Summer has winded down and winter is just around the corner (where did the time go?) Now that you’re feeling the chill of the changing seasons, you may also be getting the itch to travel. There are several affordable winter travel destinations you could consider for 2015, but here is my list of the top three: Thailand, Iceland, and Bulgaria.
Thailand might seem like the most obvious choice because it’s warm, but there is actually some reasoning behind Iceland and Bulgaria, which I’ll share below. Without further ado, here’s more about my top 3 picks for winter travel destinations that won’t break the bank.
This southeastern Asian country boasts big cities, dozens of tropical islands, historic sites, and to-die-for cuisine. Once you’re there, Thailand is quite affordable, especially if you plan to eat local like I did.
Best time to go: Like with most southeastern Asian countries, the best time to go to Thailand is December through March. Otherwise, the temperatures are too hot or the weather is too wet.
Affordability factors: For those of us who live in the U.S., Thailand may seem worlds away. It is, after all, on the other side of the planet. But Thailand offers much more affordable food choices and beach holidays than the Caribbean. If you’re willing to spend a little more on airfare, once you’re there, it’s really quite inexpensive (1 US Dollar is equaled to approximately 35.95 Thai Baht). Below, I used Tripscan to see the most popular flight deals from my home city of Miami, Florida. As you can see, I can get to Bangkok for just $546 each way with only one stop.
For ideas about Thailand travel, check out our article 15 Places You Must See in Thailand.
You may be thinking, huh? But in fact, Iceland does not get nearly as cold in winter as New York, London, or Paris. It’s a complete myth that Iceland can’t be enjoyed in the winter – its weather is rather mild for its latitude thanks to the consistent flow of the Gulf Stream that brings in the warm Atlantic air. So, if you can handle cold but not freezing, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most beautiful natural wonders this world has to offer. Plus, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to warm up in Iceland’s world-famous Blue Lagoon thermal pool.
Best time to go: High season is mid-June through August. September through March is when visitors can see the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. Other off-season activities include Christmas markets, dog sledding, fishing, glacier tours, thermal pools and spas, skiing, and Golden Circle tours.
Affordability factors: If you’re planning a trip to Europe from North America (or vice versa), consider taking Icelandair for a stopover of up to 7 days in Iceland with no additional charge to your fares. Check out these Lonely Planet tips for how to save money while traveling in Iceland.
Bulgaria is one of Europe’s best-kept secrets. The truth is you can have an amazing and inexpensive vacation in Bulgaria year-round. The reason? Bulgaria does not use the euro. While visiting Bulgaria a couple of years ago, I spoke to many locals who enjoy having a laugh at tourists who pay extremely high prices to ski in other parts of Europe. Bulgaria boasts world-class ski resorts in across the country: Bansko in Pirin National Park, Borovets in the Rila Mountains, and Pamporovo and Chepelare in the Rhodopi Mountains.
Best time to go: 15th of December through the 15th of May.
Affordability factors: Bansko and the others offer single and multi-day ski and snowboarding packages. A 3-day full ski package in Bansko (equipment and lift pass) is $139 per adult. That is the price for just a one-day lift pass in Aspen (no equipment included). Below is my Tripscan search of flights from Miami to Sofia.
And as an added bonus Tripscan also gives you live weather updates of the departure and arrival city.
What did you think of my list of these three affordable winter destinations? Leave us a comment or question below!