As the mercury in the thermometer shrinks away, we often find a growing desire to be somewhere tropical. The problem is, between the holidays and a slow economy, many of us find our wallets a bit light. However, this does not mean that a tropical (or at least warm) getaway is out of the question. All the situation requires is a bit of creativity and perhaps a little reasonable compromise.
If the cold and gloom of winter have you really itching to get away, there are ways to get some money into your vacation fund. You don’t have to wait for spring to clean out your storage spaces and sell off things you no longer use. The internet is a great resource for selling old furniture or art you are tired of. Gold and silver are going for a high price and most people have broken jewelry or outdated jewelry they will never wear collecting dust somewhere. A little boost of a few hundred dollars to your vacation funds can make a fairly big difference when you are on a tight budget.
If you’re traveling from the continental U.S., you may want to consider staying stateside. Airfare can take a sizable bite out of your budget and there are warm, sunny beaches one can travel to in the states for a relatively low cost. South Beach, Florida has much to offer the economically minded vacationer. Resorts directly on the beach tend to be a bit pricey, but if you are willing to walk even a block to the beach, you can easily find rates around $100 per night. South Beach Plaza Villas offer rooms as low as $66 per night. There is also plenty to do in South Beach during winter in addition to beach activities, from art museums to theater to events such as the Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival. If you’re closer to the west coast, San Diego is another viable option with very low priced hotels and even vacation rentals that will offer the option of cooking your own food to save you some cash.
Oahu, Hawaii is a big draw this time of year for people from around the world and yes, this means that the high-season prices can be an issue. This doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t fit Oahu into your budget. If you can, avoid the peak of the high season, which is during the last two weeks of December. Also, if you don’t need to be right on the beach, there are a number of affordable hotels that can accommodate you for a reasonable price, usually in the area of $80 – $120 per night.
If you are planning to do things around the island rather than just staying in the tourist traffic of Waikiki, you may want to rent a car. Rental prices from the airport are reasonable and if you aren’t going to just stay on the beach, you’ll likely save a good bit of money on cab fare. Beware though, Honolulu has some of the worst traffic and car thefts are rampant. Food in Hawaii tends to be expensive, but the ABC stores you can find everywhere have very affordable food to eat between your restaurant outings. If you are more interested in the nature side of Hawaii, don’t overlook Maui and Kawai as they are also viable options. Just because you won’t find many nightclubs doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to do.
Playa Del Carmen, Mexico is another popular vacation site during winter. There are plenty of low priced hotels and even the all-inclusive deals are very appealing. It isn’t hard to find one that is in a good location for eating, shopping, and beach activities either. Cancun is another good option as there are a number of cheap all-inclusive deals available.
Winter is also a great time to visit Anguilla, Caribbean. Resorts there can be expensive, but some hotels are available from $100 – $200 per night. The island is rather small and hotels tend to fill rather quickly, so it is best to book your room as far in advance as possible. Costa Rica, Belize, and the British Virgin Islands also offer very affordable vacation packages.
Wherever you decide to go, your best bet on getting there is to be flexible with your destination and travel dates as well as location and quality of your lodgings. Vacation deals are always popping up and disappearing, so you have to keep your eye on the major sites. The same holds true for airline tickets, but it’s also not a bad idea to find yourself a good air-miles credit card. Many such credit cards offer a large bonus on air-miles if you spend a certain amount within the first few months, which can pay for a plane ticket right off the bat. If you live in an area that hangs onto winter into March or later, you may want to shoot for that time frame for your tropical vacation since that is usually when tropical vacation destinations are in their off season. Also, if you are particularly wary of cheap hotels, remember that the point of escaping winter for a warm climate is to get out and enjoy the sun. You probably don’t want to spend much time in the hotel anyway, so why let it take up a big portion of your budget?
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