Winter is a favourite time of the year for families and friends to make their trips overseas during the holiday season. Most of us in Singapore would be happy to get away from the heat and humidity for a nice colder environment elsewhere. However, any great plans would be ruined if preparations are not made in anticipation of your winter travel.
Depending on the country that you are visiting, suitable winter clothing is required for cold countries. You would not want to be caught off guard with sudden changes in weather and not having enough cover for it. It is therefore important to be aware of the current and forecast weather conditions in the countries you are travelling to. Know the temperature and be prepared with thermal insulating layers such as fleece, wool jackets, windbreakers and gloves. Proper winter clothing should keep you comfortable inside. However, it is also important to keep clothing modular as you would find it easier to adapt if there are large temperature differences between the indoors and outdoors.
When going into an environment that is very much different from Singapore, individuals adapt differently and consequently, some may fall sick. Boosting your immunity before a trip may be useful if you are prone to falling sick. Supplements containing Vitamin C and zinc, echinacea or more recently, black elderberry can build stronger immunity, making you more resistant to cold and flu.
Cold countries tend to give you runny nose and nasal congestion more often. Antihistamines such as cetirizine, loratadine or fexofenadine can be more appealing as they are non-drowsy. They can also be easily obtained without prescription, upon consultation with your pharmacist.
Antihistamines that cause drowsiness, while inconvenient during day travel, may be handy at night if nasal symptoms are making it difficult for you to rest. Topical nasal decongestants are also available over the counter should you prefer not to take oral tablets, but you should limit their use to a maximum of five consecutive days.
As with most trips overseas, you should also prepare yourself with medicines for other conditions as well. Diarrhoea and stomach upset can be common in a foreign country as the food may not be agreeable with your stomach. Loperamide or diphenoxylate is useful for stopping diarrhoea while other medicines, such as activated charcoal, can reduce milder symptoms of diarrhea. Activated charcoal is useful in food poisoning as well.
For indigestion or bloatedness, domperidone should help while omeprazole should do away with increased stomach acidity or acid reflux. For those having motion sickness, taking dimenhydrinate half an hour before a trip on a car or boat would prevent nausea and vomiting. Ginger tablets are claimed be a non-drowsy alternative medicine for motion sickness, but their effectiveness is still debatable.
Travelling during winter usually poses problems of skin dryness as the environment tends to be a lot drier than tropical Singapore. As such, it is important to properly hydrate the skin, especially the facial region, hands and lips. Skin moisturisers suitable for the face can be applied liberally to prevent skin dryness and peeling. Lip balms prevent lips from cracking as wounds from the cracks can be very painful.
Sometimes, when the sun shines in places with snow, there are also a lot of UV rays that are reflected from the snow to our skin. In such situations, it is important to apply sunscreen to prevent sunburn. We may not notice the effects of the sun as the cold temperature masks the burning sensation.
With proper planning, you and your loved ones should be well prepared for a wonderful winter trip to your favourite countries. One more thing: don’t forget your passports!