Leave room in your imagination for anything that might come up, but in the cold-weather months if there's snow on the ground, you'll want to consider taking part in several fun activities that are only possible when there's snow.
Most winter activities can be found at popular cold-weather resorts. Some activities are more difficult than others and require physical stamina. For example, ice skating requires a tremendous amount of balance and grace, while tubing is a sport practically everyone can do.
You have to be in pretty good shape in order to go downhill skiing, but anyone can enjoy a sleigh ride. And often people don't realize how strenuous cross-country skiing truly is. It requires cardiac stamina and perseverance, unlike taking a gondola ride on which you simply sit comfortably and revel in the view. Even snowshoeing isn't for the faint-hearted. Picking up snow-covered snow shoes the size of tennis racquets isn't as easy as it looks.
The good news is, however, that every one of these activities means fun for the whole family and with a little patience and effort, families can enjoy them all together. No matter which winter sport you engage in, make sure you and your family are wearing helmets. Even a bike helmet will suffice.
Snowshoeing is becoming one of the most popular winter sports around. Besides being fun, it sure does burn calories. Experts estimate snowshoeing burns 600 to 800 calories an hour — that's more calories than jogging, biking, or cross-country skiing.
Snowshoeing is also easy on the wallet because it's such an accessible sport — anywhere there's snow, you can snowshoe. You don't have to buy lift tickets or rent skis, poles, or snowboards. Snowshoes are the most reasonably priced winter sport rentals.
Many families are even buying snowshoes and keeping them in the garage with bikes and other family athletic gear to use year after year together on winter vacations. This low-impact sport is great for anyone sufficiently fit to participate, and you choose your own pace. When snowshoeing, you'll work up a sweat but remember to wear warm clothing, gloves, and warm boots.
Sledding and Tubing
Whether you went sledding as a child or you've never been sledding, this economical sport is fun for everyone. You may be tempted to save a few bucks on a sled rental by grabbing a trash can lid from your hotel room, but that's not a good idea. Check with your resort's activities director to find out if they have sleds for rent; some resorts actually lend sleds to guests as part of the resort package.
Tubing is another popular activity that's become wildly popular with families. Like sledding, riders sit on an inflated tube at the top of a hill and let gravity do the rest. There's not a lot of friction in tubing, so riders can reach high speeds quickly — always remember to wear a helmet, and restrict little ones to small hills and bunny slopes. Whether you're sledding or tubing, don't forget gloves or mittens and cold-weather insulated boots.
If your family is planning a cold-weather vacation, see if your community has an ice rink close by where the family can practice. When you arrive at the resort, ask about approved ice skating locations.
Never take your family ice skating anywhere that's not approved for skating, as evidenced by city, town, or resort signage. Ice skates must be the perfect fit in order to prevent falls and injuries. Never go ice skating without a helmet.
Skiing and Snowboarding
Skiing and snowboarding are two of the most popular winter sports. They're also two of the most difficult. But ski and snowboard schools abound at just about every ski resort internationally.
Kids need ski boots that are made just for them, and adults also need boots and equipment made specifically for them. It's not a great idea to share ski equipment other than clothing. If you and your family don't have your own equipment, reasonable rentals are available at most ski and snowboard resorts. The best part of renting ski equipment at resorts is that equipment specialists will fit your boots, skis and poles, and snowboards to your feet.
Don't forget your helmets! Most resorts now have helmets for rent and some resorts are beginning to require helmets to use on the slopes. You'll have to buy lift tickets and rent ski gear, which can be expensive, so it's important that families interested in skiing and snowboarding research the cost of their destination and budget for chair lift, equipment, and other fees.
Snowmobiling is one of the most fun things to do on a winter vacation. Young kids can ride with mom and dad and older kids can get their own snowmobiles. Snowmobiles when used appropriately are safe, but unsupervised use can be dangerous.
You can usually rent snowmobiles from snowmobiling outfitters, but your resort may also have some available for use. Snowmobiling can be expensive if everyone gets his own, so it's best to double up to save on rental fees. Some snowmobile outfitters will request a deposit that is refundable upon return of the snowmobile, so be sure to budget enough padding in your vacation budget to accommodate for this temporary expense.