Hey, remember last winter? (Obviously.) When you procrastinated on booking a vay-k, and then the snows came snowin’ down and buried us all in inertia and despair? (Regretfully.) And how your travelin’ friends’ Instagram posts sent you down a FOMOOTE (Fear of Missing Out on Tropical Escapades) spiral that led to a self-comforting Friday Night Lights revisit because you’d already binged on everything else?
Learn from your past mistakes and pull the gd trigger already. Still fussing about money and flights and stuff? Well, Mr.-or-Mrs. High Maintenance, we did all the legwork. We sussed out spots where airfare and a hotel night combined run you $600 (or close to it) or less.
Here are the parameters: we narrowed it down to sweaty climes accessible by direct flight because the sooner you get there, the sooner your stress levels will plummet. That said, we searched for the deep cuts, but we encourage you to do a bit of your own research, too, because honestly, when April hits and there's still snow on the ground, you might be able to find something even cheaper. Hotel prices reflect the best deal we found online this week. We’ve suggested spots completely welcoming to solo travelers, as well as couples and squads, but we can’t vouch for their family-friendliness.
We’ll be frank: we’re not looking to reinvent the wheel here. When we say Cancun, we don’t mean Tulum. Some of our hotel suggestions are off the beaten path, but others are about giving yourself an unabashed, affordable excuse to turn your brain to low-power mode. Some vacations are about proving your adventurous mettle, and some are about getting the eff out of dodge. This winter, don’t apologize for needing the latter.
Nassau Paradise Island: $400 R/T on JetBlue
Hotel: Atlantis, practically free at the moment (50% off plus a $250 resort credit if you book on the website)
Talk about bad raps: you build one enormous, family-friendly hotel and casino, and people start writing off your entire island. But a recent Atlantis/Paradise Island visit taught us that our bottomless Boston snobbery continues to serve us poorly. Atlantis is a total trip, as long as you know how to negotiate it. Here are some rules: book a room at the adults-only Cove. Spend most of your days on the uncorrupted beaches, which remain bizarrely uncrowded. Hit the water park after you’ve had a few drinks. Book your dinner (Cafe Martinique? Nobu??) after 8pm, when children are no longer allowed. Skip the cavernous spa and head off-campus for a $60 beach rubdown on Cabbage Beach, followed by a wine and cheese tasting at the Graycliff Wine Cellar, a walking food tour in downtown Nassau, and a visit to a distillery housed at a former private estate. Then head back to Atlantis and go down that 200ft waterslide. Because you know you want to.
Jamaica: $387/RT on American
Hotel: Jakes, $95/night
Why have you resisted Jamaica? Tales of caution from your stubborn-minded, parochial ‘rents, perhaps? Time to let go of their anachronistic assumptions, and get to know the island yourself. Start by staying at Jakes, a funky beachside enclave on the southern coast where no two rooms look alike, and where you can enjoy rum punch at Dougie’s Bar and al fresco locavore dining day and night. Then hop into a rental, and start exploring the southern coast, from fishing village Alligator Pond to the mineral springs of Milk River. If you seek a little freshwater pause, consider a tubing trip down White River or Martha Brae River, then return to our intemperate climes and pitifully try to recreate the magic with some snow tubing.