Valuing experiences over things is very of the moment, but there are a lot of lessons to be learned from filling life with moments you’ll always remember. Instead of dropping serious cash on presents your loved ones will get limited use out of, why not use the holiday season to experience something together, like a really great trip?
Traveling during the holidays might be something you’re not used to. We’re programmed to spend the time in the last few weeks of December migrating to where our elders are. While the tradition may bring you a great deal of comfort, the amount of holiday time off also presents an opportunity for more. While you could use your holiday time to load up on your grandma’s famous pot roast, you could also take her and the rest of your loved ones with you on a trip of a lifetime.
We’ve done some searching, and we’ve found 10 inexpensive Christmas vacations that won’t break the bank. If you’d prefer to stay in the continental U.S., spots like Sedona, Arizona, or Orlando, Florida will deliver family memories beyond those of your standard gift exchange. If your crew has passports ready, why not get out of your comfort zone? Spain’s Canary Islands and Phuket, Thailand offer up exotic vacations you won’t regret.
Visiting the desert in the winter is a one-of-a-kind experience. In Sedona around Christmastime, the red rocks are sometimes dusted with snow. Stay in a luxury resort at significantly lower rates, and maybe enjoy a spa day with your savings. Consider booking a hot air balloon trip or getting some quality hiking in for some added adventure.
Asia’s most popular beach destination, Phuket, Thailand, boasts 12 vastly different beaches, so be sure to do some research before you book. Phuket is home to more than 1,000 hotels and resorts, so you most likely will be able to find the right room for your price point. While you’re there, be sure to eat authentic cuisine and consider taking a trip to a nearby elephant sanctuary.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Dubai is an opulent city, but it’s surprisingly affordable if you’re a visitor. While there is definitely a luxury market, there are sufficient accommodations for those not looking to flaunt their wealth. Enjoy top-notch shopping and beaches in a paradise that’s like nowhere else on earth.
Just west of Morocco, Spain’s Canary Islands await weary winter travelers. The island of Tenerife, in particular, is known for its friendliness toward English speakers. Stay near Los Cristianos and Playa de la Americas and soak up the sun.
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
If you’re looking to relax this Christmas, head to Tamarindo, Costa Rica. The resort town is tourist-friendly, so you can make your trip as no-fuss as you’d like. Whether you’d rather relax by the ocean or travel to Tamarindo’s nearby National Parks and volcanoes, it will be easy to make sure your holiday is well spent.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Enjoy San Juan's wide sandy beaches and take in its picturesque historic center. Because it’s part of the U.S., you won’t need a passport, so many of the holiday travel hassles can be avoided. What are you waiting for?
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Whether you’d like to spend your Christmas vacation celebrating or relaxing in a low-key sort of way, Montego Bay can deliver. Enjoy the vibrant nightlife, go on a shopping spree on Gloucester Avenue, or enjoy the natural splendor of this beachy destination. With warm winter temps, you’ll have no problems floating down the Martha Brae River or diving in underwater caves.
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
With average Christmas temperatures in the 80s, Puerto Vallarta will give you the winter reprieve you need if you live in cooler climes. Largely regarded as one of the more affordable and authentic resort areas in Mexico, Puerto Vallarta is also one of the safest vacation spots the country has to offer. The cabanas are calling.
Spending Christmas in Rome is outside of the typical tourist season, so not only will you get lower rates on accommodations, you’ll also have more space to explore. Take in a Christmas mass at the Vatican or get your dream restaurant reservation without issue. Instead of the traditional Christmas foods from home, you can enjoy the fare Italians make best: pastas, cappuccinos, and pizzas, to name a few.
If you’re looking to stay stateside this holiday season, consider booking a trip to Orlando, Florida. Shortly after Christmas, hotel room rates drop, and the parks remain decorated. Temperatures usually stay in the 70s, so you can enjoy the Florida fun-in-the-sun life, too, at your hotel’s pool or nearby beaches, like Cocoa Beach.