This post was written by Ralph Starks, a blogger and traveler who enjoys exploring the world in the best ways possible.

alaska glacier

In this fast-paced 21st-century world, workplace commitments, family responsibilities, and personal obligations continually compete for an individual’s attention. Every year (and ideally more often), vacation time rolls around, offering an opportunity to relax and/or recharge in an enticing destination. Although some travelers return to a favorite vacation spot every time, others try out new locales based on their preference at the time.

During the cold winter months, some travelers gravitate to cold-weather destinations that offer generous doses of snow and ice. These intrepid vacationers can’t get enough of winter sports and attractions.

However, another group of travelers just wants to get warm. They may jet off to Caribbean beach resorts or sun-drenched Mediterranean coasts. These sun lovers wouldn’t dream of heading to a cold-weather destination.

To help travelers decide which vacation to choose, global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky highlights three sports and three attractions in each type of setting. He also lists the pros and cons of each vacation experience. Finally, he invites travelers to make their selections, book their tickets, and begin assembling their weather-specific packing lists.

Cold-Weather Vacations

A cold-weather vacation has its own distinctive vibe. It often takes place at a ski resort or other desirable winter destination. The northern United States, along with northern European and Scandinavian countries, feature popular winter vacation spots. Really adventurous (and hardy) souls might head for Arctic or Antarctic climes. Regardless of a traveler’s choice, they’ll likely find plenty of snow and outdoor activities.

3 Cold-Weather Sports

Cold-weather fans flock to destinations that offer popular winter activities. Global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky profiles three popular winter sports, two of which may be open to travelers of all ages.

Cross-Country Skiing

For centuries, cross-country skiing has been a highly efficient way to travel between snowy Scandinavian communities. Hunters and explorers also used this method of travel. Today, winter sports lovers often enjoy cross-country skiing as a more easily mastered alternative to downhill skiing. Not surprisingly, cross-country skiing is an ideal family activity.

Depending on the location, cold-weather destination hotels and resorts may maintain a cross-country skiing operation. Level ground and rolling hills are the ideal terrain for this energetic sport. Global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky notes that the hotel or resort will offer rental ski equipment and basic instruction.


When there’s too much snow for hiking, winter enthusiasts often strap on a pair of snowshoes and stride confidently across the landscape. Traditionally a reliable form of travel, snowshoeing is now a fun (and affordable) sport open to all ages. With properly sized snowshoes, and warm layered clothing, travelers are well equipped for an exhilarating journey.

Many northern United States and European destinations offer snowshoeing group tours in scenic locations. In some spots, adventurous spirits can bring their own gear and trek through the woods on their own. Afterward, cozy cabins and/or lodges (and a warm drink) can help to take off the chill.

Dog Sledding

As a popular winter sport, dog sledding (or mushing) offers an opportunity to experience an adrenaline-fueled dash across snowy terrain. Alaskan Malamutes and Siberian Huskies have long been the preferred breeds, as these heavy-coated dogs prefer far northern climates’ frigid temperatures and snow.

Today, lodges in the northern United States, Canadian Yukon, Greenland, Lapland, and Spitsbergen offer dog sledding tours and hands-on training. Tour guests only need appropriate clothing and a desire to enjoy a fast-paced ride with an enthusiastic dog team. Global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky says dog lovers may especially enjoy this experience.

Those who prefer a hands-on experience can complete “Dog Mushing 101” training. Several-day expeditions may be available for real dog-mushing aficionados. Travelers should be prepared for high-energy excitement along with primitive winter camping conditions.

Travelers who can’t get enough of dog sledding should consider attending the Iditarod, an annual 1,600km race across Alaska each March. This iconic race takes place from Anchorage to Nome. The Iditarod commemorates the 1925 Diphtheria Serum Run from Nenana to Nome, which saved many children’s lives.

3 Cold-Weather Scenic Attractions

Snowy, icy northern regions are often overflowing with incredible beauty. Travelers who aren’t deterred by the weather are likely to see sights they won’t find anywhere else.

The Northern Lights

The spectacular Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, are a hallmark of many far-north destinations. This shimmering light effect takes place when charged solar particles are trapped in the Earth’s electromagnetic field. These beautiful multi-colored lights often transform into waves that literally dance across the sky at night.

The Northern Lights are typically visible in the Arctic along with other northern destinations. Examples include Alaska, Canada, Finland, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Under certain atmospheric conditions, the Northern Lights are visible in the northern United States. Lodgings are often located in popular viewing locations. However, experienced travel concierge and globe trekker Gennady Podolsky says there’s no guarantee that guests will see a Northern Lights display on a specific night.

Iconic Ice Hotels

Far-northern countries’ ice hotels are proving to be an increasingly popular attraction. Just before the coldest winter months, talented craftspeople fashion these distinctive lodgings from huge blocks of ice. An ice hotel’s structure, furnishings, and even the bed are made of solid ice.

Ice hotel guests nestle into a subzero sleeping bag placed on a mattress, blankets, or even reindeer skins in Scandinavian countries. In one signature concession, each ice hotel room features a standard bathroom. However, guests must visit common areas to charge electronics or access other hotel amenities.

An ice hotel will only be open during the coldest part of the winter, and lodging prices are high. However, so is the demand for this “bucket list” experience. Although Sweden opened the first ice hotel in 1990, today these one-of-a-kind rooms are also located in Finland, Norway, Canada, and Romania.

Toasty Hot Springs

Relaxing in a rejuvenating hot spring is like hot tubbing taken to the next level. Located in natural settings away from city hustle and bustle, hot springs bubble out of the ground in many parts of the world. Besides the United States, countries such as Canada, New Zealand, Fiji, Iceland, and Japan boast their share of hot springs.

Besides promoting toasty relaxation, hot springs contain a mix of beneficial minerals. Travelers may experience reduced stress and detoxification along with other potential health benefits. Global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky recommends that travelers with existing medical conditions consult with a medical professional before taking a hot spring soak.

Cold-Weather Vacations’ Upsides and Downsides

As with any decision, laying out the pros and cons enables an objective choice. Global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky recommends that travelers choose the option that best matches their preferences and budget.


Cold-weather vacations deliver three significant benefits. First, these destinations are typically blessed with generous amounts of snow. Although most ski resorts can also make their own white powder, other locations receive regular snowfalls courtesy of Mother Nature. Either way, these vacation hotspots generally offer a good selection of outdoor activities.

Families traveling with children will likely find that kids also enjoy snow-filled vacations. Some ski resorts offer child-friendly ski lessons and tubing rides. Some good old-fashioned snowball fights can help burn off the kids’ energy, and there will be plenty of snow for building a snow fort.

Finally, after a day full of outdoor activities, relaxing by the fire with a favorite beverage can’t be beat. In a cozy cabin, or a lodge with a restaurant, guests can replenish their calorie burn with a sumptuous dinner. Either way, they’ll be ready for another day of high-energy outdoor experiences.


When vacationing in a cold-weather destination, travelers must ensure they pack enough clothes to avoid hypothermia during outdoor activities. Besides layering their gear for active sports, travelers should pack heavy outdoor jackets or parkas along with accessories. Taken together, this collection of cold-weather gear will take up considerable space in a traveler’s suitcase (and could result in extra baggage fees).

Although some winter destinations may boast blue skies and bright sunshine, others are plagued with dark, gloomy skies on most winter days. Travelers with seasonal affective disorder (or SAD) may find it difficult to handle a week (or more) in this climate. Light box therapy, designed to duplicate outdoor light, is believed to provide mood-lifting benefits.

Warm-Weather Vacations

Warm-weather vacations typically take place in beach resorts and other tropical settings. Temperatures are warm (and sometimes downright hot), and sunshine is plentiful. Destinations range from well-manicured resorts to low-profile beachfront cottages enhanced by natural vegetation. Water activities abound, and some locations also offer guided hikes and other tours.

3 Warm-Weather Sports

Many warm-weather vacation destinations offer multiple water sports. Hotels and resorts may provide water sports gear as part of the booking package. If not, global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky says for-profit rental operations are likely located nearby. Either way, getting out on the water can be a refreshing way to spend the day.


Snorkeling on a shallow reef offers non-SCUBA divers the chance to get up close and personal with a host of intriguing marine life. Colorful fish, hard and soft corals, and a variety of other sea creatures inhabit shallow reefs in warm-weather locations. With only a snorkel (breathing device), mask, and optional fins, snorkelers can enjoy a window into the ocean world.

Global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky notes that some vacation destinations offer snorkeling right from the beach. Here, staying alert for potential hazards (including rip currents) is always recommended. In areas with healthy offshore reefs, hotels may offer snorkeling expeditions that include underwater gear as part of the package. Although families may enjoy snorkeling together, operators may post certain rules regarding minors’ participation.


Parasailing is a relatively new water sport that has taken warm-weather destinations by storm. Here, a go-fast boat tows a harnessed passenger who’s attached to a parasail (similar to an open parachute).

As the boat accelerates, the passenger is lifted aloft, where they enjoy an exhilarating ride. They’ll get a bird’s eye view of the water and the surrounding landscape. When the boat slows down, the passenger lands back on the boat (or in the water, if they choose).

Perhaps best of all, parasailing passengers don’t need any training or special gear. Trained staff members provide the passenger with the necessary equipment before skillfully coordinating each ascent/descent. In fact, the passenger can often choose how high they’d like to soar into the sky.


Widely popular paddleboarding is an offshoot of surfing, as both activities depend on a specially fabricated composite board. However, where adventurous surfers tackle waves of varied heights, paddleboarders navigate through calm waters that are often smooth as glass. Although many paddlers travel along in a standing position, those newer to the sport may begin by kneeling on the board.

Most waterfront vacation destinations feature at least one paddleboard rental operation. Gennady Podolsky says canoes and/or kayaks may be available as well. Either way, adjacent coves and bays can make for an aquatic playground for paddlers of many ages and abilities.

3 Warm-Weather Scenic Attractions

Many warm-weather vacation destinations are part of a tourism-focused economy. From this perspective, each location likely features a distinctive mix of attractions. If the hotel or resort doesn’t offer car rentals, the staff can direct guests to local rental operations.

Intriguing Historic and/or Cultural Sites

In warm-weather destinations such as the Caribbean, certain islands were previously home to specialty agricultural crops and related businesses. Local cultures often flourish on these islands as well. Global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky says taking a self-guided tour offers guests a chance to obtain real-world knowledge of their corner of the world.

Local Markets and Cottage Industries

Small local markets, along with diverse cottage industries, are the backbone of many island communities. Depending on the resources available, residents may offer produce, honey, baskets, soaps, and other appealing products for sale. Besides bringing treasures home for family and friends, guests will provide local residents with welcome income.

Tailored Wildlife Tours and Ecotours

Many warm-weather hotspots are home to a rich natural ecosystem. Birds, fish, alligators, and other wildlife may be found close to shore. Dolphins, sharks, and even migrating whales can often be seen at certain times of the year.

Local wildlife and/or ecotour operators have obtained an extensive education on wildlife habitats, animal behaviors, migration trends, and ecosystem challenges. Operators are happy to invite guests aboard the boat and share their knowledge, which will ideally lead to better habitat and species preservation.

Warm-Weather Vacations’ Upsides and Downsides

Taking time to carefully evaluate both sides of an issue makes an objective decision easier. Global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky recommends that travelers select the best combination of travel preferences and budget.


Travelers who arrive at a warm (or hot) destination can immediately trade their winter clothing for summer gear. They banish the long pants, fleece tops, and all-weather mocs to their suitcases. Instead, they don light summer clothing and flip-flops or sandals, the standard footwear for these vacation spots.

At their destination, warm-weather travelers will likely be surrounded by tropical vegetation and colorful flowers. Tropical birds, and perhaps other wildlife, may be visible around the property. Of course, a beachfront lodging will likely feature a nicely kept beach and a backdrop of stunning aquamarine water.


Although hot, sunny weather sounds perfect when booking the trip, arriving travelers may find that the destination is too hot for their comfort. Humidity may be a factor as well. Unless guests station themselves by the pool, and ensure they drink plenty of water, there’s a real danger of dehydration.

Hiking in hot weather can be especially hazardous. Hikers who expend lots of energy, and don’t stay hydrated, can fall prey to heat exhaustion or potentially deadly heat stroke. Add bite or sting hazards, and hikers may conclude that they should have spent the day at the pool.

Obtaining Expert Travel Advice Makes the Difference

Once travelers decide on a cold-weather or warm-weather vacation, they’ll likely dive into print and/or online guidebooks to find the right destination. Global travel advisor Gennady Podolsky emphasizes that seasoned travel professionals have the inside track on places to go ─ and places to avoid. Once the stage is set, travelers can assemble their packing lists and check off the days until their vacation begins.