Winter seems to be the time when everyone wants to get away – some people look for a warm and cozy retreat, others prefer an adventure destination far, far away. The good news is that plenty of spots don’t charge over-the-top fees even if it’s not the shoulder season yet. Smaller crowds and the low off-season lodging prices make travel budget-friendly.
The gorgeous Jamaican spot may look expensive, but there are plenty of options to help you keep the cost down. Many hotels in the area offer discounts and the food and drinks are reasonably priced as well for the rest of the high season that goes into April. Many flights are direct because the Montego Bay has several busy airports. You can find hotels for about $70, according to Hotels.com.
Cheyenne is the cleanest city in the U.S. in the year-round particle pollution category. The state’s capital, which is famous for its mountains, has remained mostly untouched by drilling and fracking. Enjoy the fresh crisp air without paying the money you would at a ski resort. You can fly to Denver for under $200 from L.A. or New York in February, and then rent a car. Many hotels offer rates for under $80 per night.
This coastal fishing village will delight you with history, adventure and of course, warmth – a great destination for winter sun. Take a tour of the old city, visit Castillo San Felipe de Barajas, and spend a couple of days at Rosario Islands. Check out Cartagena’s famous museum, The Museo del Oro y Arqueología, and take free salsa lessons with the experts at the El Viajero hostel. Hotel prices are reasonable in January and February, and flights can be found for under $500.
Visit the Mayan ruins, swim in their gorgeous bright blue waters, go diving in El Gran Cenote – an underground cavern, and go snorkeling in one of their spectacular swimming holes. Playa Paraíso beach is still free, as are many of Tulum’s shores, so you can save money. Archaeological sites such as the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve don’t charge much at all. You can find deals for under $80 in January and February, and flights are under $300.
The island is world renowned for its pristine beaches. Enjoy the throw-back atmosphere for a reasonable price, even though January is not considered a shoulder season. Food, drinks, and even massages, are quite affordable. Hotel deals vary, but you can still find rooms for under $50 per night at a 3-star hotel. The islands’ varied landscape is matched by its many offerings; adventurous travelers will find themselves with endless options.
There is so much good food and so many things to do. It's a short flight away for those in the northern states. This means even cheaper flights. The U.S. dollar is stronger there as well. You’ll love the lavish festivals this time of the year, including the famous Winter Carnival celebrations. Hotels are also inexpensive – under $100 per night.
The Sin City is one of the most affordable destinations in the winter. Airfare is cheap (about $200 from New York), and so are hotel rates (around and under $50 per night). The weather is also perfect for people who don’t like too high or low temperatures and the variety of adventures (other than gambling) are endless.
If you want to experience world-class surfing without having to break the bank, San Diego is your destination. Surfing there is on the great American bucket list. The city is one of the coolest surfing towns in the world. It has awesome wave pools in addition to a plethora of good surf spots. You can find hotels for under $100 per night (usually at their lowest this time of year). Flights from New York go for about $300 round trip.
Look beyond Costa Rica if you are considering a trip to South America. There have been some great deals lately that include flight, hotel and tours. You can find an all-inclusive 5-day hike with a guide through the jungle for under $400. Peru’s Sacred Valley is home to the famous Machu Picchu, one of the world’s most famous tourist attractions. Hike along the Inca Trail and capture views of ancient ruins. Visit the Nazca Lines, one of the most mysterious places on the planet. Flights to Lima from New York go for about $400.
The wine, the tango, the fishing, the mountaineering, the nightlife, the architecture – the reasons to visit this beautiful country are endless. Buenos Aires is one of the world’s most exhilarating capital cities, with astonishing art, captivating neighborhoods, and excellent food. Iguazu Falls should be on your bucket list. Many hotels in the capital offer rates for under $70 per night. Flights from New York in January are about $800.
Kenya has some of the world’s best safaris. Known as one of the best country parks in Kenya, Maasai Mara offers wide range of safaris – hot air balloons, walking, and photography. The reserve, along with the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania, forms Africa’s most diverse eco-system. Three-night safaris are going as low as $1,000 this time of the year, 5-night packages cost about $1,400. Go before March when the wet season starts. Flights to Nairobi in January are under $750.
Ireland is a place of intense beauty and unmistakable culture. There are many outdoor treasures – from castles to national parks – that are absolutely spectacular. Walking in Ireland’s world-famous countryside is an adventure that will take your breath away. The weather is always unpredictable so you might as well make the most of when the flight and hotel rates are predictably low. You can find lodging for under $60 per night; airfare from New York is about $500. Winter is also a good time to avoid the tourist crowds.
Madeira offers a very wide range of incredible hiking opportunities, spectacular beaches and delicious food. The semitropical four-island archipelago is located off the coast of Africa. The winter is the most affordable time to go – smaller crowds and temperatures in the late 60s. Explore lush gardens, try delicious wine, and marvel the European-style parishes. You can find nice lodgings for under $80 per night; fights from New York go for about $650.
Panama is one of the countries with the least expensive luxury hotels. The average daily rate for a single room, luxury class is $146. Dog Island is known all over the world for its clean water, which is why the island is one of the top snorkeling places in Guna Yala. Panama City Beach is so spectacular, you’d definitely want to visit it in the winter. The beach and its white sand, emerald green water set against the sunset is a breathtaking sight. Accommodations run for about $50 per night and flights are about $400.
At the very least, you’ll save money by not having to get a passport. The island is a popular destination for romantic getaways, adventure and nightlife. Old San Juan is a must-see because of its colonial past. Explore one of the most accessible rainforests – El Yunque. Surfers are going to love the island, too. Zip-lining and caving in Rio Camuy are other popular activities. There is little rain in the winter and temperatures are in the 80s. Crowds are smaller, hotel rates are under $100 if you don’t stay at oceanfront locations, and flights are around $200.