It’s cold and miserable outside, and you and your family have cabin fever. Big time.
By all means, get yourself out of the house! The weather outside may be frightful, but it’s definitely worth braving the elements.
“Kids should be getting at least an hour of physical activity a day, and that doesn’t change in the winter,” notes Dr. Kisha Davis, a family practice doctor in Gaithersburg, MD, and spokeswoman for the American Academy of Family Physicians.
So if you’re ready for a winter-time adventure — be it out-of-town or close to home — here are some things to keep in mind:
Heading Out of Town
What’s your schedule?
Let’s say you want to take your brood out of town on a ski trip for a few days or another outdoor adventure — perhaps snowshoeing or ice fishing. One of the most important factors you’ll have to assess is your family’s schedule. When are your children going to be out of school? Will you be able to take time off from work?
“A few things to keep in mind: budget, snow quality and time off with the kids,” advises Jen Butson, communications director for the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing.
For example, Butson notes that March actually tends to be the snowiest month in her state. But there are locations where you can ski into mid- or even late-April—if that works for your family. However, prices are often lower if you can find a way to book a vacation before the holidays.
“Vermont often has several resorts open by Thanksgiving. Early December offers great deals and less crowds,” Butson says. “Same goes for post Presidents’ Week.”
Who’s up for what?
Consider your children’s ages and tolerance for activity before you book a trip. Do you have young children who tire easily and need a regular daily nap? If so, you may want to reconsider any adventures that will make it difficult for them to get enough rest. Older kids might be able to go-go-go for longer periods of time.
Before you leave town, wherever you go, be sure to plan ahead. If your children require any medications, be sure to pack extra meds and supplies, just in case. Headed for the slopes or some cross-country skiing? Pack plenty of handwarmers and weather-appropriate gear and clothing.
And Dr. Davis suggests getting your annual flu vaccination before you depart, too.
“Nothing ruins a trip like the flu,” she says.
Staying Close to Home
Look for local activities
But you don’t have to go far away or spend a lot of money to have a family winter adventure. Take advantage of what’s in your area, suggests Dr. Davis. Your adventure may be as close as your front yard, where you can hold a snowman-building contest for the neighborhood kids, or the nearby park, where you can bundle up and take a brisk hike.
Check with your local parks and recreation department for a schedule of winter-themed activities, and your local chamber of commerce, too. Another option: running and cycling stores often keep lists of races and rides in which you and your family can participate in the winter months (especially if you live in a warmer climate).
Prepare for the elements
If it is really cold where you live, be sure to dress everyone in layers that you can shed if you warm up, due to exertion. Don’t forget the sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or greater for your face and hands, especially if you’re going to be out in the snow, which can reflect the sun’s glare.
“In the summer, you’re thinking sunscreen and bug spray. In the winter, you’re thinking of dressing in layers and handwarmers and keeping those snacks with you,” says Dr. Davis. “And you want to remember that sun protection.”