Hiker traversing a suspension bridge in Thailand

Winter travel ideas to take you far, far away

With warmer temperatures gearing up across the country, it might seem like a strange time to be making plans for winter. But with many guided adventures in December and January booking now, you’ll want to lock in plans early.

Read on to see why cresting waves, rafting rapids or summiting mountains beats wrapping gifts this winter – and how MEC Adventures can help you get somewhere new.

You can scoop up some sweet deals

If you’re not picky about travelling on certain dates (say, just off the top of our heads, December 25) you can nab some fantastic airfare deals when you book ahead. Plus, for many of us, it’s a built-in break from school or work, so it’s the perfect time to travel without eating too far into your precious vacation days.

You can also make your travel expenses do double duty around the holidays with a little creative planning. “I live in Vancouver, but my family is in Newfoundland,” says MEC staffer Susan. “It’s an expensive trip any time of year. I visited Germany in December a few years ago, and I was able to add on a stopover in St John’s for very little extra cost. It was an amazing trip, and I got my family time and my adventure time in on the same itinerary.”

See what the season’s like somewhere else

Whatever and however you celebrate, winter travel is a good opportunity to take a break from your own traditions and see what goes on in another corner of the world. Cheers Nochebuena with tamales on a Costa Rica trip, or ring in the New Year with the view from the top of a Mount Kilimanjaro trip (guaranteed to blow any fireworks display out of the water).

Group of hikers at Barranco View Point in Tanzania

“My most memorable holiday season has to be when I camped out in a bell tent on the Raglan Coast in New Zealand with my partner and two other travellers we met on the road,” says MEC staffer Sarah. “We hiked through the forest to the beach and spent an afternoon watching the surfers. New Year’s Eve was spent befriending a pair of pet pigs on a vegan permaculture farm and taking in an impromptu ukulele show from the farmer, Rex. Best New Year’s ever!”

It can be a great stress buster

A market vendor prepares food in Thailand

If you tend to feel like you need a vacation after your vacation, a guided trip (like the ones from MEC Adventures) might be the thing for you. With the itinerary, accommodations and meals taken care of, all that’s left is to enjoy the experience. Some examples? Instead of cooking dinner for the whole extended family, sit down for authentic Som Tam on an adventure trip in Thailand. Or rather than making up the guest bedroom, get a tent-side view of the sunrise from Stella Point on a Mount Kilimanjaro trip around New Year’s Day.

“Last year was a super busy year,” says MEC Adventures staffer Allison. “I was working full-time and going to school part-time, and the only time I could get away was winter break. I joined a small group exploring the Mayan ruins in Yucatán, Mexico. We ended the trip on Isla Mujeres with scuba diving and turkey dinner on the beach. It was absolute bliss, and was all the more special sharing the holiday with new friends.”

Experiences last longer than stocking stuffers

If you’re working your way down the list of gift ideas, consider adventure travel as an out-of-the-park alternative to kitchen appliances or home reno projects. Travelling together can be an awesome way to reconnect with a partner, friend or family member – and the memories will last longer than a new toaster would have anyway. Tip: Many MEC Adventures are now also accepting adventurers as young as 12, so it can be a chance for the whole family to rack up some stories to tell around the table for years to come.

Hikers view the sunrise from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro

Start 2020 off with a bang

If you’re the resolution-making type (or even if you’re not) what better way to ring in a new year than by trying something you’ve never done before? “Why not start the year by doing something completely spectacular?” says Drew, the Adventure Travel Coordinator at MEC. “It’s the perfect way to set the tone for the new year.”

With a whole roster of full-stack trips to choose from, you can try your paddle at whitewater rafting, traverse a canyon by zipline or climb an active volcano, to name a few ideas. It could just be the start of a new tradition.

Two travellers in hammocks enjoy a sunset view in Vietnam

Ready to plan your winter escape?

MEC Adventures is heading places this winter. See what experiences you can have on these guided trips:

Shauna Wootton

Writer, wool sock sommelier and lapsed comedian. Big fan of small islands and cold water. Not afraid of bugs.