Becky Flaum
Updated Feb 14, 2014 @ 9:42 am

If you live anywhere in the country besides Southern California, you’ve been through a lot this winter. Two polar vortexes, many feet of snow and in one city, hours stuck in your car on the freeway in the cold… you deserve a vacation. If you aren’t going on a warm winter vacation but everyone around you is, not only are you jealous of the layers of clothes they get to shed, the tropical drinks they will drink and the tan they will come back with, but you also have to endure everyone talking about where they are going/have been. Frankly, they won’t shut up about it!

Now, I do not suggest faking having actually been somewhere. If at all possible, you should try to go to one of these places someday. But it is always useful to know where Antigua is or what towns are part of the Mayan Riviera.

Here are eight travel savvy tips, hot destinations and best kept secrets of the sunny places people love to go in the winter. Use any of these with your globetrotting friends and you are sure to impress. Hey, maybe you’ll be so impressive, they’ll let you tag along!

St. Bart’s is way overpriced and overrated. It’s like the Hamptons in the Caribbean. If you want a Caribbean island, Anguilla is the way to go.

From December to March, the creme de la creme of high society rents out their beach houses in the Hamptons and Malibu and heads to the French West Indies and the isle of Saint Barthelemy. It boasts luxurious hotels, fancy restaurants and high end shopping. But Anguilla, just as beautiful, with over 300 natural beaches, is relatively more affordable and promises a more low key getaway.

Oh! When you go to San Juan, you have to go to the Bio Bay in Vieques.

Off the east coast of Puerto Rico is an island called Vieques and there you can take a night trip to the Bioluminescent Bay, body of water filled with little plankton called dinoflagellates that, when disturbed, light up. So you canoe or swim in the water and it GLOWS AS YOU MOVE! It is by far the coolest thing I’ve ever done. There are two other bio bays in and off Puerto Rico, but since the best deals on flights will get you into San Juan, Vieques is the easiest to get to.

If I was going to Hawaii, I would skip the big island all together and go straight to Kauai.

Like with the Caribbean, it all depends on what you want in the warm weather vacation. If you’re talking to your party animal friends, I’d steer them clear of Hawaii altogether, but if they are really into it, Maui is better for them. Or are you talking to your outdoorsy, camping friends? Kauai is a better bet for them and honestly, for most people. Maui and the big island (actually called Hawaii) are good, a little touristy and crowded at certain times of the year. But it is the typical Hawaii experience. If you want a quieter, more adventurous time, people can’t say enough wonderful things about Kauai.

You might not think it, but Thailand could be a great family vacation if you know where to go.

Thailand is more than the debauchery of Bangkok in The Hangover 2 or the hippie dystopia in The Beach or the harrowing jails of Brokedown Palace and Bridget Jones Diary 2. It is also, believe it or not, a great place for adventuring families. The trip over is a bit expensive, but once you arrive, the country itself is very affordable. There are gorgeous temples to visit and family friendly beaches like the island of Ko Chang. Plus, elephants and tigers to visit at various animal encounters across the country. And late February and March are the perfect time to go although it will be cheaper to go during the rainy season from July – October. In a tropical climate like that though, rain only tends to last an hour or so at a time.

Now that we’re over 21/not in college, it’s time to trade in Cancun for Tulum.

Oh, Mexico. There are so many ways to do it. You can spring break your face off in Cancun or Cabo. You can go adventuring; whether it be hiking the Sierra Norte or surfing in Sayulita. Or you can do the chill, family friendly beaches of the Mayan Riviera in towns like Tulum or Playa Del Carmen.

I’ve always wanted to go to the Keys, see Hemingway’s house and drink a real daiquiri.

Miami can get pretty expensive, so Key West is a great alternative/addition to a Miami vacation. Fly into Miami, stay a few days, take in the craziness that is South Beach and then drive the three hours to Key West. You can stay in a condo and still enjoy nightlife on Duvall Street. It’s more of a beach bum crowd, but really fun. Plus, take in the historic sites, like the Key West home of Ernest Hemingway.

Costa Rica has everything and it’s all pretty close together.

Variety is the spice of Costa Rica… and many Central American countries. And more and more people are flocking to these countries every year. In Costa Rica, you have the rainforests, volcanoes and mountains, where you can hike, zip line and repel down waterfalls. Then you can hop in a car and go to the beaches of the Pacific or the Atlantic for surfing, snorkeling or just sunbathing. Like with Thailand, it is expensive to get there, but you can definitely stay and travel within Costa Rica and stay on a budget.

It’s probably a little late to plan a trip to Rio for Carnival, but you could still go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.

I’ve always wanted to see the spectacle that is Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Besides it being summer in Rio right now, this is the biggest party in the world! Rio also hosts one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Christ the Redeemer and has gorgeous beaches and people. But Carnival is two weeks away, it will just be easier to hop a flight to NOLA and check out the party down South. With multiple parades on every day leading up to Fat Tuesday, there is no end to the fun in the Crescent City. A word to the wise though: flashing your boobs for beads is for tourists; the locals just wave and it works fine for them.


Ready to book something right now? Or want to research for next winter? Either way, check out these sites for general travel and for some info on the specific locations mentioned above.

Trip Advisor – type in a destination and explore