We have an idea for this holiday season: Instead of dropping serious cash on presents for your loved ones, why not use this special time to experience something together, like a really great, affordable trip. Taking off the moment December rolls around may feel a little odd if you're used to hosting holiday parties or gift exchanges, but we can almost guarantee you'll have just as much fun on a fabulous vacation. 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 found 10 cheap Christmas vacation spots 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 a slew of memories you'll cherish forever. If your crew has their passports ready, why not get out of your comfort zone? Spain’s Canary Islands and Phuket, Thailand offer up vacations you won’t regret.
Visiting the desert in the winter is a one-of-a-kind experience. In Sedona around the holidays, 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 at Cathedral Rock, which offers views of Bell Rock, Courthouse Butte, and Mogollon Rim.
One of Asia’s most popular beach destinations, Phuket boasts 12 vastly different beaches. 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 like Moo ping, a popular street food that consists of grilled pork on a skewer served with sticky rice, 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 (and spend) their wealth. Enjoy top-notch shopping and beaches, such as the popular Jumeriah Beach, which features lifeguard services and sports facilities, 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.
Pack a picnic basket and set sail on a sunset cruise on the coast of Tenerife.
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
If you’re looking to relax this holiday season, head to Tamarindo, Costa Rica. The resort town is tourist-friendly, so your trip will be easy and effortless. Whether you’d rather relax by the ocean or travel to Tamarindo’s nearby national parks and volcanoes, it will be easy to fill your holiday with fun activities and beautiful scenery. If you're in the mood for a little road trip, head to Guanacaste to check out some of the most breath-taking waterfalls you'll ever see.
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Enjoy San Juan's wide sandy beaches and take in its picturesque historic center. Be sure to check out Playa Flamenco, a popular beach shaped like a horseshoe with clear water, white sand, and coral reefs for diving. Because San Juan is part of the U.S., you won’t need a passport, so many of the holiday travel hassles can be avoided. Whether you sign up for a walking tour of the city, a challenging hike, or a salsa dance class, you're in for a fabulous time.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Whether you’d like to spend your 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 December temperatures in the 80s, Puerto Vallarta will give you the winter reprieve you need if you live in cooler climates. 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! Whatever you do, don't miss visiting the iconic Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe or spending a couple of hours at the botanical gardens.
Spending the holidays 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 holiday 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 the holidays, 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, too, at your hotel’s pool or nearby beaches, like Cocoa Beach.