With the cold winter months come shorter days, less time outside, and way too much hot chocolate.
As you sit curled up on the couch under a cozy throw, hugging a warm mug of hot chocolate, you begin to daydream about long, sunny walks on the beach.
Too bad the budget doesn’t allow for a tropical getaway when you need it the most…or does it?
People often think only those of celebrity stature can afford to travel around the world and go wherever the weather is best.
However, with a decent economy and a record number of airline deals happening right now, you don’t have to wait to be rich and famous to escape those winter blues.
There are many places you can go to get your proper dose of vitamin D and without bottoming out your savings account.
So we’ve compiled five of the best, and most affordable, destinations to pull you out of that winter funk and into the easy, breezy summer vibes of yesteryear.
1. The Florida Keys
The legendary Ernest Hemingway and Jimmy Buffett both wrote about the magical charm of this chain of tropical islands, and with good reason.
Located off the southern tip of Florida, these islands are linked together by the popular U.S. Route 1.
And although the Keys have a reputation for their exceptional nightlife, there are plenty of resorts that cater to the family as well.
Warm and sunny all winter, you can enjoy beautiful sunsets on the beach and take the family water-skiing while the rest of your friends slip and slide their way into work back home.
The Keys closest to the Florida tip, like Marathon and Islamorada, will be the most affordable.
According to Trips to Discover, Lime Tree Bay Resort in Long Key is the most “affordably priced” place to take the family—offering kayaking, swimming pools, hot tubs, and hammocks to lay in.
But even off-season rates at more well-known places such as the Parrot Key Hotel and Resort won’t break the bank either.
Whichever resort you choose, you will not be disappointed. After all, you’re trading in your snow boots for flip-flops!
2. Puerto Rico
Do you dream of being swept off your feet salsa dancing or laying in the pink sands of Isla Verde?
If the answer is yes, then Puerto Rico is your destination. And you can enjoy this Caribbean island full of rich culture without having to dig around for your passport!
There are many “mom and pop” style hotels that offer a down to earth vibe at prices you won’t complain about.
One worth checking out is the Villa Montana Beach Resort. Close to the airport, this resort boasts a full-service, seaside experience for the whole family.
For something more exotic, visit the Copamarina Beach Resort & Spa in Guanica. This resort sits surrounded by 20 acres of tropical gardens and comes with its own private beach!
It’s the perfect location if your dreaming of a green Christmas this year.
If you’re looking for warm weather, unbelievable prices, and breathtaking ocean views, search no further than Panama.
Less overrun by tourists compared to many other tropical destinations, this region offers the same escape—without the crowds.
However, airfare will be a bit more expensive because of the lower demand for flights into Panama. But with accommodations at an unbeatable price around $40 a night, it’s more than worth it.
According to Trips to Discover, nine tropical islands that sit on the northwestern coast, known as Bocas del Toro, have exciting hotels and “the best scuba diving and surf breaks in the country.”
You can also take in the complex architecture of Casco Viejo, the historic district of Panama City, and get an exceptional cup of coffee while you’re there—a nice change from all that hot cocoa.
Just make sure to book your trip for January when the rainy season ends and the dry season begins.
This archipelago of over 700 islands offers many places to discover.
Since flights are frequent to and from the Bahamas, you should be able to find a good deal on airfare and even a vacation package that fits your budget.
The water is warm and there are innumerable activities to enjoy such as snorkeling, sailing, windsurfing, and more.
Sunrise Beach Club & Villas on Paradise Island, Nassau offers family packages in a quaint and relaxing atmosphere.
Or if you prefer the glamorous experience of a resort, check out the famous Atlantis Casino close by. You can lounge on white sand by day and roll the dice by night, making it a perfect vacation for adults and kids alike.
The weather doesn’t get any better than Jamaica during the winter months. However, similar to Panama, the airfare will be a bit higher because of less frequent flights.
But with accommodations starting around $30 bucks a night, which includes being treated like royalty, you’ll forget all about it.
Check out the Iberostar Rose Hall for a top-of-the-line, all-inclusive experience at a price that knocks all the other competition out of the ballpark.
But there are several resorts in Montego Bay to choose from, and most are all-inclusive as well.
The kids will not complain about having to be stuck indoors here, so pack up and get ready to sip on a Mai Tai while the sounds of authentic reggae take you away.
Birds have got the right idea by flying south for the winter, so why not follow suit and do the same by enjoying one of these great winter getaways?
Don’t let the icy spell of winter’s darkness get the best of you. Escape to an exotic destination full of sunshine and outdoor fun.
(h/t Proud American Traveler)