Hollywood has made a mint on movies that explore the absolute nightmare that is holiday travel. The stress, the crowds, the delays -- none of it appeals to us at all! That’s why we’ve decided to ditch December travels in favor of January international adventures.
We’ve been to a number of destinations after the holidays. Some years, we go the rainforest and beach route. Others, we bundle up and head to Europe’s great cities to soak up their grandeur, culture, and history without the crowds.
Here are a few reasons why we love traveling in January -- and why you might want to give it a try, too!
1. You Can Go Anywhere
This was something that pleasantly surprised us when we started traveling in January many years ago. When you hit the road after the holidays, there are no limits on where you can go. Whether you’re a skier or a beach bum, you’ll have your pick of destinations when it comes to planning your vacation.
Basically, everything is in peak season during the winter, from perfect powder and snowpack on the slopes to balmy, tropical weather on the islands—most of which will be in the dry season and without a hurricane risk!
We’ve found the entire world really is your oyster in January, no matter your travel interests.
2. It’s Really, Seriously Inexpensive
If you want to go easier on your travel budget, waiting until after the holidays to take your big vacation is really the way to go. Typically, pleasure travel drops off right after the holidays, and the prices come down to a simple matter of supply and demand.
January is typically considered off-peak, and operators work harder for travel business dollars. From airfare to luxe accommodations and even tours and cruises, prices will be lower, and you’re bound to find bargains. Shop ahead and compare prices and destinations to get the best deals.
What’s more, if you are a points and miles collector, you might find over-the-top, too-good-to-pass-up ways to redeem them during January, again because there are plenty of rooms and seats available. And chances are you’ll cash in far less of them, especially if you’re an elite-level traveler.
Plus, all the money you’ll save will allow you to purchase some fabulous souvenirs!
3. You’ll Get Better Availability
Have your sights set on a perfect resort getaway that’s always booked solid? Or is airfare to your dream destination consistently out of reach, wallet-wise? Try your luck in January. Fewer people traveling during the month translates to better availability and options for you and your family; you shouldn’t have any issues getting your bookings squared away.
Keep in mind that availability goes far beyond the basics when it comes to January travel. You’ll have better access to everything from museum exhibits to theater productions to a vast array of other cultural events for which tickets can be hard to snag, all because the number of tourists is so much smaller.
Foodies have something to look forward to as well, since scoring reservations at top restaurants is far easier in January.
4. There Are No Lines Anywhere
Whether you opt for warm, beachy destinations or cooler spots, one thing will be constant during your January travels: You typically won’t have to wait for a thing. Service will be snappy and queues practically nonexistent. We’ve never had to spend more than a few minutes waiting in line for an attraction in January. From the Tower of London to the Louvre to the Great Pyramids, places that are typically congested and crowded are much easier to navigate after the holidays.
This helps to free up your precious vacation time and decreases frustration and stress. You might sometimes feel as if you’ve got the whole place to yourself! That’s a big plus in our book, and the smaller crowds can be quite helpful for those who are claustrophobic.
5. You’ll Experience Places Like The Locals Do
This has to be one of our favorite reasons to travel during the off-season. The tourists clear out, and life resumes as normal for the locals. It becomes much easier to get a sense of what a city or region is like in an everyday context and at a normal cadence. We’ve found that this really enriches our travel experience and helps to deepen our understanding of the destination.
You’ll see folks shopping at the morning markets and heading to the mosque or to Mass when the call to prayer goes out or the church bells ring. You might spy cricketers playing in the park or lift a pint glass in a pub where the locals are cheering on their favorite football team (soccer, mind you, not American football!).
In short, you’ll see regular people living their lives. To see a city through the eyes of its residents is quite special, and not an experience you’re likely to get when you’re traveling during peak season.
6. It Makes The Perfect Holiday Gift
Truly, there’s nothing like the gift of travel. A January trip is the perfect thing to give yourself and your family during the holiday season. Booking a cruise or planning a getaway to Europe is the best surprise stocking-stuffer ever! What’s more, December shopping is much more fun when you’re grabbing items or essentials for your upcoming adventure.
Another benefit: You’ll be giving your loved ones the chance to make memories that will last the rest of their lives. Why not give a gift of experience as opposed to more stuff that people don’t need or want?
7. It’ll Help Beat The Winter Blahs
For many of us, the stress of making sure the holidays are picture-perfect can lead to a big letdown once they are all over. The tree is down, the stockings are put away, and the presents might have already been forgotten, and you’re still staring down a couple of long, cold months ahead.
Planning a fabulous January getaway can help keep the excitement of the holidays going a bit longer, and it will also help you power through the post-holiday slump. You’ll return refreshed, relaxed, and recharged, ready to tackle the rest of the winter!
Ready to book your trip? Here are some of our favorite places to travel in January.