As the chill of winter begins to settle in, the anticipation of another magical holiday season beckons. Fond memories of last year’s festivities might still linger, but new adventures await. Indeed, now might also be a good time to consider whether you want to take a winter vacation.
Winter getaways can be excellent, fulfilling and magical experiences to celebrate Christmas and see in the New Year. They can also be a way to unwind for a few days with your family before you get stuck into your school, college or work routines again. What’s more, there’s reason to believe that they may actually be more affordable for more people this year, according to Bloomberg.
Whether it’s a snowy mountain retreat, a warm beach vacation, or an exciting city break, proper planning and preparation are key to ensuring your winter trip goes smoothly and leaves you feeling refreshed, energized, and whole going into 2024.
In this short guide, we’ll run down some crucial planning tips and tricks for making this year’s winter getaway one to remember. Using the innovative trip-planning app Tripsy will be a massive help in getting you organized, but if you need inspiration and food for thought, look no further!
Decide on your destination
The first step is deciding where you want to spend your vacation this winter. Do you want to hit the slopes with your skis or snowboard? Do you want to escape the cold and treat yourself to some sun and sea? Do you see yourself exploring an exotic new city or two and seeing all it has to offer?
First and foremost, deciding where you want to be this winter should dictate how you approach the rest of your planning. Consider what you want to do and see while you’re there, to narrow down your possible destinations. Make a loose budget for flights, accommodation, food, activities, and so on.
Check the weather patterns to get a sense of what your chosen destination will feel like day to day. Remember to factor in travel distance and time.
Book your accommodation
Once you’ve decided on where you want to go, start looking at the best possible accommodation and lodging. If you’re traveling to a popular tourist spot you may struggle to find nearby hotels or Airbnbs, and may have to venture further afield.
Ultimately, if you are OK with standard, average accommodation and want to use your winter getaway primarily as a way to experience new things, then you can afford to be less picky.
However, if you want to splash out on lavish accommodation then consider the optimum spot which is near enough to the activities or attractions you plan to visit, with the amenities that you need, and that fits within your daily budget. Remember that winter months can see hotel prices inflate significantly in many locations.
Search for flights if traveling abroad
If you’re traveling overseas, booking flights as early as possible is vital to finding the best fares, schedules and deals. Flexibility is key; departing a day earlier and leaving a day later can sometimes save money, so compare flight options across multiple airlines and airports to find ones that work for you.
You can also set up alerts so that you’re notified of any price drops after booking, or to receive exclusive discount offers. Budget airlines may not be as luxurious as premium ones, but you’ll invariably see drastic cost savings by flying with the former over the latter.
Research options for transport
Depending on where you’re traveling to, you may need to factor in modes of transport. If you’re going for a winter city break, you may get by on public transport like busses, taxis, bicycles, or the subway or metro. If you’re going somewhere more remote and rural, you may need to look at renting a car. Remember to factor in any parking restrictions and insurance costs if using a rental car.
For skiing vacations, consider shuttle services from the airport to your accommodation. Some hotels and resorts offer this as a complimentary service when booking, so keep this in mind.
Booking transport ahead of time can help save money and make your itinerary much easier to prepare in advance.
Book entertainment and activities
The most exciting part of travel planning is to decide what you want to do while on your trip, and, to save time and money, purchase any tickets or passes for your activities in advance.
Again, this will depend on the nature of your winter vacation, but look at things like ski or snowboard and gear rentals, lessons and lift tickets or packages ahead of time. Meanwhile, if you’re going to a city full of landmarks, museums, galleries or parks, look into activity passes and combo tickets to maximize your savings. These can get busy during peak travel times.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with “going with the flow” each day while you’re on vacation, but in some cases, it can pay off to book well in advance.
Don’t forget travel insurance
Travel insurance is crucial for peace of mind, protecting you, your assets, and your trip. Many credit card providers include basic travel insurance benefits when you pay for the trip with that card, but it’s worth checking with your provider. Research alternatives if your current cover is insufficient and won’t cover all circumstances.
Most basic insurance policies will typically cover things like:
- Trip cancellation, interruption or postponement
- Delayed, stolen or lost baggage
- Medical emergencies or issues surrounding pre-existing health conditions
- Emergency evacuation
- 24/7 travel assistance
Read policy details carefully to understand what is and isn’t covered.
Be smart with luggage
It can be tempting to take plenty of home comforts for a luxury winter getaway, but this will come at a hefty price - both financial and logistical. The key to a successful, stress-free experience is to pack with a ‘lightweight yet versatile’ methodology.
For starters, consider where you’re going and go from there. If you’re going somewhere cold, make sure you have enough base layers, sweaters, jackets, gloves, scarves, warm socks, and thermals. If you’re going somewhere warm, make sure you have light, breathable clothing, swimwear, sandals, hats, and a few smarter outfits for evenings.
No matter where you go, though, don’t forget to bring some luxuries. Leave enough room for toiletries, prescription medicine, chargers, and various gadgets so you aren’t left high and dry without the essentials. A memorable trip captured in numerous photos - especially in an exotic, picturesque location - will require a good camera. To save on buying a new one at a high price, you can find a high-quality used camera from trusted online retailers, with some owners even trading or selling completely.
Before you pack, make a list and check each item off to avoid forgetting anything vital and so you don’t overpack unnecessarily.
Make a backup plan or two
Even with meticulous planning and a watertight itinerary, unexpected circumstances can arise. Flights can get delayed, tours can be canceled, and attractions can suddenly close without warning. Therefore, to avoid disappointment, be flexible; make a few backup plans. See what alternative activities you can take part in should your original plans fall through.
With a little bit of forward thinking and preparation, you can make your winter getaway truly memorable and exciting. Tripsy provides a user-friendly platform to store all your bookings and activities, with the reassuring benefit of regular patches and updates.
Hopefully the above has helped inspire some ideas offering inspiration for your next winter vacation. Where will you go this year?