environment.
I will admit to being more of a sun worshiper than a snow enthusiast; my amateur winter packing skills evident throughout the trip. ‘Buy thermals, the thickest socks you can find and snow boots’ people told me. And so I did. However as much as I appreciated these whilst outdoors, I managed to sweat more from the indoor heat than I would if I were in the Australian outback in the height of summer. It was HOT, HOT, HOT!
From my travel experience I can only but draw the conclusion that people generally want what they haven’t got. For example, Thai’s want to be as white skinned as possible; Chinese design their shoes to prevent their feet from growing large; Australian’s turn the air con up to arctic levels and Icelandic’s have heating as hot as we have saunas. Why are we never happy with what we have?
Russia was certainly no exception to this theory, with their indoor temperatures causing menopausal like hot flushes each time you exit the bitter cold into a new building.
Taking off the layers took up the first few minutes of entering any new place and most establishments have free cloak rooms to facilitate this. Removing the outer layers did release some of the heat, but what about the rest? In the UK people would be sporting their coolest summer attire in these temperatures, and there I was wearing multiple layers including heat holding thermals!
At home I’m used to snuggling under my duvet to keep warm at night, but here I threw off the sheets and if I wasn’t staying in a shared dorm room, I would have been throwing off the nightwear too! I would actually put sleeping in Russia on par with sleeping in an un-air conditioned room in Cambodia or Laos.
I arrived to my hostel suited and booted in the warmest clothes I owned and was greeted with girls in hot pants and flip flops! Who would have thought I would feel out of place wearing my hat and gloves in Russia?!
I’ve always liked the saying ‘when in Rome’, so with this in the forefront of my mind I ditched the layers and bought a proper Russian coat.
Women walked the streets of Moscow in costly, but beautiful coats. I admired their look on many occasions, and when looking at average costs of winter coats I could empathise with spending such astronomical amounts of Rubbles, after all there won’t be many days of the year that you wouldn’t be wearing it!
Wanting to fit in, and to get a warmer coat, I bought a less pricey option. With better aesthetics and practicalities in the cold it was a fantastic purchase. The large hood protected my ears and neck from the cold, unlike my hat. The long arms and deep pockets protected my hands and prevented me from repeatedly putting on and off gloves. The main body was so warm there was no need for thermal under layers anymore. Couldn’t have been a better purchase.
So with my new coat and my new found knowledge of Russian temperatures, I acclimatised and wore more appropriate clothing. Who would have thought I’d be ditching the layers at -20 degrees?
Planning a trip to Russia? Don’t forget your summer wear!