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Note: All travel is subject to frequently-changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state, and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Traveling in winter, whether heading home for the holidays or heading off to somewhere tropical, always seems like a fun idea until delayed flights, snowstorms, and overstuffed suitcases get involved. We start to regret booking a layover flight, wearing a parka to an overheated airport, and not getting the right rental car. If winter travel has you feeling like a blow-up holiday snowman in a blizzard, don’t panic. Here are 11 winter travel tips to keep mishaps and delays at bay, and keep your budget in check through it all. 

RELATED: 15 cheap flying hacks that will save you real money

Book direct flights

Interior of airplane with passengers on seats waiting to taik off. Horizontal composition. boring flight in economy class aircraft salon. economy class

Keep in mind, if your travel plans are interrupted by bad weather (or other natural events known in the industry as “acts of God”), airlines are not obligated to reimburse you or cover the cost of a hotel. That’s why booking direct flights is one of the easiest ways to ensure that you don’t get stranded at a layover airport. That way, if your departing flight does get canceled, you can just go back home and try again in the morning. 

Invest in travel insurance

Winter weather can be unpredictable, especially in places like the Midwest or Northeast. Travel insurance typically doesn’t cost much, but if there’s a winter storm causing cancellations and you can’t make your reservation, you’ll be reimbursed for the parts of your trip that you missed (just be sure to read the terms carefully). As for purchasing travel insurance, booking on sites like makes it easy: When you check out, you’ll be given the option to add it to your itinerary with just a few clicks.

Pack layers versus one big coat 

Red suitcase being packed with black and white shirt, camera

Going from a cold climate to a warm one? Don’t get stuck dragging that bulky parka around in a place where it’s not needed. Instead, wear multiple layers to keep warm en route; unlike the parka, light layers like T-shirts, long sleeved shirts, leggings, and just one or two sweaters will still be useful in your destination during cooler tropical nights.

Book the right car for the terrain

Golden, British Columbia, Canada

An economical car like a Prius is great for road trips. Unless you’re headed to the mountains or some other place with lots of snow and potential ice. Be sure to reserve a rental car that has all the right features like 4-wheel drive or all-wheel drive that can handle the terrain. When you book on, you can use the “All-wheel drive/4X4” filter to narrow your search. You may also want to consider springing for an SUV, as the added height can help you navigate through heavy snow. 

Treat yourself to some cozy amenities

Harbor Light Inn, Marblehead, MA

When you dream of a winter getaway, you might think tropical paradise, or you might imagine yourself soaking in a hot tub after a long day of skiing. Regardless of what your perfect vision is, booking on a site like can help you find it. Just use the search bar to find cozy amenities like fireplaces, or use the hotel filters to discover accommodations with hot tubs, indoor pools, spas, and more.

Stay up to date on your flight’s status

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

Terminal 4 in Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. Photo: Robert Couse-Baker – Flickr

Don’t you hate it when you go to check in, only to find your flight was canceled, right after you paid handsomely for that Uber ride to the airport? Stay on top of changes when you download the CheapTickets app. It’ll send you real-time flight alerts, plus information on gate changes and luggage carousel numbers. You might also want to consider following your airport and airline on social media. Most airports and airlines will post updates about closures and cancellations due to impending weather on their social channels first. 

If you’re driving, gear up your car for cold

Getting stuck on the side of the road stinks, but in winter, it can be downright dangerous. Be prepared by gearing up your car with a flashlight to see under the hood, a first aid kit, potable water, snacks, warm clothing and a thick blanket, a spare tire and jack, a basic tool kit, and emergency flairs. It also helps to leave a bag of kitty litter in your car. Why? Well, it’s not just for cats. When driving in snow or on iced-over roads, sprinkling a little kitty litter right in front and behind your tires will provide the traction needed to keep going. 

Avoid checked-bag fees

Checked bag on luggage carousel at an airport

The easiest way to avoid them is of course to pack light, so you can go carry-on only. But we know, it’s winter, so your bag might be loaded up with holiday gifts or chunky cold-weather clothing. If that’s the case, you could still skip baggage fees, thanks to airline loyalty programs, or airline credit cards. Just be advised that some cards have high interest rates and sizable annual fees.

Be flexible with booking dates

Everyone wants to fly out on Thursday or Friday and return on Monday for long weekend getaways. That’s why these days of the week tend to be more expensive for everything from flights and hotels to rental cars and activities. Same goes for the days right before and after major holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. That said, one way to save big bucks is to check flight calendars to see if there’s a lower priced flight on Tuesday or Wednesday, or some other day of the week close to when you’d like to leave. Comparing is easy when you book on, thanks to the site’s “Flexible dates” tool. Most travel websites will let you view a full calendar where you can see cheaper dates.

Consider driving versus flying

While flying will get you to your destination faster, it could also come with major delays due to bad weather. Even if your departure city enjoys a mild climate, your plane could experience weather delays if it’s coming from a storm-addled destination. A more reliable mode of travel would be to drive yourself, especially if you’re eight hours or less away. Driving is also often cheaper, especially if you plan on traveling around major holidays.

Wear your bulkiest items on your travel day

If you really must have the cable knit sweater that looks just like the one Chris Evans wore in Knives Out with you on vacation, then consider wearing it for the first time on your travel day. Same goes for your chunkiest pair of shoes or boots. Create room in  your suitcase by wearing larger items on the plane or in the car. 

Tagged: Cheap Tips, Events, Flights, Holidays, Seasonal, Tips & advice, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Megan duBois

Megan duBois

Megan is a Florida native with a love for all things Disney, travel, food and running. You can follow Megan on Twitter @megand513 and on Instagram @minglingwithmickey where she dishes out the most recent Disney news and tips for the perfect park day!
Megan duBois

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Photo courtesy of Lake Placid Office of Sustainable Tourism

Photo courtesy of Lake Placid Office of Sustainable Tourism

With barely 1,000 miles of highway to Alaska’s more than 570,000 square miles, dog sledding is not only a popular sport, but a convenient means of transportation throughout the state.

It is a tradition for most and a lifestyle for some, namely those who take part in the treacherous 1,150 mile Iditarod Sled Dog Race from Anchorage to Nome (which is basically the Olympics of dogsled racing). There are companies in Alaska that offer a taste of that brutality year-round, allowing tourists to take dog sleds out for a spin.

But lucky for those of us that live in the lower 48, you don’t have to traverse the Great White North to try your hand at mushing. Here’s a look at the best places to ride a dog sled this winter that are a little closer to home.

Wintergreen Dogsled LodgeEly, Minnesota

The folks at Wintergreen invite people of all ages and fitness levels to participate in their dogsled experiences, which take customers through the boundary waters in northern Minnesota. The tours are crafted according to the customer’s skill levels, but no experience is necessary. Wintergreen’s website says its been operating for more than 25 years and had customers as young as 6 and old as 85 riding across the frozen wilderness.

Photo courtesy of Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge.

Photo courtesy of Wintergreen Dogsled Lodge.

You can go full Balto and do multiple-night trips where customers dog sled from lodge to lodge, or opt for a simple day trip. There are dozens of trips to choose from that vary in length, skill level, and route. There are parent-child trips, where the pair gets their own dogsled on which to explore. There are even trips aimed at improving customers’ photography skills.

Each of those categories has options for different skill levels, of course, and offers training – not just in dog sledding, but in dog care and harnessing, snowshoeing, camping, outdoor cooking, winter ecology, backcountry skiing, cold weather comfort and more.

The prices vary among experiences, age of participant and time of year, but an 8-hour day trip costs about $250 and the multiple night trips can cost more than $1,000. Prices for children are discounted. Book in advance, as some experiences are already full.

Nature’s KennelMcMillan, Michigan (Upper Peninsula)

One owner of this dogsled business has raced in at least seven Iditarods, which means the place is legit.

If you are looking for a small taste of dog sledding and don’t want to spend more than $100, Nature’s Kennel in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula may be your best bet. They offer a slew of sledding experiences, but the best deal is the half-hour trip.

Photo courtesy of Nature's Kennel

Photo courtesy of Nature’s Kennel

During the half-hour trip, which cost $75, guests are given a ride around Boyne Highlands Resort near Harbor Springs, Michigan. This option is available on all winter weekends and holidays. Pay double the price for the full hour.

Nature’s Kennel is owned by a husband-wife duo (and their two toddlers). They spend most of the summer getting ready for the winter, when they bring in a couple people to help guide the tours. This year, the helpers are a woman from Newark, Ohio, who owns her own kennel of Alaskan huskies, and a woman from New Zealand, who names the Himalayas as one of the most beautiful places she’s ever been.

Adirondacks region – New York

Home to the first Olympic dog sled demonstration and its own popular dog sled race, theAdirondacks can be the perfect place to take to the sled. Several resorts throughout the mountain towns offer sled rides to their guests, and some year-round residents still use dog sleds as a reliable form of transportation.

Photo courtesy of Lake Placid Office of Sustainable Tourism

Photo courtesy of Lake Placid Office of Sustainable Tourism

And the sleds they ride on are often made near home. Local craftsmen fashion sleds out of strong and lightweight ash trees native to the Adirondacks, ranging in size from children’s sleds to those meant to carry heavy loads.

Winter in the Adirondacks is a thing of beauty. There are cozy towns and inlets around nearly every remote turn. It’s hard to pick one little town in which to stay (they all have their allure at any time of the year, really), but Lake Placid is by far one of the most visited cities in the mountains.

The quaint town, populated with outdoor gear shops, snug breweries and inviting coffee shops, envelops Mirror Lake, which freezes over in the winter. When the snow falls and the lake freezes, dog sled drivers line Main Street and offer passers-by a ride across the lake. Prices vary, and mushers always check the safety of the frozen lake before taking out passengers. Notable places to dog sled: Golden Arrow Dogsled Rides and Thunder Mountain Dog Sled Tours.

Yellowstone Dog Sled AdventuresBig Sky, Montana

In Yellowstone National Park, winter is a nine-month experience, making the terrain excellent for mushing. In the high altitude and cold, the Alaskan Huskies thrive. Even during the three blissful months of “summer,” when most of the snow melts, Yellowstone Dog Sled Adventures is operational and the dogs are running.

Photo courtesy of  Yellowstone Dog Sled Adventures

Photo courtesy of Yellowstone Dog Sled Adventures

This company offers two options – a one-hour trip and a half-day trip (cost is $95 and $195, respectively, for adults. Kids rates are $45 and $150.) The half-day trip seems the more desirable of the two. It takes riders through the mountains of Montana and offers scenic views and photo opportunities. There are different options within the half-day trip, in which patrons can choose to ride with a guide (cuddled up in a sleeping bag on the back), tandem (you drive while another person in your group rides), or drive your own sled.

The owners warn that these trips are not for the faint of heart or lung. Even at the lowest altitude in Yellowstone, you are still at an elevation about a mile high. Although the sledding trips probably won’t take you from the highest to lowest point in the park, the high altitude and thin air make the trips inhospitable to inactive folks.

Mountain Musher Dog Sled RidesVail Valley, Colorado

The Mountain Musher tour runs a private trail through Aspen groves and pine forests in the Rocky Mountains. The trails aren’t shared with snowmobiles or cross-country skiers, although they may be shared with wildlife such as elk, fox, coyote and deer.

There are several sledding businesses operating throughout the Rockies, at least one of which recently underwent animal abuse accusations. Mountain Musher has been in business since 1989 and often receives positive reviews.

Photo courtesy of Mountain Musher Dog Sled Rides

Photo courtesy of Mountain Musher Dog Sled Rides

Two trips leave daily – once in the morning and once in the afternoon – and last about two hours. Two people (or one adult and two small kids, or three small kids) are allowed per sled, and a musher stands behind the passengers and controls the dogs. The ride is about six miles and costs $175 a person. But you get a snack of homemade pumpkin bread and hot cocoa midway through the trip, plus a nice photo opp. If you want the sled to yourself, it’ll cost you the price of two people ($350). Holiday prices are also elevated, so if you’re looking to get the experience on a budget, avoid the end of December, MLK Day weekend and Valentine’s Day weekend.

Reservations are required, but make sure you’re committed – you’ll be charged if you cancel your trip.

Tagged: Family, Sports, Tips & advice

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.