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Budget travel: Warm winter vacation getaways

Lauren Fairbanks is a Brooklyn-based writer and editor who has penned for AOL, Young Money, and Eating Well Magazine, among others. She's also the founder and editor of LifeStyler, a NYC centric guide to budget living.

Cheap winter vacations

There's no question that winter can be a harsh time. Unless you're living it up in a southern state, you've probably reached your capacity for bitter cold and snow by the time February rolls around. Since the majority of people tend to travel in the spring and summer, there are tons of vacation packages and airfare deals to be had in the early months of the year.

Dominican Republic

Here are three budget-friendly warm winter vacation destinations that will allow you to escape the cold and embrace some sun and fun.

Winter travel destination #1

Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic is a lesser-known beach haven, and flying from the northeast U.S. is especially cheap during the winter months. The Dominican Republic boasts 27 climate zones, ranging from rainforests to beaches to desert, so no matter what outdoor activities interest you or season you prefer, there is something captivating around every bend. Its warm, moist year-round climate means you can hang out on the beach one day and go hiking through the rainforest the next. With a blend of cultures, you'll find a wide range of cuisines to sample and savor too, from Cuban to Spanish and African. Another huge draw to this island off the beaten path is their all-inclusive resorts. This means that in addition to your accommodations, you get to dine, drink and participate in fun activities such as snorkeling and scuba diving without having to worry about being nickled and dimed for every little thing along the way.

New Orleans

Winter travel destination #2

New Orleans

New Orleans is where culture and creativity collide. From the historic French Quarter to the sophisticated Garden District and the musical Marigny, there is an abundance of iconic food choices, a well-known music scene, a hip artistic community and more to be found all across the city.

To top it off, New Orleans has many historical sightseeing options and novelty attractions. Just take a walk through the quaint streets of the French Quarter and pop into a mysterious occult shop, nosh on pastries and sip coffee at a local coffee house, then shop and eat your way through the French Market.

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Winter travel destination #3

Taos, New Mexico

Taos is an interesting and unusual locale that's home to the Taos Pueblo (a Native American village that's fascinating to explore) and also offers the nearby Santa Fe National Forest. Visitors come to explore its bright Native American history, artists' colonies, hippy communes, panoramic beauty and recreational activities such as hiking, fishing, skiing, rafting and more. While Taos does offer dining and lodging, it may be easier to fly into and lodge in Santa Fe (only a short hour-and-a-half drive from Taos), which is larger and offers more choices in terms of accommodations and dining options. Plus, the climate of Santa Fe is a little more temperate, enjoying more than 300 days of sunshine a year.

Now's the time

With the misery that winter often brings and the airfare and vacation package deals offered during the months of January through March, there's no reason not to take advantage of travel deals and escape to a sunnier, brighter place, even if it's only for a few days.

More winter travel destinations

3 Best resorts for a winter getaway
10 Best ski resorts in the U.S.
10 winter family destinations

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