I’m Dreaming of Snow and NOT of Summer

When I tell people that I am headed to the Arctic in winter, the general response is ‘less than enthused’.

In fact, a few weeks ago I had a reader email me and extremely condescendingly tell me how foolish I was for visiting Denmark in January, and that a girl like me would much prefer to visit Croatia or somewhere in the Mediterranean.

Condescension (and a hint of misogyny) aside, this reader seemed to find it unfathomable that somebody could actually enjoy cold climates, but I promise you, such people exist.

I have never been one to dream about summer, beaches, white sand and blistering heat. I can not recall one time in my life that I have found myself longing for these things.

There are a bunch of explanations for why I have an aversion to warm weather.

Maybe it is a result of getting hideously sunburnt at aquatics when I was in year five? It was horrible, by that afternoon the skin on my arms had already bubbled up and become pus-filled blisters. The skin on my forearms has never truly recovered from this burning – it is much darker than the skin elsewhere on my body, has mild scarring and more freckles than you can poke a stick at.

Or maybe it is because of where I was born? Growing up in South Australia meant that I was never too far from a beautiful beach, and maybe this has had an effect. We seem to desire things that are perceived as foreign, exotic or unattainable, so could it be that my lack of desire for summer and beaches is because such things were always well within reach?

Or could it just be a simple case of the ‘grass is greener’. Could I be romanticising winter and snow simply because they are the complete opposite of what I have?

Whatever the reason, I really do prefer winter. To me, it is the only time of year that seems truly magical.

I love winter clothes and thick winter socks. I love hearty soups and a good hot toddy. I love rain and snow and bitterly cold winds. I love curling up in front of a fire (or heater) or just turning on my personal heating system with a few too many whiskys down at a cosy pub. I love mulled wine and European Christmas markets. I really just love everything about cold weather!

Sure, there are downsides. Cold feet make me grumpy (thank god for woolen socks), cold wind gives me chapped lips and makes my hair look like I’ve been dragged through a bush backwards. Sitting on a freezing cold toilet seat is a rarely discussed form of torture and getting out of a hot shower (or out of a warm bed) is a constant exercise in mental strength.

However, despite all these downsides, for me, Winter is still by far the best time of year.

Travelling in the heat fricking sucks! I get sweaty, I get gross, I have to do laundry more often, my energy levels fall down into my boots and it just seems inevitable that I end up sunburnt.

In contrast, the winter seems to energise me. It seems to give me the ‘get up and go’ and unlimited drive and excitement for exploring new places.

So, with that said, yes, I am travelling to the Arctic and Europe in the winter time. I set off in a few weeks and am counting down the days with the most excitement that I have felt in ages.

It is fine if you do not fancy visiting colder climates in winter, after all, every person likes different things, but before you go and write off my travel plans as ‘stupid’ or ‘unpleasant’ or ‘unwise’, have a little think about the following:

Winter travel is synonymous with white snow, snowflakes on eyelashes (stop me before I start singing Raindrops on Roses), reindeer, dog sledding, the Northern Lights, hotels made completely out of ice (yep – stay tuned, I will be visiting an ice hotel), snowmobiling, less tourists and the amazingness that comes with stepping into a real life winter wonderland.

Denmark, Greenland, Svalbard and Sweden – get ready, I am coming for you!

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30-something year old Australian backpacker writing her way around the world.

103 thoughts on “I’m Dreaming of Snow and NOT of Summer

  1. You go girl!! I am the complete opposite as warm beaches, the sun, non bulky clothes, no layers and just a towel and swim suit makes my heart sing. I grew up in Texas where it’s scorching out, then lived in cold yet beautiful Oregon for 11 years. We now live in England but are moving to Oz this Fall. Hooray!! I do however still travel to cold places even though it’s not my favourite. There are so many beautiful sights to explore on this Earth. I admire you for following your dreams and going where your heart is happiest! Seize every moment as if it were your last!

    1. Thanks so much Melanie! I love hearing about the places and things that excite people. It is always interesting how different we are and how we all grow to want different things. Thanks for reading and commenting. Happy travelling!

  2. Hi
    I think every season has itΒ΄s ups and downs. And I really like to travel in off season to avoid the crowds. NY in late november was pretty cold but there was nearly no line in front of any “attractions”…and I was lucky and the weater was sunny most of the time πŸ˜‰
    Greets Peter

  3. Agree with the point about being from a warmer climate! Never really thought about it much, but being from England everyone seems to crave hot sunny beaches, so it would make sense that you prefer winter! Looking forward to reading about your travels to the arctic

    1. No kidding! Every English person I have ever met seems to be constantly seeking the sun! Given the weather in England – it definitely makes sense. Thanks for reading – I look forward to sharing all my Arctic adventures!

  4. I love snow and winter! Screw those who judge you. Different strokes for different folks! You will have a great time, I’m sure, and a unique experience. I can’t wait to read about your adventures and am very jealous! Have a blast so I can live vicariously.

  5. You shouldn’t need to explain or justify yourself to others. You only have one life and there’s a big world out there so get out there, explore, and live your dreams. I look forward to reading about your arctic travels πŸ™‚

  6. I’m with you – give me winter over beaches & summer any day of the week. Probably because I live in Brisbane and it gets so freaking hot over summer that I long for cooler days. I, like you, got horribly sunburnt as a child and before that loved water and the beach.. now that I’ve read your story I am thinking that might have had something to do with me no longer enjoying the beach – perhaps the memory of it has caused my dislike for anything remotely summerlike (well apart from Daylight Savings πŸ˜€ ) .. I think it’s amazing you’re going to the Arctic.. and anyway, who gives a crap what people think – you’re the one going on the trip, not them!! Have an amazing time πŸ™‚

    1. Yay! An Aussie who gets it! The build up before the wet season up here in Darwin was pretty bad this year – I have so been craving the cold! Luckily the rains have arrived in full force and cooled the place down a bit, but still, I cannot wait for some snow in my life. Thank you for reading and commenting!

  7. Awesome!! I am dreaming of Iceland and Norway myself!! They have a really cool ice hotel in Sweden that you should check out, 200km from the attic circle!! And less travellers are the best!! I hate crowds!!

  8. Totally feel the same way as you. Living in Southern California, we’re constantly surrounded by warm weather and easy access to plentiful beaches. But I love winter, and like you say, it’s the one time of year that feels magical. Heat and sweat just make life feel more tiresome. Have the most amazing time in the arctic! I’m sure it will be a blast. Look forward to reading your posts!

  9. Haha what a refreshing take on winter. Glad to hear you’re excited for your travels! I totally don’t relate but completely do at the same time – moved from chilly Scotland to Vietnam partially to escape the cold climate. Don’t let any silly readers get to you!

    1. Oh my god. You moved AWAY from Scotland?!

      I have dreams of building a little cottage with a big fireplace on one of the northern isles when I retire!

  10. Agreed! I grew up in England when anything over 70 (F) was a heat wave, but have lived in North Carolina (USA) for decades where summers are 90+ and 90% humidity for months and I hate it.

    BTW, the Japanese have solved the cold toilet seat problem. Buy a Toto.

  11. I really liked this post! I am also a young female who happens to be visiting Denmark and Sweden in January – I can’t see why anyone would have a problem with that! I didn’t plan my trip specifically for the coldest month of the year, but I wasn’t going to turn down and opportunity just because of the thermometer – so I buttoned up and don’t regret it! Cold is a state of mind. πŸ˜‰

  12. It is just wonderful to see all the seasons of a location. Why see a place in only one season when everyone else does. I am born and raised in Southern California and live close to the beach, so like you, no interest in beaches. I love the deserts and mountains. Love snow skiing, bicycling, motorcycling, 4-wheeling, camping and backpacking. The different seasons of a place are so wonderful and delightful. I figure I can always put more layers on to get warm but you can only take off so much when your hot. And I hate air conditioning. I look forward to hearing of your trip. ENJOY.

    1. Totally agree Terry! During hot weather I just feel trapped and like I can’t escape it! But when it’s cold, throw another layer on and I am good to go. It is so much better!

  13. Your plans sound great! I would love to check out parts of Europe in the winter. Norway and Iceland are at the top of my list. Enjoy your adventures. Safe travels.

  14. I, too, am a winter person. So much so in fact that I moved to a place that winter lasts 7 months. I do enjoy getting away to warmer climates on occasion, but home (to me) is a snow capped mountain. I get similar comments from co-workers when I mention travel plans like my upcoming trip to Morocco, but they differ in content. Currently, the leading comment I get is “Aren’t you worried about being an american in a Muslim country?”. I tell them that yes, it is a concern, but I want to meet people and learn about how they live, laugh, and love, regardless of where they live or what they believe. Besides, I don’t travel for comfort, I travel for excitement and education. If there wasn’t a bit of adrenaline involved, I would lose interest.

    I’m sorry that someone thought that somehow they knew what was better for you than you do, and I’m glad you didn’t let it deter you from doing your thing, your way.

    I’m totally jealous of your upcoming trip, and can’t wait to read about your northern adventures.

    Have fun,

  15. I enjoy visiting places, for reasons other than “it’s the season to do….” I think your choices are perfectly fine. People who live in a cold climates feel gratified that others come to see them, and their lands, when it’s “off-season”.

    1. I certainly hope so! One day I’d love to move somewhere where it is always cold and share my enthusiasm with anyone who comes to visit πŸ™‚

  16. I’m sure you’ve answered this question on your blog previously (though I did a quick search and couldn’t find it). I am curious to know — how are you able to work around the world as a midwife? I’m sure the rules are different for each country you visit. But I would be interested to hear how that process works. (Again, sorry if you’ve already covered this topic.)

    1. I actually don’t work as a midwife when I travel. I am lucky enough to have a permanent job in Australia that allows me a lot of freedom and time to travel and thus I manage two separate passions! I hope to one day work with MSF though…

  17. I prefer winter and autumn over spring and summer since long. It’s not that hot where I live that I crave for the opposite. It’s just that i feel more energised and tranquil at the same time once summer is behind me and temperatures start to drop, leaves start to colour… I love these dark evenings, layered warm clothes, frosty air, autumn colours turning to bare trees, and then the cosy warmth inside. I even prefer wintery food. But we hardly have any decent snow here, or negative temperatures, apart from a few days where temperatures might dip and we’re left with a white dusty cover. I complain about it so much and everyone thinks I’m nuts. My mom (bless her) however said that I maybe should go to Scandinavia or Canada for a few weeks during winter to either get my kicks or cure me lol which I might do next year.
    Enjoy your wintery trips to the fullest. It’s a magical season indeed!

      1. You won’t have to twist my arm, definitely going but alas I’ll have to wait until next year’s winter as a holiday now wouldn’t be possible, work-wise (and I returned from NZ not long ago which drained my account quite a bit, but it was worth it obviously). I might head to Scandinavia with the car in fall though, to admire the colouring of the leaves.
        I’ll keep a close eye on your blog and any wintery adventures and recommendations especially. πŸ™‚ It’s very comforting to know I’m not the only one who prefers winter over summer!

  18. Ellen! You and I may be twins. Lol. Growing up and living in south Texas on the gulf coast in 95 degree F weather with 100% humidity, I always romanticize winter. We get a couple weeks of cool weather and then it’s right back to non stop heat. I just finished telling a friend this evening that I can’t wait to schedule a trip to somewhere snowy this winter. I can’t believe how much on the same page you and I are! Seriously, what number am I thinking of? lol. It’s good to know there’s others out there.

      1. It was totally 7 haha. Can’t wait to see your snowy adventures. I have Australia in march then Thailand in may, looking at maaaaaaybe going for Iceland in September…we’ll see.

  19. I’m with you on the alabaster trail! That’s so crazy to me how anyone can email a person and just assume they know what’s best for them. Hard to wrap my head around that one.

  20. I’m with you all the way on winter holidays! The best holiday I ever had was to Hokkaido in December a couple of years ago, and next month my wife and I are going to Lapland. Lots of our friends think we’re crazy (as this is actually our honeymoon) but we get the chance to ski, go on husky safaris and hopefully see the Northern Lights. That beats any beach holiday in my book!

      1. A place called Levi in Finland. It’s a ski resort and there’s lots of activities like dogsledding and snowmobile safaris. Fingers crossed for an aurora appearance as well!

  21. Why on earth shouldn’t you head to the Artic in the Winter? If you stayed home you’d would be cold anyway! And the Artic sounds like an amazing place under any circumstances. Do you hope to spot any wildlife!

  22. Whoa that is an exciting list. My husband and I have been dreaming of Svalbard and Lofoten Islands for some time now. Whoever sniggered at you for travelling in winter?! It has the joy of walking around with ridiculously red, rudolf-red nose tips, feeling the sting on the face and then finding your piece of heaven in a steaming cup of hot chocolate or hot mulled wine. Will wait to see your posts from your winter escapades πŸ™‚

  23. I can’t believe someone would be so presumptuous as to tell you what sort of holiday experience would or would not be right for you! Winter in Europe is amazing!!! I never thought I’d cope with an Arctic winter, given that in Perth, the odd 15 degree day in July is a freezing day πŸ˜€ But when I visited Finland, Norway and Sweden a couple of years back, I absolutely loved it and was actually glad to be in -30*C conditions, rather than the 44 degrees Perth was sweltering through haha. You will have an incredible time!

  24. I’m craving a Canadian winter and a white Christmas! I’m from New Zealand so we don’t really get a proper snowy winter and I usually prefer warmer climates but I think it’s time for some winter! Totally agree with you!

  25. You are from a hot country, the sunshine is normal everyday mundane for you. No you are not insane, we all want what we don’t have. As I travelled all over the world (always to sunnier places than the uk) I found the hotter the country the more they longed to see snow. Lol, to me snow is cold, wet and horrid but I do understand the fascination – it looks so pretty on pictures and if it stayed in the pictures I would be a happy bunny. Go and enjoy your cold adventures. My calander for this year, from a travel company, starts the year off with people trekking across the stunning scenery at the Antarctic Peninsular.

  26. I love this! Last year I spent my winter living on the Swedish/ Finnish border inside the Arctic Circle, and this winter I’m in Moscow. Both times, people were shocked and often condescending about my choice of destination.

    I definitely didn’t grow up with hot weather and beaches but I still find myself craving the cold as much as the sun. For me, Arctic landscapes and snowy cities are amongst some of the most beautiful sights I’ve seen.

    Can’t wait to read about your Arctic adventures!


    1. Totally agree! I think a snow-capped glacier is about the most beautiful sight I could ever imagine. Beaches are nice… but they are just not the same. I can’t wait to share my adventures with you!

  27. Cool, I have done all of this and I absolutely love it. The only thing that is not so much fun is the short days and long dark nights around the arctic circle. Never imagined how hard this is on the whole body. Other than that, I would not hesitate a second to go again.

    1. I quite like the long darkness! It does make it difficult to go out exploring for long periods of time, but there is something pretty cool about seeing the sunset at 1.30pm!

  28. Totally agree with a hot summer sapping your energy! We travelled in the South of France in July a couple years ago during a heat wave, its was 40 degrees + every day – you just can’t do anything but be submerged in water or in air conditioning in that temperature!!

    However, there is 1 major drawback in my opinion to travelling in winter — lack of light!! Short days means you have to run around and do as much as you can in the precious few hours of daylight. But once the light drops you can get all cozy and hygge with fires and hot toddies! Also I think travelling in winter somewhere where there is snow is a totally different thing to travelling in winter somewhere where there is no snow, just grey skies, rain and whipping wind (ahem England). And travelling in winter without the right clothes can quickly become an exercise in misery, a mistake you only make once!

    1. For sure! I finally invested in a pair of proper snow boots and my feet are so much happier with me now! The right clothing makes a huge difference.

  29. I personally hate being cold, but I love many of the same things you do: cozying up in front of a fire with a mug of (spiked) hot cocoa, a purring kitty on my lap, and a good book. I also love love love the snow, and I’m bummed I live in a temperate environment that rarely sees it. However, I love *seeing* it – not being out in it, generally (or at least not for long). Honestly, autumn is my favorite season. Not too cold just yet, but all the cute jackets and the warming drinks, the snuggles, and the stunning foliage in gold and fire. I’d love to visit Japan in the winter, though. I think it would be – as you say – truly magical πŸ™‚

  30. Had to start a new thread, guess we maxed out lol. I’ll be headed to Melbourne and surrounding areas. Haven’t locked down the excursions I’m doing just yet besides the Great Ocean Road tour…

  31. Well said. I’m an Aussie as well, and even though I find myself dreaming of blue sky, sun and beaches (as I’m currently living in the UK and the winters here are just grey) I find myself constantly drawn to the poles and other cold, austere places, probably since its so different to what I grew up with. My favourite trips and places I’ve visited (which are on your list for 2017) are Svalbard and Antarctica. I also love the north of Norway. You must visit Lofoten Islands and Tromso if you haven’t already, the scenery is stunning.

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