BY NICOLE DEFOREST
Now that the cold weather is here to stay and snow is just around the corner, I’m sure you’ve started thinking about where you should travel next during this winter season.
Ask yourself what you are looking for in a vacation. Do you want the best beach? Are you a big foodie? Do you want a quiet adults-only vacation? Would you like a large hotel full of activities or something smaller with a laid-back atmosphere? What’s your budget? The answers to these questions will lead you to the perfect destination.
Keep in mind Christmas break in December, spring break in February and March break in March are the most expensive times to travel as this is when all the teachers and kids have breaks and a lot of parents don’t want to take their kids out of school longer than they have to. So, if you can travel outside of these dates you can save quite a bit.
Here are my top picks to choose to get the most value from your dollar:
Cuba: Cuba is a great destination to get away on a budget. Fantastic beaches, friendly people and lots of historic sites to choose from. Havana, Cuba’s capital city is where you need take a day trip. This island has lots of hotel choices from comfortable, family friendly guestrooms to luxurious suites. I’m sure you’ve heard Cuba’s food is bland but nothing some ketchup or hot sauce from home can’t fix. It’s manageable for a week’s stay and the newer hotels actually have some tasty food options. This is the destination to splurge and do affordable day trips you might not be able to do on other islands.
Dominican Republic: This island is filled with friendly people and beautiful landscapes. With a great mix of hotels from affordable comfort to the world’s top brands, it can fill any budget. The food is very good here with lots of selection to choose from. A good mix of great and excellent beaches depending where you go, but Bavaro beach in Punta Cana is my favourite. A lot of excursions available by land and sea and some historic sites in the main cities to look at. Dominican is a great option for everyone.
Jamaica: This English-speaking country will blow you away with their genuinely friendly locals and endless lines of white sandy beaches. With rich, colourful food, full of flavour, the sky’s the limit for every budget. Lots of options for families, couples and singles for accommodations. You can do everything here; from the basics like jet skiing or horseback riding along the beach to visiting Bob Marley’s House or climbing Dunns River Falls. If you’re a beach bum, you need to visit 7mile beach in Negril with its gorgeous clear waters and the whitest sand to walk along for miles.
Mexico: Mexico is a growing country and you can always find a great deal here. It can be very Americanized in the larger cities (Cancun) but you can still find traditional Mexican flair in the smaller cities (Ixtapa). A mix of good and amazing beaches, most beaches have good snorkeling right off the beach, but taking an excursion could take you to some of the beast reefs in the world. Tons of historic sites to see here with most being a few hours bus ride and a must see if you can go. Mexico has great colourful food with a lot of options to choose from. A great destination for nightlife too, everything from bar hopping, to live music and dancing on the beach, even attending a Cirque du Soleil Jama show. This destination also has the option for all inclusive or boutique hotels and many Canadians are settling down and renting a condo or apartment for a week or two during the winter months.
St Lucia: St.Lucia is a hidden gem and one of my favourite islands. This island looks just like a postcard. You can choose from all inclusive, boutique hotels, or you may just want to rent a condo for the week. Excellent food and service, with some good beaches. How would you like to climb the Piton mountains or go ziplining through the rain forest? How about taking a natural mud bath? This destination has unique options for sightseeing. It’s also a large cruise port island so lots of local dining and shopping options.
If you’re overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask an expert for assistance to help narrow down your choices. That’s what we are here for.