A hot water bottle by one’s frigid feet is a classic winter comfort. If you suffer from ice cubes for toes and haven’t yet discovered the joy of this simple but effective warmer, do try one as the nights regain their chill.*
Here’s a so-simple-it’s-silly solution to the same problem in an overly air conditioned hotel room or when encountering unseasonably cold weather camping:
Use a refillable/reusable metal drink bottle full of hot water as a bed- and foot-warmer. Consider it a more petite cousin of the old-fashioned rubber hot water bottle you could pick up at a pharmacy.
Fill your bottle from the coffee machine (run it without coffee in the basket), the hot tap in the bathroom, or even use water you’ve heated over a campfire. I’ve tapped all of these for fuel to fight freezing feet. Just pour carefully as your source water gets hotter.
Make sure your bottle has a tight-fitting, secure lid that won’t come loose inadvertently and soak your bed! I like flip top lids for daily use, but I only travel with bottles that include sturdy screw caps. I also routinely carry a small but super absorbent PackTowl in the same pocket of my pack to catch small leaks and drips before they threaten my papers and electronics.
Consider slipping the warm bottle into a sock (or a spare pillowcase) for insulation. This is vital if you’ve used scalding hot water. You want to avoid burns. Also, as the bottle cools, it will become a less cozy object to encounter. Don’t startle yourself awake by kicking a hard metal tube in the middle of the night.
You could just carry a traditional rubber hot water bottle while globe trotting. From my perspective, though, they are too large to include in a carry on travel bag. At around 12 oz, they’re also fairly heavy.
A rubber hot water bottle is a single task item. Those of us who enjoy traveling with fewer encumbrances often seek out smaller, lighter, and multi-functional gear for trips. I take no small measure of pleasure in the coup of finding tremendous extra benefit from something I was already carrying.
I always bring my own drinking water bottle to fill post-security at the airport to avoid both disposable plastic bottles and the exorbitant prices at the gate area kiosks. At home and on road trips, we have a water bottle in the car for every family member. Now, I’m simply specifying a particular bottle that can serve an additional function, and I’m a lot more comfortable for the effort.
Gentle heat, thoughtfully applied, can also provide soothing pain relief for some conditions, like my joint pain. It’s hard to overstate the value of something like that to anyone with a chronic condition that’s exacerbated by travel.
There’s just one problem that I’ve discovered with this clever solution: my family has caught on to how I’m using my bottle to warm my bed. The kids give me sad eyed looks and tell me their feet are cold! If you’re traveling as a family, it might be best to upgrade everyone’s drink bottle to a sturdy stainless steel model with an excellent lid.
Your cold feet will thank you, even if the kids don’t.
*If you’re like me, your cold feet may recur regardless of season or outdoor temperature, which is what prompted me to begin writing this post in August!
3 thoughts on “Such a simple solution: cold feet cured with a double duty metal water bottle”
This is pretty common in Japan too! Maybe I should do this as well in the winter!
I think many Americans now are used to central heating (even over-heating their homes to a level that’s not ideal for good sleep) from the days of cheap energy. Simple, effective, energy efficient tools like hot water bottles were lost to a couple of generations. My parents never gave me a hot water bottle at night. I don’t think they ever thought about it. I don’t think we owned one! We had an old electric heating pad that was sometimes used for aches and pains.
My husband grew up in a very different place and culture. The northern city where he was born was very cold, and it wasn’t easy to get most commercial stuff. He had a hot water bottle when we got married, and he brought it to me one night when I was complaining about my cold feet. Miraculous!
I go to bed with very cold feet. Just putting on socks isn’t enough. But, if my room (or bedding) is so warm that my feet stop aching from cold, I wake up in a couple of hours miserably over-heated everywhere else. Something radiating heat RIGHT WHERE I NEED IT is just genius. 🙂
I think the Japanese make some cute and clever versions of hot water bottles, as they do with other products. (I’m judging this from Amazon.com listings.) It is a culture that combines function and form more beautifully than most.