x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Packing little for cold weather and getting away with it

Travelling with Kids In fact, rather than worrying about my children's ability to adapt to the cold, I found myself battling to get them to put their coats on.

I'd put off flying home to England for Christmas for three years simply because I could not face the icy temperatures that often tie in with a festive break.

Despite being British, I have spent most of my life living in warmer climes, as have my two children, ensuring that every time we venture to the motherland during the winter months we spend a large proportion of the trip moaning about the cold and shivering loudly to encourage our hardy relatives to turn the heating on.

I recall one year coming out of the family home for an afternoon walk, having wrapped my then two-year-old daughter in an Eskimo-style suit, hat, gloves, scarf and coat. I was wearing a similar ensemble but as we stepped outside into the frosty air for our first outdoors jaunt after jetting in from Dubai, I physically recoiled in horror. It was freezing.

I grabbed a couple of rugs to wrap around my already over-wrapped daughter and persevered with the walk, taking a good two kilometres of brisk pacing before I could feel life creeping back into my frozen limbs.

With this frosty memory in mind, I packed all the heaviest coats and thickest jumpers I could find - admittedly a small collection now that we live in the UAE - ahead of our two-week holiday back to Blighty last month .

And, despite fears of icy winds and metre-deep snowdrifts, we were all pleasantly surprised. With temperatures hovering around 4°C during the entire trip, the winter was not only tolerable but I could even go so far as to say it was pleasurable. A catch up with a friend didn't require a coat at all if we were guaranteed to transfer from one warm house to another with only a car journey in between. And brisk walks in the bright sunshine left us feeling flushed with warmth rather than aching from the cold.

In fact, rather than worrying about my children's ability to adapt to the cold, I found myself battling to get them to put their coats on. With their vests, thermals and extra-thick jumpers they were already supremely protected from the elements, and in their opinion, throwing an enormous puffer jacket over the top of that ensemble seemed wholly unnecessary.

But there was another plus-side to our winter holiday packing - it meant our suitcases were relatively empty. As a family who have spent the last seven years living in Dubai, our winter wardrobes have been reduced to the bare minimum, leaving very little to pack.

While it meant regular wash cycles to ensure we had a jumper to wear everyday, it also ensured there was plenty of space to bring the 60kg of Christmas presents we'd received back to Dubai.

arayer@thenational.ae