How to Handle Winter Vacation Envy

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Summer Vacation

This time of the year nearly everyone seems to be flying somewhere warm for at least a few days for a winter vacation getaway.  Families, couples and individuals alike are busy little bees as they check airline prices, hotel deals and save up their hard earned cash (or pull out their credit cards) in search of a break from the constant stream of Polar Vortexes that are plaguing the U.S. and Canada.

I have to say that I’ve gotten a few cases of warm weather envy over this and have struggled a bit even though I know it wouldn’t be prudent for our family to hop a plane to the Bahamas right now. So, we stay home in the sub-zero weather, eagerly paying off our debt and planning our own cheap vacation for a winter far, far away.

A normal person would just pull out the credit card and head south, his/her YOLO attitude in tow, complete with sunscreen and a beach towel, provided the TSA approves your sunscreen of choice instead of taking you down as if you were a Chicago mob boss’ right hand man or a modern day Bonnie and Clyde.

We, however, as truly frugal people :-), have faced up to the fact that a winter vacation in a warm and sunny climate would probably not be the best choice for our family at this time, and as such, we’ve figured out some ways to help us deal with our winter vacation envy instead of giving in to it.

Take a Nearby “Warm Climate” Vacation

Especially if you’ve got kids, go to a nice indoor waterpark in your area.  Indoor waterparks mimic the balmy, warm feeling of a tropical vacation, leaving the freezing cold outside where it belongs. Great deals on indoor waterparks abound, and you can always work up some credit card points to help cover the cost too. Your budget might be happier having a $400 vacation to an indoor waterpark instead of a $3,000 vacation to a sunny South American or Caribbean beach.

What’s that, you say?  A waterpark full of screaming kids doesn’t appeal to you? Rent a ski lodge with a warm fireplace, and leave the skiing to the more daring folk, spending your time with a nice read and a glass of wine in front of the fireplace or in the bathroom’s whirlpool tub. Many of these little cabin-style settings include full kitchens too, so if you bring your favorite foods with, you don’t even have to leave for a restaurant. Some friends and I did this one year and I’d gladly do it again. It was awesome, even though I’m not a skier.

Find Ways to Enjoy the Cold

Learn to ski. Buy a used snowmobile or rent one for the weekend. Go sledding. Or ice skating. Spend a day or two at a nearby hotel just so you can get away. Learn to ice fish. If you can’t leave the cold weather, embrace it.

Focus and Save for Future Winter Vacations

Start planning and saving now for the year when you will be able to head south during the winter. What will that look like? Will you rent a house or condo for a couple of months? Will you spend a week in St. Thomas? Will you head down to some sort of all-inclusive getaway for a couple of weeks?  What is your dream winter getaway, how much will it cost, and how can you use S.M.A.R.T. goals to get there? You might not be able to take those getaways this year, but planning for the time when you can take them, and putting the financial steps in order to get there, will help take the edge off of winter just a bit.

You may not be able to head to warm weather this year, but by utilizing the tips above, you can pass the time in a fun way until spring arrives again.


Are you going somewhere warm this winter? If not, how do you deal with winter vacation envy?


Photo courtesy of: Faungg

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Laurie is a wife, mother to 4, and homesteader who blogs about personal finance, self-sufficiency and life in general over at The Frugal Farmer. Part witty, part introspective and part silly, her goal in blogging is to help others find their way to financial freedom, and to a simpler, more peaceful life.


  • Matt Becker says:

    There’s an indoor waterpark near us that we’ve been meaning to try for a while and just haven’t got around to. Sounds like a ton of fun though! Also, I love skiing, but we haven’t been in a couple of years. Too many little kids these days, though I can’t wait to take them someday. They’re going to be flying past us in no time.

  • We love to rent snowmobiles in the winter! It makes the cold weather a little less unbearable 🙂

  • These are great tips Laurie! I totally have winter vacation envy with a side order of seasonal affective disorder. The best way that I have been handling it, is channeling some of our side income money that was ear marked for a trip later this year to a mini vacation fund for me and my hubby. We got an amazing deal on Priceline and we are just going to get away for a 2 days. When we decided to “take action,” I actually already started to feel better. 🙂

  • We do the mid-winter getaway to a place with an indoor water park. We’ve gone the last three years, and we actually go as a neighborhood. We always have a good time when the group of us get together!

  • As great as it is to get to a warm climate this time of year, I think a simple change of scenery is what would benefit most people. Even if it’s just a few hours drive away, getting away from the daily grind and recharging your batteries will easily get you through the mid-winter blues.

  • Any place over 25 degrees would feel like a sauna to us at this point!

    We ended up going to Cancun. It was so worth spending our travel rewards on it after this winter!

  • Great post Laurie! I’m not going to lie, Kane and I do enjoy the hot hot holiday. – however this year we chose to spend our vacation time another way. Of all the years! We do however, put a little away every paycheck to pay for our travel…no credit fueled vacations for this frugal duo!

  • This winter has been especially cold for us and the first time in a couple years that we haven’t traveled some place warm. You’re absolutely right about finding some hobbies that will make the winter more enjoyable!

  • This winter has been so rough. I have dreamt of spending my days in a beachfront Villa but I also want to payoff my debts so the dream will have to do for now. But like you suggested we are saving up now to do something next year. I can’t wait!

  • I’m definitely experiencing winter vacation envy. This winter has been pretty harsh and the meteorologist just said that it’ll be cold for the next few weeks. I guess there’s no chance of an early spring. Although I’m a little leery of flying in the winter since there are so many people who get stuck because the airports are closed due to snow. With a young baby and my wife having started a new job a few months ago…we’ll probably have to wait until later before we travel.

    • Same here, Andrew! How much more are we supposed to take?? Yeah, I’ve heard airplane travel with infants can be a little tough. Our youngest is 7, and we’ve only been at the point for the last couple of years where we’d consider flying with all four of them.

  • We actually went on a winter vacation this year, and I STILL get winter vacation envy. I know a lot of people who are going on spring break in a few weeks and I wish I was =(

  • Hey Laurie! These are all great suggestions and agree that it is so important to talk about it because otherwise people might impulsively spend money just to get away. I live in the desert southwest now but didn’t when I was young and struggling with money. The one thing we did at the time was go and visit people who lived in a warm climate. Driving is cheaper than flying and if you like the people, and they like you, chances are you can spend time with friends without spending much money and enjoy the great weather. So my recommendation would be to cultivate friends who live in different climates! Of course, then you have to return the favor when their climate takes a turn for the worse…but like I said, if they are friends that makes it a double benefit.

  • After a winter like this, anyone would want to go elsewhere! But I always try and make the home a retreat from the terrible temps outside. Whether that means making cookies or a nice warm meal, it helps keep costs low, but not feel we are trapped inside. Also, one way we enjoy getting out of the house is by going to a diner and spending the morning away!

  • Mr. Utopia says:

    My wife and I have vacation envy all year round because, aside from a few minor weekend getaways, we’ve only gone on one legit vacation in the past 8 years (to Cancun in 2009). Meanwhile, seemingly everyone around us is going on exotic trips to Hawaii, taking European tours, escaping to expensive ski resorts, partying it up in Mexico, etc. Even if we don’t hear about it beforehand, we’ll end up seeing people post their pics on sites like Facebook. We’re staying the course though…for now!

  • I can imagine with hold crazy cold it’s been for you this winter that it makes it even harder not to pull out the credit card and book a trip someplace warm! I know it would be for me. 🙂 Great tips – I think all kids love indoor water parks. And I agree – sometimes just a change in the routine can be fun without the hefty price tag of a Caribbean vacation.

  • Very timely Laurie. I keep seeing all those vacation pics on Facebook, or people talking about their countdowns, and I just have to remember that I’m working towards something bigger (and hopefully a free vacation). Plus, if you spend winter freezing longing for a vacation, it makes summer that much more enjoyable, right?

  • anna says:

    We occasionally do the opposite where we go to the mountains in order to see snow – it’s a great experience, but I’m usually ready to go home after the weekend is over. 🙂 I hope you’re staying warm and spring comes early for you, Laurie!!

  • Ahhh – vacation envy! I blame social media, Facebook, AND Instagram! 🙂 No, all of that is great. I think we’ve just decided that for us, we will take it all as inspiration for our next trip.

    And I 2nd enjoying wherever you are. Our coolest adventures has always come out of nowhere and are all within reach – like going hiking and finding a cool waterfall at the end of the hike. Adventure is a state of mind and its a wonderful place to be mentally and spiritually when we can have fun wherever we are.

    Great post and a great reminder to enjoy the NOW and HERE! 🙂

  • E.M. says:

    Honestly, it’s never really crossed my mind to take a winter vacation. My parents never did so I guess I didn’t think anything of it. Then again, I’m very picky with what weather I like, so 85+ degree weather doesn’t sound so amazing to me :). I’d be happy with 55 degrees. Maybe I should take a trip to California next year, but I do love the idea of spending the weekend in a cabin!

  • We end up having summer vacation envy, since the winters here are actually pretty nice. But when we’re not able to take a trip, it’s helpful if we just to remind ourselves that vacations might not be that high on our list of priorities that year. Instead of putting that money on a credit card and taking a vacation, we would be happier investing it or spending it on some other priority.

  • Great post Laurie! My wife and I went NOWHERE warm this winter, and it’s been so cold in Minnesota (as you know). My wife just started a new job so it’s best to put vacations off. I think we’ll go somewhere this Summer, though, using our travel rewards and whatnot. I also really want to go to Sandals again (we went on our honeymoon) and I think it might make sense to slowly save for a couple years – it’s not a frugal thing to do!

  • I’m actually going somewhere COLDER this winter to Iceland! lol! When I lived in Michigan, I belonged to a gym that had a steam room and sauna. Whenever I got really sick of the cold and snowy weather I’d go sit in there and visualize someplace warm.

    • LOL, Iceland?? What are you thinking? 😉 Really though, when you live someplace warm and sunny, I would imagine it’d be kind of nice to experience the opposite, which is one of the reasons we haven’t moved from here yet.

  • We go to the indoor pool all winter. When I had the flu and was freezing, I took my daughter and her friend just so I could sit in a hot, humid place for two hours!

    One of the benefits of living in SW Colorado is that we are only a 6 hour drive from Phoenix or 12 hours from Southern California. A road trip does wonders for the psyche.

    • Yeah, that would be NICE. We are far, far away from any place warm, but I think it’d be worth the trip. Good friends of ours just came back from a week in FL., and they’re not at all happy to be back in the frozen tundra of MN.

  • J. P says:

    Amazing ideas Laurie,specially these two skiing and ice skating ideas.I can relate to these because few days ago we all went for skiing and ice tubing at camelback mountain in Pennsylvania which is very near to our place. We enjoy that day to the fullest and it took only $80-$90 per person for a whole day amusement.

    Another best winter entertainment option is getting together with friends.U can choose holidays like V day,president Day,chinese new year or u can do it in normal weekends.Just invite ur friends,arrange a pot luck dinner,think of some fun theme for the party and you will be rocking as we do 😉

  • I don’t mind winter. It’s not as bad of course at the beginning of the season as it is at the end. I would love to go on a vacation every year in the winter like some people do but it’s not in the cards for us.

  • I appreciate the incentive to save if you’re noticing an acute case of warm weather envy. Sometimes it’s hard to listen when someone says “They wish they could afford to go on vacations like that” when you know you worked hard to save for it! Use the slight jealousy you feel to motivate a new savings plan!

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