Best Places to Skip the Holidays

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chadh, flickr

The holidays are here and with them come dinners with the family, presents, hot chocolate, holiday parties, and football. Though hanging out with family is great, holiday time also brings bitter cold weather, a reminder of being single, too many parties, and adding on too many pounds. But to me, the holiday means just one thing: a time to escape to a place filled with fun and sun. Here are some great ideas for fun and affordable beach vacations.




9. Key West, Florida
Located at the end of Florida, this cheap tropical destination actually is easy to get to. And while other snowbirds flock to Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Orlando during the winter months, you can enjoy blissful tropical paradise in Key West without a lot of the crowds.

Key West

Evelyn Proimos, flickr

8. Aruba
Aruba, Jamaica, ooo I wanna take ya...to paradise! Aruba is a popular destination for travelers during the holiday seasons. The weather remains cool and temperate with mostly sunny days. This is a popular place for older travelers, so if you are looking for a party, this island won't cut it. If you're looking for a place where you can just relax, however, then Aruba is the place to go.

Aruba

Hans Pama, flickr

7. Mexico
Despite the violence near the border, Mexico is a still a great place to visit. Tourist destinations like Los Cabos and Cancún are extremely safe. Mexico is a beautiful place with friendly locals and top-notch beaches. Best of all, it's dirt cheap. Though the US dollar has fallen, the white sand beaches of Mexico still remain very affordable.

Mexico

jseattle, flickr

6. Costa Rica
I first traveled to Costa Rica in 2004, and to this day it is still one of my favorite countries in the world. It was my first destination outside the United States, and I fell in love with everything about it. I loved looking for wildlife in Manuel Antonio, the hot springs of an Arenal Volcano were a great place to relax, and exploring the Amazon-like area of Tortuguero was a blast. You can't go wrong in Costa Rica.

Costa Rica

Vandelizer, flickr

5. Hawaii
Though a popular place to visit during the wintertime, Hawaii has so many islands that there are plenty of places that you can visit to avoid the crowds. Prices are expensive on Maui and the Big Island during the holidays, but if you head to one of the smaller, less visited islands, you will not only avoid the prices and crowds but you'll have more of paradise to yourself.

Hawaii

imgdive, flickr

4. Colombia
Colombia is a hot new destination in the western hemisphere. In recent years, it has managed to shed its violent past, and has increasingly become an up and coming spot for backpackers, expats, and budget travelers. Flights can get pricey, but once you are there it's beautifully cheap. Fans of history and archaeology will enjoy Bogotá's many museums, and they'll certainly feel like they're in heaven at the country's historical sites of Tierradentro, Lost City and San Agustín.

Medellin Colombia

Lucas Hoyos, flickr

3. Curacao
Curacao is a beautiful, relaxing and, slightly more upscale island. It's a common stop for cruise ships traveling through the lower Caribbean. Here you'll find brightly painted colors, a mix of languages, friendly locals, delicious seafood, and great diving. The island capital, Willemstad, is a bustling city with brightly colored Dutch architecture, and its Old Town area has been designated as a World Heritage Site. There's also a casino here is if you feel like trying your luck.

Curacao

triplezero, flickr

2. A Cruise
One of the best ways to escape the holidays to simply relax and do nothing. Pamper yourself. A cruise is a great way to do that. Food is provided. There's a ton of activities going on all the time. A few shore excursions. A spa. Cruises are a great way to eat, drink, and be merry. It's a true vacation where you worry about nothing except when you plan to eat next. I love them.

Christmas Cruise

JorgeRioBRAZIL, flickr

1. Patagonia
Whether you go to the Chilean or Argentine Patagonia, you're sure to find that these areas are some of the most visually stunning destinations in the world. Located way, way down south at the end of South America, Patagonia is best visited during December or January at the height of the summer. It's far away, it's not cheap to fly too, but to walk one of the most pristine areas left on the earth will make the winter weather seem like it's galaxies away.

Patagonia

agustingianni; flickr

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