The Unqualified Winter Survival Guide

With the changing leaves, the brisk weather and the changing time, it can only mean one thing: winter is coming. Though it might be a normal occurrence for some, those who grew up in warmer climates, like myself, might see the actual winter as an intimidating venture. Helming from Southern California, I never had to put salt on my porch or scrape my windshield before driving to school, so, coming to Boston for the first time last year, I was fairly helpless in figuring out the whole winter thing. Over the course of a couple of months, however, I was able to figure out some key elements to surviving the ominous winter, at least, for those who never experienced it like me. So, keeping each part of your body in mind, here are some tips to surviving your first winter, just from an unqualified source.


A hat is probably one of the simplest ways to keep warm in the winter. You’d be surprised how cold your ears can get when the wind is especially heavy. I never expected to want to wear my beanie every day, but it proved to be something I made sure to bring whenever I went out for the day. If you like listening to music, try investing in some over-ear headphones too. Those keep your ears extra warm and can make your music sound even better.


I have to admit, I hated the idea of wearing layers. It seemed uncomfortable and cumbersome, especially since it takes time out of your morning to put it all on. Despite this, layering is absolutely essential for surviving the coldest of days. Your body won’t regret it, especially since sometimes even a heavy jacket won’t cut it. I’d recommend buying as many flannels as you want because those are great tools for layering. I bought mine from Duluth – since they make actual flannels as compared to other stores where they make sheer ones – but there are, of course, many other brands to choose from. I also put tank tops underneath to layer it up, as the top layer can easily cover them, but they at least give a slight layer to warm you up. On a side note though, I’d recommend buying a longer winter jacket, so that it covers more than just your torso. I bought mine from Eddie Bauer, but others are available. This is just a precaution to make you more comfortable and so that it allows a little more coverage on your body.


I hate to say it, but gloves are a must. Like layering, I hated the idea of wearing gloves. Even before coming to Boston last year, I hated wearing them and thought they were a pain, especially if I wanted to do anything with them. But, alas, you have to protect those hands. Without them, your hands can dry up very quickly and they can even get numb with how cold it is outside. It’s better safe than sorry to protect your hands, so gloves are your best bet.

I also learned something that is extremely important: lotion. At this point, I try to remember to put it on every day because it never occurred to me just how dry the winter is. Because of the drastic change of weather, your skin, especially your hands, is susceptible to drying and cracking, which can also be terribly painful. How you can get around this is to try and use lotion to mend your hands, because even gloves aren’t 100% impenetrable. Trust me, your hands will thank you for it. I use Lush’s Charity Pot every night – or, at least, whenever I remember, because I’m still learning with this one. A little goes a long way, so even buying the smaller version can last you a long time. While a little on the oilier side, it helps quickly and can smooth out your hands right away.


The annoying thing about the legs area is that it is not much you can do about keeping them warm. You can, of course, wear thermal gear to keep warm. The best tip to give is to stay away from denim because as soon as it gets wet, it stays wet and cold for the rest of the day. Also, that longer coat that I covered earlier could be really beneficial. While it won’t cover all of the legs, it will partially cover them, making the cold at least a little more bearable.


I never realized just how wet snow was until I came back to my dorm drenched in snow. For those like me who like to take their shoes off once they get inside, try to take off your boots immediately, as stepping in that cold water on accident is not a fun thing to do. Have an area set up to store your winter clothes once they get wet from the snow, that way, nothing else gets wet while they’re drying for your next use.

Don’t ask me how or why salt helps during the winter, but you’ll soon find out that salt gets everywhere during the winter. You’ll be able to see giant bags of salt by entrances of buildings, ready to be used for the next snowfall. The bad part about this is that salt can be harmful to your clothes. You can especially see this on some cars, where the salt has damaged the outside of the car. Because of this, be mindful of what you’re wearing, with shoes being the priority, since they’ll be directly touching the salt.

With All of These Recommendations, Buy the Essentials Early

The last thing you want to be is unprepared for winter. So, be sure to have everything bought and ready to go long before the season really sets in, especially because things can sell out easily. Also, look out for those sales, as winter is not a cheap holiday. Some of the major essentials might be a winter coat, winter boots, gloves, a hat, and thermal sheets for your bed.

Winter was such a new experience for me that every day was a new adventure. Though there were definitely times where I was missing home with its 70-degree winter, I was happy to be able to be a part of a snow-filled winter. It might be expensive, but definitely worth it.

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