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Even though summer seems like the obvious choice for a great family vacation, winter can be an even better option. Flights and vacation rentals tend to be more budget-friendly, popular sites aren’t as crowded and there isn’t as much competition for vacation days. Read on for some tips to help you plan your best winter vacation in the U.S.

Set Off in the Early Season

If you want to hit the slopes at a popular ski resort area like Breckenridge or Lake Tahoe, the early season is a great bet. Although some runs might still be closed, you’ll have shorter waits at the lifts and clear paths down the slopes.>

Try a New Sport

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Skiing and snowboarding are lots of fun for all ages, but you can make your family vacation truly memorable by trying out a new winter sport. Resorts offer lots of options, including cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, skate skiing, snowmobiling and snow kiting.

Rent a Cabin

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After a day of skiing, you’ll want to relax by the fire and feel like you’re at home. A cabin can offer you many of the comforts of your own living room. You can enjoy plenty of privacy, home-cooked meals and a cozy place to spend your evenings.

Book Early

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If there’s one golden rule for planning affordable vacations, it’s to book rentals and flights early. Although you can sometimes get lucky with last minute deals, planning in advance gives you more selection, which usually helps you get the best prices.

Plan Around Festivals and Events

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Before you set a firm date, check local events calendars for your destination. Cities from Minneapolis to Anchorage host festivals in the winter months, offering concerts, games and food for the entire family.

Pack Wisely

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The best way to beat the cold is to dress appropriately. Big sweaters, scarves, gloves and hats are must-haves for any winter vacation, whether you plan on snowboarding in Jackson Hole or sightseeing in Boston. If you plan on switching between indoor and outdoor activities, pack clothing that you can layer. That way, you can bundle up when you want to beat the chill and peel off layers when you go inside.

Live in the Moment

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If you spend your vacation thinking about your flight home, you won’t make the most of your time away. Spend your days living in the moment and focusing on the fun you’re enjoying with your family. Avoid overthinking what you’re doing at any given moment — just do it.

Plan Some Indoor Activities

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When it comes to weathering the winter, spending time indoors can help you warm up. Cities such as Boston, New York, Washington and Minneapolis have excellent museums that you can enjoy throughout the year.

Go On a Unique Tour

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Take advantage of the sub-zero temperatures and book a tour that you couldn’t do in summer. Snowy and icy landscapes are ideal for activities such as dog-sledding, ice boating and snowmobiling. Plus, you’ll get to see more of your destination without getting lost.

Stock Up the Kitchen

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A kitchen is a huge plus when it comes to accommodation. Since most vacation rentals have them, make use of the space. Stock up on hot cocoa, ingredients for comfort foods that are quick and easy to prepare, such as soup, mac and cheese and pasta.