The shoes, the puffy coat, the backpack- what worked and what did not
Many of the things I got for our trip ended up being perfect (thank goodness). When we were in Stockholm and Copenhagen, the temperatures ranged from low 20's with snow and rain to low 50's with periods of sun. I know a lot of people think that California is warm and sunny all the time, but where we live it gets to the low 30's and we are no strangers to normal cold. What is different is that when we are at home, we dress for cold and our heated cars. We don't spend hours outside in ice (though my husband often does at work in winter). On this adventure, we had no car and I knew we would be outside and walking around all day. I think I am about to say best ever a lot.
1. I brought only 2 pairs of shoes with me- Brooks Glycerin (my usual walking shoes) and Klogs. The Brooks, while extremely comfortable, do not keep your feet warm. I feel most comfortable in these because I walk in them daily. They were great on days that were not too wet. The Klogs were great on the wetter days and for walking on extremely uneven surfaces. The only problem I had was with my toes hurting in the Klogs on days when I had to wear really thick socks. I went the entire trip without blisters! This was a first! I attribute the lack of blisters to two things: Before putting my socks on, I slathered my feet in Mayron's Goods Barrier Cream- and- liner socks beneath my regular walking socks. These kept my feet happy and warm and did not cut off my circulation. Karen also brought Brooks shoes and her other option was a pair of Aquatalia boots which were for the most part good, but not so good on the day we accidentally ended up walking 15 miles. She did not have a chance to break in her boots before we left.
2. The Lee Pull On Jeans: Best travel jeans ever. I packed 2 pairs of every day jeans (Eddie Bauer jeans) and 1 pair of the pull ons, which I wore on the plane. These jeans fascinated the TSA agents who searched me with great vigor (note, the two bionic people I traveled with never got searched). Both of the agents (in different countries) asked if there was a belt! No, my fat tummy is being held in by super strength elastic! I had not anticipated the wind chill and did end up buying a pair of leggings to wear under my jeans by day 2 of the trip. All 3 pairs of my jeans were comfy and all 3 let the icy wind in. The pull on jeans were very convenient on days we had to wear multiple layers yet still had to go to the bathroom. Karen also had the jeans. We loved not having to fumble with belts.
3. The Eddie Bauer Packable Puffy Coats: No shock here, we both got the same coat. These were great except the fatal flaw of no inside pocket, no chest pocket, and no zippered pocket. Pockets are essential. The two pockets had button closures which got really annoying with gloves on. We both brought capacitive gloves but for me, they suddenly got too long in the fingers and I ended up buying fingerless gloves that converted to mittens then cut the thumb tip off the right hand so I could still use my iphone. Dustin also ended up doing this. Our puffy coats were the final layer over what everyone said we needed: a layer of fleece over our liner shirts and sweaters. This was bad advice. After a few days of layering up this way, I realized it was much warmer to skip the fleece jacket under the puffy coat. The puffy down coat kept the heat in way better. But, it also shed feathers on everything I was wearing. The only one of us who was smart and brought a beanie was Dustin. Karen, Brent, and I ended up buying beanies because our heads were frozen. In Stockholm, the uniform was leggings, jeans, liner shirt (best thing ever), sweater, puffy coat, gloves, scarf, and hat. This outfit adds ten pounds to your appearance and makes bending at any joint difficult. In Copenhagen, we lost the leggings layer and hats were mostly for night. It was still a type of cold we were not used to and going from outside to inside was hard. We'd be freezing then sweating since everyone had the heat on. And let's not forget the hot flashes....
4. The Fjallraven backpack: Totally the best thing ever. I have always been a cross body bag type and I have always had really bad back pain. I had no back pain at all during this trip! This backpack fit everything I needed and never felt heavy. The only downside to the backpack (we all had backpacks) is they are a pain to take on and off once you get all layered up and you have to ask your people to get/put away your stuff for you. If you are wearing a jacket with a chest pocket or good pockets in general, this would not be a major deal since you can just keep essentials in your pocket.
5. Technology: The power adapters in stores are way over priced. I got three of each type needed on amazon. Don't just get one per family. You need multiple adapters if you all want to charge your phones, batteries, and dry your hair. Also, the extra long iphone cords were essential. Karen had a Mophie case for her phone, Dustin and I each had these Jackery chargers for when we were on trains. The only one of us who had the international plan for her phone was Karen, the rest if us relied on wifi or her data plan when we got lost and needed a map or train schedule. This worked out fine because Karen likes being in charge of the map, anyway. We would screen shot maps when we had wifi. At night we dropboxed and flickred all our iphone photos for safe keeping. My photos on flickr are here (way more to come). We did bring a selfie stick which worked great in not crowded areas (excellent for our family of talls and one shortie).
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