For Canadians, escaping the winter is a thing.
And why not? Winter travel down south offers an opportunity to get away from the cold, endure one less week of slush, sleet and snow, and trade windchill values for humidex values. Okay, so it’s not just a thing… for many, it’s a necessity.
Of course, while jetting off to a sunny vacation in the throes of winter is the epitome of awesome, it also presents its own set of challenges that requires some planning ahead. My advice? Make a winter travel checklist!
1. Don’t ditch the warm coats. I know it can be tempting to take a ride to the airport with just a hoodie or light jacket (who wants to wear their winter parka in the Caribbean?), remember, traffic accidents, flight delays and even flight detours do happen, which means you may find yourself in an unfamiliar location without adequately protective clothing. So, if you’re parking at the airport, consider bringing a garment bag to stash your coats in the trunk. Or, if you’re cabbing it, wear several layers – some of which can be packed in carry-on luggage when you reach the airport. Be prepared to stay warm!
2. Turn down the heat. I have friends in two distinct camps: some will turn off their heat entirely in an effort to save money when away on vacation, while others don’t adjust their thermostat at all, preferring to return to a warm home. You want to be somewhere in the middle. Turning off the heat completely can be detrimental to indoor plants and natural flooring, so save a few dollars the smart way by reducing your indoor temperature by about 4-5 degrees. It will keep your abode hospitable and you won’t spend excess on heating a home that’s not in use.
3. Arrange for mail pickup and snow shoveling. Especially if you live in an urban city like I do, the last thing you want is to be slapped with a city fine for not clearing your paths and walkways while away. (Trust me, they don’t care if you’re sunning on the beach.) Ask a friendly neighbour or nearby family member to help keep things tidy in your absence, and cheerfully return the favour!
4. Anticipate flight delays and cancellations. Remember, the reason you want to leave town is because the weather sucks. And sometimes that sucky weather can delay your departure. If you’re travelling over the winter months for a special occasion, buffer one day ahead for flight delays or cancellations. And most importantly, purchase travel insurance. It will cover you for hotel stays, lost luggage or other incidentals as a result of a trip interruption.
5. Make sure your vaccinations are up to date. Particularly, the flu shot. The flu spreads by people infected with the flu through coughing, sneezing or even talking. In fact, sneezes can send germs flying as far as six feet – enough to cover an entire row on an airplane! And since flu germs can live on surfaces for 2-8 days, one flight can completely ruin your vacation. Why take that chance? Especially when it’s so easy to get vaccinated – just pop into a participating Shoppers Drug Mart to protect yourself and your family. Since it takes about two weeks after vaccination for antibodies to develop in the body, plan to get the shot early in the season, or at least 14 days before departure.
So, leave! Get away! Go somewhere nice and warm. You’ll have a chance to rest and rejuvenate, and it will make the rest of the cold season more bearable, I promise.