Travel

‘Why I travel during winter’

Almasi-Mae-4

Almasi Mae who travels during winter during a trip to Flam, Norway. PHOTO | POOL

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Summary

  • Many travellers save their vacation time and money for summer trips.
  • However, a Kenyan traveller living in Norway, Almasi Mae, has been touring the country enjoying the singular beauty from falling snow.
  • She first travelled to Oslo from Nairobi in May 2019 for a summer vacation, unknown to her that it was wintertime.

Many travellers save their vacation time and money for summer trips. However, a Kenyan traveller living in Norway, Almasi Mae, has been touring the country enjoying the singular beauty from falling snow.

She first travelled to Oslo from Nairobi in May 2019 for a summer vacation, unknown to her that it was wintertime.

“I left Nairobi to Oslo for a summer vacation. Truth be told it didn’t feel like summer one bit. I froze from the moment I alighted. I had dressed like I was going to a beach,” she says.

“It was one degree Celsius outside and my first time to see snow. I was so excited but I had to hibernate for a few days because it was too cold.”

Ms Mae is now used to the cold temperatures, and has picked on winter sports such as skiing and ice skating.

Her real winter experience was visiting the Arctic, in the city of Tromsø for her birthday vacation.

“It was the perfect winter wonderland experience. Being in the northernmost part of the world I was seeing the world from a different perspective. The sun rises at 10 am and sets at 1 pm, just three hours of daylight. Within the three hours, it snowed all the time and the temperatures were negative Celsius,” she adds.

Besides the snow, she has also experienced the polar nights — a time of the year during winter where the sun is below the horizon, hence no sight of sun and it is nighttime for 24 hours for two months.

During such visits, she does outdoor activities such as visiting museums, dog sledding, snowboarding, staying in cabins located in mountains, ice fishing, and snowshoeing.

Winter wonderlands are a true paradise for snow sports fans and activities like visiting ice bars, making snow angels, building a snowman and igloo, and snowball fights.

Norway also offers adventure enthusiasts an opportunity to see the Northern lights or the aurora.

The 25-year-old started travelling mid-year 2019 after completing her Bachelor’s degree at United States International University-Africa in Nairobi.

She had visited five countries by the end of 2019.

Her goal was to hit 15 countries in 2020, but cancellation of flights has seen her only visit five countries.

Her plans travel to 30 countries by age of 30.

During this time, she has been exploring different cities in Norway, which also is among countries that imposed measures including the closure of borders, restaurants, bars and a ban on sporting events.

“I have only been able to travel in Norway during winter, this is due to coronavirus but hopefully next winter if things get back to normal I can comfortably travel out of the country,” Mae says.

“I have been exploring different cities in Norway and it feels like visiting new countries. This is because Norway is diverse, there is a lot to see. The winter experience in every city has been different,” she says.

For Ms Mae, whenever the snow falls and it's time to move, her vacation checklist includes sunscreen, reflector jackets, bands, or holder, wool gloves, head lamp, hand and toe warmers, winter socks, winter boots, top thermal base and bottom thermal base layers and waterproof casual shoes.

The travel bag also includes items like cotton scarves, lip balm for dry chapped lips, wind and waterproof jacket, common milking jelly used as body oil, Arimis or shea butter because lotion cannot work on African skin in winter, as Mae points out.

“As the Norwegians say, there is no bad weather but bad clothing. I wear warm comfortable clothes and drink a lot of coffee. When indoors I warm up the house and keep warm. Dressing appropriately is the best way and of course, staying positive,” she says.

Coming from a family of travellers, she travels both on budget and luxury travel. However, winter travel is cheaper as it is off-peak season hence airlines, hotels and tourist attractions offer lower rates.

She has learned the importance of saving up to see the world from a young age, and also she gets support from her Norwegian husband.

“My Motto is work, save, travel, repeat,” she adds. Ms Mae who travels with mostly family, friends, and her husband or sometimes alone says the travelling has given her exposure and opened her mind.

“You will never be the same person after travelling to a different country and experiencing a new culture. It teaches you many things and has made me love the things I have taken for granted and made me realise east-west home is the best. I also met my husband through travel, so every good thing comes with winter,” she says.

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TIPS

Why you should travel during winter

· Winter travel is cheaper. It is not a peak season hence airlines, hotels, and some tourist attractions offer lower rates.

· Traveling is traveling no matter the season. Do not be discouraged by the cold weather. See the world from a different perspective; the beautiful, glistening white snow covering nature and buildings.

· There are numerous winter sports or activities one can only do and enjoy in winter. Outdoor ice skating or skiing. Viewing of the Northern lights only happens in winter (in some countries).

· Winter is a great opportunity to show off winter accessories and cute coats in travel pictures.

· Winter is also a perfect time to travel because it's less crowded. Who wouldn't want to tourist attractions and the streets when they are less crowded?

· During winter, remember to dress comfortably and you will have more fun than you expect.