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Great Ideas for Amazing Winter Holidays
What do you think of when you hear the words winter holidays? Do you imagine wonderful log cabins or a picturesque ski chalet in a beautiful village high in the mountains? Or do you dream of the winter sun?
There are so many different kinds of winter vacations and I have curated a few of the best:
- Expedition Trips to the Arctic or Antarctic
- Winter in Europe
- Skiing Trips
- Winter in Scotland / Christmas and Hogmanay
I hope you enjoy this virtual tour of winter delights.
What kind of person are you?
Responsible Winter Vacations
Just a note about me: I do not like mass tourism because it damages the environment and culture of the places we visit. So, I have searched for winter vacations that have responsible travel in mind when they design their trips.
I would be much more inclined to book a trip with a company that cared about the places and people we visit, and who encourage giving something back to the host nation.
Thankfully things in the tourist industry are changing and now there are many adventure travel companies who care about how we travel and why we travel, and it seems that leopards can indeed change their spots!
It's easy to check a company's policy, just search About Us on their website, and they'll be proud to tell you all about the good work they do.
Every small change contributes to a better world.
A Winter Holiday Expedition Style
The poles are arguably the most vulnerable parts of our planet. They may seem remote and very far removed, but as everyone knows they play an integral part in the balance of the whole planet. We should all be concerned about protecting these pristine areas. Here's a link to Greenpeace.
Award winning G Adventures is a world class adventure travel company that prides itself on the contribution it makes to responsible travel, and they are playing their part in helping scientists and researchers in the polar regions.
Imagine being a part of a scientific expedition trip! Conserving and replenishing the natural environment is one of G Adventure's core values, and they will get you the Arctic or Antarctic in the most sustainable and responsible way possible.
You simply can’t get to these places on your own, and so this is an incredible, once in a lifetime, opportunity.
You will be with expert guides who have a wealth of knowledge and insight, and they will really bring the nature and history of the region to life. You will be safe in the knowledge that you are supporting projects that are out to conserve and protect the most beautiful and most vulnerable places on our planet.
It will certainly feel as though you have reached the end of the earth. The highly skilled expedition team who will steer their ship the MS Expedition close to amazing sights and give you a unique insight into the most beautiful places in our world, the Polar Regions.
If this sounds like something you’d love to do, here’s the link to G Adventures' amazing website.
Winter Holidays in Europe
What about a trip to the snowy mountains and forests of Europe?
I was born and still live in London, but my parents were Italian, and I have traveled around a great deal in Europe. You probably already know that Europe is rich in art, history and culture, and so it attracts thousands of visitors all the year round. There really isn't a quiet time of year to see Rome for example, and the Mediterranean beckons for at least 5 months of the year, but winter holidays are incredible too!
Europe is absolutely spectacular in the winter, especially if you love the mountains and snow!
Just consider the huge mountain ranges: The Alps, the Pyrenees, the Picos de Europa, the Caucasus, the Central Eastern Alps, the Balkan Mountains, the Massif Central, to name just a few!
I am so lucky because I have been to Switzerland, and to the very top of the Jungfrau in the Bernese Alps, which is breathtakingly beautiful, and always covered in deep, white snow.
I have been walking in the Dolomites in the depths of winter, and have been to the top of Monte Bianco, which is on the border of France and Italy, where the snow is always thick, even in the middle of summer.
These places are beautiful, and there’s so much to do there.
Macs Adventure will help you find wonderful walking holidays in Europe.
What to Wear for Winter Walking
Wear a warm vest and long johns
You need to wear layers - he material must wick out the moisture away from your skin.
On top that add a fleece or windproof shell
Thinner layers help you to manage your body heat better, because you can remove them easily if you get too warm.
Top layer must be waterproof
Make sure you have treated your jacket and trousers with waterproofing. Goretex and other simlar fabrics need treatment.
Remember your legs
Waterproof trousers are vital
Waterproof walking boots
Boots must be breathable but totally waterproof. For snow they need to be able to have clampons Summer boots aren't for snowy conditions.
Hats, scarves, gloves, socks
These are essential
lightweight sleeping bag /silver foil blanket
You need to keep warm if you run into difficulty and you have to stop walking
Skiing In Europe and Beyond
If you live in the UK, love skiing, and are looking for a great skiing holiday in Europe, Canada or the USA, then check out Inghams. They are a tried and tested company currently celebrating their 80th anniversary!
Walter Ingham founded the company in 1934. He first put an advert in newspapers asking for people to join him on a private Christmas trip to Austria, and it all kicked off from there. Over the years they have grown into a knowledgeable and trustworthy company.
This means that they are respected and widely acknowledged in the industry as a company who offer a great service. Many of their Resort Reps have been with Inghams for years, and are the best in the business! They understand the needs of their skiers, and are experts in taking care of them.
Inghams now has hundreds of award winning ski holidays of every kind including snowboarding holidays.
They have holidays in the most beautiful parts of Europe, and also in the USA and Canada.
If you are looking for family ski holidays Inghams has many specialist centers that cater for children and skiers of all abilities.
Don’t worry if you have never skied before because they have great nursery slopes and tuition centers. There is no doubt that you will have a fantastic time no matter how inexperienced a skier you are.
And they have found some very unusual things for you to do, for example you could stay in a thermal glass igloo in beautiful Finland where you will have an opportunity to see the spectacular Northern Lights in the clear night skies.
Visit their site for great deals. Here's their link : Inghams
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What to Take on a Ski Trip
Loose fitting clothes
You need to be able to move freely while you ski
Hats and gloves
These items cost a fortune in some resorts - so don't forget them
Spare hats and gloves
Just in case
A change of clothes
You wll get wet!
Something great to wear in the evenings
Remember it's cold so warm clothes and shoes are vital.
A small mircofibre towel for the slopes
You will get wet! These are light and small and work a treat
Glencoe and the Winter Ski Center
The Scots love to ski, and one of the biggest ski resorts in central Scotland is the Glencoe Winter Ski Center.
The wonderful thing about Glencoe is that the slopes are not too steep, but instead they are very long, they seem to go on forever.
Below is a video where you can see people skiing down the slopes. It also shows how much snow there is in Glencoe. This is a truly beautiful part of the Highlands, and if you look you'll get a glimpse of the views in the distance.
You don't have to book to go skiing here. Just turn up with your gear and you'll be made welcome.
- This center is also known as Glencoe Mountain or the White Corries ski center
- This center is on an extremely isolated part of the A82 and is one of the most dramatic spots in the highlands of Scotland. It is one of my favorite places in the whole of the UK.
- When it snows here it whistles past - walkers can easily get into trouble. Always tell someone where you are going.
Christmas and Hogmanay in Scotland
Winter Holidays in Scotland
Now we come on to the Christmas season, celebrated in so many wonderful places all over the world.
In my opinion, one of the most beautiful and culturally rich places to be during Christmas and Hogmanay (New Years Eve) is Scotland.
My husband is Scottish so I have visited just about every nook and cranny of this bonnie land! I love it there. Edinburgh, the Highlands, the lochs, amazing islands like Skye, Lewis and Harris, it is truly a most beautiful part of the world.
I have written a longer article about Scotland: Here’s the link
One of the things that Scotland has which makes it very beautiful and dramatic is its changeable weather, it really doesn't matter what time of year you visit, the weather will keep you company! You must learn to love the rain, and in winter the snow!
Of course rain and snow are essential as they feed the lochs, keep the waterfalls full, swell the peaty streams, inject the rainbows with color, and keep the green land very pleasant indeed!
I have been to Scotland many times in the middle of February to celebrate my son's birthday, and we have had all the weather imaginable, brilliant sunshine and driving snow! It's an unpredictable thing the Scottish weather and a good topic of conversation!
Of course the winter is cold and people often describe it as bleak, but then the pubs and Inns, self catering cottages, hotels and B&Bs are all ready to keep you warm and entertained! And Christmas and new years eve is a very romantic time to be there.
I can honestly say that I have never had a bad experience in Scotland - and if I were magic, I'd transport myself and my family their right now!
Haggis Adventures is a wonderful adventure travel company, who really knows how to lay on very special trips.
For example, you can spend Christmas at the amazing Royal Highland Hotel in the highlands of Scotland, where Queen Victoria once stayed. Visit Loch Ness and eerie Glencoe, covered in snow and dotted with wild deer and stags. You will have the best food and wine and dance with people in kilts under tons of mistletoe!
These are the kinds of winter trips that dreams are made of.
Haggis Adventure have a strong commitment to sustainable and environmentally friendly travel, and they make great efforts to minimize the environmental impact of all their trips. They were the first tour operators in Scotland to gain a national Green Tourism Award, and they actively support Scottish Charities such as The John Muir Trust and Trees For Life.
Visit their site for Christmas special deals. Here's their link: Haggis Adventures
Climbing Ben Nevis
Ben Nevis is in the Scottish Highlands, and is the highest mountain in the British Isles.
It is 1,344 meters above seas level, and it attracts about 100,000 ascents each year! It's summit is the collapsed dome of a volcano, and has the ruins of an observatory which people worked in continuously from 1883 to 1904.
If you are a novice you should not attempt to climb Ben Nevis between November and May. And never during bad weather. It is very common to meet climbers sitting around Fort William early in the morning, waiting patiently for top of Ben Nevis to become visible so that they can start their ascent!
The best month to climb Ben Nevis is in June because the days are the longest then. Scotland has the midnight sun!
These are routes:
- The Pony Trek Route is the easiest and yes you can go up on a pony!
- A second route starts at Torlundy, a few miles north-east of Fort William, and is for more experienced walkers, it has a steep climb near the end.
- You can also climb Ben Nevis from Steal, either by the south-east ridge or via the summit of Càrn Dearg (south-west). You will have to be prepared for some scrambling but this way up is shorter and steeper than the others and tends only to be used by experienced hill walkers.
I hope you have enjoyed this article and that I have inspired you to plan a great winter holiday.
Please leave a comment below. Where will you be going on your next trip?
© 2014 Giovanna Sanguinetti