Your coldest ever travel experience …

Aussies are obsessed with talking about weather. Perth people like me are obsessed about complaining about the cold, mostly because it is rarely cold here (never below freezing) and partly because we really feel the cold because we have no idea about heating our houses properly or wearing the right clothes.

So, after yesterday’s post of snowy bikes in Finland, I got to thinking about my coldest ever travel moment. It was not, as you might expect, up in Finland when the temperature was minus 20 degrees Celsisus (-4F), because by the time I visited Finland I had got smart about wearing the right clothes. Yes, it took me a while, but eventually I believed what so many people from cooler climes than mine kept telling me: There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.

Which is why my coldest ever travel experience was on top of Mount Fuji. This was a classic case of “bad clothes”. It was the middle of summer in Japan, and although I intellectually understood when I read “it will be cold on top of Mount Fuji”, I didn’t practically understand that it would be very, very cold. Not minus 20, but in the flimsy summer-weight jacket I brought, it sure felt it. Given that we arrived at the top in the very early hours of the morning to greet sunrise, and that I was tired and hungry, I was really in no condition to be there without a proper jacket, hat and gloves. Well, at least I’ll know for next time!

Japan Fuji-san Banzai - cold travel experience

Freezing cold atop Mt Fuji in Japan

I think I have learnt my lesson, and I’m usually better prepared for cold weather now. What’s your coldest ever travel moment? – please share in the comments (and I’m betting it’s us Aussies who have had the worst “cold” experiences!).


  1. Haha! You’re right … my coldest experience was in OZ! The campground at Carnarvon Gorge with below freezing temps overnight didn’t have hot water. After 6 days living in skankville, I just HAD to wash my hair, so I waited until the hottest time of the day for a cold shower – forgetting the water temp was probably close to freezing … I thought my skull was going to shrivel up!! But yes, I get that us Aussies just don’t get ‘real’ winter!!!

  2. Ooh yuck, I actually physically shivered reading your comment!! I think I would have let the hair suffer another day or two. Funny how you don’t need to be in Finland to be cold! (pretty sure there would be no Finnish campgrounds without hot water!)

  3. Coldest travel moment was in NYC. It was 2 days after that plane had crash landed in the Hudson and it was -11 Celsius. I had all the gear as we were staying with my brother-in-law and his wife. Still cold.

    There was ice on the edge of the Hudson and I couldn’t stop thinking about how cold the water must have been when the plane passengers had to evacuate the plane.

    We wandered around Manhattan for a while and then resorted to the Bloomingdale’s sale. It was lovely and warm in there. (Actually lots of shops on 5th Ave were nice and cosy!!!)

  4. Brrr … yes what an awful thought, I can’t imagine what it must be like in icy cold water – I need my shower super-hot to be happy even in summer!

    I think shopping on Fifth Ave was an excellent solution to your cold weather experience there – well done!

  5. My friend and I arrived in Reykjavik with one blazer and one jacket with no sleeves. My body refused to cooperate but I didn’t want to miss out on the beautiful natural sights so I think I put on half of my clothes and set out into the harsh winds. We went dog sledding,walked behind waterfalls and stood at the edge of a glacier watching seals play, all the while making quick trips in between back to the car, trying to regain feeling in our extremities.

    The photos of that trip are nothing less that hilarious, with the two of us resembling some sort of mix matched marshmallow character.

  6. Rosie, that’s hilarious, love the image of you as marshmallow characters! But I have to say, didn’t the “Ice” in “Iceland” give you a hint for packing?! I’m assuming it’s one of the cooler parts of the earth …!! (Hmm, I guess I’m no better at all if I re-read my Fuji experience above!!!)

  7. I would like to preface this with “I lived in Winterpeg for a year and I survived”. I walked to work in minus 50 (with the wind chill) for 35 minutes and then finally had to quit my job because $10 per hour just wasn’t worth the frost bite risk. However, my 3 coldest experiences were also mostly in Australia.
    1. Paris. I had never been in such a cold environment so I thought my ’94 leavers’ rugby jumper would cut it at 6am on a cold winter’s morning in Paris.
    2. Windy Harbour on the South-West coast of WA. $2 for a hot shower. Nobody told me that $2 bought you 2 minutes of hot water… just enough time to lather my hair in shampoo. Mum only gave me $2. I had fuzzy hair and I would’ve preferred to freeze to death than wash without conditioning.
    3. Tom Price. Camping in May. I opened my bag in the middle of the night and put on every single item inside it and I was still cold. It took until midday to defrost me. Winterpeg was nothin. But then not many people try camping in winter in the ‘peg.

  8. Anonymous says

    Camping on the goldfields (-3) at Marvel Loch this time last year. I’m not such a masochist I had to do it to get my cert 3in mining exploration ;)Also, on Christmas day in Ulsan,Korea 2002, the taps froze over but it was worth it. There’s is something special about a white Christmas especially when there are children around. Making snowmen, snowball fights etc.. WM

  9. @ Helen, I hear you on the Paris experience – we are just not brought up to understand how to dress suitably in cold conditions!!!! But if I’d been in your place at Windy Harbour I really think I would have stuck to the fuzzy hair, I’m such a wimp!

    @ Wes, so true, since I moved back to Australia I just can’t get the same feeling about Christmas – it really should be white and preferably in the mountains! Although I’m not sure I need the taps freezing over (that’s never happened to me – touch wood!)

  10. My coldest experience was in the Blue Mountains, NSW. It was July and we stayed in an old fibro house with zero insulation. I put on everything stitch of clothing I had in my bag and I stilled ended up crying because it was so cold.
    This happened about two months after moving to Australia from New York, where I use to get ice forming on my nose hairs as I walked to the subway in the winter. But at least in New York they know how to insulate the buildings!

  11. So, so true! Australian buildings are *hopeless* – it’s like everyone’s in denial that it ever gets cold! Crazy …

  12. Wow… superb roundup… but I love travelling during cold seasons…

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