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Taking the Kids: How to have a safe and sane family vacation this winter

Eileen Ogintz, Tribune Content Agency on

Is a family vacation worth it this winter? For once, I’m not talking about how much it would cost or the hassle factor.

I’m thinking — as I’m sure you are – whether with the Omicron variant surging across the country and around the world whether it is safe to travel at all. Public health experts suggest staying home if your kids are too young to be vaccinated (under 5) or are immune compromised.

They urge that eligible kids get vaccinated; the FDA has just authorized the COVID-19 booster shot for those 12 and older, which is said to better protect against Omicron.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending against cruising right now, regardless of vaccination status, citing some 5,000 cases on dozens of cruise ships operating in U.S. waters the second half of December, though the Cruise Lines International Association, the cruise industry trade association, disagrees “as cases identified on cruise ships consistently make up a very slim minority of the total population on board…”

The combination of inevitable winter weather delays and unprecedented number of airline and airport staff out sick continue to wreak havoc with air travel.

You also may not want to risk getting sick away from home, especially when COVID-19 tests can be hard to find.


Still, a getaway — even for a few days — has never been more appealing. And there certainly are plenty of places where you can get away safely this winter without busting the budget. Just check out our new section, Best Family Getaways to Light Up Your Winter put together with our friends at Family Travel Forum.

Be prepared to wear masks and social distance, wherever you go. And remember if you leave the country, you now must show a negative COVID-19 test taken no more than 24 hours before returning to the U.S.

If you’re looking at a road trip focused on outdoors attractions, drive and hike the top desert attractions outside Las Vegas or Phoenix and Scottsdale, including the McDowell Sonoran Preserve or explore the fun, touristy towns surrounding Great Smoky Mountains national park, including Pigeon Forge where the popular Winterfest lasts until mid-February.

Let someone else do all the driving — and organizing. Adventures by Disney has a four-night Winter in Wyoming Escape, including dog sledding, a snowshoe trek around Old Faithful and a hot springs soak. Backroads, the leader in outdoor travel, has trips for families whether your kids are in elementary school, high school, college or 20-something. There are trips in U.S. national parks, as well as Canada for 2022. Both companies also offer options for private trips.


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