• Cold-weather travel tips

    An airport (IND) in winter.  Credit: @JohnFleckPhoto

    An airport (IND) in winter.
    Credit: @JohnFleckPhoto

    We’ve written a lot about travel disruption and we’re in the midst of a significant travel disruption event in North America, first from snow and then from bitter cold weather across much of the United States and Canada.

    You may hear about temperatures such as minus-15 degrees F (minus-26 C) thrown around for some significant travel hubs. Even if you’re traveling from Miami to Los Angeles, two warm spots, anywhere you might change planes (O’Hare, DFW, Atlanta) is significantly colder, so take some precautions in case your connection is delayed or cancelled.

    Your mom was right about cold weather: Dress in layers. If you’re going to be outside for any length of time, avoid cotton fabrics, because they will absorb your sweat and keep it near your body. This applies to your feet as well, so consider two layers of socks. And a hat is key. Even if you don’t have a stocking cap, a baseball cap can be at least marginally effective. With the wind, the air can feel even colder, down into the minus-40 range. Any exposed skin is in danger of frostbite in mere minutes.

    You won’t necessarily need all these clothes when boarding the plane, but make sure to put them in your carry-on bag, along with the chargers you need for your mobile device. Also consider a protein bar or healthy snack to keep you going. If you get stuck in an airport where thousands of other people are already stuck, you may find yourself in competition for limited food options in the terminal.

    Please remember to charge your mobile devices fully. Now that we can use our electronic devices from gate to gate, there’s even more stress on battery life, so make sure you come as fully charged as possible. Aside from airplane mode, most smartphones have other ways to save battery, whether there’s a dedicated power saver mode or just ways for you to turn down screen brightness or limit the frequency with which your email app checks for new mail.

    Also, if you’re lucky enough to escape to warmer temperatures, please make sure to leave your water faucet dripping at home so that the pipes won’t freeze. As temperatures dip below zero Fahrenheit, water pipes, especially in older houses, could freeze.

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