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Travel during winter can be hard. Most think of gloomy skies, shivering temperatures and layers of uncomfortable clothing.
But beyond the uncomfortable aspects is a wallet-friendly, winter wonderland.
I’m not going lie; winter is my favourite time of year to travel. Often I don’t have much choice (forced vacation days over Christmas will do that to you!), but it is a time of year where many holiday destinations are underestimated due to their weather.
You’re probably wondering “seriously why on earth is she telling me all this?”
Well, my dear friend… I honestly believe winter/ off-peak seasons are the best time of year to travel.
It may be a daunting time of year to travel, but with enough planning, you can enjoy travel during winter!
Why would I want to travel during winter or the “off peak” season?
Two words: lines and crowds
If you’ve ever visited a major city during summer, you may understand my pain when it comes to hoards of tourists and the never ending lines. Heck, depending on your timing you may spend most of your day waiting in line!
Who wants to spend their well-earned vacation doing that?!
Lines and crowds practically don’t exist during off-peak season.
Tourist destinations like the Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany usually have crowds of tourists show up during the Summer. This often results in people waiting hours for their timed entry.
When visiting, we were fortunate enough to time our visit during Fall. This meant we got tickets to the next timed entry without waiting hours. Before visiting, I had read stories about people in the summer being turned away if they showed up too late in the afternoon!
“Off peak” is the best time of year to save money
For the budget traveller who may not like the idea of hostels or dorms, this is the best time of year to travel. Hotels are often heavily discounted (I guess small tourist numbers will do that to you). If you’re lucky, you might even score an upgrade to a bigger room!
Um, did someone say upgrade?!
When we visited Venice in January, upon check-in, we were asked if we would like to pay extra for an upgrade. We refused (’cause you know, pasta is way more important than a larger room, right?!) and we were upgraded for free anyway!
In addition to cheaper accommodation, flights can also be cheaper..
Which means more money for delicious food!
Beyond the smaller crowds and $$ saving, the off-peak season is a romantic time of year
Think afternoons huddled in cafes or watching the snow fall past your window in the mornings.
Depending on your attitude, winter or off-peak season can be a beautiful time of year.
I should probably add that while fall is not technically considered “off peak” but more the “shoulder season” in many parts of the world, this is also a breathtaking time of year to travel for the cooler temperatures and beautifully coloured leaves.
Okay, okay, you’ve got me convinced.
But how do I go on holiday during the off-peak season without being miserable and cold??
Are you someone who 100% despises cold weather? Travel during winter or off-peak season is not for you.
But if it’s something you don’t mind, or if you’re someone who would love to try it but are scared of being cold – you can avoid all this with a bit of preparation.
Firstly, if you’re scared of the cold – don’t be!
For many years, I was petrified of travelling during the winter. I couldn’t figure out how people lived in cold climates and had no idea how to prepare for winter.
Despite its reputation, travelling in Winter is not that hard, and can be done with a bit of research and preparation!
1. Dress appropriately
If you’re going somewhere heaps colder than your home city, your existing winter clothes are not likely to cut it. You will need to dress in warm layers: fleece jackets, down coats or down vests. This all depends on your destination, and unfortunately, no one size fits all.
It’s so important to have appropriate clothing (not to mention woollen blend socks – no cotton!) so research before you go or prepared to spend money on new clothes when you get to your destination!
Travelling somewhere cold? Make sure to check out my first timers guide to surviving winter!
2. Cafes and museums are your friends
Um, hello did someone say food?
You’re in luck because it is more than socially acceptable to eat and drink your body weight during winter.
I can’t think of a better way to spend my time – you will even get a chance to learn about local culture and people watch!
And when you’ve had enough of food, this is the perfect time of year to museum hop and put those brain cells to good use.
In my mind, museums and winter go hand in hand, something I learnt from my time in Stockholm, Sweden.
And who’s to say you have to go to a history museum? Most major cities have art museums or quirky novelty museums.
Boston even has its own Museum of Bad Art, which I’m planning on visiting this winter!
3. Winter specific activities
Let’s not forget the time of year.
If you’re not a ski bunny or you are terrified of the idea of snowboarding, there are other winter activities out there!
We tried snow shoe walking when we were in Finnish Lapland, and LOVED it. It was the perfect way to burn off those meatballs and all the bread we had been stuffing faces with. The upside of snow shoe walking is that you need ZERO skills or special abilities. If you can walk, you can snowshoe walk!
Other winter activities you’d want to consider are hunting for the Northern Lights or snowmobiling.
Travelling during winter or off-peak travel season can not only make your trip more affordable, but also more enjoyable! It’s a wonderful time of year to travel, and you’re bound to make some wonderful memories doing so.
Have you travelled during winter before? Or during an off-peak tourist season?
Where did you go?
Are there any tips or advice you’d add?
Leave me a comment and let me know!