Contrary to popular belief, winter isn't the worst season.
The cold and snow make for exceptional vacations and even more stunning photos you can share with friends. Better yet, winter trips tend to be cheaper because it isn't peak travel season.
If you're ready to book a trip while it's still cold outside, here are six tips to help you make the most of a winter trip:
1. Pick the right month
Like beach resorts in the summer, winter resorts are seasonally popular, being hot destinations when it's cold outside. You'll want to keep that tidbit in mind when you're looking for resorts to stay at.
According to Outside Magazine, each hill and valley draws different types of crowds depending on the year and snowfall. You'll want to visit On The Snow during your planning phase to see how much snow has recently fallen and the amount projected.
Aim to have your destination and flight booked by February. This way, you'll have a spot reserved at a hotel or lodge and you'll have booked an affordable airline ticket. The longer you wait for a winter, the more you risk encountering spring-like conditions that could interfere with snow on the ground. The absolute latest you should book a winter trip is April.
2. Pack (and dress) accordingly
Nothing is worse on a winter trip than finding out you forgot a pair of snow boots or those extra-strength gloves.
Yet, not all winter gear is made the same. Make sure the items you're packing will keep you warm. Start first with a good hat. It should cover part of your neck and cover your ears for maximum warmth.
Gloves are also essential and should be a bit on the heavier side if you'll be spending most of your time outside. You might want to pack a thinner pair for those nights when you won't be outside for long. Moving down, your shoes need to be waterproof. This feature will help keep your feet dry from all the snow while your feet stay (mostly) warm.
It's now time to think about the clothes you'll be packing. You'll want to focus on wearing layers. Sweaters, cardigans and long-sleeve shirts are ideal for winter trips. You might have to get creative when packing the suitcase though because winter clothing tends to be bulkier. As such, you may need to pack less in order to fit everything.
3. Remember the little things
It's in your best interest to start packing at least one week before your trip so you don't forget anything.
When packing, don't forget the little things. Sunglasses are especially important if you'll be at a ski resort so you're protected from sunlight reflecting off the snow.
Sunscreen is another essential small item. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, skiers and snowboarders face an increased risk in overexposure to ultraviolet rays. UV radiation exposure increases 4 to 5 percent for every 1,000 feet you're above sea level.
The lesson? Don't forget the sunscreen.
4. Plan a route if you're driving
Sometimes you just want to enjoy a road trip with friends or family. Before you head out, plan the route.
While there are map applications on smartphones, you shouldn't solely rely on them because storms may cause you to lose reception. Plan out the route and write down the directions and purchase a map to leave in the glovebox.
Consider writing down the numbers of emergency roadside services as well, such as AAA Travel and your insurance provider.
5. Prep your car
Winter driving is a different ballgame than traveling during the summer. Snow, cold, freezing rain and low visibility all make driving that much more dangerous, so you'll need to make sure your car can handle the elements. Complete any vehicle inspections and tuneups before the trip. Some winter-specific items on the checklist may include:
- Making sure there's enough windshield fluid.
- Replacing old windshield wipers.
- Purchasing snow tires.
- Buying tire chains in the correct size.
"Complete any vehicle inspections and tuneups before the trip."
6. Make an emergency kit
If you're driving, you need an emergency car kit. You never know what conditions you'll face on the road, and these items will come in handy.
You'll want to include some of the following items in your winter emergency kit:
- Booster cables.
- Bottled water.
- Nonperishable food.
- Spare tire.
- Ice scraper and snow brush.
- Extra boots, gloves and hats.
Those are only a few recommended items; you can add more if you see fit. Some items may be more expensive, but you can't risk your safety while traveling during the winter.
Winter vacations are a good time to enjoy some downtime when travel season is slow. To make the most of your trip, plan ahead, pack accordingly and make sure you're ready to handle the elements if you're driving.
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