It’s winter time in the Northern Hemisphere – the air is blustering and there’s snow on the ground, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay indoors! There’s a great big world of adventure ready and waiting for you out there and the prices are right. So why not get out there and enjoy the perks of winter travel?
1. Winter Pricing
Winter is the off-season for many destinations. Decreased tourism in places means lower rates on many things including day tours and, often, an alternate schedule that many people don’t get to experience. Hotels and hostels are going to be cheaper to fill vacancies, especially in the off-the-beaten-path areas, which leaves you more money for exploring. I once found a brand new, highly rated hostel in Galway, Ireland for only €9 a night. Not to mention many Airbnb listings will be listed at lower rates too.
2. Photo Quality
Winter, in many places, means overcast skies. This cloudiness creates “nature’s softbox.” This means you will have soft, even lighting, without all those harsh shadows to obscure faces and those macro shots you budding photographer, you! Think of all those landscape shots that are going to be so much more interesting with clouds hanging ominously about or over those majestic, snow-capped mountains.
3. Bypass the Lines
Smaller crowds mean less wait time in the more touristy spots you might wish to visit. If tour guides are your thing you might be lucky enough to have a private or semi-private audience with your guide. One February day I went to Ludwigsburg Palace in Stuttgart and caught the last tour of the day. There were only six of us on the tour so we got to cover much more ground, ask plenty of questions, and were even taken to a part of the palace that most people don’t see as a little bonus for being such a small group.
4. Decreased Routes Spells Adventure
So your carrier doesn’t fly directly to your destination, but it can get you close. Why not make an adventure of it and hop on a train or bus to get there? You’ll get to see many more places you might not have seen otherwise. Bonus: You just might get to see the countryside of wherever you are and experience how the people there really live. Now you’ve added cultural awareness to your list.
5. Snow Sports
What better way to celebrate the joys of winter than with snow sports and activities? You can hit the slopes with your skis or snowboards or maybe get really rugged and snowmobile through the woods? If going fast through the snow and ice terrifies you (like it does me) try your hand at snow-shoeing or cross-country skiing to warm you up. In some places known for their winters you might even be able to go for a dog-sled ride.
6. Ultimate Relaxation
What a better excuse to relax with a cup of tea in a little café or by the fire in your B&B? Snuggle up with a good book or your sweetie and relax. This is your time.
7. Holiday Displays and Markets
There’s no better way to get into the spirit of the holidays than strolling through the city and looking in at beautiful holiday displays, daydreaming. Stop by a Christmas market and warm up with some mulled wine or hot cocoa and pick up some artisan crafts for someone on your list. Most Christmas markets wind down a few days before Christmas but a few stay open until the New Year. Check the listings where you’re going for more information.
8. It’s Summer Below
One of the best reasons to travel in the winter is to escape the cold. So, hop on down to the Southern Hemisphere, where it’s summertime and lay out by the beach. Think of how jealous everyone will be when you return with a tan in the dead of winter!