If you read our last post you’ll know I casually joked about Canadian winter. This may have been premature as shortly after our first blizzard of the year arrived. This wasn’t the kind of blizzard that welcomes you with soft, billowy snow either. This was the kind of blizzard that brings bone chilling temperatures. Currently, it feels as if you are walking into a giant freezer each time you set foot outside. As a result, heated seats, remote starters and arctic chic attire are out in full force.
However, despite chilly temperatures, winter can be one of the best times to travel. Here are our favourite reasons to travel when the snow flies:
Discounts and Deals
As the majority of winter travellers jet off to sun and sand, non tropical destinations get overlooked. While many cities experience winter, it is generally not to the same extent as I just described above. A few Decembers ago we planned a trip to one such place. Skipping the beach we headed to Chicago. Not knowing quite what to expect this ended up being one of our favourite trips. Paying half the price for our flights and hotel as we would have in the summer we were able to extend our trip from a few days to an entire week. By picking an uncommon travel spot you can easily maximize your budget. And what’s great about this is it gives you the ability to experience more of the city you are visiting without worrying about breaking the bank. Keep an eye on sites like Expedia, and Travelocity for offseason travel deals.
There will always be something special about a certain time of year in a certain place. However we can also say a lot about avoiding crowds. If you’ve ever been to Europe, you know what I mean. Despite amazing summer weather, you spend hours in line-ups to see just about anything. Travelling in the offseason, while it may not have as many sunny skies, does increase your chances of checking off itinerary items. Popular attractions that a few months ago tourists overran are now quiet and spacious. We did our first backpacking trip to Europe in May and found that instead of moving through places like a herd of cattle, we could take our time and actually enjoy it. We saw twice as much as we would have any other time and were able to come home feeling like we barely missed anything.
The offseason is also a much better time to experience people. With less chaos (brought on by heavy tourists), locals are much friendlier. You are more likely to be able to enjoy a long dinner or receive personal assistance while shopping. All businesses are also open as owners have returned from their own holidays refreshed and relaxed. For Kevin and I, offseason travel let’s us experience a place as if we belonged there instead of as a member of the tourist brigade. Without the pressure of what all of the tourists are doing, we get a better sense of the culture, are able to take our time and often find ourselves experiencing things that we may not have found in the chaos of top travel seasons.
Another great perk to travelling in the winter is experiencing someone else’s holiday traditions. Each country and every city celebrates differently and being able to take part in that is exciting.
In Chicago, we had our first taste of mulled wine as we strolled through a Bavarian themed Christmas market. Macy’s Christmas decorations lit up surrounding streets and afternoons could be spent skating at Millennium park. In Hawaii we experienced a traditional Luau and visited the sand snowman at Mama’s Fish House. Christmas lights were strung from palm trees and the “Mele Kalikimaka” song could always be heard in the distance. When you travel during the holidays you are given the opportunity to step away from the hustle and bustle of your own festive preparations and see what the holidays are really about.
Winter travel means winter activities and there are certainly some activities that just don’t make sense at any other time of the year. Try to imagine ice skating without ice or dog sledding without snow. This is why a visit to a chilly climate is an opportunity for a new adventure. We’ve had the pleasure of experiencing several wintery destinations, however our favourite will always be the Canadian Rockies. Beautiful in the summer but without a doubt best in the winter. This is an area easily considered a mecca for winter activities. The skiing is often described as something out of a dream. Pristine trails provide endless areas to explore by snowshoe. Ice skating abounds on glacier fed lakes. And at the end of the day a cozy cabin with a wood burning fire awaits your return. It is a magical place.
Do you have a favourite winter travel destination, share it with us here!