So you want to plan a winter holiday? A question then arises – what kind of winter holiday are we talking about here? There are, of course, two types of holidays that people typically go on during the colder months. The first of these is the type of holiday that is all about the charms of the winter – the snow, the ski slopes, the Christmas parties, and the mulled wine; or, in other words, a proper winter holiday. Then there are the holidays that are all about getting away from the winter, jetting off to warmer climes to escape the drudgery of grey skies, sub-zero temperatures, shovelling the snow from your driveway, and applying the gritting salt.
Of course, these are two types of holidays that are different in almost every way. Heading off to soak up the Australian sun is quite a different kettle of fish to hitting the slopes at Chamonix. They do, however, share one commonality – they both involve travelling at wintertime, and doing so comes with its own set of tips and tricks for getting the right flight, avoiding the Christmas rush, and packing sensibly. With that in mind then, it might be worth setting out the tips and tricks for both types of winter holidays (while analysing what they have in common first).
Generally speaking, people go on holiday in the summer. For sure, winter holidays are popular, but they don’t really compare to the popularity of the summer holidays. There are some contingent reasons for this, such as the fact that children have longer off school at this time and adults typically take the longest time off work. There is also the simple fact that summer holidays are typically taken over a longer time, while winter holidays seem to revolve around two key dates – Christmas and New Year.
With everyone trying to get abroad (or home) for these key dates, flights tend to be considerably more expensive than those which are pretty evenly spread across the summer months. Accordingly, booking early is perhaps the most important tip when it comes to taking time off in winter. It is actually pretty astonishing how much you can save by booking even one or two months in advance. Compared to last-minute Christmas or New Year’s flights, those bought earlier are typically two, three, or even four times less expensive.
Bear in mind though that not every winter holiday is necessarily a Christmas or New Year’s holiday. This is where we come again to that important difference between the two types of winter holidays. If you are trying to escape the drudgery of winter, it is much more likely you will be jetting off in January or February because these are the really miserable months. There is something about the festivities, time off work, lights, warmth, and food that makes the Christmas season infinitely more bearable. It is only afterwards that things frequently take a dive into gloom. So, if you are heading off to the Mediterranean at this time of year, then expensive flights are no longer much of a problem. Something to consider!
Tips for Cold Winter Holidays
So you find yourself jetting off for somewhere exotic; not to escape the winter, but rather to revel in it. There are many great candidates for this type of winter holiday – you could be skiing in the alps or experiencing the iconic Christmas markets or winter traditions of central Europe. Here are some practical tips and recommendations to make this go down a bit smoother.
Well obviously! Yet despite the fact that this might seem like the most self-evident tip imaginable, packing warm can be something of a challenge. The reason for this is that warm clothes take up a great deal more space than summer outfits. Consider the difference between a loose T-shirt and a puffa jacket, for example, and you will realise just how many less items you’ll actually be able to fit into your case. With summer holidays being much more popular, most people don’t have a great deal of experience packing for the winter cold and space frequently becomes the biggest problem. Maybe consider picking up a few dispensable winter items such as hats and gloves after you arrive.
Prepare for the Winter
This one definitely depends on where you are from and where you’re going. Winter is not the same everywhere in the world. Cities in Germany and Poland, for example, are very popular for their Christmas traditions and markets. The winters there, however, are cold – and bitterly so. The UK is warmed by gulf stream currents from Mexico; it can be wet and miserable at times, but it is rarely as cold as some European cities. Prepare for this.
Have Your Christmas/New Year Preparations in Place
This one may not even count as a winter holiday tip and can be applied to any holiday where you plan to celebrate a particular festival at a particular time. We all know how difficult it can be to get into New Year’s parties at home, right? Well, it is no different abroad. Do not expect to just turn up and saunter into a happening event, as you could well be disappointed.
Tips for Winter Sun Holidays
And for you Christmas sun-lovers, here are some useful tips:
Prepare to Acclimatise
A sensitivity to the seasons is something biologically programmed into our being. Suddenly heading, in the middle of winter, to a place bathed in the baking sun can have some strange effects on you. Take some time when you first arrive to simply get used to it. And remember the sunscreen.
Choose the Right Month
The southern hemisphere is not an exact mirroring of the Northern. There are considerably fewer places in the south that experience the mild climates of the north. In short, these places tend to be hot – with some obvious exceptions. Just be careful that you don’t find it a little too warm for this time of year. Be selective about when you go and be sure to get somewhere by the coast in order to ensure plenty of cool sea breezes.
The very notion of going on holiday in winter is perhaps something a little strange. There has never been a Cliff Richard song called “We’re All Going on a Winter Holiday”. Airports can be more of a hassle, the weather can be more extreme, and winter breaks are simply less of a “done thing”. They can though offer a unique experience – you just have to do it right.