Bank Forward Blog

Friday February 02 2018

Winter Travel Series: Take a Weekend Road Trip

From first snowfall to the New Years toast, the beginning of winter can be a fast, fun-filled time spent with family and friends. Then, just like that, we’re stuck with three more months of frigid temperatures and cloudy skies. By the end of January simple activities like leaving work or running to the grocery store can feel like an act of minor torture.

Winter travel is a perfect way to make the season more manageable, if not enjoyable even. Below is the second in our two-part series on tips for breaking up the winter doldrums and getting out of town without a hitch.

Yes, you can have a great vacation even in the winter!

Hiding inside until the snow thaws is a surefire way to make the season drag along. Your winter getaway doesn’t need to be at a tropical beach (although that doesn’t sound terrible). There is plenty happening nearby, even in the off season, you just have to look for it.

Your weekend getaway can include dog sledding, snowshoeing, ice fishing, cross country skiing, and warming up by the fire (or in a sauna) with a steaming hot cocoa. Embrace the Danish philosophy of ‘Hygge’, taking advantage of the comfort and contentment that comes with getting extra cozy!

We recommend looking through the curated calendars put together by local magazines and state tourism and recreation groups. These often include winter festivals, day and night activities, and suggestions for local businesses offering excursion activities.

Get started with these listings:

Room share wisely

Room sharing websites like Airbnb and VRBO are great alternatives to standard hotels and motels, and give you more flexibility in finding that perfect location for just the right price.

While their popularity has increased over recent years, it’s still important to do your due diligence before signing up to stay in a stranger’s home. One quick and easy thing you can do is scroll through the reviews. How did other’s like accommodations? Look for clues about ease of parking or access to WiFi networks.

Before or after making the reservation you can pick up the phone and call your host. This is a great opportunity to learn more about where you will be staying, and get insider tips about places to eat or visit. And, on a practical level, you will be able to get a sense as to whether or not the host will be available and easy to access should you need them. If you’re scheduling through Airbnb, look for Verified ID, which confirms that the host is who they say they are.

Finally, have a back-up plan. This writer can attest a personal experience where we showed up to our rental and the host was nowhere to be found, leaving our group high and dry in the middle of Chicago during an action-packed weekend. Even with a reservation, it’s smart to have a hotel or two in mind that you can snag last minute should something unexpected happen.

Plan out your road trip

Driving from point A to B should be as simple as turning on your GPS and setting the cruise. However things can always go awry, especially when you add in the possibility of black ice or blowing snow.

Give yourself extra time for disruptions like extra stops or going at slower speeds sometimes needed on wintry roads. Have a pre-determined route, bring a physical map as back up, and tell someone else where you will be going.

The following should be second nature for us northern drivers, but even so, make sure your car is prepped and ready to go. Clean all the snow off so your lights, windows, and mirrors can be fully utilized. Check that your wipers are new or in good working shape with ample windshield washer fluid.

When on the road, increase your following distance as ice or snow can multiply your stopping distance up to ten times. Turn slowly, break before you get to a curve (not while you are in it), and ready yourself for facing literal slippery situations by avoiding slamming on the breaks (lift off the gas instead) and turning the wheel in the direction of a skid should it happen. It’s always better to get stuck in a ditch than to collide into another car. And, if you do end up there make sure your car is stocked with the necessary winter survival gear.

By taking these measure, you can have a fun winter vacation without leaving the region!

Resources:

Airbnb Safety Tips: http://www.travelandleisure.com/articles/airbnb-safety-tips

32 Winter Road Trip Tips: https://solotravelerworld.com/winter-road-trip-alone-32-tips/

7 Ways to Stay Safe During Winter Travel: https://weather.com/safety/winter/news/winter-travel-safety#/1

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