How to Maximize Sun During Your Winter Travels

This post was posted by thehipmunk on Hipmunk’s Tailwind blog on December 12, 2015.

Months of long wintry nights and cloudy grey days can take a toll. Darkness raises the body’s levels of melatonin (an important sleep hormone) and sun deprivation in winter can lead to exhaustion and depression. Many of us combat the winter blues by heading to warmer and sunnier destinations for relaxing getaways. Here are the best tips for making the most of winter vacations, including how to plan your trip and where to head for sunny skies.

Plan Your Trip with Weather in Mind

Taking weather into account when booking your trip can prevent headaches and hassle down the road. If traveling by air, prioritize booking a direct flight. That way you won’t be dependent on weather conditions in connecting cities to make connections. If a direct flight isn’t available, try to connect in a southern city to minimize cancellation risk. Regardless of where you connect, it’s important to allot plenty of time at each step of the trip and leave a buffer for weather delays. Flying in the morning can also help: Airports aren’t yet bogged down with delays, and if a flight is cancelled, there will be more options for getting to your destination later that day.

Relax on the Best Tropical Beaches

For winter sunshine, tropical climates are always a safe bet. Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean are popular destinations, and there are some gorgeous domestic options as well. All-inclusive resorts such as the Le Blanc Spa Resort in Cancun, Mexico offer excellent travel deals as well as luxurious accommodations in sight of the Caribbean Sea. For a varied and rich experience in nature, head to Costa Rica, where travelers can take a zipline through the rainforest, hike a volcano, or learn to surf. Travelers who don’t want to break out their passport can always head for Florida’s famous sun. Enjoy the vibrant nightlife in Miami by staying on South Beach at The Palms Hotel & Spa, or relax in the Keys at one of their many laidback hotel options.

Soak Up Rays with Skiing and Snowy Activities

The beach isn’t the only place to get a winter dose of vitamin D. Northern destinations can be quite sunny as well, and the lure of skiing and winter sports will encourage travelers to spend more time outside soaking up the sunshine. Enjoy snowshoeing and basking in hot springs at the gorgeous Lake Tahoe, or enjoy the famous slopes in Aspen, Colorado. For an international experience, head to Innsbruck, Austria, where the snow resting on the buildings of lovely old town will look like a fairy tale come to life. Wander through the Christmas Markets with a mug of mulled wine and admire the handmade wooden toys and beautiful woollen clothes. The Grand Hotel Europa makes a perfect base of operations to explore this beautiful city nestled in the Alps.

Beat the Crowds in Southern Cities

Winter is the perfect opportunity to visit southern cities out of peak tourist season. Head to Nashville, Tennessee for the Music City Bowl in December and take a Holiday Wassail Tour at the lovely Belle Meade Plantation. Or explore the American southwest in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where you’ll find excellent skiing as well as beautifully crafted folk art. New Orleans is also a dream without the swarms of Mardi Gras crowds. It’s sunny and charming in the winter months, perfect for sampling the famous beignets or hearing some of the world’s best jazz.

Whether your personal paradise is a lounge chair on the beach with a tiki drink or the summit of a snow-capped mountain with a ski pole, planning a winter sun getaway can boost both your health and happiness this year. Visit a destination you’ve always loved or try something new, but just remember to bring the sunscreen.

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