International Language Programs (ILP) sends volunteers to countries throughout the world — some of those countries can get a little chilly!
These tips won't apply to our volunteers going to places like The Dominican Republic or Mexico, but if you spend a semester volunteering in Europe you are going to want to check out these tips for buying warm boots!
- When will you be there?
- How warm should my boots be?
- Where can I buy them?
When Will You Be There?
ILP has three semesters open to volunteers and with each semester you will obviously have different types of weather. Fall and Spring semesters are the only ones you'll need to worry about for really warm winter clothes!
Fall semester: August- December
Spring semester: January- April/May
The coldest months in our European countries will usually be during the Spring semester in January and February, but you will want some good warm clothes for the Fall semester once you get into November and December.
For our summer semester volunteers, it will probably be chilly once you arrive, so plan on layering up and wearing warm clothes, but it will only be cold the first month or two, then will quickly warm up to be a warm and humid summer in most countries.
How Warm Should My Boots Be?
You can find tons of different boots that are good for it's-a-little-chilly weather to negative-30-I-can't-feel-my-toes weather.
Once you know what semester and country you are going to volunteer in, do some research and see what averages are for certain months in your country. This will give you you a little better idea of what to expect for your specific city. Keep in mind that you'll often be walking outside, waiting for the bus, etc ... you want to make sure your toes are warm! Trust me.
If you type in your city and country on Wikipedia, part of the page will show you the average highs and the lows.
Once you know the average temperature, you can head into couple of stores and let them know you'll need shoes to keep your toes warm in 2 degree weather, for example.
Things To Keep In Mind:
Our volunteers suggest getting boots that go above your ankles and to get ones that are waterproof. That way you can walk through puddles and piles of snow and not worry about anything dripping into your shoe or soaking through.
You might want to purchase your boots a half-size bigger than normal. In the dead of winter in Russia and Ukraine, you will probably want to wear thicker wool socks under your boots. I'd suggest trying on your boots with your thick wool socks to make sure they aren't too tight.
Something with tread on the bottom is going to come in handy too. With winter comes icy roads, and you'll be better prepared if your boots don't have a slick bottom.
Where Do I Buy Boots?
Some volunteers will buy their boots in country and others bring some from home. If you're volunteering during the Fall, you'll have a couple of months to shop around before it gets too cold. If you're volunteering during the Spring, we recommend bringing warm boots with you because you'll want them the minute you get off the plane!
Although there are places in country to buy boots, I personally liked bringing some with me so I could shop around for deals and find some I liked without feeling the rush of needing them right away.
A few brands that are known for their winter boots are:
- The North Face
- Stores like Dick's Sporting Goods or REI will also carry a handful of brands.
Can I Get These On Sale?
Buying full price is likely not in your college budget, but there's ways to still get good quality boots for less. I love the websites below because they often offer huge discounts vs buying directly from the brand's store. A big tip is to sign up for the website's newsletter to get a certain percentage off and then combine that with sales going on. You can often get 50-75% off that way.
You can also sign up for a rewards program. REI has a membership (there is a small fee) but you'll get a head's up when new inventory is coming in, and when they are doing sales. You can also get 20% off one item with your membership.
Excited to volunteer but have some things that are holding you back? Read more about how you can overcome those obstacles by downloading our free E-book!