Before the holidays, people go to sleep with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads. After the holidays, those visions turn to flip-flops and sunscreen. People become antsy during winter hibernation and get an itch for getting out somewhere for a little adventure or relaxation.
Fortunately, you don’t have to bust the bank to have a fun and interesting vacation. “Off-season” is the magic word when it comes to cheap travel. Whether you want to travel domestically or abroad, there’s always an off-season when you can avoid the crowds and save some money.
The best thing about going to the beach during the winter months is that you’ll likely have the beach to yourself, assuming it’s a cooler destination. Of course, you’ll want to call ahead and make sure local hotels, restaurants, and attractions haven’t all shuttered for the winter. In areas such as New England where everyone flocks to the mountains for ski season, the beaches are a quiet respite. Many places are still open, and although it’s a little chilly for a romantic walk on the beach, it’s the perfect weather for a fire.
Areas that rely upon their beaches for income often hold winter festivals as a way to draw people during the off-season. You may find some fun winter activities to enjoy. You might have the hotel to yourself to get away from the hustle and bustle of work and spend some time enjoying the company of your loved ones.
Visiting a lake in the winter often offers the same relaxing seclusion as the ocean. However, you may be surprised to find a lot of activity too. In wintry lake regions, you can often find snow festivals, ice-fishing derbies, and polar ice plunges for extra adventurous people. If you’d like to try your hand at ice-fishing, shacks and equipment can often be rented at nearby hotels or at lakeside rental companies.
Hotels at lakes are often looking for ways to bring in customers during the winter by offering ice-skating, snowmobiling, tobogganing, sleigh rides, winter hikes, and snowshoeing. Your winter vacation at the lake can be as active or relaxing as you want it to be.
Most people visit the country’s national parks in the warm weather months when they’re easily accessible and full of lush, green beauty. However, winter gives a unique glimpse into winter wildlife and the stunning elegance of snow-capped evergreens and glass ponds.
Many parks, such as Yellowstone, offer nature tours guided by rangers via various modes of travel, such as snowshoe, snowmobile, and snow coach. It’s important to take precautions on such a trip by having the right emergency gear, even if you’re touring via snow coach. Many roads in national parks close for the winter, so careful planning is necessary. Make sure to reserve a room at a nearby hotel and make your tour plans ahead of time.
Make Your Own Tour
Don’t resign yourself to taking someone else’s vacation; make your own! Do you have a love for pinball machines? Plan a tour of a few of the oldest arcades and end with the Pinball Hall of Fame in Las Vegas. Do you feel the pages calling you when you pass a bookstore? Why not go on a tour of a few of the best independent bookstores and end it at the Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, PA? Having opened its doors in 1745, it’s the oldest bookstore in the United States, and rumor has it that it may even be haunted. Though recently purchased by Barnes & Noble, the store maintains its historical features and charm.
You can turn whatever interests you have into a custom vacation that you’ll never forget, whether it’s a movie location or a bowling alley.
Call a Travel Agent
In this internet era where every bit of travel information is at your fingertips, travel agents actually still exist. Find one in your area and go to the office with a firm travel budget in hand. Your travel agent can customize a vacation that fits your budget, and may have some surprising deals on vacation packages and personalized itineraries.
Who says you have to get on a plane and go far away to have a fun vacation? Look at your area as a tourist would. What is there to do? Are there museums? You’ve probably been to the popular attractions many times over, so try to dig deeper. Are you near a college? Many have their own obscure museums with unique exhibits that you won’t find anywhere else. Are there interesting facets of your town’s history? Even small towns have interesting histories, and if you contact your local historical society, you may be able to set up a tour with someone knowledgeable. You’ll be surprised at what you find!
Plan some day trips to your local area. Your local library is a wealth of information for fun things to do. Many often host events, author visits, and movies, and some have tickets to local attractions that offer free admission or highly discounted rates.
If you take a staycation, you don’t have to worry about housing your pets, and you get to sleep in your own bed.
Get ready and get vacationing
Pictures of people enjoying vacations are everywhere on social media. You look at their happy faces as they enjoy the extravagances of a world outside of your own, and you want to be a part of it. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible, or wise, to spend a lot of money on a vacation. Yes, all work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy, and time off is important to allow your mind to relax and recharge. However, it can be done cheaply without adding more debt. Take that vacation, but think outside the box and plan a unique and fun one that you’ll remember for a lifetime.