- Heavy Duty Pollution Masks
The cloth masks from street vendors aren’t going to help. The longer you wear a disposable mask, the dirtier it becomes and the less effective it is. The less tight the mask is, also the less effective it is. If you’re staying in China long term, you really should invest in masks. If you’re here for just a short time (a couple of months), you’re going to want to get or bring a netti pot at the very least. Your sinuses are going to be disgusting without a mask. We like these for our kids.
- Air Filter Machines At Home
I don’t know what your plans are for Chinese New Year, but if you think the air is bad now, just wait. We stayed in Beijing our first winter in China – mistake. Last year we went to Thailand. I highly suggest you make plans to leave Beijing. This year, we’re stuck. A twins pregnancy means complications, and I’m too nervous to travel. So, we’re going to need to replace our filters before the holiday rolls around.
- Thick Curtains for Your Windows and Drafts
When I lived in Texas, your neighbors were made of moneybags or simply foolish if they didn’t have sun curtains for houses with older or cheap windows. (For those that don’t know, sun curtains are foamed backed curtains that block out the sun.) Poorly constructed window frames or thin paned glass let in air or let in temperatures outside. If you want to stay warm inside this Chinese New Year, get some curtains for your windows and the drafts in your house.
FYI*** Some friends of ours have ceiling to floor curtains in their living room next to their front door. The curtains greatly eliminate the draft from their kitchen in front door when they’re playing with their son indoors.
- Gloves, Hats, Socks
Cheaply knitted gloves, hats and socks are pointless. Investing in a few quality items is better than freezing. We’ve tested these kid’s gloves on our mopeds. These socks have lasted my husband and I two winters now. When you buy gloves, get special tipped gloves that are capable of manipulating touch screens without taking the gloves off.
- Warm Boots
If you have big feet, I can commiserate with you. Finding warm boots (or any shoes) in China is hard to do if your childhood nickname was “Clementine.” But, oh! Taobao and JD.com, where would I be without you? I like these ones without the laces for warmer days. The ones with the laces from the same seller are toasty for freezing days. If you’re wanting shoes that will last, the best idea is to buy from Amazon.com from a reputable brand. Chinese shoes for big feet aren’t meant to last.
- Thermal Underwear
I never wore thermal underwear before moving to China. I don’t know why. Thermal pants and shirts are expensive in the States, I guess, but I’m a baby in cold weather. Living in a manufacturing nation does come with some perks, like inexpensive thermal underwear, (even these awesome maternity ones aren’t too expensive). If you’re able to get high quality base layers before you arrive in Beijing, consider items like Capilene from Patagonia. Beijing winter temperatures are comparable to Alaska’s spring and fall temperatures. Here’s a breakdown of how Alaskans stay warm.
- Thermal Jeans, Thermal Shirts
When the temperature averages really dip and the wind picks up during the New Year, you’ll be glad you ordered thermal underwear and a pair or two of thermal jeans and shirts. Really, seriously.
- Warm Air Convertors
Sometimes the boilers in buildings don’t work very well, even the ones sold by the neighborhood/government. Perhaps you need to bleed your radiators for them to work properly, or there could be other issues. (Our friends in Xinning just had an interesting experience with their radiators leaking mud. After the mud was emptied, the whole building suddenly had heat.) Your air conditioning unit can be a warm air convertor, but there are other options that are cheaper.
Also, if you have a choice of not to purchase the government boiling water or not using your gas to heat your boiling water, warm air convertors are more efficient (and in some cases cheaper) since they are air heaters and circulators rather than zone heaters like the radiators. This is a medium-sized, effective option, tested in my own home.
Sure, I understand. Slippers help further a Chinese cultural belief either that one can catch a cold from having bare feet or related to Taoist beliefs, (I haven’t figured out which yet). Americans, like my grandmother, believed catching colds when cold even when I was a teenager. But, the truth is, your feet are going to painfully ache if you don’t wear slippers and your floors aren’t heated. Socks, even thick socks, can’t cut the concrete cold.
- Hot Thermos for Water
Again, another technically cultural thing, but all nations of colder climates enjoy hot drinks. An efficient thermos for water will help you stay warm when you venture outside or wait for the bus. (Sorry, I don’t have any recommendations, but I’m sure your Chinese friends will have plenty of great suggestions.)
- A plan
If you decide to stay in Beijing during the New Year, make sure you have a plan. You might get cabin fever. I hope you have lots of Chinese friends who are also staying in Beijing. You can turn to my blog for a comforting voice, as writing is included in my plan.
Original photo thanks to Bridget Coila.