Traveling during the winter months is a great idea if you’re looking to save money as well as beat the crowds. Sure, the weather is a bit colder but there are plenty of beautiful destinations to visit that each offer something special to discover. Whether it’s skiing, dog sledding, chasing the Northern Lights, wandering Christmas markets or simply cozying up by a big fireplace – the possibilities for winter activities are endless. To help give you some inspiration, I’ve created a list of “10 Beautiful Winter Travel Destinations” that should definitely be on your bucket list this year. I’ve also included a selection of activities that you can enjoy and recommendations on where to stay for each location.

Lapland, Finland

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Lapland, Finland is easily one of my favorite winter travel destinations. Whether it’s watching the northern lights, snowmobiling across the snowy landscape, taking a ride on a sled led by a team of reindeer or visiting Santa’s workshop, the activities in Finland are endless. I highly recommend staying in a glass igloo so that you can watch the northern lights without ever having to leave the comfort of your own bed. It’s an experience you won’t ever forget!

Where to stay

What to do

Lofoten Islands, Norway

10 Beautiful Winter Travel Destinations To Put On Your Bucket List - Allie M. Taylor

No matter the season, the Lofoten Islands in Norway are always a beautiful destination to visit. However, I prefer to visit in the winter because of the chances of seeing the Northern Lights. While small and remote, the tiny red fishing cabins that dot the coast line here amongst the towering fjords will surely take your breath away.

Where to stay

What to do

Banff, Canada

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If skiing or snowboarding is your thing, then Banff is the perfect winter destination for you. Regarded as one of the best ski destinations in the world, Banff is filled with endless winter sports opportunities that you can partake in all while being surrounded by the beautiful backdrop of the Canadian Rockies. Even if you’re not into skiing, there’s plenty of other activities and natural scenery to explore to keep you busy during your stay here.

Where to stay

What to do

Prague, Czech Republic

The winter months are an ideal time to visit the beautiful capital city of Prague because the city becomes quieter and more peaceful after the summer crowds leave. This also a great time to visit because accommodations become much more affordable, meaning you can snag a 4* hotel in the center of the city for a mere 40-50 Euro a night.  Whether it’s exploring the Christmas markets that stay open past New Years with a steaming cup of glühwein or taking in breathtaking views of Charles Bridge and Prague Castle, Prague has something to offer everyone.

Where to stay

What to do

Chamonix, France

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Photo via Alex Strohl

Filled with majestic winter landscapes and beautiful ski slopes located in the heart of the French Alps is the charming village of Chamonix. It’s a great place to visit if you’re looking to master the slopes on skis or cozy up next to a fireplace in a Victorian chalet. It’s also incredibly close to both Switzerland and Italy in case you’re looking to extend your trip and taste more of Europe.

Where to stay

What to do

Japan

Winter is a great time to visit Japan because you can visit popular landmarks without the crowds and because it’s low season, flights and accommodation are more affordable. Japan has grown in popularity over the years amongst skiiers, with spots like Hokkaido boasting some of the best powder in the world. Besides skiing, one of the best things to do in the winter is visit the famous Japanese snow monkeys at Jigokudani Yaen Kōen (Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park) located near Nagano. You can easily visit here on a day trip from Tokyo but I recommend staying in the area for a few days to explore the surrounding area.

What to do

Iceland

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Photo via Jeff Sheldon

While most popular in the summer, Iceland is also an incredible destination to visit in the winter since the landscape changes completely. From black sand beaches and natural thermal baths to frozen waterfalls and valleys, there’s plenty of beautiful places to explore. And if you’re lucky and the weather is in your favor, you just might see the Northern Lights. It’s by far one of the most magical experiences that can be had while you’re here!

Where to stay

What to do

Budapest, Hungary

10 Beautiful Winter Travel Destinations To Put On Your Bucket List - Allie M. Taylor

Photo via Find Us Lost

Visiting Budapest in the winter is a magical time to experience the city and all that it has to offer. The winter months give way to panoramic views of the city dusted in a beautiful blanket of snow that will easily take your breath away. When the weather gets too chilly, it’s the perfect time to head to one of the many thermal bath houses located throughout the city to soak in the warm mineral-infused waters. In fact, the city is home to 118 thermal baths, which is more than anywhere else in the world.

Where to stay

What to do

Hallstatt, Austria

10 Beautiful Winter Travel Destinations To Put On Your Bucket List - Allie M. Taylor

Photo via Madeline Lu

Hallstatt, Austria is one of the most idyllic villages you’ll ever visit in Europe. Set on a hillside overlooking a beautiful blue lake with an incredible backdrop of the mountains lies the fairytale like village of Hallstatt. In the winter time Halstatt transforms into a winter wonderland and becomes even more enchanting for visitors. Stroll past the colorful shops and houses throughout the village with a glühwein in hand and admire the beautiful white swans that swim along the water’s edge.

Where to stay

What to do

  • Soak in the beauty and charm of Hallstatt’s by strolling through town
  • Take in the scenic views overlooking the church and lake from this iconic viewpoint
  • Visit Hallstatt’s local cemetery, Ossuary, which also features amazing views
  • Take a ferry across Lake Hallstatt
  • Ride the cable car up 1000ft to the nearby Hallstatt salt mines and walk across the skywalk
  • Go skiing at Dachstein West
  • Try Kaiserschmarrn, one of the most famous dessert dishes of Austrian cuisine

Zermatt, Switzerland

10 Beautiful Winter Travel Destinations To Put On Your Bucket List - Allie M. Taylor

Photo via @ckanani

No matter what season it is, visiting Zermatt, one of Switzerland’s most charming villages, is never a bad idea. However, the winter months are a particularly great time to visit because the mountains transform into a skiers paradise. In fact, it’s one of the few places in the world that you can ski internationally into Italy. Even if you’re not into skiing, there’s plenty of other winter activities to do as well. I suggest taking a stroll through town to admire the charming streets and buildings with the mighty Matterhorn in the distance.

Where to stay

What to do

  • Ski in one of the most beautiful resorts in the world
  • Take the train up to Gornergrat and soak up the incredible views from 3100m
  • Challenge your friends to a toboggan ride
  • Go hiking or snowshoeing to explore more of the mountain
  • Visit the famous black nose sheep in their barn – check out different tour options here
  • Enjoy fondue, a classic Swiss dish that’s perfect to enjoy when it’s cold out

Winter Packing Ideas

Packing for winter travel can be tricky, especially if you’re not used to cold weather. Here are some of my go to winter wear options when it comes to packing for winter travel. These are guaranteed to keep you cosy and comfortable in even the coldest places.

Parkas

This is the number one thing I can’t live without during the winter time. They can be a bit pricy but are so worth it. I love mine from Woolrich and also this one from Canada Goose.

Fleece Jacket

If you have room, a lightweight fleece jacket is great to wear under parkas or on days when the weather is less chilly. I like this one and this one from Patagonia.

Layers

Layering is ideal for winter because you can easily take one off if you suddenly get too warm. I recommend this breathable Merino Wool top from Icebreaker.

Leggings

I always wear leggings under my snow pants to stay cozy and keep the warmth in. You can also wear these alone or even under jeans. I recommend these leggings from Icebreaker.

Sweaters

This also falls under the category of layering, but I always pack at least 2-3 sweaters. Sometimes I’ll even wear a turtle neck under another sweater if I know it’s going to be really cold out. I love the look of this Fjallraven sweater in particular, which is made from soft wool to keep you extra warm. This turtleneck from Everlane is also great for layering.

Waterproof, windproof Pants

If you’re planning on trekking in the snow or spending a lot of time in wet conditions then I recommend packing a pair of waterproof, wind resistant pants. I like these light weight ones from Marmot.

Warm Socks

This is a pretty obvious one, but one of the first places I get cold is my toes. If you’ve ever experienced frozen toes, you know just how painful it is. Skip the pain and check out these awesome wool socks that are perfect to wear under a pair of boots to trap the heat in.

Boots

There’s nothing worse than having wet feet which is why it’s important to have waterproof boots. I recommend these and these.

Beanie

It’s important to keep your ears properly covered when you’re out in the cold, which is why I love wearing beanies so much. Not only will they keep you warm, they’re also a fashionable accessory for the winter. I love this pompom beanie from Free People.

Scarf

A necessity for keeping your neck and face warm especially if it’s windy. I love these from & Other Stories which come in a variety of beautiful colors.

Gloves

I recommend bringing two pairs since I always seem to lose one while I’m outside. I usually bring one thick pair and one thin pair of mittens depending on the activities I’m going to be doing and how cold it is. These water resistant gloves from UGG are so cozy and lined with wool!

Shop my Winter Wardrobe

Do you have any other favorite winter destinations that I haven’t mentioned above or any helpful cold weather tips? Feel free to share them in the comments below.

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How To Travel The World With A Full Time Job - Allie M. TaylorFrom the picture perfect squares of my Instagram it might be easy to assume that my life consists of nothing but traveling, but what might surprise you is that I actually work a full time job here in Zurich, Switzerland. In the middle of 2017, I decided to ditch the freelance lifestyle, move to Switzerland, and adopt a full time job in the Tech industry. I was excited, but there was a lingering fear in the back of my head that this meant I had to give up my love for traveling. However, since moving to Europe I’ve traveled more than I have in my entire life. In fact, in the last year I’ve visited over 18 countries all while maintaining a 42 hour work week! I say this not to brag but rather to instil a sense of hope. That it’s possible to travel the world without having to be a professional travel blogger or photographer. That you can still be a responsible adult who doesn’t have to quit their job just to satisfy their wanderlust. So in case you’re wondering how to travel with a full time job, I’ve shared 7 of my tried-and-true tips that will allow you to make this possible.

1. Take Advantage of National Holidays

One of my favorite ways to minimize the amount of vacation days I take while traveling is to take advantage of national holidays. If a holiday falls on the middle of the week, I often turn this into a 9-day vacation while only having to use up 4 of my vacation days! On Friday after work I’ll head straight to the airport and return Sunday night on the following weekend or early-Monday morning to get the most out of my holiday week. It’s a great way to see the most in a new city without having to squeeze everything into one weekend.

2. Work Remotely

How to Travel The World With A Full Time Job - Allie M. TaylorMy current and past employers have thankfully all been incredibly supportive of the “remote work” concept. With communication tools like Slack, and Google Hangouts, I can easily work anywhere in the world while still being connected with my team. While I understand working while traveling might not be for everyone, I don’t mind it at all. Working remotely is a great way to spend some time out of the office and in new surroundings, which I actually find conducive to feeling more inspired at work. Often times I’ll choose to allocate a few hours each day to working (usually in the middle of the day if the light is too harsh for shooting), which adds up to one or two days of full work that I don’t have to count as time off. If you are unsure about your company’s remote work policy, make sure to ask your boss or talk to him/her about implementing one if it does not exist already. You’d be surprised how many companies are beginning to be open to the idea of remote work. In fact some are even calling it the future of work!

3. Travel close to home

You don’t have to go far from home to travel! Often times we get so caught up in the idea that we have to fly to another country or travel states away to feel like we are actually “traveling.” However, there are plenty of hidden gems to discover in our own cities and just a few hours from them. There is nothing better than taking a roadtrip with friends, which is not only a more fun way to travel but also cheaper since you can split the costs of things like gas and Air Bnb‘s. When I used to live in Los Angeles, we would always gather a group of friends, pile up into a car, and roadtrip to places like Yosemite, Santa Barbara, San Francisco, or Big Sur for the weekend. And now that I live in Switzerland, it’s easier than ever to make short weekend trips by traveling just a few hours by train.

4. Make Long Weekends Your Best Friend

How To Travel The World With A Full Time Job - Allie M. TaylorWhen you work full time, taking advantage of your weekends and extending them by a day or two is one of the best ways to travel more. This gives you at least three or four days for vacation, which is more than enough time for a trip – even if you want to travel internationally. This year I’ve been able to travel to places like Rome, The Dolomites, Austria, Morocco, Cinque Terre, Turkey, Copenhagen and several Greek Islands all while taking only one or two days off from work by extending my weekends. I often enjoy these trips the most because they require the least amount of planning and travel time.

5. Extend a Work Trip

If you’re going to a conference or business meeting in another city, make sure to extend your trip by a day or two before or after the event takes place. You most likely won’t have time to sight-see during the day, so it’s always nice to have a few extra days to explore on your own time. Not only is it cheaper because your flight is already covered, but it also gives you more time to spend in a city since you’re already there. I did this earlier this year when my company had a work meeting in Copenhagen for a few days, so I chose to stay an extra day afterwards to explore the city.

6. Take Shorter Trips, But More Frequently

How To Travel The World With A Full Time Job - Allie M.Although I travel quite often, I usually only take one or two long vacations a year. By “long vacation”, I mean a trip greater than one week in length. I find that I’m more happy when I spread out my vacation days by taking shorter trips rather than spending them all on one or two holidays. This gives me a bit more flexibility for the rest of the year to take an extra vacation in case I NEED a break from work.

7. Negotiate Your Paid Time Off

Before signing your contract at a new job or undergoing your annual salary review, make sure to stress that time off is a priority and negotiate for more paid time off. If you’re up for a promotion, think about how you prioritize your benefits and consider taking less pay in exchange for more paid time off. If you value travel, it might be worth giving up a 3-4% salary increase for three extra paid vacation days instead.

Do you have any tips on how to travel and work full time? If you do, Please leave your answers in the comments below to share them with everyone else.

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