Thoughts on Winter Travel

Greetings from Thailand!

One of my favourite things about travel – it’s admittedly a very long list – is how much it gives you to think about when you get home. To reminisce, to ponder, the memory that brings a quiet smile to your lips.

As I sit here at my home near the equator, where winter and summer don’t mean much, or not nearly the same thing, as they do back in Canada, I find myself daydreaming about winter travels past, and the distinct but equally exquisite pleasures of hot winter travel and cold winter travel.

And since it’s 28 out here right now and feels like 32 with the humidity, let’s talk a bit about cold-weather travel first.

Snow at home can mean shovelling, slush, fender benders, salt-stained boots. But foreign snows are beautiful, picturesque, a cozy backdrop to an evening in front of a fire after a day of skiing, snowshoeing, or wandering along a winding mountain path framed by frosted boughs on your way to a majestic view of a crystalline twilight.

It can seem counterintuitive to travel someplace cold in the middle of a Canadian winter, but in addition to being the ideal (in fact, the only) time to visit Antarctica (it being the middle of the southern hemisphere’s summer; see last week’s newsletter for more info on that), it’s the only time you can experience the many ways the top half of the northern hemisphere celebrates its defining season.

As many of you know, I have some Austrian family connections and some of my most formative years were spent in the country, often on snowy mountains, whether it’s hiking up them, swooshing down them, or perched on top of one in a chalet with a slice of cake and an Einspänner. (And if this sort of thing appeals to you, let me know and maybe we can put together a trip? I’m not sure how many skiiers we have among us.)

Winter is the season Austria really comes into its own, the Austrians really get out and take advantage of everything – from sport to food to drink – the season has to offer.

Winter is also fondue season in Switzerland, sauna season in Finland, and all of Ljubljana comes out in the weeks surrounding Christmas and New Year’s to eat, drink, and be merry with each other at sidewalk cafés along the fantastically lit Ljubljanica river.

Wrapping yourself in the blankets that come with every chair, and sipping hot mulled wine while watching the riverboats lope by beneath you is a pretty glorious way to spend a winter night.

All that said, a million snowbirds can’t be wrong: There is a lot to be said for heading south in the winter, though I am an advocate of looking beyond just the obvious meteorological advantages.

Why settle for warm when you could have warm and interesting, or warm and awesome? Trips not to escape but rather to enhance the winters of our lives…this is the goal for our winter LiveAways programming, about which I’ll say more next week.

So, since I’m sure few among us really need an excuse to travel in the winter, I offer only encouragement to look a bit beyond to see what wider horizons have to offer. Adventures abound and you might even find a new ‘thing you do every winter’ 🙂

Briefly, on new trips – this week I’m pleased to release a much-requested trip to Spain, where we’ll be exploring Seville, Córdoba & Málaga in the region of Andalusia, with a night in vibrant Madrid on either end of the trip.

The region is a fascinating blend of Spanish and North African culture, expressed in the architecture, the vibe and most deliciously in the cuisine. We’ll spend a week in each of the above Andalusian cities, exploring them and nearby places of interest, including some very fine wineries.

The trip happens in the middle of October 2024 – those curious can find the full itinerary below, or join us for the webinar on Dec 14 (registration link also below).

Lots more on the way, including our Czech / Slovakia Active Wellness program webinar on Dec 21 and some more new trips to be released before Christmas. I’ll sign off here – sending you warmth and well-wishes, and thanks as always for your comments and feedback.


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