It’s that time of the year again, and you either love it or hate it. With the weather getting cooler and the holidays approaching, many people are eager to spend a portion of the winter season in some version of a winter wonderland or somewhere tropical.
Although COVID-19 is still lingering around and will influence some travel plans, it seems that it will not place the travel industry at a complete halt. Things such as conferences and business travel are expected to continue throughout the winter season. In addition to traveling for work, more people are choosing to travel and bring their work with them. Traveling through the colder months can also be perfect for those looking to get away from the holiday madness. Whatever your motivation may be to travel this winter, here’s what you need to know before booking your reservations. When you’re ready to escape the pressure of gift buying or want to put that PTO to good use, this is what you should and shouldn’t be typing into Google flights.
Although the Mediterranean is a fabulous summer spot, for the winter months you’ll want to avoid it at all costs. The winters are known to be drastically cold, and places are often hit with nonstop storms and rain. Other places on the no-travel list are any landlocked destinations that will have you wearing a raincoat and shorts all on the same day. Some big U.S. cities with unpredictable weather include Kansas City; Oklahoma City; Minneapolis; Cincinnati; and Indianapolis.
Besides the weather, you’ll want to look closely at your flight’s layovers. According to data from the Bureau of Transportation Statistics, you can expect long delays if you fly through Denver International Airport, Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, along with Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, and Chicago’s Midway International Airport. If you want, you can avoid flying altogether and board your own polar express with spectacular train rides in Switzerland, Canada, Russia, and many more places where you can watch fresh snow blanket the ground from your passenger seat.
Now that you’ve figured out how to get to a destination with minimal problems, you’ll want to make sure that tourism is a possibility. Many towns will close for the winter months as they expect most of their tourism to happen in the summer and spring. You’ll also want to avoid any countries within the polar circle where the sun only shines for a few hours a day.
After all that information, you might be thinking that your travel options are limited. But have no fear, there are still many alternatives for great winter destinations. Norway is one of them, with the prime time to see the northern lights being between September and March. For those not afraid of the cold weather, Tasiilaq in Greenland is a small but exciting town of around 2,000 people and multi-colored houses. Despite their small number of inhabitants, this city is big on tourism and welcomes people all year long.
If you’re looking for warmth, Tenerife Island off the coast of Spain is sure to give you what you need with warm temperatures in the mid-70s and picturesque beaches. You can also check out Namibia, Africa, where at the end of the dry season in November you can catch some amazing wildlife such as cheetahs, hippos, and giraffes, all gathering at the watering hole in Etosha National Park.
If known of those places sparked your interest you can check out this list of 10 great off-peak winter destinations.
One of the last steps in trip preparation is making sure you pack your winter essentials. If you opted out of flying or taking a train and decided to drive, make sure you are prepared for your road trip. This means that your car is up to date on all its maintenance. Be sure your car can handle different weather conditions like rain or ice-covered roads. In addition, keep emergency clothes, food, and equipment in your car in case you have problems reaching your destination. Checking for road closures and downloading traffic apps can help make the ride smoother.
Once your transportation is settled, here are some winter essentials you’ll need to pack.
Back up batteries: This is particularly important if you are traveling to a cold region. Smartphone batteries are known to drain more in freezing temperatures.
Vitamin C: Winter is notorious for being cold and flu season. By taking your vitamin C supplements you can keep yourself protected during and after your trip.
Portable compact umbrella: As mentioned before, weather can be unpredictable. Bringing a small portable umbrella will save you from getting caught in the rain.
Packing cubs: These genius inventions help to organize and compress your clothing items and accessories. So, whether you plan on bringing six sweaters or just one heavy-duty jacket, you can comfortably fit all your clothing needs into fewer suitcases.
The final thing that you want to consider is travel insurance. This is something that most people skip over. With the chances of flight cancellation or delays, lost luggage, car problems, and overall emergencies, travel insurance is a smart investment. The cost of insurance can increase your expenses by five to ten percent, but this number is drastically lower than having to pay out of pocket for medical bills or emergency lodging.
Hopefully, by now, you have a clearer picture of how you need to plan your end of 2021 or beginning of 2022 trips. The key is to plan ahead and don’t treat this trip the same as your summer vacation. With a little preparation, you can enjoy yourself skiing in Europe or snorkeling off the coast of Mexico. Gone are the days of traveling once per year. No matter the season you deserve to have the trip of a lifetime.
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Kiersten is a freelance writer and coach. As a writer, she has written for Travel Noire, Passion Passport, BAUCE mag, and various travel and lifestyle blogs. As a writer, her goal is to write content that inspires others to take action. As a coach, her goal is to empower women to be their most authentic selves. In her free time, you can find her dancing to any song any where.