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Winter Vacation Ideas to Delight the Whole Family

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Are you the perfect working mom with a plethora of ideas for winter vacation and amusing the kids when school break arrives? Then you don't need this article.

Everyone else, read on for some winter vacation ideas sure to please the whole family. Given our busy lives, the emphasis is on easy, hassle-free and affordable. What kind of a getaway is it if you have to spend the first two days recovering from the nightmare of complicated planning? (Or the next year paying off the credit card debt?)

The first decision you'll want to make in sorting through competing winter vacation ideas is whether you can afford to travel or you want to stay close to home. Next, decide if you're trying to escape the cold weather -- or you want to embrace it. Finally, discuss how much family togetherness you're seeking. It might be possible to work a romantic couple's getaway into the middle of your vacation.

Travel for Vacation

When you first brainstorm winter vacation ideas, you may picture a sandy beach and a fruity drink. Or maybe you fantasize about a cozy ski chalet where you can warm up after an exciting day on the slopes. Regardless, you've got the bug to travel. You can find all-inclusive packages for snowy and sandy getaways. Or get off the beaten path with a cottage rental near a national park, and enjoy some low-cost outdoor activity.

Visit the Islands No matter where you live in the world, I bet you're within a plane ride of some warm, sandy shore. This classic winter vacation could be Florida or Mexico or Capri, Italy. The common elements are warm weather, relaxation and fun in the water. Be sure that the accommodations you choose will comfortably fit your family, but don't worry about floor space. You're sure to spend more time outside enjoying the sand and sun. As a bonus, look for resort programs that will give your kids some group activities and supervision -- and provide you some adults-only quiet time.

Embrace the Snow Perhaps your family loves winter sports, skiing and snowboarding. Consider tackling the mountains for a snowy vacation. You'll want to research ski lift and rental prices, as well as classes and babysitting for the youngsters. And for the days when you don't hit the slopes, check out the local area for wintry hikes, ice shows, shopping or other diversions. If the weather is already cold in your area, when you're packing the suitcase, you won't even need to pull the hats and mittens out of storage!

Find a Water Park As a compromise between cold and warm, consider an indoor water park. You enjoy the humid warmth of a tropical destination without having to travel to the Caribbean. Your children will still get exercise and splash around. Typically, you'll have access to fine and casual restaurants, and hotel accommodations in a range of prices. The most fastidious parents may worry about the breeding ground for bacteria that is the lazy river, but it can't be worse than being stuck in an airplane with everyone else's cold and flu germs, right?

Stay Close to Home

Perhaps you don't want to take a plane or long car ride to reach your winter vacation destination. Whether it's the cost of a long trip or the thought of being cooped up with your kids in plane, train or automobile, you can probably find destinations within a short distance of your home. Consider visiting a national park or historical site, or even a quaint country town where you can stay at a bed and breakfast. If there's a drive involved, be sure to plan fun car games to keep your kids occupied.

Explore History No matter where you live, there are probably nearby historical sites of national, state or local interest. Delve into your own area's past and you will combine a family trip with an educational experience. Consider helping your kids put together a scavenger hunt based on trivia about your region of the country.

Plan a Staycation Or maybe you don't even need to get in the car. Sometimes it can be fun to view your own home town as a tourist would. Look for hotel and theater packages that suit your children's age ranges. Resolve to get to the new art museum or local bowling alley, at a time when you don't have to cross reference three calendars to find an open evening. Or just pack up the sleds and head to a nearby hill for an afternoon of sledding -- followed by mandatory hot cocoa with marshmallows.

Involve Extended Family You may be lucky enough to live a stone's throw from your parents, in-laws or cousins. Consider getting the whole extended family together at someone's house or a nearby motel chain. You can bring board games and plan outings. And you might even be fortunate enough to have a grandparent volunteer to babysit for an overnight or two, so you can get away for a brief couple's escape.

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