If it feels like you’re the only one not heading down south for March Break, count yourself lucky. If you’ve ever spent the week in a popular locale like Miami, you probably know it doesn’t feel much like “getting away.” Even if you’re headed somewhere a little further off the beaten path, it can be tough to find a place where the whole family, or even you and your significant other, can grab some beach chairs together. Instead of travelling south this March Break, why not go north? After all, there are lots of reasons to head to the cottage for the week. Here are just a few:
1. It gives you the chance to check-in over winter
Even if winter cottaging isn’t appealing to you, it’s always a good idea to check-in on your place at least once or twice in the off-season, because there are lots of threats: break-ins, heavy snow, fallen tree limbs, animals who’ve decided to take refuge, burst pipes—the list goes on. Of course you can always enlist neighbours to keep an eye out for you, but they might not be around much either, or have the time to address all of the snow and check the status of the pipes in the cottage and every outbuilding in between. That’s why March Break provides the perfect opportunity to stop in before opening weekend to ensure everything is okay, and clear away any dangerous-looking ice and snow in the meantime.
2. You can avoid crowded airports
Don’t get us wrong—driving to the cottage is not without its challenges. In the summer, the traffic on highways out of the city can send even the cheeriest, most positive people into fits of rage. Traffic tends to settle in the winter, but of course there’s always the chance you’ll be battling Mother Nature instead. (Make sure you read our handy tips for driving during white-out conditions and this list of items every Canadian should keep in their cars before hitting the road, just in case.) Still, nothing is worse than crowded airports—in both 2017 and 2018, the Greater Toronto Airports Authority estimated more than 130,000 people moved through Toronto’s Pearson International Airport during the March Break week.
3. You can cross more items off your winter bucket list
Haven’t spent any time skating on the lake this winter? If the ice is still thick enough, it will likely be your last chance. In fact, it’s likely your last chance to indulge in a lot of winter activities, like snowshoeing or cross-country skiing your favourite hiking trails, building a snow fort with the kids, or drinking hot chocolate around a campfire. There’s so much to do at the cottage in the winter, but if you’d like to stay inside cooking comfort foods, reading a good book, and playing board games for days that’s perfectly acceptable too.
4. The cottage can be just as relaxing in the winter
When you’re swaying in a hammock on a warm summer’s day, dozing off with the book you’re “reading” resting on your chest, it’s hard to imagine there’s anything more relaxing. But a little time at the cottage over the winter is just as good and, dare we say, perhaps even better? There’s no neighbours ripping up and down the lake on their jet skis, and while there could certainly still be snowmobiles, that gorgeous blanket of white snow does wonders to muffle sound. If that’s not enough to convince you, just think about how great it is to have the cottage to yourself. No one expects an invite this time of year, and as wonderful as guests can be, they’re also a ton of work.
5. You can get a head start on opening weekend
Opening weekend is such an exciting time of year. That is, until you start writing down everything that needs to be done and realize it’s going to take you the entire three days just to make a dent in your list. To make this year’s to-do list a little less daunting, and preserve some of your excitement about opening the cottage, use this time to determine if anything’s been damaged over the past few months or any critters have managed to get in, which will help you determine what needs to be done when all of the snow and ice melts. And be sure to make a list. Studies have shown that when you write down your goals, you’re significantly more likely to achieve them, and the sooner opening weekend chores out of the way, the quicker you can get to boating, hiking, puttering around the workshop—you know, all the things you really came to the cottage to do.