Awesomely Inexpensive Winter Vacations
While spring may be just around the corner, winter is still definitely upon us. Whether you plan to travel on your weekends off or are simply looking for enjoyable ways to spend time in your own neck of the woods, there are a variety of winter vacations within your financial reach. (See also: 14 Fun Winter Staycation Ideas)
Downhill Ski Getaways
Don’t immediately think cha-ching when considering ski getaways as part of your winter vacation repertoire. Remember, resorts are competing heavily for your tourist dollars, which means more savings opportunities for savvy shoppers. One popular strategy is for resorts and destinations to offer free lift tickets on the first day you arrive. In Park City, Utah for example, out-of-state visitors are allowed to convert same-day boarding passes from their flights into complimentary lift tickets at any of the town’s three major ski resorts. The tickets have to be for the day of your arrival, but with more than 90 cities offering direct flights, it’s possible to leave home in the morning and be on the slopes for free by shortly after lunch. With night skiing being an option, you can definitely get your money out of this perk. Just there for the weekend? Ski that first day and save your sightseeing for the second. That way, lift ticket prices won’t even need to be on your budget radar.
For affordability and direct access to Mother Nature, snowshoeing getaways are where it’s at. Many state, local, and national parks allow winter access to their trails and meadows, making way for a variety of winter hiking experiences. These also are great road trips for Rover, as the snowshoeing scene is particularly canine friendly. Just make sure you bring along winter booties and paw balm. The other great thing about winter vacations that involve snowshoeing is that you can travel if you want to or simply do a day trip to nearby wooded lands. Tow along a little hot cocoa and some power bars in your backpack, and you’ve got a great little family outing that fits the bill.
I love including scenic drives on winter vacations because, as with snowshoeing, you can flex this idea to suit any budget or travel agenda. Got a new squeeze you want to impress? Take a drive through a particularly picturesque area and spend the night at romantic inn or secluded (but not overly rustic) cabin. The whole idea is to curl up by the fireplace anyway and perhaps take a few pictures of the winter wonderland. If you can squeeze in an ice wine tasting, all the better. If a family friendly weekend is more what you’re hoping to experience, then by all means book a family road trip. Drive somewhere with great public sledding options and toss a couple of 99 cent crazy carpets in the trunk. The kids will have a great time, and your cost will be minimal. This is also a trip you can take anytime during the winter. In the beginning when all the snow is fresh and new is a great way to go, but so is the beginning of spring thaw when you can capture all of the waterfalls and spring flowers poking through the remaining white.
Nordic Ski Options
This is another way you can skip the lift tickets and still enjoy active winter vacations. Granted, you can’t just toss these in the trunk like you can with your snowshoe gear; you’ll definitely need a ski rack if you’re riding with a group. That being said, there are numerous ways to affordably experience a cross-country ski getaway and maybe even get in a little cold-weather camping while you’re at it. For example, the Snow Mountain Ranch located near the town of Winter Park, Colorado has pet-friendly yurts you can book for just $89. This rate includes several complimentary amenities such as free access passes to the ranch’s Nordic ski trails and the opportunity to go tubing as well.
Prefer to stay close to home? Kids of all ages love to make things and there are plenty of nature crafts you can whip up during winter weather. Combine the snowshoeing or scenic drive ideas above with a bit of supply gathering and create a batch of red dogwood wreaths to use as gifts. They are great at any time of year, but are fun to add a bit of color while there’s still snow on the ground. Children also love creating homemade bird treats from pine cones and gathering pine branches for earthy displays around the house. Keep your craft plans as natural as possible, and your cost for kiddy entertainment during winter school vacations will be minimal.
Indoor Family Time
If all you’re able to swing is a weekend off from work and you want to maximize the time you have, then don’t pressure yourself by planning the ultimate getaway. Get those Netflix and Hulu accounts smoking with a family movie marathon, or have another family you’re close friends with overnight to enjoy some serious board game competitions. That way, you’ll be able to break things down by age group and combine game supplies to keep things fresh. Have a few easy crock pot recipes ready to roll to keep cooking time to a minimum and make sure there’s plenty of hot chocolate to go around.
Winter vacations and long weekends don’t have to break the bank. With some savvy shopping and careful planning, it’s possible to enjoy this time of year with your family, significant other, a few friends, or even on your own.