Just in case you were needing another good reason to travel this winter, this also means many of these airlines have recently dropped their fares to some of the most desirable winter destinations you can visit. From nautical colonial cities in South America to far-flung island gems of Southeast Asia and plenty of hotspots in the U.S., there is no shortage of amazing locations to consider. Since we couldn’t possibly cover them all, we’ve selected a few that keep popping up on lists of travel media. All have a unique flavor and allure, and present a winning mix of gorgeous scenery, great climate and plenty of fun for just about anyone:
Cartagena, Colombia: This magnificent port city on the Caribbean Coast in the northern region of Colombia combines a rich colonial maritime heritage, spectacular landscapes and a thriving scene for dining, shopping and entertainment. The strong U.S. Dollar to Colombian Peso exchange rate and new flights to and from the region also make this warm-weather winter destination a great value right now. The months of January to March are the ideal time to visit, when the weather is balmy but not stiflingly hot. Cartagena’s historic Walled City features gorgeous colonial architecture, cobblestone streets and historic landmarks including the nearly 500-year old military fortress Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, constructed to defend this essential West Indies trading link from looting pirates. You’ll also find plenty of white sand beaches, coral reefs, tropical mangrove forests and a rollicking mix of bars, clubs and street parties after dark. Still harboring safety concerns about travel in Columbia? Check out “Cartagena Is Perfectly Safe. Here’s Why” for reassurance.
The Florida Keys: If you’re seeking a tropical getaway but prefer to travel domestically, don’t overlook this coral cay archipelago that forms the southernmost portion of the contiguous United States. Key Largo is about an hour’s drive from both Miami International Airport and an hour and fifty minutes from Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, but the various Keys are connected and easily accessible by bridges and waterways. Home to the world’s third largest barrier reef, the Keys are also celebrated for their sandy beaches, botanical gardens, fishing excursions, great seafood, premier golf courses and many museums and quirky shops. According to Trips to Discover, which lists the Keys first among its “18 Amazing and Affordable Winter Vacation Destinations,” you can find premium value at Parrot Key Hotel & Villas in Key West, but there are also plenty of less pricey stays in Marathon or Islamorada. The Lime Tree Resort is also named as an excellent choice for the money.
Merida, Mexico: For those looking to immerse themselves in the rich culture of a region and engage in adventures from exploring Mayan ruins to swimming in cenotes containing 10,000-year-old art, this budget-friendly capital city on the Yucatan Peninsula should be on your radar. Described as a “delightful blend of the provincial and cosmopolitan steeped in colonial history,” it also offers beautiful architecture, white powder beaches and the region’s best museums. Moreover, visitors remark that you’ll find a more authentic regional experience here, with plenty of opportunities to engage with the hospitable locals, enjoy delicious food and dance to Latin music at places like La Fundacion Mezcaleria. With average daily costs for food and hotel at $9.60 and $33 respectively according to Budget Your Trip, you’ll find plenty of great deals to maximize your travel dollars.
Southeast Asia: The warm and dry winter is a fantastic time to explore this vast area of the globe, and you’ll find that your dollars will go incredibly far toward everything from massages to luxury amenities. Not only will you avoid the hot and humid weather of spring in the region, but you’ll also steer clear of of monsoon season that typically falls between late June and early September. As travel experts tell us, airfare has recently fallen for trips to both Cambodia and Laos. While countries such as Thailand and Vietnam also continue to rate among top places to visit in Southeast Asia, SmarterTravel recently chose to highlight Boracay Island in The Philippines for its aquamarine waters, powder-white sand, diverse recreational options and well-priced hotels in close proximity to the beach. As they explain, it’s also a good choice if you want to avoid the crowds, especially if you travel from mid-January until the end of February when even fewer people will be out in the water and on the beach.
Las Vegas: As popular a vacation hotspot as Vegas is, it remains a great value for a warm weather escape alongside world-class entertainment and restaurants, plenty of shopping plus countless attractions and thrills. It’s also the only place in the world where you can experience the pulse-racing amusements of Coney Island to moonlight gondola rides down the Grand Canal. This winter, Vegas is one of the cheapest places to fly, according to SmarterTravel, which cites both Kayak and CheapAir.com as its source for this. What’s more, you can often book fairly late without a major surge in your fare. Haven’t spent much time in Vegas and looking for some tips on booking your accommodations? Check out “Las Vegas Hotels: 10 Secrets You Need to Know Before Booking” from Airfarewatchdog.
With so many great affordable options to consider, it’s a fairly safe bet you’ll want to explore a range of potential destinations before narrowing down your list. For inspiration, we recommend checking out U.S. News & World Report. Each year, the publication updates their own list of destination rankings in a range of different categories. Find out which locations made their list of “Best Affordable Winter Vacations” here.