Winter is just around the corner so why not plan on some cool season travel? Embrace winter’s chill by heading off on a frosty getaway to somewhere unique this year. According to CCRA Travel Solutions, winter leisure hotel room bookings increased by 28 percent from 2011 to 2012, so it’s obvious travelers aren’t just saving their vacation days for summer anymore. If you’re planning on heading out this winter, why not consider a unique destination to break up what might otherwise be a long, dreary season?
Polar Bears in Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
With global warming threatening the habitat of polar bears, some experts fear the future for these magnificent creatures may be bleak. According to Polar Bears International, the sea ice on which polar bears hunt was down 49 percent in September 2012 from its average levels between 1979 and 2000. If you have always hoped to see these beasts in the wild, the sooner you do, probably the better.
Churchill, Manitoba is considered one of the best places in the world to see these largest of bears, especially in October and November when they congregate in this area before heading out onto the ice to go hunting for seals. The town of Manitoba has a number of outfitters with specially designed vehicles that can take you out onto the tundra to observe these stunning white bears in their natural habitat. Depending on the company and excursion you choose, a five-night trip that includes time on a tundra buggy and air from Winnipeg, costs approximately $4,800.
Icehotel in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden
If you absolutely love the cold and the unique, you’ll want to spend a night or two in the starkly gorgeous Icehotel in Sweden. This is the first ice hotel ever built in the world and is still the largest. This gorgeous facility is not just a hotel, but also a temporary work of art that has been sculpted anew out of fresh ice since 1990.
Every year, approximately 50,000 guests from around the world head to the tiny village of Jukkasjarvi, which is located approximately 125 miles from the Arctic Circle to stay in this frozen confection and to enjoy such winter activities as dog sledding and viewing the ethereal Northern Lights.
If you choose to stay in the Icehotel, you will pay approximately $300 a night to sleep in a thermal sleeping bag on a bed of ice. Reindeer skins and extra clothing and gloves are also provided to you for additional warmth. The Icehotel also features some chalets and regular guestrooms for those who want to stay in the area, but think they can only do one night on ice.
Photo: courtesy bjaglin via Wikimedia.
You would probably guess that Alaska would be the best place to find the most dog sledding outfitters in the world, right? Well, guess again. The most dog sledding operators can be found in picturesque Ely, Minnesota, which is located very close to the vast and still mostly pristine Boundary Waters Wilderness.
In Ely, you can choose to take a group or solo trip, a one-day or multi-day adventure or even drive your own dog sledding team. You can also select whether you want to stay in lodges or camp out. No matter what you decide, if you are a canine lover, a dog sledding journey might be the perfect trip of a lifetime for you. Expect to pay approximately $250 per person a day for dog-sledding trips.
Photo: courtesy Martin Male via Flickr.
Some Necessary Precautions to Take Before You Leave
- Weather can be a real issue for winter travel in a number of ways, so you may want to consider trip insurance in case your flights are cancelled due to icy or snowy conditions or a blizzard strikes at your destination.
- With multiple layers of clothing comes multiple opportunities to lose your credit cards and other important documents. If possible, never quickly tuck a credit card or your documents in your jacket or coat pockets at the airport or other locations. It’s easy to quickly shed an outer garment when you get too warm and then leave it as you rush off to catch your plane or head back to the hotel after a very active adventure.
- Protect your home while you are away from thieves. Leave at least one light on a timer and pay a trusted neighbor child or service to clear your driveway of snow while you are gone.
- Sign up for identity theft protection so that your financial information is protected in case you do lose your credit cards while traveling or documents are stolen from your home while you are away on vacation.
- If you live in an area that gets very cold during the winter, you may want to consider turning off your water so your pipes don’t burst. No one wants to come home to a flooded house.