It’s winter in Canada, and for many people, it’s a season of doldrums, a yearning to escape work and routine by jumping on a plane to…well, anywhere else. If this sounds familiar, but your wallet (or pure logistics) is stopping you from visiting far-flung places, there’s good news! You don’t have to stray far from home in order to have a world-class vacation.
A winter staycation (a home-based or local vacation) can offer all the benefits of a great getaway plus some key extras. You can save money, time and the headaches related to booking transportation, accommodations, food, child care and pet care. Parents of young children will recognize the value of sticking to familiar routines and sleeping arrangements, with the flexibility to change plans. And depending on your itinerary, you may not even have to pack a bag!
As with any vacation, the first steps are to establish your budget, research your options and get input from everyone involved, whether it’s just you, you and a partner, or a full family affair. And when Day One arrives, be sure to treat it as you would any destination vacation, meaning you can unplug and become totally “unavailable” if you choose. But you don’t have to hibernate—unless you want to.
Here are loads of winter staycation ideas to consider:
- Sleep at home: Using your own home as a base for a winter holiday doesn’t have to be boring. Bring hotel luxuries to you… add fresh flowers, use your best dishes, put a coffee maker, pastries and fresh fruit in your bedroom. Throw some soft pillows on your bed (and don’t forget the little chocolates!). Tip: reduce stress by tidying before your vacation starts so you won’t have housework on your mind. And if you’ll be eating at home, stock up on meals to cut back on prep time and clean up.
-Sleep Away: Patronize a nearby winter-friendly B&B, hotel, lodge or resort (a hot tub and a roaring fireplace, anyone?). You might find reservations are easier to get than during summer months and receive off-season or mid-week discounts. Another option is a yurt or cabin at a nearby provincial park. They’re warm, inexpensive and definitely out-of-the-ordinary!
-Be a tourist in your own city: What would you recommend to travellers in your area? Now, have you been there yourself? If not, why not? Research your town as a visitor would. In addition to such destinations as museums, art galleries, winter carnivals and shopping districts, for example, are there any unique, hidden gems or quirky sights to discover?
-Start new traditions: Organize your own event with family and friends. For example: host an in-home film festival, baking afternoon, board game tournament, winter scavenger hunt or bowling tournament. How about a tobogganing party, trivia night, skills swap, or (if local regulations allow) a bonfire party complete with lots of blankets and hot chocolate? If it’s a hit, why not make it annual?
-Tackle your “One day I’ll…” list: Whether it’s finally reading that book on your night table, binge watching shows, learning a new skill such as cooking or painting, or finishing tasks like redecorating or decluttering, a winter time-out from real life provides the perfect opportunity to go for it.
-Themed vacations: Whether you’re a wine or craft beer enthusiast, a foodie, health nut, crafter, fashionista, gamer, or history or sports buff, there are day trips you can take to tailor your staycation to your passions. Take day trips to shop, hit the spa, attend workshops or lectures, local theatres or music concerts. Visit restaurants or sporting events, tour local breweries, visit an arcade or try indoor mini-golf, plan next season’s garden, or even volunteer with a community organization.
-Get thee outside: Whether in your backyard or at one of the many provincial, national and local parks and conservation areas that are open year-round, our Canadian winter provides unique opportunities to enjoy the outdoors. How many of these activities can you add to your personal repertoire: Ice skating, tobogganing, winter hiking, dog sledding, skijoring (a cross between dog sledding and cross-country skiing), ice fishing, cross-country and downhill skiing? As well, there is hockey, winter camping, birding, ice climbing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, stargazing, and igloo, or snowman building. You don’t have to be a star athlete, just get out there and have fun!
Whatever you choose, there’s a winter staycation that’s perfect for you.