What to pack for cold TEFL destinations
Whether it’s the highlands of Colombia or the snow-capped Austrian Alps, Poland in the winter or the chilly climbs of Vietnam’s northern mountains, there are plenty of cold TEFL destinations out there. If any of them have taken your fancy, then be sure to read on for a few tips on things you might want to pack for the adventure, aside from the usual jumpers, long sleeves, and the like.
They say you lose most heat from your head, but it certainly doesn’t seem like that when you’re treading snowdrifts with unsuitable footwear. To put it another way – daps or sneakers are not the shoe of choice when it’s four degrees under and the cobbles of old Prague are caked in ice. Nor are they the pick when you’ve got to trek across Moscow’s Red Square to reach your school come mid-December. Trust us: Those oversized boots with furry interiors and hardcore uppers might not look the most stylish, but they’re going to save your life (figuratively) and toes (literally) when the subzero temperatures swing around.
Anyone who’s hit a ski slope or walked anywhere when the mercury is in the minus should know that the key to keeping warm is to start at the base layer. That means long johns and thermal leggings, vests and leg socks are your friend. This is the gear that will line your skin and keep you from shivering. It’s the first thing you’ll put on each morning before heading out to navigate the icicles and snow pillows. And it’s probably the last thing you’ll take off at night, just before slipping under the warmth of your uber-thick duvet.
A wooly hat
It doesn’t matter if it’s a Santa-styled Christmas piece or a French beret, a Russian ear-flapper or a classic beanie, a hat is surely up there with the most indispensable pieces of luggage you’ll carry to a cold TEFL destination. When things get really chilly, it will become second nature to don your head protector. They help to stop wind biting the ears, snow cooling the hair, and with general heat loss. Of course, you should always remember to stow it away when teaching – dress codes are important business!
In today’s modern age of laptop-based working, there’s often nothing worse than having seized-up digits when you enter work. That’s where gloves – a classic piece of cold clothing – can work wonders. They will save you from hitting the classroom with fingers that can’t handle the demands of a whiteboard or keyboard, so you can get stuck straight into those activities and English learning, no matter the weather.
Now this one only applies to those cold TEFL destinations that are lucky enough to be on the cusp of winter resorts (of which there are plenty!), but it’s something you’ll want to pack if you’re planning on hitting the pistes. Of course, ski gear is a broad term. It could mean bringing the whole shebang – your sticks, the skis themselves, a helmet, and your very own boots. Or, it could simply mean a snow jacket and salopettes, leaving the rest of the action to local rental outlets.
Face and lip moisturizers
For many folk living in cold TEFL destinations around the globe, particularly those who like to brave the elements for a spot of hiking in the French Alps or skiing in Poland, for example, a sensitive face and lip moisturizing product can be a real saviour. Not only will it protect against the bracing airs, but a UV-resistant option can also ensure you won’t suffer from light reflection off the snowfall that’s on the ground.
A good coat
Last but not least is arguably the most obvious of things to throw in the suitcase before heading off to that cold TEFL destination: A coat. This could be a stylish winter coat that’s long, flowing and black, or a vibrant ski jacket, or a hardy outdoor hiking piece – it really doesn’t matter. Just so you’ve always got that trusty overlayer, the first line of defense against the weather, at hand when you head out.
Of course, this list is just a snapshot of the things you’ll need to think about packing when heading to cold TEFL destinations. If you’re a veteran of the shiver-inducing Czech Republic or the high Chilean Andes, we’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below, too. Alternatively, if you’re keen on knowing more about TEFL qualifications, head over to our courses page.