The most enthusiastic families – inspired by a devotion to frosted breath and après-ski – wait impatiently for any opportunity to forsake warmth for a brisk chill. If they can’t escape to a cold place whenever the desire strikes, they are the first to hit the nearest snow fields and slopes once the weather finally turns in their favor.
There are even many hidden bonuses to winter travel. “In places like national parks, the crowds are long gone and the wildlife are usually much more visible, making this one of the best times to visit,” reminds Dan Austin, President of Austin Adventures, a global tour operator based in Montana.
Fortunately for families, the travel services supporting winter travel are often excellent. In fact, “These days most resorts will say they are family-friendly and cater to a family audience,” advises Sara Lococo, Communications Manager at Keystone Resort, the largest ski resort in Summit County, Colorado, owned and operated by Vail Resorts. “And while that is certainly true in many cases, you’ll definitely find that some resorts really go above and beyond to make a winter vacation easier on families, providing value and signature programing that is designed specifically with a family guest in mind.”
But, of course, not all families are created equal. And not all services mesh with a family’s desires and practices. “Families should therefore find activities that they can afford, and will enjoy doing,” counsels Claudia Laroye, the founding editor of The Travelling Mom family travel blog. “Some ski resorts offer special deals, such as children under a certain age ski/stay for free. Do your research in advance and book good deals when you see them!”
In fact, says Dustin Fletcher, Brand Manager of The Clear Creek Group, which offers luxury rental homes primarily in and around Jackson, Wyoming, take the time to “Book accommodations with the familiar comforts that your family enjoys, while consciously integrating activities that encourage growth, challenge perceptions, and break free from routine.”
The Reality Check
As incredible as winter family travel and experiences can be, they certainly do present challenges. For one, the weather can turn against you too, so you have to prepare contingency plans. However, no matter what momentary obstacles must be overcome, no matter what aches and pains are encountered, no matter how many times we have to brush away tears (or maybe that’s just melted snow), “Use winter vacations as a time to try new things. Let your inner child out,” muses Katlyn Richter, Global Media & Public Relations Director of the South Dakota Department of Tourism. “There isn’t a much more free feeling than flying down a puffy snow covered hill in a tube, laughing so hard you can barely breathe, your eyelashes frozen and your face hurting from the cold and smiling so much!”
The Family Travel Association and its collection of family travel industry insiders shares the best ways to enjoy winter travel with kids in Family Travel and Winter Experiences, by Ethan Gelber. Here, from which the above article is an excerpt, read about more ways to enjoy the holidays, and get connected to some of the best places for families.