Should you travel in the winter? As I write this, I am sitting on a bus from Montreal to Ottawa and it’s snowing outside! I usually consider weather almost last when visiting a new location and am eager to travel anytime I have a break. This being said, I haven’t taken a winter trip now for a few years, and I was not prepared for the cold when beginning this trip. When traveling in the winter months, there are a few more things you need to pack, and yes, it is pretty cold outside, so it is best to plan to visit a place with more indoor activities.
But overall, I think that traveling in winter is worthwhile, especially if you are a budget traveler, and I feel that traveling off season allows tourists to really become locals, and experience life as people do in their regular day to day lives. So despite the cold, I think traveling in the winter is great, and here are a few reasons why:
- Travel in the winter is cheap! For this current Canada trip, I booked two one way tickets from Washington, D.C. as I wanted to visit several cities. My tickets combined cost $250, not bad right? Accommodation and other transit tickets are often significantly cheaper during the winter.
- Travel is light. Many people are not traveling. I personally like traveling when others are not, because there is no fight and rush over the main sights. And, I got to see a rare snow in Dubrovnik, Croatia.
- You get to see how people really live. During high tourist seasons, cities are often crowded with tourists, and many people who you will meet on your travels are tourists. In the off season, I find it easier to connect with locals and have a more authentic experience with the city and how it functions regularly. Locals are not expecting tourists during this season, and seem more willing and eager to have a conversation with a traveler.
- Winter landscape is beautiful. When you get a nice, bright sunny day, the barren trees will allow you to experience scenery in a new light, without the interference of leaves on the trees. Plus, a light covering of snow also makes for some amazing photos. Check out this photo of Budapest in December:
- Traveling in the winter gets you accustomed to the cold. I don’t know about you, but at home, in the winter, I tend to go from inside, directly into a car and then back inside. At home, I don’t really walk around outside much in the winter and when I do have to go outside, I am freezing! I found that when I have lived in places without a car, and I was forced to go outside and bear the weather, the weather became more bearable. On my Canada trip thus far I have been outside for hours, walking around in the snow, rain, and cold, and I think I am actually getting used to it.
- And really, it’s not that cold! I hear it gets to -40 in January/February, so I think I can handle 30F and a little snow. The weather is nothing worse than it should be already in D.C. I did have to bring some extra winter gear like a hat and leg warmers, and I ended up borrowing a pair of gloves from a friend as I forgot mine. Plus, whenever I get too chilly walking around, I take a tea break and warm up right away!
Do you enjoy winter travel? What is your best tip for traveling in the colder months? Would you consider taking a winter trip to save money?